Intelsat and partners bring emergency connectivity to Tonga


Thursday, 27 January, 2022

Intelsat and partners bring emergency connectivity to Tonga

The undersea volcano Hunga Tonga–Hunga Ha‘apai erupted on 15 January, 40 miles north of Tonga’s capital, Nuku‘alofa. The volcanic explosion and subsequent tsunami knocked out the undersea internet cables, disconnecting the region of 100,000 as residents sought higher ground with the onslaught of rising water and dangerously high waves.

Intelsat is providing space-based broadband connectivity on Horizons 3e and Intelsat 18, while partners Telstra and Spark are providing the ground infrastructure, including VSAT hubs at their teleports, uplink, internet access and remote kits. The services provided are now fully provisioned expanding broadband and voice services.

Additionally, Intelsat is providing services in conjunction with Optus to the New Zealand Defence Force, which will provide humanitarian support in Tonga.

The swift response is a testament to satellite solutions’ near-instantaneous communications activation in areas where disasters have crippled terrestrial networks.

In 2019, Tonga lost internet access for nearly two weeks when a fibre optic cable was severed. Intelsat played a significant role in restoring the island’s restoration connectivity by providing satellite capacity on Horizons 3e and Intelsat18 at that time.

Image credit:NASA International Space Station

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