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In the Wake of Monstrous Storms, Satellite Helps Reestablish Connectivity

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HughesNet Mexico team helps establish connectivity after Hurricane Oits

“In all of Acapulco, there is not a standing [electric] pole,” Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador reported during a news conference on Thursday, October 26, one day after Hurricane Otis devastated Mexico’s largest seaport city. While forecasters predicted the storm would hit landfall, it intensified so quickly that more than one million people living in the area had little time to prepare. Worse, the monster Category 5 hurricane––which packed sustained winds of 165 mph––made landfall at 1:25 a.m., in the dark of night. 

By morning, residents, tourists and government officials awoke to streets of knee-deep water and sludge, homes ripped from their foundations and a decimated infrastructure––no electricity, no connectivity. 

Satellite Communications Aid in Establishing Emergency Response 

Within hours, the HughesNet Mexico team and partner StarGo Empresarial joined efforts to establish connectivity for government and civic organizations, as well as for the Mexican Red Cross, the Emergency Medical Rescue Squadron (ERUM) and temporary shelters across the Acapulco, Guerrero, region. Utilizing Red Cross generators, HughesNet and StarGo installed more than 60 sites to provide satellite internet service, enabling users to place voice calls, send text messages and access WhatsApp and social networks. Satellite connectivity was also used to help journalists broadcast live from the impacted areas. 

In areas where generators were unavailable, connectivity was established by installing satellite antennas to solar panels which powered batteries and, in turn, modems. The antennas were set up to have a direct line of sight to a satellite, much like traditional satellite TV platforms. 

Amid the chaos and ruin, just getting to each installation site was a challenge. Many communities had been completely cut off, with mudslides causing roads to be impassable. 

"Our technicians were an hour away from Acapulco, but with the impact of the hurricane, that one-hour trip became a six-hour trip due to landslides, fallen poles, downed cables and destruction. It has been an extremely complicated and complex situation," explained Marcos Duarte, director of operations for HughesNet Mexico. 

Duarte reported 18 technicians were in the affected area, with another 50 deploying across the state to connect thousands more people and help advance the recovery and repair efforts. Teams will continue to collaborate with government and partner organizations to provide critical connectivity as the impacted infrastructure is rebuilt. 

“StarGo, one of our most important partners in Mexico, joined forces with the federal, state, and municipal authorities to restore communication in Acapulco. Through a Disaster Response service powered by Hughes, the company has the capability to offer satellite connectivity, aiming to restore connectivity, which is crucial during these types of events,” said Daniel Losada, VP of International Sales at Hughes. 

Disaster can strike at any time – whether a hurricane, earthquake, fire or another natural disaster, having an emergency communications plan that includes satellite and backup connectivity is critical.