Chilean Disaster Communications Strengthened

Chilean earthquake

Communication infrastructure is vital to every modern country, and it is often when disaster impacts a country that communications systems are truly tested.

The Chilean government are very aware of how regularly their systems have been tested. Since 1900 Chile has felt the effects of 89 earthquakes registering over 6.3 in magnitude with the biggest quake in recorded history in 1960 of magnitude 9.1 and more recently magnitude 8.8 quake hit Concepcion in February 2010.

It was the quake in 2010 that again highlighted the importance of communication, the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) reported US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton commenting: "One of their biggest problems has been communications; they can’t communicate into Concepcion and some of the surrounding areas". The United States and other aid organisations provided communication equipment to help coordinate the relief effort.

As a result of the widespread disruption to vital aeronautical communication systems, Barrett Communications, in conjunction with Skytel Telecomunicaciones Ltda of Santiago, Chile, has been working with the Civil Aeronautical Authority in Chile to provide a reliable alternative communications solution. In the event of another disaster, or loss of the normal communication systems, the Barrett High Frequency (HF) Voice and Data Solution will allow for the communication of voice, data and email. With the Barrett 2061 HF Telephone Interconnect, the ability to connect into any operational telephone services necessary to the Authority’s operations will also be available.

During in-country operator and maintainer training, Howard Kirrane, Barrett Communications Technical Support Manager commented: "HF communications is unique in that it doesn’t require infrastructure to operate and is perfect as a disaster communications solution." The network of HF base stations will connect 38 airports across Chile, including Santiago’s International Airport and airports which serve Argentina, the Falkland Islands and other bordering countries. This communications solution will ensure, in the event of disruption to the standard telecommunications channels, that the airports can maintain communication with voice, data and email to coordinate aircraft routing.

Mr Jose San Martin, Managing Director of Skytel Telecomunicaciones Ltda commented: "In partnership with our customer we have identified a proven solution to meet the operational needs of the Civil Aviation Authority. HF communication is very much on the resurgence; Skytel is receiving many requests to provide a reliable alternative method of exchanging information in the very uncertain world in which we live." Skytel Telecomunicaciones Ltda., have also installed Barrett HF communications equipment in other Chilean government organisations.

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