Thuraya inks deal with ITU for support in catastrophe

Terminals will help disaster-hit countries

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By  Published  September 1, 2006

UAE-based satellite telecoms firm Thuraya has signed a deal with the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) to supply portable satellite terminals which can be used to assist countries hit by catastrophes such as earthquakes and tsunamis.

Thuraya is contributing the handheld terminals along with solar chargers that will be distributed by the ITU in disaster-hit areas.

ITU will provide the handheld terminals to rescue teams, government authorities and humanitarian agencies to establish communication links for relief and rehabilitation efforts and will pay for airtime at discounted rates offered by Thuraya, cover the transportation costs of equipment and provide technical and operational training.

“The tsunami that wreaked havoc in south east Asia, the Kashmir earthquake, the Suriname floods, and the Indonesia earthquake have demonstrated the power of emergency telecommunications in saving lives and coordinating efforts during rescue operations such as the setting up of telemedicine links,” said Yoshio Utsumi, secretary-general, ITU.

The deal is part of an initiative by the ITU to develop ICT-based solutions in emergency telecommunications directed at improving early-warning communication, disaster preparedness and mitigation.

The World Telecommunication Development Conference (WTDC-06) that met in March this year said this was a critical area of concern, especially

for countries with fragile economies and special needs.

The ITU said there was urgent need to establish effective and comprehensive communication links between the affected area, national disaster response facilities, and with the larger international community.

The Thuraya terminals, which support voice and data applications and remote location determination services via GPS, will help provide that link via satellite.

“As a leading multi-regional mobile satellite operator, Thuraya is committed to contributing towards world needs during rescue and emergency operations, and we are pleased to partner and work closely with ITU and concerned UN agencies to provide urgent communications support in disaster-hit areas,” commented Yousuf Al Sayed, Thuraya CEO. “The responsiveness of relief efforts could be made much more efficient through such partnerships,” he went on to say.

Cosmas Zavazava, focal point for emergency telecommunications at ITU, added: “One of the pillars leading to the success of our work in this area rests on multi-stakeholder partnerships. It is in this respect that we welcome the contribution by Thuraya Satellite Telecommunications Company, a member of ITU’s development sector.”

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