The nation of Tonga has selected Alcatel Lucent to build an undersea cable connecting the small island to neighbours Fiji, and thus to the Southern Cross cable that connects New Zealand and Australia with the west coast of the United States.
The 837km cable will allow Tonga’s 100,000 residents to access services like video and high-speed internet, creating ‘a gateway to the global economy and community’ according to Robert Bolouri, managing director of Tonga Cable Limited.
"We are confident that it will provide great benefits to Tonga’s citizens and the many visitors we welcome each year,” Bolouri says in a statement.
"With the help of Alcatel-Lucent, we will be able to bring a much broader range of communications services to people throughout the country.”
The project has been funded by the World Bank (US$17.2 million), the Asian Development Bank (US$9.7 million), the Pacific Region Infrastructure Facility (US$0.5 million) and Tonga Cable Limited (US$6.6 million).
The work will be performed by Alcatel-Lucent’s Ile de Ré cable ship (pictured), which is based in the region; a timeline for completion is to be worked out in coming months.