Spanish satellite operator HISPASAT has teamed with industry leaders to provide critical communications in the Caribbean islands devastated by Hurricanes Irma and Maria, that have knocked out communications infrastructure and power lines; damaged homes, schools and hospitals; and left an overwhelming majority of residents without shelter and running water.
To respond to the situation, HISPASAT has joined the humanitarian efforts of leaders across the telecom industry to deploy a high-speed satellite network to aid local relief efforts in Saint Martin, the British Virgin Islands, Anguilla and Turks and Caicos Islands.
The satellite network is based on ground infrastructure from VT iDirect, space segment from Hispasat Amazonas 3, Cisco VoIP networking, and Red52’s satellite teleport services to collaborate in solidarity to restore connectivity.
The network will be leveraged by mobile operator Digicel to provide immediate restoration of cellular services and community support services, providing families, first responders and relief workers with Internet access, as well as voice and video services.
Satellite technology provides solutions that are unaffected by natural disasters and are completely independent from terrestrial infrastructures. In some humanitarian crises, satellite connectivity is the only viable option to restore communications.
“At HISPASAT we are concerned about our commitment to society and we are always ready to collaborate in emergency situations”, stated Carlos Espinós, CEO of the operator. “In these cases, telecommunications are essential and satellites can make them available to first responders and communities affected by disasters. In this way, we help those affected to communicate with their families and facilitating the coordination of rescue teams so that the region can begin to recover from the catastrophe.”
The effort received funding from NetHope, an organization that connects nonprofits with technology innovators across the globe. Cisco donated Cisco Meraki communications kits to enable data and voice connectivity over Red52’s iDirect-based satellite backhaul. And the Global VSAT Forum (GVF) is offering free training courses on satellite networking to technicians deploying and managing the network.