King Tupou VI has launched Tonga’s high speed internet at a ceremony at the Tonga Cable Limited building today August 21.
Before the arrival of the new broadband service, internet users used bandwidth at a rate of approximately 20-30 megabits per second. The new bandwidth increased up to 10 gigabits per second, that is more than 400 times faster.
The king in the presence of the Prime Minister, Lord Tu’ivakano officially commissioned the service with the click of a mouse, which delivered high speed internet to the people of Tonga for the first time ever.
The US $32.8 million Pacific Regional Connectivity Project financed the development of a submarine cable system which is now delivering the broadband service. It is being supported by the World Bank Group, ADB, and TCC.
“Today marks a historical occasion for Tonga and the beginning of a new era, as the Kingdom for the first time connects to high speed Internet, which has been a dream of Ha’a Moheofo,” said Prime Minister Lord Tu’ivakano. “Faster Internet speed and higher bandwidth at cheaper and more affordable prices is a real opportunity for Tonga.”
“The social and economic benefits of the new high speed internet service will be many,” said Adrian Ruthenberg, Regional Director of ADB’s South Pacific Subregional Office at the ceremony. “The people of Tonga will be better connected to the rest of the world, the new service will help businesses to expand, creating jobs and will facilitate access to remote health and education services”
The 827km fiber optic cable system linking Tonga to Fiji via the Southern Cross Cable -the main trans-Pacific link between Australia and the United States – will provide Tonga’s population of 100,000 with affordable, accessible, information and communication technology services.
“The advent of highspeed internet is a landmark event for Tonga,” said Franz Drees-Gross, Country Director for the World Bank in Papua New Guinea, Timor-Leste and the Pacific Islands. “The cable will make it faster and easier for Tongans to communicate which will bring profound benefits to development.”
The arrival of high speed broadband is the latest milestone of the project which will boost Tonga’s international connectivity.
The Tonga Cable Limited building was constructed to withstand extreme weather events, with the equipment which facilitates the internet service stored on the top floor in a temperature controlled room in case of flooding.