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Kiwis provide network support after Typhoon Pablo
Fri, 21st Dec 2012
FYI, this story is more than a year old

Vodafone has deployed their Foundation’s Instant Network to support the emergency disaster relief effort in the Philippines following Typhoon Pablo.

The telco giant says thousands of people in the country can now contact relatives, and aid agencies can carry out life-saving emergency work.

Communications lines were cut in the region when Typhoon Pablo hit the Mindanao province earlier this month, flattening buildings and damaging cell sites and telecoms transmission facilities.

But Vodafone New Zealand engineers Cliff Robertson and Jason Rogers, have been on the ground in Baganga facilitating the deployment of the Instant Network as part of the Vodafone Foundation’s Mobile for Good programme.

“On the drive to Baganga we encountered total devastation – the scale of the destruction is difficult to comprehend," Robertson says.

"Most of the local houses are destroyed and only a few concrete structures remain and even some of those are severely damaged.

"The Filippino spirit is impressive. Even the people who have seemingly lost so much still manage to smile.

“Communications are critical to the coordination of government and NGO relief efforts and we’ve collaborated with the local mobile operator Smart to reconnect the community of Baganga to the rest of the country.

"Within seconds of the Instant Network coming online, the compound where the NGOs and government agencies are located lit up with phone calls and TXT messages.

"It never felt so good to be a telecommunications engineer.”

This is the first time the technology has been used in an emergency disaster situation however, with Andrew Dunnett, director of the Vodafone Foundation saying:

“The Instant Network is part of our Mobile for Good programme, where the Foundation is combining funding with mobile technology as an enabler.

"Providing mobile communications in a disaster situation enables aid agencies to work faster and more effectively, helps reunite families and saves lives."

Developed by Vodafone using Huawei equipment, the network is being deployed in partnership with emergency communications specialist Télécoms Sans Frontières, WIT Global and Smart Communications.

Together these organisations have set up the satellite link, which connects the Vodafone Instant Network to the Smart core network.

In addition, Smart has supplied 30 mobile phones for the use of local residents, relief agencies and local government.