The high-speed single high performance fiber network is now available in the Ha’apai groups.
The communication system now can handle millions of phone calls at a time and internet users could connect to outside world in the same speed their families could use in New Zealand and Australia as well as in the United States.
This was part of a project which was launched in Nuku’alofa in 2013 after the submarine optic fibre cable connected Fiji to Tonga in 2012.
The TOP$18 million project for Ha’apai was jointly paid by the Tongan government, ADB and World Bank.
The Prime Minister, Hon Samuela ‘Akilisi Pohiva, launched the arrival of the submarine optic fibre cable in Pangai, Ha’apai on Tuesday morning, 27 March 2018. The submarine cable had been laid on the seabed beginning from Nuku’alofa.
The Hon Prime Minister said: “One of the developmental goals of the Tonga Government had been to empower the people, especially those in the outer island s of Ha’apai and Vava’u, by making the latest information and communications technology accessible to them. In addition the Government also wants to ensure that the latest technology is the fastest, user friendly and above all, it should be as cheap as possible, so that everyone can access it”.
The former CEO of Tonga Cable Ltd, Mr. Robert Bolouri said that the Submarine Optic Fibre Cable had been laid from Fiji to Tonga starting in 2012 and it was launched in Nuku’alofa in September 2013 by His Majest King Tupou VI.
He said there was some money left over and the Tonga Government then applied to the two banks for permission to use the surplus to connect Ha’apai and Vava’u to the optic fibre cable.
The two banks gave their approval in June 2017, after the Tonga Government had invested its own money in the project from the proceeds of the sale of some of its shares in the Digicel Tonga Ltd. Tonga’s investment brought the total amount of money available for the connection to Ha’apai and Vava’u to US$8.3 million (TOP$18 million).
Actual work on the laying of the cable from Nuku’alofa to Ha’apai and Vava’u began on 27 December 2017 and reached Pangai, Ha’apai on 2 January 2018. Tonga Cable Ltd then connected their system in Ha’apai to the cable at their base which is adjacent to the FWCT compound at Pulela’aa in Pangai.
Mr. Bolouri said that the arrival of the optic fibre cable in Pangai had boosted the capacity of the communications systems in Ha’apai by 1.2 tetrabits. He illustrated that new capacity by saying, “Now the system in Ha’apai can handle 12 million phone calls at the same time. That is an enormous capacity for Ha’apai and also for Vava’u!”
The Hon Prime Minister also said: “The new technology in the form of this optic fibre cable has brought down the geographical barriers that divided Tongatapu from the outer islands and from now on the people of Ha’apai should enjoy the same types of benefits for education, medical and social purposes that the people of Tongatapu currently enjoy from this expansion of capacity”.