Monday, 19 September 2022 08:00

SES and Digicel connection to shield Tonga from communication disruptions in time of natural disasters


Satellite and ground communications solutions provider SES and mobile network operator Digicel extend their partnership to provide the Kingdom of Tonga with strong connection to minimise bandwidth disruptions.

The new agreement will see Digicel use SES’s O3b satellite system, which will deliver multiple Gbps of capacity for a quick-deploy connectivity to shield the islands in Tonga from potential communication disruptions in the future. The high throughput provided by SES’s O3b satellites will ensure reliable connectivity for first responders and the entire population of Tonga.

Launched in 2013, SES’s O3b satellites are orbiting 8,000 km above the Earth's surface in medium earth orbit (MEO) and delivers low-latency connectivity services to any area within 50° north or south of the equator.

SES claims governments and businesses in the Pacific have been benefitting from the O3b satellite constellation.

The Kingdom of Tonga has suffered two major disruptions in the last four years. The latest disaster to occur was the Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai volcano eruption and tsunami in January 2022 which damaged undersea communication links.

In the immediate wake of the disaster, Digicel had leveraged SES’s Geostationary Earth Orbit (GEO) satellite capacity to restore temporary connection on the islands to allow Tongan residents to connect with their families and loved ones.

As the damaged cable connecting the islands of Vava’u and Tongatapu in Tonga undergo repair, SES’s MEO satellite service is providing Vava’u residents connectivity.

Once the cable is fully repaired, it will become a resiliency service to the main cable that connects the island to Tongatapu.

“With our continued partnership with Digicel, SES is glad to deliver high-performance, reliable connectivity to the residents in Tonga using our O3b satellites. SES’s second-generation MEO satellite communication system O3b mPOWER promises unprecedented flexibility, unparalleled throughput and scalability, all of which are key to providing resiliency for vulnerable communities across Asia Pacific,” said SES director of Pacific Region John Turnbull.

“SES’s multi-orbit satellite fleet has enabled us to quickly deploy domestic connectivity to the island of Vava’u at a time when it is crucial to keep people connected. We are glad to extend our partnership with SES and continue leveraging their O3b satellite services to protect the residents of Tonga from future disasters,” said Digicel Group chief technology officer Mudassar Latif.

This first appeared in the subscription newsletter CommsWire on 16 September 2022.

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