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Intelsat provides communications support in Tonga relief mission

Intelsat is utilising its satellite technology to provide communication services in collaboration with Australian and New Zealand firms to support humanitarian assistance and disaster relief (HADR) in Tonga after it was hit by a devastating earthquake caused by the eruption of an underwater volcano in January.

Intelsat's senior vice-president of Global Sales Media & Networks, Jean-Philippe Gillet, told Janes that the company is working together with firms such as Spark New Zealand and Australia's Telstra and Optus to help local telecommunication companies restore connectivity in the Pacific archipelago.

Gillet added that Intelsat's geostationary communications satellites, Intelsat 18 (IS 18) and Horizons 3e (H3e), are being employed to support mobile phone networks and internet connections to ensure the efficient functioning of essential services.

According to Janes Space Systems and Industry , IS 18 was launched in 2011 and its principal application includes direct broadcast TV and other telecommunications services to customers from Southeast Asia to western United States. H3e is jointly owned and operated by Intelsat and Japan-based SKY Perfect JSAT Corporation, and its principal application includes digital video, internet, mobile communication, and data services.

Intelsat has also partnered with Optus to provide services to the New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) involved in HADR operations in Tonga.

Gillet said that Intelsat is providing space-based broadband connectivity to the NZDF via IS 18 while Optus is providing satellite equipment and systems on the ground in both Australia and Tonga.

“Surveillance flights of Tonga have been organised to capture imagery and assist officials with recovery efforts,” Gillet added.

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