UN in pact with satellite firms to restore communications after disaster

By United Nations
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The United Nations telecommunications agency today announced that it has reached agreement with two international satellite organizations to expedite the restoration of vital telecommunications services in the aftermath of natural disasters.

“Recent catastrophes that have wrought havoc around the world demonstrate eloquently that there is an increasing need for effective and timely deployment of telecommunication resources to help countries in emergency and disaster relief,” said Hamadoun Touré, the Secretary-General of the UN International Telecommunications Union (ITU), after the signing of the agreement with Intelsat S.A. and the International Telecommunications Satellite Organization (ITSO) in Geneva.

“This agreement between ITU, Intelsat and ITSO will go a long way in increasing our early response capabilities and in re-establishing the communication links that are so vital in rescue and relief operations,” said Mr. Touré.

Satellite technology, with its wide coverage and rapid deployment, is ideally suited for response to communications needs in emergency situations, according to ITU. The agreement brings together key players in the satellite industry to address the emergency communications needs of countries worldwide.

ITU will, upon receiving a request from a Member State for assistance in the aftermath of a natural disaster, inform Intelsat of the request for satellite capacity and other related needs. Intelsat will then consult with ITSO and consider donating satellite capacity, the agency said in a press release.

Intelsat is one of the world's leading providers of satellite telecommunications services, with a footprint covering over 200 countries.

ITSO is an intergovernmental organization whose mission is to ensure that Intelsat complies with its contractual obligations following its privatization in 2001 to provide international public telecommunications services, including voice, data and video, on a global and non-discriminatory basis.

The agreement between ITU, Intelsat and ITSO is an outcome of the Hyderabad Plan of Action adopted by the UN World Telecommunication Development Conference in 2010 that called for private sector participation to help close the gap in universal access to information and communication technologies and to support emergency communications in particular.