Tonga is back online after a volcanic eruption cut internet cable

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Image for article titled Volcano-ravaged Tonga is back online after 5-week internet blackout

Photo: Vanessa Parke (PA)

People in Tonga finally started to see lights at the end of the tunnel on Tuesday as internet services came back online for the first time in five weeks after a massive volcanic eruption. torn the country’s only submarine fiber optic cable. Repair marks an important step in the recovery for the country, which was the site of the horrible eruption causing mass evacuations, widespread power loss and a nationwide internet blackout.

In a blog Publish confirming the repair, Digicel, one of the island’s two main telecommunications companies, said the cable had multiple faults and that a submarine repair ship had spent more than two weeks carrying out repairs . Damage from the eruption would have affected an 80-one kilometer section of the 830 kilometer long cable, according to the BBC.

Meanwhile, monitoring data from web infrastructure company Cloudflare showed a dramatic spike in Tongan internet activity on Tuesday. According to Cloudflare, internet traffic in the region has started to to augment at levels even before the eruption shortly after midnight local time.

Image for article titled Volcano-ravaged Tonga is back online after 5-week internet blackout

“We leaned [sic] few hard lessons and we know how important internet connection is to our employees,” said Anthony Seuseu, CEO of Digicel Tonga. “The recent incident also provided our team with the opportunity to consider increased investment and network optimization to plan and better prepare for a catastrophic event of such a nature in the future.”

Repairs took about a week longer than before expected. Crucial government services and some businesses have been able to connect using satellite internet in the meantime, but this solution was limited and lacked the speed and stability of fiber. At the start of the blackout, SpaceX CEO Elon Musk publicly research Tongan officials are to explore the possibility of using his company’s Starlink satellite internet service to bring some residents online. Reports earlier this month claims a SpaceX team had arrived in Fiji to establish a Starlink gateway station, but it’s unclear how effective those efforts have been.

While cable repair serves as a major victory for Tongans searching for some sense of normalcy after the historic eruption, the job is far from done. Domestic cables connecting the main island of Tonga to its surrounding neighbors suffered the worst damage from the storm and could take six to nine months to repair, Tonga Cable chief executive James Panuve said in a statement. declaration at Reuters.

“We don’t have enough cable.”

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