Loss of Tonga’s telecommunication – what happened, how was it managed and what were the consequences?

Policy Brief
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Oceania  Climate  Oceans  Energy
Written by

Niels Nagelhus Schia

Senior Research Fellow, Head of the Research group on security and defense, Head of NUPI's Research Centere on New Technology


Ida Rødningen



In January 2022 the subsea volcano Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai in Tonga had a major eruption which also cut the country’s communication lines nationally, between Tonga’s inhabited islands and the outside world. The damage led to a complete halt in international communication (a “digital darkness”) which meant that, in the period immediately after the outbreak, not much was known about the extent of the damage in Tonga. Due to very limited access to contact with both the authorities and the population of Tonga, it was only during overflights carried out by the Australian and New Zealand air forces that one could begin to map the extent of the damage and the need for assistance.