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LightSquared, Inmarsat Join Forces to Support Hurricane Irene Emergency Responders

Satellite Technology

Satellite Technology Feature Article

August 31, 2011

LightSquared, Inmarsat Join Forces to Support Hurricane Irene Emergency Responders

By Jayashree Adkoli, TMCnet Contributor

Satellite communication is considered the best as well as the most reliable platform for communications during emergencies. With Hurricane Irene creating havoc in the east coast of U.S., LightSquared (News - Alert) and Inmarsat have joined hands to support the hurricane Irene’s emergency responders.

According to a white paper, wireless communications are the best sought-after communication option during emergency response, rescue, or relief situation. However, terrestrial wireless equipments such as cellular phones or land mobile radios are useful and operative only when communications towers and other fixed equipment are in place, which is unlikely during natural calamities.

So satellite communications are the best solution during such situations, because satellites are the only wireless communications infrastructure that is not susceptible to damage from disasters, for the reason that the main repeaters sending and receiving signals (the satellite spacecraft) are located outside the Earth’s atmosphere, says the white paper.

According to a press release, LightSquared and Inmarsat have joined forces to ensure that their respective emergency services customers have reliable access to essential satellite communications to support their Hurricane Irene relief efforts.

"Given the tremendous impact Hurricane Irene has had on the east coast of the United States, it is vital that first responders have unfettered access to reliable communications," said Sanjiv Ahuja (News - Alert), chairman and chief executive officer of LightSquared, in a statement. "LightSquared, working with Inmarsat (News - Alert), is committed to ensuring that those on the front lines of this national emergency have seamless connectivity with one another."  

"During emergencies such as Hurricane Irene, reliable satellite communications is essential for emergency responders and government agencies," said Andrew Sukawaty, chairman and chief executive officer of Inmarsat, in a press release. "Together with LightSquared we have moved rapidly to ensure that we have sufficient capacity to support emergency management agencies and first responders."

As the nation's first wholesale-only integrated 4G-LTE (News - Alert) wireless broadband and satellite network, LightSquared has an aim to revolutionize the U.S. wireless industry. It deploys an open 4G wireless broadband network to be used by existing as well as new service providers to sell their own devices, applications and services – at a competitive cost.

Inmarsat is a provider of global mobile satellite communications services. It has been offering reliable voice and high-speed data communications to governments, enterprises and other organizations, with a range of services that can be used on land, at sea or in the air, since 1979.

Currently, two kinds of satellite communications networks are available to support emergency response activities: geostationary satellite systems (GEO); and low Earth orbit satellites (LEO). The GEO satellites are located 36,000 km above the Earth in a fixed position and provide service to a country or a region covering up to one third of the globe. They are capable of providing a full range of communications services, such as voice, video and broadband data.

On the other hand, LEO satellites operate in orbits between 780 km and 1,500 km and provide voice and low speed data communications. These satellites can operate with handheld units. And, these LEO-based units are valuable satellite solution for first responders in the field.

In related news, Inmarsat recently collaborated with SkyWave Mobile Communications – a provider of communication services for machine-to-machine applications - to launch a new low data rate service called as IsatData Pro.

The 4G Wireless Evolution Conference will be collocated with ITEXPO (News - Alert) West, the world’s premier IP communications event, to be held Sept. 13-15  at the Austin Convention Center in Austin, TX. Now in its third year, 4GWE has become the industry's premier gathering place for Mobile Network Operators, fixed carriers, handset manufacturers, mobile internet device manufacturers, application providers, the enterprise, and venture capitalists.  Don’t wait. Register now

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Jayashree Adkoli is a contributing editor for TMCnet. To read more of Jayashree's articles, please visit her columnist page.

Edited by Rich Steeves

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