SES and Digicel extend Tonga emergency comms deal


The Kingdom of Tonga will be provided with long-term disaster resiliency to minimise bandwidth disruptions after an agreement between satellite operator SESand international mobile network operatorDigicel to extend their partnership to provide the service.

Under the agreement, Digicel will benefit from SES’s expertise in offering disaster resiliency via SES’s O3b satellite constellation to deliver low-latency and high-throughput connectivity and protect the Tonga population from future communication interruptions in the event of a natural disaster.

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

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, say the partners, ensure reliable connectivity for first responders and the entire population of Tonga.

Tonga has suffered two major connectivity disruptions in the last four years, the latest being the result of the Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai volcano eruption and subsequent tsunami in January 2022 which severely 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 connectivity on the islands. 

As the damaged cable connecting the islands of Vava’u and Tongatapu in Tonga undergoes repair, SES’s MEO satellite service provides Vava’u residents with connectivity. Once the cable is fully repaired, it will become a resiliency service to the main cable that connects the island to Tongatapu.


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