October 14, 2015
Today Spanish satellite communications operator HISPASAT signed an agreement in Geneva committing it to provide satellite capacity and terminals to restore communications in natural disasters and emergencies, thereby assisting in the rescue and reconstruction tasks carried out by the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), the United Nations agency in charge of coordinating humanitarian aid.
The text, which was prepared by the ESOA (EMEA Satellite Operators Association) and GVF (Global VSAT Forum), guarantees that Hispasat and the other participating operators will provide full operating capacity through their satellite networks, based on their availability, to reception points as part of the framework of complete solutions, which also includes land equipment and reception terminals.
It also guarantees that each operator will designate a Point of Contact (PoC) responsible for coordination in the case of a disaster, and that the first meeting of all operators and the Emergency Telecommunications Cluster (ETC) will be held just twelve hours after a disaster has taken place, in order to assess the situation. After arriving at a solution, the PoC will internally coordinate the necessary actions to take in order to restore communications. Moreover, operators will offer the necessary training to first response coordinators in order to enable them to successfully apply the communications solutions.
Operators must share all necessary information to plan in advance for an appropriate response to these types of crises. In this sense, the PoC may design detailed plans to deploy in each scenario, which may include information on the installation, activation process or contact data of the operations centres, along with other relevant information.
Satellite communications provide solutions that are unaffected by natural disasters and are completely independent from terrestrial infrastructures, meaning that in some humanitarian crises they are the only viable option to restore communications. In 2005, the HISPASAT Group collaborated with the United States by providing emergency communications in New Orleans via its Amazonas 1 satellite after the catastrophe caused by Hurricane Katrina.
About HISPASAT Group
HISPASAT Group is comprised of companies that have a presence in Spain as well as in Latin America, where its Brazilian affiliate HISPAMAR is based. The Group is a world leader in the distribution and broadcasting of Spanish and Portuguese content, and its satellite fleet is used by important direct-to-home television (DTH) and high-definition television (HDTV) digital platforms. HISPASAT also provides satellite broadband services and other added value solutions to governments, corporations and telecommunication operators in America, Europe and North Africa. HISPASAT is one of the world's largest companies in its sector in terms of revenue, and the main communications bridge between Europe and the Americas.