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Vancouver, B.C. (15 April 1999)---Opetaia Simati has a great story he can tell his grandchildren one day. He has become the first Tuvaluan to chat live on the internet from Tuvalu.

Mr. Simati works for the Tuvalu government Computer Department on Funafuti, and recently returned there with fellow countryman Jeff Malua. They were taking courses related to the setting up of the first Internet Service Provider (ISP) for Tuvalu. Around the same time, Vancouver based Tuvalu Online was inaugurating its own chat line through Delphi Forums of Cambridge, Massachusetts. Opetaia was a frequent contributor to Tuvalu Online during his stay in New Zealand, and enjoyed joining the spirited live chats with other Tuvaluans and friends around the world.

Opetaia promised that at the first available moment, he would drop into the room from Funafuti. This historic event occurred on April 14, 1999 (Vancouver time) when he barged in during a conversation with Masaniga and Steve Boland, Talie Tilinga, Brian and Helena Cannon, and Rikawa of Hong Kong. Several other Tuvaluans and other interested parties later joined in throughout the evening and early morning. The main topics of conversation included the recent vote of no confidence against the Tuvalu Prime Minister, and the famous Internet TV deal.

Since the ISP in Tuvalu is not set up yet, the chatting from Tuvalu costs $1.50 AUD a minute. "I am not just sure how long I have been chatting for, but someone in the department just might kill me when the bill comes in," said Opetaia.

When will Tuvalu have it's own ISP, Brian asked.

"I hope soon," said Opetaia, "I am not a politician, but this no confidence thing could cause delays."

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