Tonga Celebrates Arrival of Broadband

Looking Forward to Cheaper Faster Internet from July

NUKU’ALOFA, 17th May 2013 —-Today Tonga’s National ICT Day showcased the advent of high-speed internet in July, under the first phase of the Pacific Regional Connectivity Project supported by the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank (ADB).

Scheduled to be commissioned in July, an 826km underwater fiber optic cable linking Tonga to Fiji will help increase broadband internet access and affordability for Tonga’s population of 100,000 people.

“Tonga currently has some of the cheapest telephone costs in the world but some of the highest internet costs”, said the Hon. Prime Minister Lord Tu’ivakano. “Cheaper price and more accessible internet will maximize the power and versatility of communications technology, to accelerate development and improve the lives of the Tongan community.”

High speed internet is coming and this promises significant benefits for social and economic development, and new job opportunities for the Tongan people,” said Natasha Beschorner, Senior ICT Policy Specialist for the World Bank.

Hundreds of people attended the event in Nuku’alofa, Tonga’s capital, which highlighted the forthcoming benefits of cheaper and more reliable internet for Tongan communities.

The event featured stalls and information sessions such as exhibitions on the evolution of information and communications technology in Tonga from the 1800s to 2013; exhibits from businesses, e-Government and Tonga Cable Limited, as well as Skype demonstrations with Tongans around the world, including HRH Princess Latufuipeka, Tonga’s ambassador to Australia.

The Pacific Regional Connectivity Project builds on the successes of World Bank support to telecommunications reform in the Pacific region which, in just a few years, together with other partners, has given over two million more people access to telecommunications. It is being funded through grants of US $34 million, including $17.2 million from the World Bank, $9.7 million from ADB and a $6.6 million investment from Tonga Communications Corporation.

Contacts:

At the Govt of Tonga: Frank Koloi, Mob: (676) 77 07 331, fkoloi@mic.gov.to

At the World Bank: Laura Keenan, (676) 77 49 545, lkeenan@worldbank.org

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