Global VSAT Forum plans for enhancing disaster preparedness

One of our aims at Developing Telecoms is to compile articles on disaster management and emergencies, so that executives in the emerging markets who are tasked either with preparing for such situations or, far worse, having to cope with them, can draw on the experience of others. One internationally respected organisation, the Global VSAT Forum, continues to respond to the industry's call for heightened awareness of disasters. Satellite communications have long been respected for the part they can play in helping to prevent disasters, whether by helping to forecast them or by keeping those who have to repair the damage from such catastrophes in touch with one another.

Last month Honolulu hosted the Pacific Telecommunications Council (PTC) Conference, devoting a section of it to the Global VSAT Forum's Emergency Management and Communications Summit. Primarily satellite technology formed a focus for the speakers and discussion panels at the summit, with a recent real-life example bringing home just how important it was to maintain communications but even more important just how quickly the most important channels of communications could be restored.

Keynote speaker was therefore Ho-Chen Tan, Chairman and CEO of Chunghwa Telecom, Taiwan's primary telecoms carrier. Mr Ho-Chen reviewed the impact of the recent offshore earthquake near Taiwan that disabled several undersea fibre-optic cable systems that land at and pass near his country. It was fortunate that vital telephone traffic could be rerouted within 24 hours over working cables, but many forms of data communications, including Internet connectivity, were seriously disrupted for an extended period. Bringing this back on line throughout East Asia has required the use of satellite services in many cases. One crucial reason why the cables were so vulnerable is that the breaks occurred below 1 km of depth, where they were not heavily shielded and simply lay on the ocean floor.

GVF looks forward to 2007

In connection with its continuing training conferences and exhibitions, GVF is now following-up by working with a range of organisations which are active in the aid and humanitarian sphere in order to explore their VSAT installation and maintenance training requirements.

As an example, Cairo will witness the second of GVF's now-annual Oil & Gas Communications: North Africa & the Middle East. This energy-sector conference will take place at the Intercontinental City Stars Hotel, Heliopolis, Cairo on 21-22 May. Keynote speaker will a member of the Egyptian Administration who will speak on its policy and/or regulatory position. A further session will be devoted to Maintaining the Mission Critical Link: Oil & Gas Communications When Disaster Strikes.

GVF point of contact is Martin Jarrold at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., although information, including ongoing programme updates, can be viewed at the event website.

* Case studies and articles are currently being written for The Disaster Resource Guide. This publication serves the disaster management sector and is mailed directly to 40,000 disaster-preparedness professionals. A stand-alone publication, which will be entitled The 2007 Disaster Preparedness SatCom Guide, will focus exclusively on satellite communications and will be printed and distributed globally to disaster preparedness professionals in early 2007.

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