Tonga begins to come back online after volcanic eruption
Tonga (Credit: Adli Wahid)
Andrea Peterson January 20, 2022

Tonga begins to come back online after volcanic eruption

Andrea Peterson

January 20, 2022

Tonga begins to come back online after volcanic eruption

Online activity is starting to trickle out of the island nation of Tonga after a massive volcanic eruption and tsunami Saturday left the area offline while responding to the disaster, according to global networks watchers. 

Doug Madory, Director of Internet Analysis for Kentik, says the company observed “first signs of life for Internet connectivity in Tonga since the recent volcanic eruption” at  22:37 UTC on 19 January 2022. 

“Incumbent provider TCC (Tonga Communications Company) has reappeared in the global routing table via a connection to Speedcast, a Pacific region satellite operator,” Madory told The Record. 

Speedcast confirmed to The Record that it was helping “restore vital connectivity services to certain impacted areas, along with providing connectivity to restore some critical banking services.”

Tonga’s internet service providers previously relied on a single submarine cable that connected Tonga to Fiji, which was damaged in the blast and may take weeks to repair. 

In a statement released on Twitter on January 18th, Tonga’s government said two of its telecom providers were working to get online access back up with the help of satellite providers—and that communications traffic such as international calls and email would be prioritized as the country was reconnected to the rest of the world. 

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Andrea (they/them) is senior policy correspondent at The Record and a longtime cybersecurity journalist who cut their teeth covering technology policy ThinkProgress (RIP), then The Washington Post from 2013 through 2016, before doing deep dive public records investigations at the Project on Government Oversight and American Oversight. Their work has also been published at Slate, Politico, The Daily Beast, Ars Technica, Protocol, and other outlets. Peterson also produces independent creative projects under their Plain Great Productions brand and can generally be found online as kansasalps.