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When it became clear that Tonga may spend a month without internet cable after a recent volcanic eruption and tsunami, Elon Musk was on hand, offering to get it back up and running with his SpaceX Starlink - but then backtracked on the offer minutes later on Twitter.
As a result of the volcano eruption on January 15th, which was 500 times more powerful than an atomic bomb, a 7.4 magnitude earthquake hit the Pacific Island and caused a tsunami, knocking out the country's telecommunication networks.
On Wednesday, phones were reconnected but until the undersea cable gets fixed after being severed from the recent natural disaster, the people of Tonga remain without internet.
Though billionaire Elon Musk has since offered to help (albeit, an offer that stood for a few minutes before being backpedalled).
In a tweet, responding to a Reuter's article about the currently limited internet access in the country, Musk questioned whether the Tongan people thought it was important for Space X to send over some of their Starlink satellites to the island in order to provide them with internet access through laser links.
He asked: "Could people from Tonga let us know if it is important for SpaceX to send over Starlink terminals."
Could people from Tonga let us know if it is important for SpaceX to send over Starlink terminals?
"This is a hard thing for us to do right now, as we don’t have enough satellites with laser links and there are already geo sats that serve the Tonga region. That is why I’m asking for clear confirmation," he tweeted.
Basically, the geo satellites which are used for TV, radio, etc and also forecasting the weather are already over the island and so there's not enough space for Musk to move his Starlink terminals over there too.
This is a hard thing for us to do right now, as we don\u2019t have enough satellites with laser links and there are already geo sats that serve the Tonga region. That is why I\u2019m asking for clear confirmation.
People on Twitter appear divided over the interaction, with some praising the Space X CEO for being upfront within minutes of whether he could realistically help Tonga out, while other people believe Reti and others have called Musk's bluff and also pointed out while Musk may not be able to help with the country's internet problem, he could provide aid in other areas such as providing food and water to those affected.
Tonga: whatever, please, just help!\nElon: This is pretty hard for me to do right now on account of there being no such thing, but it's a fucking cool idea\nTechbros: [slurp, slurp]https://twitter.com/elonmusk/status/1484424055071641602\u00a0\u2026
I think the people of Tonga would rather have construction equipment, water filters, food and toilet paper. Why try to act like the internet is their most important essential? Elon acts like a 50yr old with a 5yr old\u2019s mentality.
How are they meant to communicate that they need help when their tower has been damaged and most of the island is with out cable internet /commuicationhttps://twitter.com/elonmusk/status/1484424055071641602\u00a0\u2026