Mobile Satellite Phones Used in Natural Disasters

by | Jul 2, 2024 | Communications

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We all remember the stark images of the confusion, chaos, shock, and grief that thousands of people encountered firsthand in New York City on September 11, 2001. As the city reeled from the ash, debris, and destruction that resulted from the terrorist attacks, professional rescuers, firefighters, paramedics, and volunteers rushed in to aid the people who were either trapped in the buildings or close by when the attacks happened. Not only were land lines tied-up and not functioning properly on that day, but cell phone services were lost or, when available, were extremely unstable. Fortunately, many critical resource personnel and rescue workers had a mobile satellite phone at hand enabling critical communication and coordination between rescue workers and home bases to continue undeterred.

One of the key advantages of using a satellite phone in times of emergency is its reliance upon low orbital earth satellites in order to transmit information rather than local cellular towers that can become affected by the disaster itself and put out of commission. Mobile satellite phone technology therefore became an absolute necessity for weeks after the devastation of Katrina in New Orleans and surrounding areas. More than one thousand cell tower sites were destroyed, as well as land line systems, completely annihilating communication. Rescue workers and others involved in attempting to stabilize the situation after the devastation of Katrina were absolutely dependent upon the reliable services of mobile satellite phone systems for several weeks after the hurricane struck.

A mobile satellite phone is a key component for rescue and high security operations, whether used by teams that are deployed to devastated areas like Manhattan after 9/11 or New Orleans in the weeks and months following Katrina. Unlike cell phones, which are reliant for service upon the positioning of local towers, the mobile satellite phone communicates with a constellation of low earth orbital satellites that navigate the circumference of the earth in fixed, staggered orbits to provide immediate coverage at any given time everywhere on the planet. Whether the user is a wildlife explorer investigating the effects of global warming on the polar ice caps or employed on a Naval Fleet rescue ship in the aftermath of a disastrous tsunami, a mobile satellite phone makes the rest of the world accessible and provides secure, reliable communication.

Other individuals and businesses that rely upon phone communication are increasingly using a mobile satellite phone system rather than cell phone providers not only because of its immunity to disaster in the local environment, but also because of the durability of the phone itself.