The ETC in the Pacific was activated in 2016 under the structure of the Pacific Humanitarian Team (PHT) to support telecommunications preparedness in the region. The ETC in the Pacific is supporting the response to the eruption of the Hunga-Tonga-Hunga-Ha-apai underwater volcano and subsequent tsunami which hit Tonga on 15 January 2022.
• Both telecommunications service providers in Tonga—Digicel and the Tonga Communications Corporation (TCC)—have restored limited voice, SMS, and internet services in country.
Challenges remain with capacity of the networks to support the needs of the response community and the population of Tonga.
• The ETC is supporting the response in Tonga by addressing communications gaps for government and responders until national telecommunications providers have fully recovered, and the damaged undersea communications cable is repaired. Solutions include deployment of communications equipment from Fiji via a landing stage in Brisbane, Australia, set up as part of regional preparedness actions.
• Due to measures put in place by the government of Tonga to prevent any cases of COVID-19 in country, this response will be a ‘no contact’ operation. Only equipment is being deployed, to be operationalized using national capacity.
The first flights to deliver international humanitarian assistance to Tonga arrived from Australia and New Zealand on 20 January, five days after the large eruption of the Hunga-Tonga-Hunga-Ha’apai volcano and subsequent tsunami on 15 January. The Government of Tonga is coordinating the distribution of relief items throughout its island communities and continues to conduct damage assessments and aerial surveys of Tonga. The government response is coordinated through the National Emergency Operations Centre (NEOC) on Tongatapu.