A Volcanic Eruption Cut Tonga's Only Undersea Cable Connection


By Kristin LeeJan 28, 2022


Cable faults happen fairly often and for a variety of reasons.

Most of the time, damage to submarine cables comes from human activity—primarily fishing and anchoring. But environmental factors can also cause a cable to break. 

This just happened in Tonga, where an underwater volcanic eruption and subsequent tsunami damaged the country's only undersea cable. Early reports indicate that it could be a few weeks before the necessary repairs are made. More on that below.

We round out our January list of reading recs with a look at smart tractors, freshly updated TeleGeography research, and Big Tech cable investments.

How will Tonga's broken internet cable be mended?

Without a functioning undersea cable, Tonga's ability to communicate with the rest of the world has been dramatically affected.

The good news: repairing cables is simply part of the process for a cable-dependent society. And we've gotten good at it!

The bad news: the closest cable repair boat is currently stationed about 2,900 miles away and reaching the cable break will take time. Plus, the area will need to be determined safe—for both the boat and crew—before the repair can happen.

For a more comprehensive look at what's going on in Tonga, this BBC piece is a great resource.

Google, Amazon, Meta and Microsoft Weave a Fiber-Optic Web of Power

We've been talking about content providers and cables for a long time.

This new Wall Street Journal piece zeroes in on the four tech giants that increasingly dominate the internet’s critical cable infrastructure. (And for what it's worth, you can read more about these cable investment trends in our Global Bandwidth Research Service.)

Property Investors Swap Office Blocks for Data Centers

Another Wall Street Journal piece, this one about data center investment.

Writes Carol Ryan: "Real-estate investors are pulling cash out of offices and putting it into data centers as a hedge against the impact of remote working. But data centers have their own problems with oversupply and demanding tenants."

Toyota Ventures backs seed extension into Agtonomy, turning tractors into autonomous vehicles

We recently wrote about both smart bird feeders and smart buoys. This month, smart tractors have the spotlight.

Agtonomy is a "hybrid autonomy and tele-assist service startup that turns tractors and other equipment into autonomous machines to provide a low-cost, technology-enabled labor force for local farms to manage such equipment."

And it has already raised a total of $9 million in funding.

Keep reading for more information on Agtonomy, agtech, and the mobile app that allows farmers to assign jobs to their tractors.

Mobile phone calls' share of international traffic dropped for first time

Our new voice data made the news. And it's true. We found that international call traffic declined by 7% in 2020. This downhill trend continues from 2015 after a slight increase in 2020, at the start of the pandemic. 

Despite a small rise in traffic once restrictions were implemented, our overall 2020 data matched that of previous years. Operators’ traffic fell by 9% in 2017, 4% in 2018, and by a further 6% in 2019. One area the pandemic may have impacted is the mobile-originated share of international traffic, which dropped for the first time ever from 62.4% in 2019 to 62.0% in 2020.

You can read more in this Mobile Europe piece. Or go straight to the source.

Survey Says: DIA Is Hot on the Heels of MPLS

TeleGeography's WAN Manager Survey now includes data collected throughout 2021.

Like in all previous versions, we asked questions about how networks are currently configured—and found that enterprise companies are increasingly embracing hybrid networks.

Let's get down to the nitty-gritty.


Think you've got something that should be on our monthly reading list? Tweet it to us @TeleGeography.


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