Tonga’s Cables Damaged By Volcanic Explosion

January 18th, 2022 by · Leave a Comment

As you’ve probably heard, an undersea volcano in the Pacific near the island of Tonga exploded over the weekend, the largest such event in at least a generation or so. But you didn’t hear it from Tonga, because that explosion took out the island’s subsea communications links.

It appears that both the Tonga Cable and the Tonga Domestic Cable Extension were damaged, and likely cut by the volcanic event. The tsunamis and ash cloud haven’t helped things either obviously, and details of other damage done to Tonga and its people are still sketchy.

The Tonga Cable is owned in part by Digicel, which has been in the process of selling it to Telstra. It connects the island chain to Fiji, some 827km away. According to this article by Capacity, which talked with Southern Cross, the nearest repair ship (SubCom’s Reliance) is about 2 weeks away. They are looking to back things up with some satellite capacity.

It’s not the first time the island has been cut off, with a lowly ships anchor doing the deed a couple years ago. No doubt there will be a few calls for some infrastructure diversity in the cards again.  But first things first, and one wonders what the cable ship will find when it gets to the region.

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Categories: Undersea cables

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