The South Pacific archipelago of Tonga could spend days, or even weeks, cut off from the rest of world because of difficulties in repairing its sole undersea communications cable, which an operator said was ruptured during a massive volcanic eruption. The challenge underlines the vulnerability of undersea fibre-optic cables, which have become the backbone of global communications, thanks to a capacity to carry data that is about 200 times that of satellites. Saturday’s explosion of the Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai volcano sent tsunami waves across the Pacific Ocean so that connectivity was lost on the line, operated by Tonga Cable Ltd, in waters about 37 kilometres (23 miles) offshore. But the repair of Tonga’s critical 827-km (514-mile) fibre-optic link to Fiji depends on the arrival of a specialised ship now days away in Port Moresby, the capital of Papua New Guinea. “Typically, all things going well, it would take around two weeks,” said Craige Sloots, marketing and sales director at Southern Cross Cable Network, which connects to the Tonga cable at Fiji. That covers the eight or nine days the Reliance, the specialist cable repair ship in Port Moresby, will take to reach the affected area, while the crew also needs… Read full this story
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