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Tonga to feature its first ICT Day Expo on May 17

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16 May 2013 The first-ever ICT Day Expo will be held at the Queen Salote Memorial Hall

on 17 May 2013. Through the support of the World Bank, the Ministry of Information and Communications in collaboration with the ICT industry, would like to undertake a robust public relations campaign to enhance the visibility of the Project to consumers (individuals and institutions), potential investors (within Tonga and abroad), Internet service providers (ISPs) and other relevant key stakeholders.

This Expo will not only officially launch the public awareness campaign about the upcoming landing of the Fibre Optic cable in Tonga next month, but also recognises the increasing important role of ICT in every day life. The theme of this year's Expo is the 'Evolution of Information and Communications Technology in Tonga'.

Tonga's ICT Day will also be marked on the 17 May, coinciding with the International Telecommunications and Information Society Day, which is a day dedicated world-wide to raising awareness of the possibilities that the use of the Internet and other information and communications technologies (ICT) can bring societies and economies, as well as of ways to bridge the digital divide. The 17 of May also marks the anniversary of the signing of the first International Telegraph Convention and other creating of the International Telecommunications Union (ITU)- the United Nations specialized agency for information and communication technologies.

Tonga's own ICT Day will feature many of its telecommunication carries and Internet Service Providers, broadcasters and Information Technologies suppliers and services. It will be officially opened by the Prime Minister and Minister for Information and Communications, Lord Tu'ivakano on 17 May 2013.

Programme for Tonga ICT Day - 17 May 2013

10.30am            Prayer - Rev Dr Tevita Havea

10.35                Welcoming Speech - Hon Samiu Vaipulu - Chairman, Cabinet Communications Sub Committee

10.40               Speech - Ms. Natasha Beschorner, World Bank

11.00                Keynote Address - Prime Minister

Includes Skype message to:

(i)              HRH Princess Latufuipeka - Tonga's Ambassador to Australia
(ii)               Tongan Soldiers on Peace Keeping Duties in Afghanistan

11.15                Closing Prayer - Rev Dr Tevita Havea

11.20                Prime Minister leads Delegation & Distinguished Guests to view ICT Day stalls & displays

11.30                 Refreshments

Marketing and Promotional Campaign

Background.

Tonga's relative isolation and other constraints to economic development may be mitigated in part by improved access to and more affordable telecommunications, especially high-speed (broadband) Internet which has become essential for the functioning of modern economies worldwide.  Broadband Internet offers new economic opportunities domestically, as well as connections to larger markets, and new avenues for delivery of services, nationally and internationally.

The principal constraint to further telecommunications development-including new private investment and market entry-has been identified by all stakeholders as the limited capacity and high cost of international bandwidth.  This is due to Tonga's dependence on satellite connectivity which is inadequate to meet growing demand for bandwidth and also very costly by international standards.  Total demand for bandwidth is projected to increase from the current level of about 22 Mbps up to 1.243 Gbps by 2032, driven primarily by increased demand for fixed and mobile broadband.

The Government and telecommunications industry in Tonga considered several options to improve access and to reduce the cost of international connectivity. The option to invest in a new submarine fibre-optic cable to the Southern Cross Cable Network (SCCN) in Fiji was selected. This project will not only increase the available bandwidth for Tonga, but is also expected to reduce international bandwidth costs.  The Tonga-Fiji cable is expected to provide substantially higher capacity than through existing satellite links, and to reduce international bandwidth costs from their present level. Given the Government's keen interest to realize the benefits of ICT for the country's development, the Tonga-Fiji Connectivity Project (Project), jointly funded by the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank, is the first phase in the Pacific Regional Connectivity Program (PRCP). In addition to these funding is Tonga Communications Commission (TCC) for in-country infrastructure costs.

Project Objectives

The Project will support the construction of a submarine fibre-optic cable connection from Tonga to Fiji, thereby connecting Tonga to the global telecommunications network.  The Project will meet Tonga's immediate and medium-term demand for connectivity (bandwidth), and facilitate communications, trade and services with its neighbors and larger regional markets.

Specifically, the proposed Project will aim to improve the enabling environment for telecommunications and ICT in Tonga-including greater competition and increased access to infrastructure and services by reducing the costs of international connectivity and strengthening the telecommunications regulatory framework.  Access to the capacity on this infrastructure will be available on an open-access basis.  Expected sector-specific outcomes are:  (a) increased volume of international, regional, and national traffic and, (b) decreases in the average price of international, regional, and national communications.

Project Components
There are three (3) components under the Project. These include:

Component 1. Submarine Cable System. This component is financing the construction of an 827 km repeater cable linking Nuku'alofa (Tonga) with Suva (Fiji) plus a landing station in Tonga.  The cost includes cable materials, marine survey and laying costs, and cable equipment.  In Fiji, the cable will be connected to the existing SCCN landing station in Suva.  The Southern Cross Cable connects Fiji with Australia and the US (Hawaii), and is owned by a consortium of operators.  The cable has been manufactured and cable-laying is about to start and will arrive in Tonga in June, 2013.

Component 2. Enabling environment. This component is financing technical assistance for (i) telecommunications policy, legal and regulatory development, and on the legal and regulatory environment for Internet and e-transactions; and (ii) regulatory capacity building.

Component 3. Project administration. This component is providing technical assistance in the form of administrative support to Tonga Cable Ltd (TCL) and to the Ministry of Information and Communications (MIC) in the areas of project management, procurement, financial management, communications and audit.

Public Awareness Campaign

Through the support of the World Bank, the Ministry of Information and Communications in collaboration with the ICT industry, would like to undertake a robust public relations campaign to enhance the visibility of the Project to consumers (individuals and institutions), potential investors (within Tonga and abroad), Internet service providers (ISPs) and other relevant key stakeholders.  A Marketing Specialist has been appointed to assist in preparing a Marketing Strategy for Tonga as an ICT destination, a consumer awareness campaign and to ensure the project has the full impact on the direct beneficiaries in Tonga highlighted and promoted.

For more information, please contact - the Project Manager for the project, Heleni Toli of the Ministry of Information and Communications on +676 28-170.

ENDS

Issued by the: Ministry of Information and Communications, Nuku'alofa, May 16 2013.

Last Updated ( Thursday, 23 May 2013 21:43 )  

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