Elon Musk has offered to send Starlink internet terminals to Tonga, after the recent volcanic eruption and tsunami left the Pacific island nation without communication links to the rest of the world.
Replying on Twitter to a Reuters story that Tonga could be without internet connection for a month, the billionaire entrepreneur wrote: “Could people from Tonga let us know if it is important for SpaceX to send over Starlink terminals?”
The tweet soon went viral as Tongans from all over the world replied with pleas for help to reestablish communication to contact families and coordinate assistance.
Tongan politician Lord Fusitu’a responded by saying: “Yes we need them to get liquidity in to purchase much-needed goods. Voice and data completely down with undersea cable severed.”
Fusitu’a also tweeted that he was organizing an airdrop of ham radio for basic communications, and requested for direct contact with Musk to coordinate assistance.
Other members of the Tongan community responded positively to Musk’s tweet, including Josephine Latu-Sanft, a Tongan communications specialist, who wrote: “I don’t know the details of what Starlink can do, but I know you have the technology and means to help.”
She suggested giving people internet until the undersea cable is repaired, then working with partners to establish robust communications infrastructure across disaster-vulnerable Pacific.
답으로, Musk wrote: “This is a hard thing for us to do right now, as we don’t have enough satellites with laser links and there are already geo sats that serve the Tonga region. That is why I’m asking for clear confirmation.”
Communications are still down in Tonga except for satellite phones and limited internet access for a handful of officials and media.
The exchange comes after the New Zealand MP Shane Reti wrote to Musk requesting he provide Starlink internet communications to Tonga to assist in recovery efforts.
Tesla has limited presence in the Pacific islands except for Tesla solar panels, which are used in sustainable energy projects in some of the islands.