ITU Dispatches Satellite Phones for Philippines Recovery Efforts (11/13/13)
Wednesday, November 13, 2013 | Comments

The International Telecommunication Union (ITU) dispatched emergency telecommunications equipment to areas severely affected by Typhoon Haiyan, which tore through the Visayas region of central Philippines Nov. 8 with deadly force, making landfall five times in the provinces of Eastern Samar, Leyte, Cebu, Panay Island and Palawan. The combination of powerful winds and seawater devastated buildings, communities and families.

Damage to critical telecommunications infrastructure has made rapid assessment difficult, and authorities are still determining casualty figures. Given the extent of the damage it could be weeks or months before physical telecommunications infrastructure is repaired or replaced. In the meantime, satellite equipment provided by ITU to the Philippine authorities will help ensure that essential telecommunications services can be quickly provided through satellite, to enable much-needed support for search-and-rescue services, as well as the need for families to re-establish contacts.

ITU has deployed 50 Thuraya satellite phones equipped with GPS to facilitate search-and-rescue efforts, along with 30 Iridium satellite phones, 20 Inmarsat Broadband Global Area Network terminals and a Qualcomm CDMA base station. The equipment can be charged by car batteries and is also supplied with solar panels to enable operation during power outages.

“ITU is prepared to help the government and people of the Philippines in every way possible in their hour of need, and to deal with the colossal tragedy that has overwhelmed the country with unimaginable loss of life and property,” said ITU Secretary-General Hamadoun I. Touré. “I hope the deployment of emergency telecommunications equipment will assist the government of the Philippines in search-and-rescue operations and re-establish vital communication links.”

ITU experts have been deployed to the Philippines and are working with the authorities to train first responders in the use of the equipment during search-and-rescue operations and for logistical support.

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