TONGASAT NOW OPERATES ITS OWN SATELLITE

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.

Pacific Islands News Association (PINA) Website: http://www.pinanius.org 

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