Télécoms Sans Frontières

Our partnership with emergency telecommunications NGO Télécoms Sans Frontières (TSF) has been going strong for nearly 20 years.

As well as providing satellite communications for TSF to ensure connectivity is established as soon as possible in the wake of humanitarian crises, we also began to offer pro-bono legal services to the organisation in 2019.

Man setting up GX terminal on roof

TSF is the principal communications provider to the United Nations in disaster situations, enabling governments, UN agencies and other NGOs to optimise emergency response, coordinate healthcare, repatriate affected populations and distribute life-saving supplies. Free satellite phone calls and data access offered to the victims of natural disasters or human conflict help reconnect families.

Working out of regional bases in France, Thailand, Nicaragua, Mexico and the United States, expert teams are ready to be deployed with kit including Global Xpress and BGAN terminals and IsatPhone 2 satellite phones wherever and whenever disaster strikes.

In addition, our connectivity is used for training in areas frequently affected to ensure that local teams can use the equipment in future crises; and in programmes designed to bridge the digital divide, giving remote communities access to online data and tools that support learning, healthcare and the local economy.

On the ground when disaster strikes

TSF worker makes a call on IsatPhone 2 in front of destroyed building

In 2018, TSF deployments included Typhoon Mangkhut in the Philippines and the Sulawesi earthquake.

The most powerful typhoon of the year hit the north of the Philippines archipelago in September. Over five million people were affected by 125mph (200km/h) winds and torrential rain which triggered landslides and widespread flooding. Two weeks later, a magnitude 5.7 earthquake followed by a tsunami hit the Indonesian island of Sulawesi, killing more than 2,000 people.

In both disasters, TSF teams were quickly on the ground, supporting national coordination of relief efforts by providing satellite connectivity, and offering free phone calls to the local population.

Team Rubicon

Team Rubicon is an international charity that unites the skills and experiences of military veterans with first responders when disaster strikes, and in longer-term reconstruction projects at home and across the world.

In so doing, Team Rubicon seeks to provide ex-service personnel with three things they may lose after leaving the military: a purpose, gained through disaster relief; community, built by serving with others; and self-worth, from recognising the impact one individual can make.

Inmarsat has provided Global Xpress and BGAN terminals for reliable connectivity to coordinate relief efforts and IsatPhone 2 handheld satellite phones, not only to keep the teams safe and in touch with base operations, but also to provide a communications lifeline for those affected by disaster.

In addition, we’re supplying manpower. So far over 50 members of staff have signed up as Team Rubicon Greyshirts, volunteering to help deliver humanitarian relief wherever it is needed, fundraising, and supporting training and development.

Inmarsat Greyshirts have deployed to humanitarian disasters in Nepal, Sri Lanka and the Caribbean.

Crisis Connectivity Charter

In 2015, Inmarsat, along with other world-leading satellite operators under the umbrella of the EMEA Satellite Operators Association (ESOA) and the Global VSAT Forum (GVF), signed a Crisis Communications Charter at the World Humanitarian Summit Global Consultation in Geneva. The signing, which took place with the United Nations (UN) Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Aid (OCHA) and the Emergency Telecommunications Cluster (ETC), signalled Inmarsat’s commitment to enhancing connectivity in humanitarian emergencies and recognised the critical role of communications in the wake of a disaster. In 2018, the operational phase of the charter saw the signatories commit dedicated equipment and pre-allocated bandwidth capacity for humanitarian purposes that can be activated within 24 hours of a crisis and cover all regions of the globe.