Elon Musk donates 50 satellite terminals to help reconnect

Tonga says space entrepreneur and Tesla founder Elon Musk has donated 50 satellite terminals to help reconnect the volcano-damaged Pacific island with the world.

Tonga’s telecommunications system has been severely restricted since January 15 when a violent volcanic eruption and tsunami broke its underwater fiber-optic cable.

Musk’s SpaceX is providing 50 Very Small Aperture Terminals (VSATs) “and we’re looking at how we can make best use of it,” Prime Minister Ciossi Sovleni said on Friday.

The small South Pacific kingdom was also considering proposals to increase the Internet capacity of Tonga, which has been operating on very low bandwidth since the cable broke.

“It’s something we’re testing now,” he said.

Technical staff from SpaceX and the government of Tonga have been working on setting up the equipment to get it operational starting next week.

The volcanic eruption, so powerful that it was heard as far away as Alaska and triggered a tsunami that flooded beaches around the Pacific, broke an 80-kilometre (50-mile) section of Tonga’s undersea telecommunications cable.

Sovleni said he expected the temporary repairs to be completed early next week.

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