Christchurch earthquake relief efforts trigger data surge

The earthquake, which struck on 21 February, was the second major tremor in five months and has been dubbed New Zealand's deadliest natural disaster for 80 years.

As emergency services battled to find more survivors, Inmarsat BGAN was deployed by the local civil defence, the Red Cross and Urban Search and Rescue units.

Comms disrupted
“We have received high-level alerts overnight that BGANs we supplied are being used by local council civil defence units,” reported Peter Nally, communications systems manager of Inmarsat partner Satellite Connections, the day after the disaster.

“There is power to 50 per cent of the city and network operators are putting generators at their cellphone sites, so the communications infrastructure seems to be having problems in a lot of areas,” he added.

Peter also said a number of broadcasters, including TV3, Fairfax Media and Radio New Zealand, were using BGAN.

Streaming demand
This was reflected in a leap in spotbeam activity over New Zealand reported by Inmarsat's Network Operations Centre (NOC).

The NOC's data shows a big increase in live video streaming services via BGAN, as broadcasters filed reports from the city.

NOC manager Claudio Galli said: “On 23 February we saw a considerable increase in streaming with concurrent sessions of both BGAN X-Stream (from 384kbps up to 450 kbps) and 256 kbps for a total of 1400 minutes.”

During the same day there were 2300 Megabytes of “background” data also exchanged via BGAN.

The earthquake, measuring 6.3 on the Richter scale, is believed to have claimed the lives of around 300 and injured around 2,500, but many people are still missing.

Wright Satellite Connections: www.satconnections.co.nz
Inmarsat BGAN: www.inmarsat.com/BGAN