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Pacific Islands

Tonga hit by near-total internet blackout

January 24, 2019 11:40 am
Tonga hit by near-total internet blackout

Tonga is experiencing a near total blackout of mobile and internet services after the country’s only undersea cable was damaged.

The problem took the island nation of about 100,000 people by surprise on Sunday night. Bad weather is being blamed as the cause of the fault.

A satellite link is providing limited bandwidth but officials say they may have to restrict social media use.

Residents have been told fixing the problem could take several weeks.

Blocking Facebook and YouTube?
Tonga Cable said in a statement the fault occurred at 8:45pm local time (7:45 GMT) on Sunday and cites a “magnetic storm” and “lightening” as causes.

A repair vessel is currently docked in Samoa and could be in Tonga within three days. The restoration work would then take one or two weeks, the company said.

In the worst case scenario, it said fixing the 827km (514-mile) cable linking Tonga and Fiji could take up to three weeks.