Tonga Communications Corporation (TCC) has signed an agreement with Singaporean satellite operator Kacific Broadband Satellites that will see the company improve connectivity in areas of the country that are currently underserved.
The partnership will also enable TCC to help mitigate the impact of future outages in the country.
State-owned TCC is the only provider of fixed lines services in the Kingdom of Tonga, and also provides mobile and broadband services in the country, plus branches in the outer islands.
"We are committed to providing satellite services in Tonga to support the nation’s connectivity needs and ensure its resilience," said Kacific CEO Christian Patouraux.
"We have a strong partnership with Tonga Communications Corporation, having worked together to provision emergency capacity in January 2022 following the fiber cut."
Meanwhile, TCC CEO Sione Veikoso says that Kacific's satellite connectivity "will enable TCC to quickly deploy Internet services to the people of Tonga when critical connectivity is most needed".
The country is ranked as having the third-highest disaster risk worldwide, behind only Vanuatu and the Solomon Islands, according to the 2021 World Risk Report, making outages more likely in the country.
Since June of this year, a mobile backhaul solution has been deployed to the country, while a further two satellite terminal sites, one each in Vavau and Ha’apai, have been commissioned to provide connectivity, as the Tonga Domestic Cable Extension undergoes extensive repairs. The cables were damaged during the volcanic eruption of Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai earlier this year.
A press release from Kacific adds that a 4.5-meter terminal has also been installed in the country in recent weeks, while the two parties are looking to commission the terminal at Atele, TCC’s strategical emergency site, in Tongatapu. The terminal will be used as an enterprise-level back-up option in case of future outages or damage to the international fiber cable connecting Nuku’alofa to Suva, Fiji.
Tonga v Kacific dispute over payments
Earlier this year, Kacific was in a dispute with the Tonga government over $5.7 million, as Tongan government-owned company, Tonga Satellite, reportedly did not honor payment terms over a deal to provide satellite services.
In 2019, in the wake of a 12-day subsea cable outage, the Tongan Government originally signed a 15-year deal with satellite broadband provider Kacific for remote island connectivity and fiber back-up; the deal was supposed to see Kacific’s Kacific1 satellite used to connect communities in 89 remote outer islands.
The dispute meant that Kacific was prevented from enabling communication services to Tonga in the wake of a volcanic eruption, tsunami, and multiple subsea cable breaks.
However, shortly after Kacific was able to provide critical communications services to Tonga, after receiving authorization from the local government.