Tonga is overhauling its analogue telephone service to voice-over-IP with the help of two New Zealand companies and quietly privatising its telecommunications structure.
Cisco New Zealand and agent Datacraft, the local companies involved, are currently setting up a trial phase of the project, whose timetable is uncertain at this stage.
Prime contractor for the project is Tongan company Shoreline, an electricity supplier that is branching out into telecommunications. Telecomms in Tonga to date have been run by a government-owned company. Shoreline is a private concern, understood to have connections with the Tongan royal family.
Shoreline is looking to roll out internet, data and voice services throughout the island, says Cisco NZ chief Tim Hemingway. “At present, there is a limited wired network around [the capital] Tongatapu, a wireless connection to remote area and a mobile network with 10 customers.”
The project is said to be worth $15m.