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ITU and Iridium enhance telecommunication capacity for
emergencies following natural disasters

Iridium donates new emergency telecommunication equipment to ITU

Geneva, 20 May 2015 – Iridium Communications Inc, a satellite communications company that offers global voice and data communications coverage, has donated new emergency telecommunication equipment to ITU. The donation, which consists of 25 satellite phones and batteries, will strengthen ITU’s telecommunication capacity in response to natural disasters.

Iridium, a long-standing member of ITU, has been assisting ITU with emergency telecommunication since 2007, when the first Iridium hand-held mobile satellite phones and solar batteries were donated to the Union.

"We thank Iridium for this generous contribution," said ITU Secretary-General Houlin Zhao.  "This new equipment donation, combined with the reliability of the Iridium network, will greatly boost ITU’s capacity in deploying telecommunications during emergencies and will strengthen response and recovery mechanisms.”

“Iridium’s donation comes at a critical time when natural disasters are on the increase,” said Mr Brahima Sanou, Director of the ITU's Telecommunication Development Bureau. “This partnership confirms our continued commitment to using technology to save lives.”

Recently, ITU has deployed 35 satellite mobile phones and 10 Broadband Global Area Network terminals to earthquake-stricken Nepal. The equipment, which included Iridium satellite phones, ensures timely flow of information that is much needed by government agencies and other humanitarian actors involved in rescue operations.

“The work ITU is doing in Nepal, as well as in other disaster-stricken areas, is vital,” said Mr Matt Desch, CEO of Iridium. “After an event such as this series of earthquakes, much of the telecom infrastructure is often damaged or destroyed, making the need for communications supported by a global, reliable satellite network crucial to the recovery work that will occur in the days and weeks to come. We’re proud to be a part of this work and hope our contributions will help with the relief and rebuilding efforts.”

At the Third UN Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction held in Sendai, Japan, in March 2015, ITU emphasized that with over 7 billion mobile cellular subscriptions worldwide, almost 3 billion people connected to the internet and with 4.9 billion connected devices, ICTs have a vast potential to support disaster risk reduction efforts.

ITU considers emergency telecommunications an integral part of the post-2015 sustainable development agenda. Through innovative and easy to use technologies, local communities can be empowered to provide early warning signals and also act as first responders when the disaster strikes.

For more information, please contact:

Sanjay Acharya
Chief, Media Relations and Public Information
tel +41 22 730 5046
tel +41 79 249 4861
tel sanjay.acharya@itu.int
Monica Albertini
Communication Officer, BDT
tel +41 22 730 5317
tel +41 79 808 6065
tel monica.albertini@itu.int 


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