12 votes

The island nation of Tonga is facing a near-total internet blackout. The country’s only undersea cable was damaged during a storm.

6 comments

  1. [6]
    dubteedub
    Link
    That really sucks. In today's super connected global online world, losing connection to the internet could be really disastrous to an economy like this one. I know the giant underwater internet...

    "There is a cut on the cable, and they need to send a ship out there to repair that cut," he said. "Unfortunately, and this happens with many Pacific islands, there is only one cable and not enough budget for two cables. There's not enough population to support the right amount of redundancy."

    That really sucks. In today's super connected global online world, losing connection to the internet could be really disastrous to an economy like this one.

    I know the giant underwater internet cables are probably extraordinarily expensive, but it is also really crazy to think that 100,000 people is not enough of a population to sustain literally any redundancy in the system.

    2 votes
    1. Silbern
      Link Parent
      Yeah. One of the best things about living in Hawaii is that, as the one of the most populated places in the Pacific and because of the significant strategic importance, we tend to get a lot of QoL...

      Yeah. One of the best things about living in Hawaii is that, as the one of the most populated places in the Pacific and because of the significant strategic importance, we tend to get a lot of QoL stuff like redundant internet links that other island chains might not get. Living out here can be very difficult in some ways despite the stereotype of non-stop tropical weather and beach parties.

      5 votes
    2. [4]
      Rocket_Man
      Link Parent
      It is pretty weird they can't support some kind of redundancy. Sure maybe not a second big cable, but you'd think a smaller cable might be cost effective as a backup. Especially when it takes...

      It is pretty weird they can't support some kind of redundancy. Sure maybe not a second big cable, but you'd think a smaller cable might be cost effective as a backup. Especially when it takes weeks for a fix to happen.

      3 votes
      1. [3]
        Greg
        Link Parent
        I'm pretty sure that the vast majority of the cost is armouring the cable to survive under the ocean, and then the complex process of laying it. The amount of fibre optics inside (i.e. the...

        I'm pretty sure that the vast majority of the cost is armouring the cable to survive under the ocean, and then the complex process of laying it. The amount of fibre optics inside (i.e. the difference between a "big" and "small" cable) is likely only a few percent of the overall price.

        One potentially viable back up solution would be point-to-point microwave - it's 1,800km to New Zealand, so you won't get a straight shot, but it's reasonably plausible to deploy something like Google's Project Loon repeaters. You'd be looking at a small handful of anchor points rather than a huge run of cable; reliability would be lower, but in addition to the existing cable it'd provide redundancy and extra capacity.

        The other option is satellite - high latency and expensive as hell, but I'm sure that government buildings and similar in Tonga are using it as we speak. The next step up there would be to put a way oversized caching system at the local ISP office, along with some fancy request queuing & prioritisation, to effectively share the small trickle of connectivity from a few satellite links among the island as a whole.

        3 votes
        1. spctrvl
          Link Parent
          There's a number of companies looking to build LEO megaconstellations for high speed, low latency internet access, starting in the next couple of years. Hopefully that'll make reliably connecting...

          There's a number of companies looking to build LEO megaconstellations for high speed, low latency internet access, starting in the next couple of years. Hopefully that'll make reliably connecting far flung regions like Oceania a little more straightforward.

          2 votes
        2. Rocket_Man
          Link Parent
          You're right about the size, that doesn't seem to make much a difference at all. Under the deep sea they are only about an inch in diameter which is a lot smaller than I thought. Some cost might...

          You're right about the size, that doesn't seem to make much a difference at all. Under the deep sea they are only about an inch in diameter which is a lot smaller than I thought. Some cost might come from the uncomfortable distance. The cable appears to be about 827 Km and it seems anything much over 400 km requires repeaters which adds to the cost and complexity of the cable. But yeah, the majority of the cost likely comes from the manufacturing of the cable, and the process of laying it which is fairly specialized and time consuming.

          1 vote