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Kacific in pact to provide Tonga with resilient satellite services

Tonga Kacific satellite dish.jpg

Kacific Broadband Satellites has installed resilient infrastructure for Tonga’s state-owned telecoms company, to make connections more secure after this year’s volcano.

The agreement between Singapore-based Kacific and Tonga Communications Corporation (TCC) marks an outbreak of peace after a long-running dispute over unpaid bills hampered work earlier this year.

Then, a US$5.7m dispute between the government of Tonga and Kacific delayed moves to provide internet and phone services by satellite after two subsea cables were broken when the Hunga-Tonga-Hunga-Ha’apai volcano erupted on 15 January.

Now, the main subsea cable, from Fiji, has been repaired, but work continues on the Tonga Domestic Cable Extension.

Christian Patouraux, CEO of Kacific, said: “We are committed to providing satellite services in Tonga to support the nation’s connectivity needs and ensure its resilience.”

He added: “Together with TCC, we look forward to being part of Tonga’s digital future which is supported through greater connectivity options and improved infrastructure resilience.”

TCC, 100% state owned, provides fixed, mobile and wireless broadband services in Tonga. It competes for mobile services with Digicel Pacific, now owned by Telstra.

A new agreement between TCC and Kacific means a satellite-based mobile backhaul solution will improve connectivity in underserved areas, and an enterprise-level back-up service will help mitigate the impact of future outages.

The United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNDRR) ranks Tonga as having the third-highest disaster risk worldwide, behind Vanuatu and the Solomon Islands, according to its 2021 World Risk Report.

In a comparison of continents, Oceania has the highest disaster risk, predominantly due to its high exposure to extreme natural events.

Under the deal TCC and Kacific have installed a mobile backhaul solution to improve resilience at the two northernmost Niua islands.

A further two satellite terminal sites, on the islands of Vavau and Ha’apai, will provide connectivity, as the Tonga Domestic Cable Extension undergoes extensive repairs following the January volcano.

As well as these four outer island sites, TCC and Kacific has installed a 4.5m terminal, which can permit a higher bandwidth. It will be used as an enterprise-level back-up option in case of future outages or damage to the international fibre cable connecting Nuku’alofa to Suva, Fiji.

TCC and Kacific said a portion of the capacity allocated to the terminals in the outer islands can be reallocated to the 4.5 metre terminal in Nuku’alofa, in a fibre back up arrangement. This will ensure the Tongan capital has access to high-speed connectivity for critical applications in the event of a fibre outage.

Sione Veikoso, CEO of TCC, said: “Kacific’s satellite connectivity and responsiveness will enable TCC to quickly deploy internet services to the people of Tonga when critical connectivity is most needed.”