NUKU‘ALOFA, Tonga (April 28, 2002 - Radio and TV Tonga/PINA Nius Online)---Tongasat, the Friendly Islands Satellite Communication Company of Tonga, has entered a new era with its first satellite named and in position.

King Taufa‘ahau Tupou IV named the telecommunication satellite the ‘Esiafi-One, or Star Trail.

It is positioned in one of Tonga's nine orbital slots.

A marketing team from Tongasat is busy finalizing agreements on its use with interested companies in Africa, Europe and Asia.

According to Sione Kite, managing director of Tongasat, even though ‘Esiafi-One is secondhand it can remain operational for about 10 years.

He said the company and Tonga as a whole will benefit financially.

Tongasat expects to pay off the full price of about US$ 7 million within about four years.

Mr. Kite said Tongasat has paid about 30 million Pa‘anga (US$ 14,038,372) to the government since it was set up about 12 years ago to operate Tonga's international satellite slots.

Tongasat initially had four shareholders: The king's daughter, Princess Pilolevu Tuita, Dr. Matt Nielsen, who introduced the venture, his friend Joe Fletcher, and Kelepi Tupou.

Tupou awarded his shares to Princess Pilolevu before he died.

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