Tonga internet restored after repair of undersea cable destroyed by eruption

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Internet connection was restored in Tonga on Tuesday, five weeks after a massive volcanic eruption shredded the undersea cable that connects the Pacific nation with the rest of the world.

Telecom providers Digicel and TCC said data connectivity had been restored to two main islands, after breaks in an 80-kilometre (50-mile) stretch of the cable were finally fixed.

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Residents reported services were quickly coming back online, email seemed blazingly fast after 38 days in the internet doldrums and a slew of calls from family overseas were coming in -- their voices now heard loud and clear.

“YES! TCC is restoring fiber cable internet services,” the company said in a message to customers.

The January 15 eruption was so powerful it was heard as far away as Alaska and caused a tsunami that flooded coastlines around the Pacific.

It covered Tonga with ash and mangled an 80-kilometre stretch of the undersea cable that proved more difficult than expected to fix.

Immediately after the disaster, contact with Tonga was only possible via a handful of satellite links. Although some connectivity was later restored, connections were limited.

Digicel said “data connectivity had been restored” to two islands, after “multiple faults and breaks” were repaired.

“We are delighted to see that our customers are connected to the outside world again,” said Digicel Tonga chief executive Anthony Seuseu.

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