Musk’s Starlink may provide permanent internet solution for some Tongan islands

By RNZ.co.nz and is republished with permission.

A team of workers from Elon Musk’s SpaceX are in Fiji trying to re-establish full internet communications in Tonga, with a Starlink broadband connection.A view over an area of Tonga that shows the heavy ash fall from the recent volcanic eruption within the Tongan Islands.

A view over an area of Tonga that shows the heavy ash fall from the recent volcanic eruption within the Tongan Islands. Photo: Supplied / NZ Defence Force

Starlink uses satellites to connect remote areas to the internet.

It came 25 days after Tonga lost all communications when its Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai volcano erupted, severing its undersea cable.

Gorilla Technology chief executive Paul Spain told Morning Report while satellite internet has been available for a number of years, SpaceX’s satellites were much closer to the Earth that had been seen before.

“Really, it just allows them to deliver just incredible internet performance.”

The current satellite internet available in Tonga was very limited, he said. Starlink would allow widespread internet availability while the fiber optic cable was still damaged.

Cable connection was always better from a performance and bandwidth perspective but having the option available would be fantastic, he said.

Not all Tongan islands had fiber optic cable running to them, he said.

“This may be a permanent option for some of those particular locations.”

The Starlink base service sells in New Zealand for $159, a cost that could be potentially shared among a group of people, he said.

“It’s pretty accessible considering this is an unlimited or uncapped service compared to what we’ve had in the past and also considering the level of performance and the lack of delays.”

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