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Tonga internet connectivity restored a month after volcanic eruption

The undersea submarine cable has been repaired after suffering multiple faults and breaks

Tonga’s submarine internet cable has been repaired, giving internet connectivity to the island nation once again.

A month ago the undersea volcano Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai erupted, causing a 1.2-metre tsunami wave to hit the nation. This damaged its submarine cable, the Tonga Cable, which was cut approximately 36km from the state.

Digicel, a local telco and minority stakeholder of the cable, confirmed this week that the undersea submarine cable has been repaired. It said that all its customers are connected to the outside world as data connectivity has been restored in the main island Tongatapu and Eua.

The company revealed that the cable had multiple faults and breaks due to volcanic activity and the submarine repair vessel worked for over two weeks to fix it. Although the international undersea cable between Tongatapu and Fiji has been repaired, restoring data connectivity to the outside world, the domestic cable is still down and there’s no communication in Vava’u, one of the nation’s island groups.

“We have learnt some tough lessons and we know how important internet connection is to our people. The recent incident has also provided the opportunity to our team to look at increased investment and network optimization to plan and prepare better for a catastrophic event of such nature in the future,” said Anthiny Seuseu, Digicel Tonga CEO.

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Digicel added that it has set up a satellite line to restore connectivity for Ha’apai Island and it is working on trying to get Vava’u back online this week.

As Tonga aims to regain domestic connectivity, it also has to deal with the challenge of the pandemic. Three weeks ago, the country went into lockdown after recording two COVID-19 cases among port workers helping distribute international aid following the volcanic eruption, reported the Guardian.

Tongan officials had previously worried that the arrival of aid could bring an outbreak of the virus, especially since the island has remained free of it for much of the pandemic.

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