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 Tuesday, 11 July 2006

The International Telecommunication Union (ITU) and UAE based Thuraya Satellite Telecommunications (Thuraya) have concluded an agreement to provide portable satellite terminals to assist countries in disaster mitigation and relief.

Under the agreement, Thuraya would be providing handheld satellite terminals along with solar chargers, and ITU will pay for airtime at discounted rates offered by Thuraya and cover the transportation costs of telecommunications equipment to and from disaster-hit areas. ITU will also provide its know-how in technical and operational training for government officials involved in rescue missions.

In the light of a spate of natural disasters and calamities in recent times, the World Telecommunication Development Conference (WTDC-06) meeting in March 2006 called upon ITU to develop ICT-based solutions in emergency telecommunications aimed at improving early-warning communication, disaster preparedness and mitigation.

The Thuraya terminals, which support voice and data applications and remote location based services via GPS, are expected to help provide vital link via satellite during such times. When regular cellular networks are available, the GSM-enabled Thuraya handsets can automatically switch to the terrestrial network for greater affordability, ITU informed.

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