When connectivity saves lives

Celebrating almost 20 years of partnership with Télécoms Sans Frontières (TSF), we’re proud to continue our support of the emergency telecommunications NGO.

Inmarsat provides satellite communications for TSF to ensure connectivity is established as soon as possible in the wake of humanitarian crises.

TSF enables governments, UN agencies and other NGOs to improve emergency response, coordinate healthcare, repatriate victims and distribute life-saving supplies. Free satellite phone calls offered to the victims of natural disasters or human conflict help reconnect families.

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.

“Safety is at the heart of what we do at Inmarsat, which is why we’re honoured to be able to support TSF with vital connectivity – putting people in touch with loved ones and enabling critical emergency response to be coordinated in times of a disaster. When people’s lives are in danger it quickly becomes apparent how crucial the ability to communicate is. TSF can be assured that wherever and whenever they need connectivity, they can depend upon our reliable, global network for a communications lifeline.”
Inmarsat CEO Rupert Pearce

Rapidly-deployable, reliable communications

TSF was established to let disaster victims call loved ones to say they were alive and needed help, but the agency soon found that international emergency response teams also had a critical need for rapidly-deployable, reliable communications services.

Today, TSF is the principal communications provider to the United Nations in disaster situations, and also supports the European Commission and non-governmental relief agencies.

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.

“Inmarsat’s commitment, as well as its equipment and technology, is essential for our work – it allows us to arrive in the field and set up the latest in satellite communications technology in the first hours following a disaster, when the most lives can be saved.” 
TSF President and co-founder Jean-François Cazenave

Coordination of relief efforts

In 2017, TSF deployed on eight emergency missions, including in St Martin and Dominica when the Caribbean was battered by two category 5 hurricanes, Irma and Maria, last September and October.

Man setting up satellite terminal on roof of building

TSF teams installed two Global Xpress terminals in St Martin to help in the coordination of relief efforts including medical evacuations, aid provision and emergency accommodation. When Hurricane Maria struck, destroying an estimated 90 per cent of Dominica’s infrastructure and leaving 73,000 people cut off, the telecoms experts were on hand to set up a GX connection in the capital, Roseau, for use by 16 international agencies. In total they transmitted 250GB of high-speed data.

The Dominica mission also saw TSF utilise Global Xpress in remote communities for the first time, offering people mobile high-speed Wi-Fi access. Equipped with a 4×4 and a mobile GX antenna, the agency travelled from village to village, providing over 270 families with internet access so they could contact relatives on social media and get the latest news.

In addition, TSF offered free IsatPhone 2 calls to thousands of people left cut off from electricity supplies to charge their own phones and unable to get money out of the bank, allowing them to contact relatives overseas to ask for assistance.

Hurricane victims using satellite Wi-Fi

 

Crisis Connectivity Charter

In October 2015, Inmarsat, along with 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 – recognising the critical role of communications in the wake of a disaster.