Tonga is still struggling to get back online after the January 15 volcano eruption, and SpaceX can offer some help. According for Wall Street Journal, Fiji Communications Minister Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum understands that SpaceX is looking to reconnect Tonga using its Starlink satellite broadband service. The company has a team in Fiji building a station that would serve as an internet bridge, the official said.
We asked SpaceX for comments. It’s unclear what kind of service Tongans could expect, but connectivity in Fiji or Tonga would be new to the company. Starlink’s public beta is only available in 25 countries so far, and the closest neighbors with active service are Australia and New Zealand. There are about 1,800 satellites in service, but more are on the way as SpaceX looks to fill coverage.
A reconnection effort like this can be more complicated than it looks. Tonga authorized Kacific to provide satellite internet service to the country in late January, ending a long-running dispute. It’s unclear how this will affect SpaceX’s plans, but it would clearly increase competition. At the same time, the Pacific nation still does not have access to the undersea cable that normally provides internet service and is not expected to regain that access for weeks. You may not have much choice but to ask for additional help if you want to recover quickly, and SpaceX’s involvement could give Tonga a useful backup for any future outages.
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