Volcanic eruption and tsunami in Tonga: Elon Musk’s SpaceX reportedly in Fiji preparing to help with telecommunications

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Elon Musk asked on Twitter if authorities in Tonga could let him know if Starlink terminals were needed.

Engineers from SpaceX, owned by the world’s richest man, Elon Musk, are reportedly in Fiji with plans to help restore the internet to the Kingdom of Tonga.

The devastating eruption in mid-January damaged an undersea telecommunications cable, which experts say could take a month to repair.

National Party MP Dr Shane Reti wrote a letter to Musk, who also produces electric cars under the Tesla brand, asking for help in bringing his Starlink satellite technology to the Pacific nation.

The technology uses satellites to deliver Internet access to remote locations around the world.

Musk responded by offering to help Tonga, asking on Twitter if Tonga authorities could let him know if Starlink terminals were needed.

The Fiji Broadcasting Corporation, FBC News, reports that the SpaceX team is now in Fiji working on an internet gateway for the Kingdom of Tonga.

Communications Minister Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum confirmed the news to FBC News, saying SpaceX engineers will establish and operate a temporary ground station in Fiji for six months.

Hunga Tonga Hunga Ha'apai erupted in December before the massive explosion in January that knocked out the internet cable.  Photo / Provided
Hunga Tonga Hunga Ha’apai erupted in December before the massive explosion in January that knocked out the internet cable. Photo / Provided

“Space Exploration Technologies Corporation (Space X) applied for a temporary emergency telecommunications license on January 20, the sole purpose of this license is to provide an Internet gateway,” Sayed-Khaiyum told FBC News.

“Space X and FINTEL are currently in commercial negotiations to co-locate the earth station and connect to the Fiji Internet Gateway.”

SpaceX has also reportedly expressed interest in providing internet services in Fiji.

The Herald approached Sayed-Khaiyum for comment.

Reti said it was “wonderful news”.

“I’m really thrilled for Tonga and the whole Pacific that they’re getting modern telecommunications.”

National MP Shane Reti said it was "wonderful news".  Photo/Mark Mitchell
National MP Shane Reti said it was “wonderful news”. Photo/Mark Mitchell

Reti said he had been in touch with Tonga’s Consul and Minister for Pacific Peoples, Aupito William Sio, who was delighted to hear the news.


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