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When Lives Depend on Lines of Communication, Satellite Delivers

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BY PAUL GASKE, EVP & GENERAL MANAGER, NORTH AMERICA DIVISION, HUGHES MEMBER OF THE SPACE & SATELLITE HALL OF FAME

This article first appeared in the Orbiter. 

When a natural disaster strikes – no matter where in the world – lives depend on lines of communication. Yet while hurricanes, floods, tornadoes and wildfires incite an urgent need for communications, they simultaneously crush the networks that make those vital connections possible. Flooding, seismic activity, fire, high winds, downed trees – even recovery construction – all damage terrestrial communications infrastructure like wires, fiber and cable. But satellite services endure, and, time and again, deliver the crucial connectivity that first responders, citizens and medical teams need in the wake of a natural disaster.

After Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico in 2017, Hughes deployed over 1,500 VSATs across the island, enabling first responders to transmit and receive data and images and make Voice over IP calls when thousands of miles of communications lines were destroyed. The San Cristobal Hospital, on the south side of Puerto Rico, used our satellite connection to order medicine and supplies, update patient medical records online, and coordinate urgent patient transport to San Juan. A local retailer established a satellite-enabled Wi-Fi connection and opened it to neighbors to reach out to loved ones. For a national retailer with four warehouses on the island, our team helped deploy an emergency network solution so they could resume operations quickly and distribute food, water, medicines and clothing. And when the island’s 90-year-old Guajataca Dam was in danger of failing, the National Weather Service used Hughes satellite connectivity to alert agencies in the U.S., including the Department of Defense and FEMA, coordinating a timely evacuation of 70,000 residents at risk from flash flooding.

Click here to read the full article online.