Tonga To See Improved Internet Access In August

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PM: affordable connectivity will lead to economic opportunities

NUKUALOFA, Tonga (Matangi Tonga, June 11, 2013) – Tonga's high speed internet is expected to be launched on August 5, after a multi-million dollar submarine fiber optic cable network goes live. The landing of the first cable in Tonga was celebrated this morning in Sopu after the arrival of the 'Ile de Re' French cable ship from Fiji, on June 10.

About 200 people attended a ceremony in front of the cable landing station at Sopu. The French Cable Ship Ile de Re, laid the fiber optic cable over 827 kilometers from Fiji to Tonga in 10 days. As the ship steered closer to shore, the Cable was delivered to its undersea position by a computerized led buoy. The symbolic buoy, illustrating the names "Tonga Cable Limited" and "Alcatel-Lucent" was cut under sea by divers and presented to the Prime Minister.

Alcatel-Lucent is a French submarine fiber-optics company who last year won the contract to lay the submarine fiber optic cable. The US$33 million Pacific Regional Connectivity Project is funded through grants of US$26.6 million including $16.7 million from the World Bank and $9.7 million from the Asian Development Bank, with a $6.6 million investment from Tonga Communications Corporation.

Economic opportunities

"This is a historical day for Tonga," said Prime Minister Lord Tu'ivakano, who envisaged new economic opportunities as the internet will be faster with more capacity and cheaper.

He said a more affordable connectivity will lower transaction costs, will create new economic opportunities and increase services delivery options. "Everyone will have a chance to be connected which will reduce internal isolations for those living in rural areas and remote islands of Tonga. It will make the world closer to home," he said.

"We look forward to commissioning the cable project in the first week of August this year, where the internet will be made commercially available. There will be challenges and consequences and government is working on a Bill aimed to stop and punish those who misuse the internet," said Lord Tu'ivakano.

Capacity

Robert Bolouri the Managing Director of the Tonga Cable Ltd. told Matangi Tonga that at this stage the target date for the high speed internet to go live is August 5.

He said when the service comes into full operation it is expected to have a total capacity of 320Gbits, which is about 6,000 times more than the 50-55Mbits capacity that is currently being used through the satellite network. But at the start of the project 10g will be lit and ready, said Robert.

The submarine fiber optic cable will connect Tonga to the Southern Cross Cable, which is the main trans-Pacific link between Australia and the United States.

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