In a humanitarian crisis, the sooner you send aid, the better. On their website, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Human Affairs says the first 72 hours immediately following a disaster are critical. This is why the Rapid Deployment Kit (RDK) by IEC Telecom and Thuraya is such a game-changer for humanitarian missions.
Satellite communications play a crucial role in humanitarian aid and relief missions. When terrestrial communications networks are down, as in the case of typhoons, tornadoes and earthquakes, humanitarian missions can rely only on humanitarian satcom network infrastructure. RDK fills a very real gap in the humanitarian Satcom industry.
What Problem Does RDK Solve?
Without satellite communications equipment, sending first responders into crisis zones is akin to sending astronauts into a black hole. Mission command will have no way of ascertaining their first responders’ progress, even their safety, without this critical piece of communications equipment.
Very small aperture terminal or VSAT is currently the preferred satellite technology because it can provide high-speed internet connectivity. Unfortunately, however, VSAT is not easily transportable because it requires a large and bulky outdoor transceiver to interface with a satellite transponder.
To transport VSAT equipment to a crisis zone, one might need to charter a cargo flight. At the very least, the VSAT equipment will have to await deployment with the first wave of the humanitarian organization’s aid and relief.
However, first responders cannot dally while they are outfitted with the best satellite equipment. They cannot wait the many days it might take to transport VSAT equipment to the crisis zone.
So, here’s the problem. First responders must depart immediately to provide aid and relief at the critical 72-hour window following a humanitarian crisis. However, when they leave, they cannot bring advanced satellite communications equipment with them. Therefore, initially, first responders have to rely only on the most basic equipment, typically satcom handsets and batteries, until their VSAT equipment finally catches up with them.
Why is this a problem? When first responders are limited only to voice and text communication, a lot of information falls by the wayside. They cannot send detailed reports and emails or take non-verbal cues from video calls, which translates to severe limitations in what they can communicate to and the information they can receive from mission control.
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Why RDK is the Solution
The Rapid Deployment Kit bridges this very palpable gap. RDK is satellite communications equipment that provides VSAT-like capabilities but in a much smaller form factor. Specifically, RDK provides high-speed satellite internet like VSAT, but it’s so light and portable, first responders can take the kit with them when they leave for their aid and relief mission.
The following are the features and benefits of RDK.
1. Lightweight, Rugged and Portable
All of the components that comprise RDK — the antenna, removable batteries, and a mobile satellite services terminal — fit in one rugged case. The case can easily take accidental knocks and spills, minimising the chance that the kit will get damaged in transit or while in use out in the field.
The sitcom kit is also light enough for one person to carry. Additionally, RDK may be brought onboard a commercial flight since the batteries can be removed.
This is brilliant because first responders might have to leave on the first available commercial flight for optimal response times. Since RDK can be brought onboard commercial flights, first responders can take their satcom equipment with them when they are deployed.
2. High-Speed Internet Connectivity
Unlike basic satcom equipment, RDK provides internet connectivity. Moreover, its bandwidth optimisation and advanced filtration capabilities mean it can provide a user experience of 2Mbps or greater internet connectivity speeds.
Yes, this might still be lower than the speeds you are accustomed to at home, but it’s magnitudes better than the internet speeds available in older satcom tech. This much speed is enough for email, file transfers, videoconferencing, and teleconsultation, especially if using IEC Telecom’s bespoke small-footprint apps designed for the optimal performance of these functions.
3. Segregated Networks
RDK has separate channels for business communications and welfare communications.
In other words, first responders can have the internet for their personal emails, social media use, and video calls. The mission can also provide telemedicine consults to aid recipients or give them limited access to chat functions to communicate with worried relatives.
However, the segregation of channels means the demands on the welfare channel will not eat into the bandwidth reserved for business communications. Therefore, RDK ensures core communication functions remain functional even when a welfare communications channel is made available.
4. Network Switching
RDK also works on LTE networks. Once terrestrial networks are back up, RDK can switch to using LTE signal, which can lead to significant cost-savings for humanitarian missions.
RDK for Humanitarian Missions
The Rapid Deployment Kit by IEC Telecom and Thuraya provides VSAT-level internet connectivity in a lightweight and portable package. It is the perfect sitcom equipment for first responders.