Friday, June 20, 2008

Disasters raising new tests for telecoms: experts

Terra Daily, via Agence France-Presse: Disasters like the devastating earthquake in China have highlighted the need for countries to develop better emergency communications plans, experts say. With indications that the number of disasters may be rising around the globe, nations need to think seriously about how to deliver communication equipment to make rescue operations quicker and more efficient, they say.

Telecommunications were interrupted for more than 30 hours in the areas hardest hit by last month's quake in China, said Wu Guoxiang of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP). He told CommunicAsia, a regional trade show, that there were lessons to be drawn from some of the communications problems that developed as authorities grappled with the scope of the disaster.

The quake killed tens of thousands of people but also destroyed more than 18,000 mobile base stations and nearly 30,000 kilometres (20,000 miles) of cable and optical fibre, he said. But when the Chinese government sent a fleet of emergency communications vehicles with satellite facilities to the quake zone, many could not reach the hardest-hit areas because of landslides and other damage. That points to the most important lesson, he said: the capability for rapid deployment….

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