Elon Musk offers to send Starlink terminals to Tonga to help restore internet access

Elon Musk offers to send Starlink terminals to Tonga to help restore internet access
Elon Musk.Win McNamee/Getty Images
  • Elon Musk is offering to send Starlink terminals to Tonga, following a recent volcanic eruption.
  • He asked for "confirmation" that the devices were needed to restore internet access.

Elon Musk is offering Starlink terminals to Tonga residents after a recent underwater volcanic eruption led to a loss of internet access in the country.

The eruption occurred on January 15 with a powerful blast yield of around 10 megatons. It subsequently triggered a tsunami that tore through the country's 827 km (514 miles) undersea internet cable, cutting off the island's communication links.

Tonga has begun to restore some access to the internet since the volcanic eruption, according to Doug Madory, director of internet analysis at Kentik.

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"First signs of life for Internet connectivity out of #Tonga since the volcanic eruption! TCC (Tonga Communications Company, AS38201) started coming back via satellite (Speedcast, AS5666) earlier today," Madory tweeted on Thursday.

In response to a Reuters story reporting that Tonga's internet won't be fully restored for at least a month, Musk tweeted: "Could people from Tonga let us know if it is important for SpaceX to send over Starlink terminals?"


His tweet brought to light a letter written by Shane Reti, a New Zealand parliament member. The letter was shared by another user. In it, Reti requested "urgent Starlink internet communications," for Tonga.

Musk replied he was seeking "clear confirmation" for Starlink terminals given it is a "hard thing" for the team at SpaceX as they "don't have enough satellites with laser links."

There are more than 1,650 Starlink satellites in orbit. The satellite-internet network serves users in 14 countries including the US, Canada, and Australia.

In a recent report, Musk said he wanted to expand the service to India by deploying 200,000 Starlink user terminals to the country by December 2022.