Tuvalu Updates Islandwide HF Communications, Early Warning Systems
Tuesday, October 31, 2017 | Comments

The island country of Tuvalu upgraded its high-frequency (HF) communications system as part of the National Adaptation Program of Action (NAPA). Tuvalu is no higher than 3 meters above sea level, making the country susceptible to storm surges and natural disasters.

The early warning and emergency communications project was designed and implemented to improve the response to climate-related events by providing continuous communications to the outer islands. The communications systems were designed to be independent of existing public services and were required to be available at all times. A satellite-based alarm system and HF radio systems were proposed to accomplish this.

HF radio communications has been used in Tuvalu for many years; however, the existing infrastructure deteriorated and became inoperable.

Following a competitive tender process, Barrett Communications was selected to supply the equipment. The system includes HF transceivers and the company’s email, data and fax systems. A combination of antennas was selected because some islands have limited land for installation of the antennas. The entire system is powered by solar with adequate reserve capacity to ensure reliable 24-hour operations to all sites.

On the main island of Funafuti, HF installations were provided at the meteorological office, police station, telecom exchange, NAPA project office and fisheries headquarters as well as on the project vessel. Each outer island has an HF system installed either at the meteorological office or at the local telecom office when there is no meteorological office.

“HF radio communications is seeing a resurgence due to its reliability and its independence of infrastructure, making it perfect for early warning and emergency communications following natural or manmade disasters,” said Barrett Communications Managing Director Greg O’Neill. “Systems similar to this are currently being used in other Pacific islands, islands of the Caribbean, in humanitarian aid activities in South America and in critical infrastructure projects in the United States of America.”

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