In the event of a natural disaster or civil unrest, damage to terrestrial communications infrastructure, combined with exceptional spikes in demand, can leave users cut off at the worst possible time. Sudden loss of communications can impact on business operations and on the ability of first responders to assist victims in emergencies.

Concerns about the resilience of existing communications network architecture (which is often based on a single technology, due to the need to reduce capex and operational costs) have led both enterprises and emergency service providers to question the viability of relying on a single source of communications, and have spurred the search for alternative ways of maintaining contact that are better able to survive unprecedented events, whether these are caused by the weather or social upheaval.

Today’s smart satellite services – such as Twoobii from Q-KON – meet the need for resilient yet cost-effective communications services that can be easily integrated into existing networks and provide network-independent, virtually uninterruptible connectivity that can allow businesses to continue to function as usual, and first responders to gather and share mission-critical information.

“The rationale for the use of smart satellite services in emergencies is well established – they are easy to set up and power, independent of vulnerable equipment like towers and can be easily incorporated as a default redundancy layer,” comments Dr Dawie de Wet, group CEO of telecoms solutions provider Q-KON. “Advances in technology – and the introduction of pay-per-use pricing plans – are strengthening the case for satellite connectivity as an everyday communications option, not just for when disaster strikes.”

Companies and service providers that adopt this approach are ideally placed to continue making money or assisting people when other systems are rendered inoperable, as they will already have satellite equipment installed and will have completed billing and network integration in advance. In this way, seamless operability can be ensured, even during unprecedented crises.

Concerns over the ability of conventional communications services to deliver failsafe connectivity, combined with growing awareness of the improved signal quality and reduced costs of satellite, have created a ‘perfect storm’ of circumstances that are prompting a reappraisal of differing technologies.

When the wind blows …

Speaking of storms… when central Mozambique was hit by Cyclone Eloise in January 2021, Twoobii Smart Satellite services proved their worth by enabling two local businesses to remain in contact with the outside world, despite extreme flooding and winds of up to 160km/h.

“Twoobii was our only lifeline,” comments Willie Prinsloo, CEO of The Buffalo Camp Sofala. “None of our local land-based systems were able to withstand the impact of Cyclone Eloise, but the fact that our satellite communications remained operational throughout meant that The Buffalo Camp could function as a command centre for coordinating relief efforts during the cyclone, and while emergency services dealt with the aftermath.”

Prinsloo’s experience was further evidence of the usefulness of smart satellite services in emergency scenarios. This satellite communications system has also contributed to the success of this Mozambiquan hospitality business, and helped make The Buffalo Camp a ‘must-stop’ lodge for travellers en route from southern to northern Mozambique.

When the chips (and the fibre and GSM) are down, Smart Satellite services can make a difference both during extreme weather, and during everyday operations.