At the ceremony, from the station’s control room, the King of Tonga, Tupou VI in the presence of the Prime Minister Lord Tu’ivakano, officially commissioned the service by clicking a mouse delivering high speed internet to the people of Tonga for the first time ever.
The US$32.8 million Pacific Regional Connectivity Project financed the development of a submarine cable system which is now delivering the broadband service.
The project is being supported by the World Bank Group, ADB, and TCC.
"Today marks a historical occasion for Tonga and the beginning of a new era as the Kingdom for the first time connects to high speed Internet which has been a dream of Ha’a Moheofo,” said Tonga’s Prime Minister Lord Tu’ivakano.
“Faster Internet speed and higher bandwidth at cheaper and more affordable prices is a real opportunity for Tonga.”
“The social and economic benefits of the new high speed internet service will be many,” said Regional Director Adrian Ruthenberg of ADB’s South Pacific Subregional Office at the ceremony.
“The people of Tonga will be better connected to the rest of the world, the new service will help businesses to expand, creating jobs and will facilitate access to remote health and education services”
The 827 km fibre optic cable system linking Tonga to Fiji via the Southern Cross Cable - the main trans-Pacific link between Australia and the United States - will provide Tonga’s population of 100,000 with affordable, accessible, information and communication technology services.
“The advent of high speed internet is a landmark event for Tonga,” said Country Director Franz Drees-Gross of the World Bank in Papua New Guinea, Timor-Leste and the Pacific Islands.
“The cable will make it faster and easier for Tongans to communicate, which will bring profound benefits for development.”
The arrival of high speed broadband is the latest milestone of the project which will boost Tonga’s international connectivity.
The Tonga Cable Limited building was constructed to withstand extreme weather events and the equipment which facilitates the internet service is stored on the top floor in a temperature controlled room in case of flooding. There is a back-up generator in case of power failure.
ADB, based in Manila, is dedicated to reducing poverty in Asia and the Pacific through inclusive economic growth, environmentally sustainable growth and regional integration. Established in 1966, it is owned by 67 members – 48 from the region.
In 2012, ADB assistance totaled $21.6 billion, including co-financing of $8.3 billion.