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Eutelsat Commits Bandwidth, Satellite Kits to UN Disaster Relief

By | May 21, 2018
Eutelsat 65 West A

Artist’s rendition of Eutelsat 65 West A. Photo: Eutelsat

Eutelsat has joined other members of the satellite community in signing contribution agreements with the United Nations World Food Program (WFP), on behalf of the Emergency Telecommunications Cluster (ETC). These contribution agreements are the final steps in operationalizing the Crisis Connectivity Charter signed in late 2015 between the EMEA Satellite Operators Association (ESOA), the Global VSAT Forum (GVF), the UN Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Aid (OCHA) and the ETC. The Crisis Connectivity Charter, signed by Eutelsat, Arabsat, Global Eagle, Hispasat, Inmarsat, Intelsat, SES, Thuraya and Yahsat, aims to enhance access to vital satellite-based communications when local networks are affected, destroyed or overloaded following disasters.

Under the contribution agreements, the signatories are now committing satellite equipment and capacity that will be dedicated for humanitarian purposes during emergency responses. Eutelsat’s contribution agreement consists principally of pre-allocated bandwidth on four of its satellites across the globe, complemented on the ground by ready-to-deploy satellite kits. The ETC, under the global leadership of WFP, will be able to activate the charter when disaster strikes and identify which pre-planned solutions are immediately available for any given region and need, in order to meet a 24-hour deployment timeline.

Since signing the charter, satellite operators have been active on all continents supporting WFP, governments and NGOs during the Irma and Maria hurricanes, and in Haiti, Nepal and Vanuatu. They have enabled Voice Over Internet Protocol (VOIP), Wi-Fi and internet access to support supply logistics, urgent medical care and coordination of relief efforts.