Wednesday, February 17, 2010

ITU, smartBridges partner on disaster communication response

Global telecommunications regulator, ITU has signed a cooperation agreement with Singapore-based smartBridges Solutions, a leading provider of wireless broadband equipment, to provide WiMAX and WiFi systems to strengthen ITU’s on-the-ground disaster response capabilitiesm reports CHARLES OKOH.

Director of ITU’s telecommunication Development Bureau, Sami Al Basheer Al Morshid, in a press statement said the agreement will initially see the delivery of 10 carrier-grade WiMAX base stations and 40 customer premises equipment devices to Haiti, which will be used to set up 100 wireless hotspot locations in Port-au-Prince and other earthquake-stricken towns in Haiti.

The equipment is designed to provide fast wireless phone and Internet connectivity at 100 holding centres for internally displaced people.

The wireless network will help reinforce ongoing efforts to bridge the gap created by the collapse of terrestrial networks, which remain largely non-operational because of earthquake damage.

SmartBridges Solutions will also assign specialist engineers who will work alongside ITU experts to help get the network up and running as quickly as possible.

The cooperation agreement opens the door to future cooperation between ITU’s Telecommunication Development Bureau and smartBridges, covering all phases of disaster management, as well as creating opportunities for ICT project co-financing.

Mr. Al Morshid, said expressed gratitude to smartBridges Solutions for joining ITU in extending a helping hand to Haiti following the devastating disaster.

“I look forward to working with smartBridges Solutions, not only to help save human lives during emergencies, but to fully leverage the power of ICTs to drive the ongoing development of Haiti and other developing nations. I call upon like-minded potential partners to join us in this worthy cause,” he said.

On his part, the Chairman, smartBridges Solutions, Nimesh Parikh said they are pleased to join hands with ITU in extending ICT access to the humanitarian aid community and victims of the Haiti disaster through its wireless technologies.

“We look forward to strengthening our cooperation with ITU in future emergencies and for the general development of countries,” he said.

Speaking from Haiti, where ITU continues to oversee network restoration efforts, ITU Chief, Emergency Telecommunications, Cosmas Zavazava, praised smartBridges Solutions’ commitment in contributing state-of-the-art wireless technology, which he said is very much needed to support ongoing aid work.

ITU, he said, has already contributed 100 satellite terminals to Haiti to help rapidly re-establish basic communication links, as well as installing a Qualcomm Deployable Base Station complete cellular network to provide the reliable wireless communications essential to disaster relief and clean-up efforts.

ITU has also allocated a budget of over USD 1 million to strengthen the disaster response effort in Haiti, and last month launched an appeal to its members to help raise funds for long-term network rebuilding: www.itu.int/emergencytelecoms/index.html.


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