Télécoms Sans Frontières

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

Woman holding a small child is helped to make satellite phone call

In 2019, TSF was active in 13 countries across four continents in 2019, helping over 630,000 vulnerable people. Emergency deployments included sending teams to set up communication centres for NGOs and local populations in the Bahamas, Mozambique and the Philippines. Cyclone Idai hit Mozambique’s coastal region last March, causing more than 1,000 deaths and leaving 1.85 million people in need of humanitarian support. Less than six weeks later, another powerful cyclone – Kenneth – battered the coast 1,000km to the north.

Last September, the Bahamas was in the path of Hurricane Dorian, the most powerful storm to hit the region since records began. The Category 5 tropical cyclone destroyed entire communities and left 70,000 people in need of food and shelter. Then in December, the Bicol region of the Philippines was struck by Typhoon Kammuri.

In each case, TSF used our satellite connectivity to set up fast, reliable communication links for aid agencies and national governments coordinating relief efforts, as well as offering victims free satellite phone calls.

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 UK Greyshirts, volunteering to help deliver humanitarian relief wherever it is needed, fundraising and supporting training and development.

In 2019, Team Rubicon UK deployed overseas in the wake of natural disasters, delivering hundreds of tonnes of food aid and essential equipment and over 40,000 litres of clean water and water purification units. Teams also deployed at home when many parts of the UK were affected by flooding, helping to shore up defences and clear up.

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.