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ITU and Kacific join forces to boost emergency telecoms

ITU and Kacific join forces to boost emergency telecoms

ITU and Kacific join forces to boost emergency
telecoms and ICT development in
Vanuatu


A
telecommunications tower destroyed by Cyclone
Harold.

Kacific Broadband Satellites Group
(Kacific) and the International Telecommunication Union
(ITU) have joined forces to boost the capacity of Vanuatu to
provide a reliable communications network when disasters
strike – and to improve connectivity to boost
socio-economic development.

The collaboration aims to
bring connectivity, in particular to remote and outer
islands, including parts of Vanuatu where existing
telecommunications networks were recently destroyed in the
wake of the Category-5 Cyclone Harold, which cut a deadly
path through the north of the country in early
April.

“This initiative will strengthen disaster
resilience of Vanuatu,” says Doreen Bogdan-Martin,
Director of ITU’s Telecommunication Development Bureau.
“By building closer collaboration, partnerships and
integrating innovative digital technologies in disaster risk
reduction and management, we can go much further in terms of
mitigating against disasters and saving lives.”

After
Cyclone Harold: making a difference in Vanuatu

The
collaboration is already having a significant impact across
the region, not least in hard-hit Vanuatu where Kacific and
ITU provided equipment, such as Very Small Aperture
Terminals (VSATs), to provide crucial connectivity to help
relief efforts after normal network coverage was wiped
out.

A telecommunications tower destroyed by Cyclone
Harold.

On April 7, the morning after Cyclone Harold
passed through Vanuatu, one community chief expressed his
amazement and satisfaction that people could still access
the internet even after all the big networks went offline.
This was due to the community WiFi service offered by the
VSAT provided by ITU and Kacific.

“Truly, this small
network is amazing, and I can see how important it is for
our communities in times like this,” he said. “Thank you
so much to ITU and Kacific for making communication easy and
still connected during such a difficult
time.”

Vanuatu’s government also expressed gratitude
for the support offered by ITU and Kacific, in particular,
to help provide satellite bandwidth capacity for their
Emergency Operations Centers (EOCs) in the affected northern
central part of Vanuatu.

The VSATs that were deployed
assist assessment teams on the ground who are helping with
detailed sectoral assessments that will form the basis for
the Post Disaster Needs Assessment for Vanuatu’s recovery
effort.

Setting up a VSAT at one of the Emergency
Operations Centers.

“Prior to Hurricane Harold, Kacific
had been working closely with Vanuatu’s government to
connect remote medical centres and schools,” says
Lakshminarasimhan Sundarrajan, Kacific’s Vice President of
Pre-Sales. “In the aftermath of Hurricane Harold, Kacific
continues to partner with the government and international
agencies, including ITU, to enable broadband connectivity in
unserved areas. Kacific will continue to support Vanuatu
with high-speed broadband connectivity to reach essential
services in the country during these trying
times.”

Beyond equipment: sharing knowledge and
expertise

As part of the Development of Satellite
Communications Capacity and Emergency Communications
Solutions for the Pacific Islands, Kacific is in the process
of donating some 40 1.2m Ka-band terminals, which provide
high-speed satellite connectivity services that will
address, among other things, the need for better
communications in the aftermath of disasters.

Kacific will
also share its technical expertise by training local
partners on using and maintaining the satellite ground
equipment. Crucially, local partners will be trained to use
this service for emergency telecommunications to aid
recovery efforts following disasters.

One major lesson to
be learned from the disaster caused by cyclone Harold is the
importance of development and implementation of updated
National Emergency Telecommunication Plans (NETPs) by the
countries. When disaster strikes there is no time to think
about what to do and how to organize response. It is crucial
that all stakeholders are prepared beforehand and ready to
take action.

ITU with its Australian funding partner
Department of Infrastructure Transport, Regional Development
and Communications (DITRDC) had worked to develop NETPs for
Papua New Guinea, Vanuatu, Samoa and Solomon Islands in the
Pacific. At global level, ITU developed guidelines for NETPs
which assist countries in enhancing their resilience and
capacity to provide the most efficient response to
disasters.

Beyond disaster recovery

To the communities
of the Pacific – farmers, fishermen, students and others
– ICT connectivity is critical to gain access to social
and economic services.

Yet, providing reliable
telecommunications infrastructure as a foundation for
economic development in a region as remote large as the
Pacific remains an uphill battle.

That is why ITU is
developing additional strategies to address these challenges
as well as to implement low-cost and reliable network
configurations to minimize the disruptions that can be
caused by both terrestrial and satellite failures
particularly when disasters strike.

To realize this
objective, ITU works with partners like Kacific to develop
remote satellite connectivity capacity.

The systems
provided throughout the region have focused heavily on
connecting schools, particularly in remote areas.

“Most
of the installations of satellite equipment have been in the
schools, which caters to the educational needs – and also
serve as the rural e-community center for other applications
like health services,” said Aamir Riaz from ITU’s
Regional Office Asia Pacific. “On the other hand, some
equipment is strategically kept by countries in repositories
which can be mobilized for any disaster response.”

Next
up: Kacific1

Beyond disaster recovery, Kacific1, which is
now fully active, will help to transform Asia Pacific
nations by delivering its citizens with access to
affordable, high-speed satellite broadband.

Kacific1,
which uses the high-frequency Ka-band spectrum, is the most
powerful broadband satellite serving the region to date. Its
high-throughput technology reuses spectrum multiple times,
resulting in greater spectral efficiency and therefore a
lower cost per bandwidth.

“We are delighted to be
partnering with the ITU for this critical initiative,”
says Kacific Founder and CEO, Christian Patouraux. “This
initiative is possible because our Kacific1 satellite is now
delivering affordable satellite broadband to the islands of
the Pacific. This brand new, high-throughput satellite
provides an exceptional service at a fraction of the cost of
other technologies, making its services practical for rural,
remote and even semi-urban communities. We will create more
products and work with our local partners in each country to
increase their technological expertise and ability to
support disaster preparedness and recovery
efforts.”

Sites running the service are located in rural
and remote communities within seven countries: Papua New
Guinea, Fiji, Samoa, Tuvalu, Tonga, Kiribati and Vanuatu.
The provisioned bandwidth will be delivered by Kacific’s
high-throughput satellite, Kacific1, which provides
affordable satellite broadband to 25 nations in Asia
Pacific.

© Scoop Media

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