Plans underway to reconnect Tonga to communication services

Plans are underway to reconnect international 2G phone and text services to Tonga which has had a communication blackout since Saturday’s volcanic eruption.

The Pacific kingdom is still largely cut off.

The eruption and ensuing tsunami severed the Kingdom’s only submarine cable in two places and damaged satellite equipment after it struck the capital, Nuku’alofa.

Only satellite phones - of which there are not many in Tonga - are working, and the cable will take at least two weeks to repair.

READ MORE: Significant damage on Tonga's west coast - NZ High Commission

Tonga’s Speaker of Parliament, Lord Fatafehi Fakafanua, told 1News from New Zealand that plans are underway to deploy Digicel equipment and technicians on an Australian Air Force plane to repair the satellite damage.

Telstra Australia has also offered assistance, he said.

Fakafanua said the priority will be restoring lines to government and emergency services, as well as allowing residents to send and receive texts and calls to distressed family members overseas who are worried for their safety.

READ MORE: Tongans in NZ pray family and friends are safe

However, there is currently a thick layer of ash coating the 2.6 kilometre runway of Fua’amotu International Airport. A Royal New Zealand Air Force Hercules, which was due to depart on Tuesday with emergency aid supplies has now been delayed due to this.

On Monday, 200 people managed to sweep 100 metres of ash off the runway.