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Ciena's Brian Lavallée on Tonga's tussle with a broken submarine cable


In January, the island state Tonga's Internet connection went dark for five weeks. The eruption of the Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha'apai undersea volcano cut Tonga's only international cable, its main domestic inter-island link.

Brian Lavallée, senior director of submarine network solutions for Ciena, joins the podcast to explain why this particular severing of an undersea cable had such an impact on Tonga's network, how satellite connectivity provided a temporary backup for the island state and advancements being made in submarine network services.

"If you can have both – meaning you have a business case to either get satellite or submarine – you always go with submarine because the sheer magnitude of capacity you can run through a submarine cable is astonishing," said Lavallée. "You'll never get that capacity over a satellite network for the foreseeable future." Here are just a few things covered in this podcast episode:

  • How Tonga's undersea cable was disconnected (1:45)
  • Age and length of Tonga's submarine cable (05:24)
  • New submarine cable technology compared with Tonga's cable (06:23)
  • Fiber capacity of new and existing submarine cables (07:40)
  • How damaged undersea cables are repaired (09:06)
  • How satellite technology compares to undersea access (12:24)
  • The business case for backup submarine cables (15:33)
  • Examples of cable "faults" or disrupted service (17:39)
  • Knocking on the door of the Shannon limit (21:10)
  • Lifespan of submarine cables (24:29)

— Kelsey Kusterer Ziser, Senior Editor, Light Reading

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