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Satellite Spectrum Initiative

Disaster Communications

Communications delivered by Fixed Satellite Service (FSS) provide a ubiquitous, always-on service - a key benefit that is especially important during a disaster situation. For many, the timely availability of satellite-based communication services during a disaster situation, which has rendered all terrestrial communication inoperable -  has been the difference between life and death.

Following major disasters such as the Asian Tsunami, the earthquake in Pakistan, and the 9/11 terrorist attacks, terrestrial communications were severely damaged and in some cases became totally unavailable. In these types of situations, the uniquely disaster-resilient nature of satellite communications – with FSS satellites safely 36,000km in orbit, far from any earth-based disaster – enables the communications gap to be bridged and ensures that relief is delivered where it is most needed.

Satellites connect emergency personnel and other first responders in many of the affected areas in the aftermath of a disaster. Often satellites provide the only source of communications in the worst hit areas for hours, days, and weeks after the disaster, providing the basic communications without which even the most basic relief operations would not be possible.

Satellite communication fulfils a number of roles which mark it out as key part of the communications infrastructure, alongside terrestrial communications. They provide high survivability, with only a single satellite terminal required by each user – and no reliance on a terrestrial network. This independence from the terrestrial network means that even if – in a worst case scenario – all terrestrial communications are destroyed, satellite communications will continue to function. Ensuring that satellite communications is integrated into the communications network provides the peace of mind that, in any situation, connectivity will always be available to those that need it most.

Re-establishing Communications in Emergency Situations with C-band Satellites - Case Study by