13 December 2017: Following the devastation wreaked by Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico, Inmarsat partners Satcom Direct and COMSAT worked together to ensure highly reliable satellite communications were immediately available for first responders.
Inmarsat’s Global Xpress service enabled first responders to communicate within minutes of arrival using our rapid mission-critical high-throughput connectivity, allowing public safety, medical and other emergency response teams to swiftly and reliably fulfill their mission.
Global Xpress, the world’s first and only high-throughput commercial Ka-band network available from a single operator, enables first responders to benefit from Broadband Global Area Network (BGAN)-style ease of operation and immediate access to high data rate applications such as high-speed internet, live full-motion video and video teleconferencing.
Delivered as a managed subscription service, Global Xpress SATCOM as a Service terminals are ‘out of the box’ ready – set up to service in less than seven minutes. Like a mobile phone service, SATCOM as a Service delivers an always on network and the ability to connect anywhere in the world without additional fees or premiums.
One-touch commissioning automated the process of setting up the Global Xpress terminals, removing the manual network commissioning processes required for traditional VSAT systems.
Both Satcom Direct and COMSAT were able to transport Global Xpress terminals as checked luggage. Once on the ground, the Satcom Direct and COMSAT teams rapidly set up and delivered SATCOM solutions within minutes that were responsive to coverage needs and easy for first responders to operate; essentially providing the first reliable connectivity since the hurricane.
Satcom Direct technicians deployed Global Xpress utilising two Cobham 5075GX terminals in Rio Grande, to provide the only means of connectivity on the island for a 60 mile radius.
“We quickly assessed the situation and requirements and delivered a ‘turn-key’ solution familiar to BGAN users where first responders could simply set the terminal up in a few minutes and then plug it in to be on the network. Time is of the essence in serious situations like this,” said Sean Stevenson, SD Land and Mobile Solutions Product Manager.
Satcom Direct and COMSAT technicians travelled with off-duty San Juan police officers helping restore communications by setting up hot spots for phone and texting services to support the flow of humanitarian aid into Puerto Rico and to connect local members of the community with working phones. In addition, the team restored crucial communications to the emergency operations centre in Ceiba.
“When terrestrial and other land-based communication systems shut down, our teams were able to set up Global Xpress terminals quickly and easily, and support tactical command and control operations with completely reliable, resilient and interoperable voice, video and information system capabilities. This enabled first responders to spend minimal time installing, troubleshooting and configuring, and all time on the mission,” said David Greenhill, President of COMSAT.