Business Continuity, SageCONNECT

Satellite Phones a Good Call for Disaster Recovery Planning

June 2022
Sagenet Blog Satellite Dr

Reliable communication is a critical element of disaster recovery and business continuity planning. In times of chaos and confusion, the ability to maintain contact and share accurate information with emergency responders, family, colleagues, customers and business partners is essential for effective response and mitigation efforts.

Although mobile phones typically carry the majority of emergency communications, they won’t always be available in a crisis. Cell towers, base stations and other components of the cellular communications infrastructure are highly vulnerable to disasters such as fires, floods, hurricanes and tornados. Cellular systems can also get overloaded in emergencies.

Given those risks, most DR and BC plans include a satellite communications component. Satellite phones ensure dependable communications even when disasters decimate conventional telecommunications infrastructure.

Real-World Reliability

Compared to cellular, satellite connectivity has modest infrastructure requirements. Satellite phones need little more than a power source to function, and they don’t need terrestrial connections to transport voice or data. They don’t require physical proximity to infrastructure such as cell towers because they receive and send signals via a satellite transponder orbiting the earth.

Even if satellite antennas are disabled, it is relatively simple to restore operations. Trained personnel can usually repair, replace or reconfigure a damaged antenna in less than an hour. Meanwhile, replacing cellular infrastructure can take weeks or months, depending on the damage.

Researchers found that satellite technology offered the most reliable communications among healthcare institutions in the first four days after an earthquake and tsunami caused widespread damage across Japan in 2011. In surveys with officials from 53 hospitals, more than 70 percent said satellite phones functioned correctly all four days. Meanwhile, less than 40 percent of mobile and fixed-line phones were functional due to power outages and infrastructure damages.

A year earlier, SageNet provided satellite equipment and services to support relief efforts following a series of devasting earthquakes in Haiti that crippled the island nation’s communications infrastructure. Along with our partner, Echostar Satellite Services, SageNet donated dish antennas, two-way ground stations and satellite services that allowed 250 International Red Cross teams in Haiti to manage staff, coordinate services and requisition supplies.

“When all else fails, satellites come to the rescue,” Claude Rousseau, Research Director, Northern Sky Research, said at the time.

Push to Talk

Satellite phones’ push-to-talk (PTT) features are particularly valuable for emergency responders by allowing instant communications, much like a walkie-talkie. Dispatchers can coordinate the actions of teams with the touch of a button instead of dialing numbers and waiting for others to pick up. Group communication features mean multiple users can hear important messages simultaneously without having to answer the phone.

Cost once was a significant obstacle to satellite communications, but that’s no longer the case. It is now possible to eliminate the CapEx investment in satellite communications by working with a provider who delivers satellite communication as a service. SageNet, for example, offers a variety of fixed and mobile satellite communications solutions on a flexible, as-needed basis through its Emergency Communication Services (ECS) suite.

Wireless, landline and cellular communications are all indispensable for most organizations today, but they may not always be available in a disaster or other emergency. Satellite solutions fill in the gaps to ensure that lines of communication remain open. SageNet offers a comprehensive range of fixed and transportable satellite services for emergency response, disaster recovery, network backup and continuity of operations. Contact us to learn more.

John Brader

John Brader

Vice President and General Manager of Satellite Services

Satellite takes your network reliability from three 9’s (99.97% to four 9s (99.99%). The added availability can be quantified down to the minute and translates to some serious savings and revenue for your organization. Newer satellite technologies are also coming with faster speeds and lower latencies. It’s a game changer for an industry that had once been relegated to history books. Now, satellite can compete on speed as well as cost.

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