Following a subsea cable outage in January, the Tongan government has announced signing a 15-year deal with Kacific Broadband Satellites Group to provide higher-speed connectivity.
The agreement between Kacific and government company Tonga Satellite will see 89 outer islands gain access to bandwidth from the high-speed Kacific1 satellite.
"In the case of a fibre cable outage, similar to the one experienced over 12 days in January 2019, the satellite bandwidth can be redistributed and shared with Tonga's main centres," Kacific said.
"This partnership with the Tongan government ... showcases how building infrastructure in rural areas can help provide urban areas with back-up connectivity options in case of fibre malfunction or natural disaster," Kacific CEO Christian Patouraux added.
"Until now, rural areas were depending on urban centres to distribute their bandwidth to them. With Kacific's solution for Tonga, urban centres need rural and remote areas in reciprocal cooperation to complete the urban infrastructure build-up."
Minister for Commerce, Consumer, Trade, Innovation and Labour Dr Tevita Tui'Uata said the satellite connectivity would enable residents to access e-government applications. The satellite will mainly be used for government infrastructure including hospitals, schools, police stations, post offices, and health clinics and dispensaries.
"The Kacific system is uniquely designed for the rural and remote areas of our Pacific nations and beyond ... finally completing full broadband access to all residents of Tonga," Tui'Uata said.
The minister additionally lauded Kacific's "responsiveness and efficiency" following the subsea cable outage at the start of the year.
"This system also uniquely provides backup to avoid deep digital disruption as we have observed in our recent fibre cut," he said.
Satellite providers rushed to fill the gap while the cable was down. Mobile network provider Digicel used SES networks, and local ISP Ezinet used a Kacific Ku-band satellite, while New Zealand carrier Spark helped get Tonga Communications back online using Intelsat satellites.
The 827km submarine cable between Tonga and Fiji connects to the Southern Cross Cable. It went live in August 2013, and was funded jointly by the Asian Development Bank and the World Bank. It was later extended out to the Ha'apai and Vava'u islands in April 2018.
Subsea cables across the globe
- Vocus' Australia-Singapore Cable (ASC)
- Vocus' North West Cable System (NWCS) between Darwin and Port Hedland, and the new Tiwi Islands spur being added
- The Australian government's Coral Sea subsea cable, being constructed by Vocus to connect Australia, Papua New Guinea, and Solomon Islands and funded through the foreign aid budget
- Google's Dunant transatlantic subsea cable between Virginia Beach in the United States to the French Atlantic coast
- The Indigo subsea cable system being built by Telstra, SubPartners, Google, Singtel, AARNet, Indosat Ooredoo, and Alcatel Submarine Networks, connecting Sydney, Perth, Singapore, and Jakarta
- The Indian government's Chennai-Andaman and Nicobar islands subsea cable, being built by NEC
- Southern Cross Cables' NEXT subsea cable system between Australia, New Zealand, and the United States, being built by SubPartners
- The Trident subsea cable system connecting Perth with Singapore via Indonesia
- The Jupiter subsea cable connecting the US, Japan, and the Philippines and being built by a consortium including Facebook, Amazon, SoftBank, NTT Com, PLDT, and PCCW
- The Hawaiki subsea cable between Australia, New Zealand, and the US
- Superloop's Hong Kong cable
- Telstra's Hong Kong Americas (HKA) cable between Hong Kong and the US
- The Pacific Light Cable Network (PLCN) between Hong Kong and the US
- Google's Japan-Guam-Australia (JGA) cable system, and the extension to JGA-South that Australia's Sunshine Coast Council is building
- The Asia-Pacific Gateway (APG) subsea cable connecting China, Hong Kong, Japan, South Korea, Malaysia, Taiwan, Thailand, Vietnam, and Singapore, owned by a consortium including China Telecom, China Unicom, China Mobile, NTT Communications, KT Corporation, LG Uplus, StarHub, Chunghwa Telecom, CAT, Global Transit Communications, Viettel, and VNPT, and being constructed by NEC
- The Southeast Asia Japan 2 cable (SJC2), which will have 11 landing stations in Singapore, Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, Hong Kong, China, South Korea, Taiwan, and Japan, being built by NEC and funded by a consortium including China Mobile International, Chunghwa Telecom, Chuan Wei, Facebook, KDDI, Singtel, SK Broadband, and VNPT
- The Bay to Bay Express Cable System (BtoBE), connecting Singapore and Hong Kong with the US, being funded by consortium including Facebook, Amazon Web Services (AWS), and China Mobile International, and being built by NEC
- The South Atlantic Cable System (SACS) connecting Angola and Brazil, going live in October 2018 after being built by NEC
- The PNG subsea cable network being built by Huawei