Vodafone sends network in a backpack to Nepal earthquake zone

Vodafone’s charitable arm, the Vodafone Foundation, deploys instant mini networks to help restore communications in quake-hit Nepal

Vodafone’s charitable arm, the Vodafone Foundation, has sent a number of its Instant Network Mini packs to Nepal to assist in relief efforts following the recent earthquake.

The magnitude 7.8 earthquake struck on 25 April 2015, devastating large parts of Nepal and causing a major avalanche on the slopes of Mount Everest. So far the death toll has topped 5,000 and is expected to go higher as rescue teams battle to reach remote villages.

In response to the disaster, the Vodafone Foundation – assisting non-governmental organisation (NGO) Télécoms Sans Frontières – has deployed a small team of volunteers to Nepal to restore communications to some of the worst affected areas.

Vodafone Foundation’s team is based in Kathmandu, and will offer support to Nepalese mobile network operators to help re-establish basic mobile communications, helping aid workers and civilians.

Local operators and NGOs already on the ground will direct the foundation's equipment to where it is most needed.

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Easily distributed networks

Once fully active, the team will deploy the Instant Network Mini, an 11kg mobile network in a backpack, which can be carried on a commercial flight as hand baggage and set up in 10 minutes.

According to Vodafone, it is capable of connecting five mobile phone users to any global telecoms network in a 100m radius, and enables text messaging services.

Vodafone has deployed a larger 3G Instant Network, which weighs in at 100kg and fits into four suitcases. This can also be carried on a commercial airliner.

The Instant Network comprises an antenna, a foldable mast, an industrial computer and a base transceiver station. Powered by a small generator, it is capable of providing coverage over a radius of one kilometre.

It has already been deployed in a number of disaster zones, notably in the Philippines following Typhoon Haiyan, where it carried over 443,000 calls and 1.4 million SMS messages in just under a month.

Vodafone Foundation director Andrew Dunnett commented: “Establishing communications in the aftermath of a natural disaster is crucial, both for the co-ordination of aid and to enable those affected to reconnect with family and friends.

“Through our Instant Network programme we are able to deploy our people and our technology to provide communications support at a critical time.”

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