It’s been just over a week since Tonga’s Hung Tonga-Hunga-Ha’apai volcano erupted and caused a massive tsunami to wipe out many villages and cuting off its submarine telecommunication line, cutting off Tonga from their relatives not only in Australia but around the world.
Late on Friday, TPG telecom annoucned their customers as well as customers through its subsidiary brands – Vodafone, Kogan and Lebara brands, can make free-rated standard mobile calls to family and friends in Tonga for 2 weeks starting Friday 21 January and ending on the night of Thursday 3 February 2022.
TPG Telecom’s other brands, including TPG, iiNet, Westnet and Internode will also allow free standard calls to Tonga between the same dates. TPG telecom has stated for a small number of customers under these brands standard calls to Tonga between the same dates. And if so, invites them to contact their service provider for a full refund or credit for these calls.
Arthur Panos, General Manager Products and Devices at TPG Telecom has stated that:
We are heartbroken to see the tragic events that have taken place in Tonga, and to see the ripple effect it has had on the people of Tonga, Tongan Australians and the worldwide Tongan community, and that Our thoughts are with all those affected by this disaster, and we hope this small gesture to help our customers reconnect will provide some support and comfort.
TPG Telecom is advising its customers that while the communications network to Tonga has been restored, it may still encounter periods of instability during times of peak load. If customers experience any issues connecting with Tonga, they may need to retry calling to successfully connect.
Interestingly though, any customers who use its Felix Brand are not included in this as Tonga is not included on its list of international call destinations.
For Telstra customers, it is offering to waive charges for calls to Tonga from Telstra home phones and post-paid mobiles from midnight for the next seven days. This offer isn’t available for pre-paid mobile calls at this stage, however Telstra has said that it will be monitoring the situation and may change this to include Pre-Paid services.
Telstra also stated that whilst it hasn’t completed its acquisition of Digicel Pacific yet and that they are in contact with the Digicel Pacific team in Tonga and fortunately the team are all ok.
Telstra has teams from across its business working with the Digicel Pacific technical team on a satellite communications solution to help restore some communications and that they are working alongside with the Australian Government to get the first batch of satellite equipment shipped on an RAAF flight, which has arrived and another shipment is on the way. This equipment has helped Digicel Tonga team start to progressively restore services
For those who do have family in Tonga, the Ausdroid hope your friends and family are safe and well.