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Emergency satellite communications standards announced

Since the devastating earthquakes that hit Chile and Haiti in the past months, it was clear that some sort of measures need to be put in place in order to facilitate communications in disaster areas. It is for this reason that ITU has announced two new radio-communication standards for satellite services. The first one, entitled Recommendation ITU-R S.1001-2 provides information on the range of radio-frequencies for fixed-satellite services and the second one, Recommendation ITU-R M.1854 provides mobile-satellite service information.

New ITU radio-communication standards for satellite services have been approved to facilitate early warning, rapid response and relief operations in the event of natural disasters.

Recommendation ITU-R S.1001-2 provides information on the range of radio-frequencies that can be used by fixed-satellite service (FSS) systems for emergency and disaster relief operations.

Recommendation ITU-R M.1854 provides information on the range of radio-frequencies for mobile-satellite service (MSS) in order to enable a variety of functions such as voice and data communication: field reporting: data collection: position information: and image transmission.

In the event of natural disasters, such as the recent earthquakes which spread devastation in Haiti and Chile, there is an urgent need for a reliable telecommunication link for use in relief operations. ITU joined international efforts to provide humanitarian assistance to Haiti, Chile and other disaster-hit areas and deployed satellite terminals and earth stations to re-establish basic communication links.

ITU Secretary-General Hamadoun Tour√© noted that in the event of a natural disaster, satellite communications are the most appropriate means to quickly set up a telecommunication link with remote facilities. “Establishing communications in the aftermath of a disaster is vital to facilitate rapid and effective rescue and rehabilitation efforts,”” said Dr Tour√©. “”The new ITU radio-communication standards for satellite communication in emergencies will greatly improve our capacity to save lives. I call upon all stakeholders, including administrations, satellite operators and service providers to support the development of robust, comprehensive, early warning and relief systems to mitigate emergencies and disasters at the national, regional and international levels.””

Fixed-satellite service (FSS)

Satellite transmissions using small aperture earth stations, such as fixed VSATs, vehicle-mounted earth stations (VMES) and transportable earth stations, are one of the most viable solutions to provide emergency telecommunication services for relief operations. These FSS systems are extremely effective in providing emergency telecommunication services for relief operations. As they are inherently suitable for data delivery, FSS can also be effectively utilised for early warning operations, including earthquakes and storms. In the interest of efficiency, FSS capabilities for emergencies and disaster relief operations should be pre-planned between administrations and FSS operators/service providers to ensure prompt availability of FSS services in the event of a disaster.

Mobile-satellite service (MSS)

Owing to its ease of deployment, wide-area coverage, and independence from the local telecommunications infrastructure (which may be lost during a disaster), mobile satellite terminals and ancillary equipment are very effective means of providing emergency telecommunication services for relief operations. In order to strengthen disaster preparedness, MSS systems should be deployed ubiquitously, especially in disaster-prone regions.

Space services frequency database for use in emergency situations

In accordance with Resolution 647 of the World Radiocommunication Conference 2007, the ITU Radiocommunication Bureau has recently created an online database at containing the frequencies/frequency bands provided by administrations that are now available for use by satellite systems in emergency situations.

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