Minister of Finance (Hon. Tevita Lavemaau), Acting Deputy CEO ICT Division Mr Heneli Palu and Telecom and Satellite Advisor – Keith Moala, in a brief session with the Minister of Finance, to demonstrate the first successful Ka-band satellite operation in the Kingdom. Historically, when Cable and Wireless took over international telecommunications in Tonga from 1978 to 2000

FIRST Ka-BAND SATELLITE OPERATION IN THE KINGDOM

TARGET TO SUPPORT FINANCIAL SYSTEMS APPLICATIONS IN REMOTE ISLANDS, AND PAVING THE PLATFORM FOR e-GOVERNMENT PROJECT LED BY THE MINISTRY OF FINANCE

Friday 28th February 2020 – Ministry of Finance, Top of St. George Government Building, Nuku’alofa

Minister of Finance (Hon. Tevita Lavemaau), Acting Deputy CEO ICT Division Mr Heneli Palu and Telecom and Satellite Advisor – Keith Moala, in a brief session with the Minister of Finance, to demonstrate the first successful Ka-band satellite operation in the Kingdom. Historically, when Cable and Wireless took over international telecommunications in Tonga from 1978 to 2000, they operated in C-Band (6GHz Uplink, 4GHz Downlink) via Intelsat satellites. Later as we entered the new millennium, Ku-Band (14GHz Uplink, 11GHz Downlink) was introduced to the Pacific that enabled us to watch ‘Direct To Home’ satellite TV services and operate VSAT communication services. Both C and Ku band satellite services are still actively in operation in the Pacific to date, with their own respective strengths and weaknesses.

But in December 2019, a new type of satellite service was launched in the Pacific. Kacific Broadband Satellite Group successfully launched their first ‘High Throughput Satellite’ (HTS) and parked over 150degrees East Longitude, with 56 satellite beams that perfectly designed to cover specific islands of the Pacific region including Tonga. In order to achieve Broadband Internet access operation for our Pacific remote islands, Kacific designed their first HTS satellite to cover the Pacific in Ka-Band (30GHz Uplink, 19GHz Downlink) – hence its name KACIFIC.

Ka-Band operates in a much higher frequency band than both C and Ku bands and therefore, these services are more sensitive to rain. Relatively, the Ka-band dishes are much harder to point to the satellite and therefore will be more sensitive to high winds and cyclones. But our experience in satellite operations in the Pacific Region tells us that, majority of satellite network outages in remote islands today, are still dominated by ‘power outages’ rather than rain fade and tropical cyclones. When it comes to our remote islands like Niuafo’ou, Tafahi, Kao and Tofua – a VSAT service like Kacific, with low availability (say 95% in worst month) is still, much better than no Internet and communication services at all! The beauty of Ka-band operations is the COST.. To install a C-band VSAT in remote islands will cost at least TOP$100k, For Ku-band it comes down to at least TOP$20k, but for Ka-band, the cost for one VSAT is below TOP$2000.

The Ministry of Finance plans to test some Ka-band Kacific VSAT sites in remote islands like ‘Eua, Nomuka, Ha’afeva, the Niuas and the like, to expand the full operation of the Government’s Financial system known as ‘Sun System’, while they are in the process of designing the full e-Government Project funded by the World Bank within the next four years..

VSAT satellite services can also provide Redundancy satellite option for both our Domestic and International communications when our optical fiber cables (Domestic and International) are damaged as in January 2019.