Tonga’s High-Speed Internet Goes Live Next Week

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Tonga’s High-Speed Internet Goes Live Next Week Fibre optic cable designed to handle 320 megabits per second

NUKUALOFA, Tonga (Matangi Tonga, August 14, 2013) – Tonga’s high speed internet goes live on Wednesday, August 21, with the commissioning by King Tupou VI of the project at the Tonga Cable Ltd. station in Sopu.

Demonstrating the spectacular speed directly off the new fibre optic cable today, Robert Bolouri the Managing Director of Tonga Cable, said that the Tonga Communications Corporation (TCC) was the only internet service provider that had signed up for the fibre optic cable at the moment.

Robert said that the fibre optic cable is a major leap forward for Tonga.

"We have about 620 megabits per second available right now to sell and only a portion of that is sold to TCC. There is room for immediate expansion and the cable itself is designed for 320 gigabits per second, but we are only using and have lit 10 gigabits right now, because that is a huge amount and more than sufficient for our needs in Tonga," he said.

"This is the speed you are going to get from here but what speed are customers going to get at the other end depends on the service providers and the amount of capacity that they subscribe to, it’s up them.

"We have a huge amount of capacity available and I don’t know what packages TCC will offer but it will give customers close to the similar connection speed we have here."

He hoped Tonga’s other commercial internet provider Digicel would come around, as they had not signed the agreement. There are only four to five licensed internet providers in Tonga, he said.

The system has already been tested through TCC’s service before rollout of the commercial service next week.

"Tonga Cable took over the cable system from the contractor on 31 July 2013 and we are now managing and controlling it and so far there has been no problem. The system has become very stable and is running well," he said.

The fibre optic cable will connect Tonga’s internet traffic to Fiji and onward to a hub in Sydney at Equinix data centre.

Robert said the high speed internet will definitely create jobs and provide better access for the tourism sector, for example, in online bookings. "Everybody will benefit and we will have lot of benefits economically," he said.

Price control

He said with pricing, Tonga Cable must get approval from the Minister of Communication. At the start of its operation Tonga Cable Ltd. will be running at a loss.

"Increasing the demand for the high speed internet in Tonga is critical to Tonga Cable’s success and we are actually banking on it. We are offering an initial price below our costs but we hope that by offering lower price to service providers they will provide it at a lower price to users, which will hopefully result in further penetration of the internet and the demand will grow," he said.

The project, which finished one day ahead of schedule on July 30, cost a total of around US$25 million.

He said the initial budget was US$32 million, with $6.6 million committed by TCC and $26.4 million provided by the Asian Development Bank and the World Bank.

"Overall, the project has gone very smoothly and nicely done and we hope the public makes use of it and we hope the service providers provide the service that the public expects," he said.

The Tonga Cable building was constructed with solid concrete to withstand tropical storms. The equipment is stored on the top floor in case of flooding and sealed in a temperature controlled room with a back-up generator in case of power failure. The system is constantly monitored in a separate room by TCL.

Tonga Cable Ltd. became a Public Enterprise on 10 May 2013, with TCC holding close to 20 percent and 80 percent by Government.

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