Telecommunication equipment is critical to ensure staff security, communicating assessment information, managing operations (supply chain, programming, MEAL) and making timely decisions. Whenever possible, it is ideal to have at least one telecommunication device that can be used to transfer data files.
Field teams should have a minimum of two reliable forms of communication when in the field. Specific contexts will determine the need for radios, sat phones and satellite internet terminals. This section gives details on options for each category of communication equipment as well as estimated shipping details and costs.
For each section you will find: general guidance; indicative shipping information and costs; specifications and components and other relevant notes. All information contained in this document are for planning purposes – shipping packaging, costs and other details may differ according to your location and the suppliers used.
Shipping costs will be especially variable – for planning, you should assume approximately $2-5 USD per kilogram for sea transport and $7-10 USD for air transport.
Where applicable, specific recommended models/items are given. Links to relevant manufacturers as well as cross references, with codes, with catalog items from IFRC are provided. (Please note this link will not work in the EFOM offline version).
Indications for what items should be procured locally are also given. When purchasing items other than those recommended, similar specifications should be sought.
Mobile Satellite Internet Terminal
Other Communications Reference Documents
Licenses and Permits: It is essential to make sure that CRS is in possession of all appropriate licenses and permits required by the national government of the country in which the equipment will be used. Do not purchase or import any telecommunications equipment, including radios, sat phones and satellites internet devices until verifying national laws and obtaining necessary authorizing documentation.
Programming: Remember that most telecommunication equipment will need to be installed and programmed prior to use. Before departing to the field all telecommunication equipment has to be fully tested by CP IT staff, and field teams need to be briefed on how to setup, operate and troubleshoot any potential problems. Simple written instructions on how to operate the telecommunication equipment should be kept with the telecommunication equipment.
Technical Support: Setting up HF and VHF radios require a level of technical competency. In some locations there will be an active UN Logs Cluster or WFP team which will be able to assist though there can be a wait list and UN always gets priority. For in field technical assistance and guidance check out the Emergency Telecommunications Cluster (ETC) . However, if this assistance is unavailable and local and regional CRS IT expertise is insufficient, then seek professional installation from reputable local or regional telecommunication companies, or consider sourcing the equipment with installation and maintenance services include.
Power Supply: Any telecommunication system will need reliable power supply. When local power is unreliable or interrupted, then consider procuring alternate power sources such as portable generators and/or solar power units, including Inverters with some array of battery power kits.
Selecting the right telecommunication package for the operational reality:
When determining telecommunication needs and options it is good to first assess what options already exist in which locations, and which options match CRS’ operational and programming needs in the near to medium terms: cellular networks and modems, satellite phones, mobile internet terminals, and radio communication options.
Reliability, range and cost are key criteria for selecting telecommunication options. Other factors include: method of exchange: voice, data; number of required channels; source of energy supply; the current security environment and possible changes (i.e. instability that may cause disruption of the public telephone network); and national government regulations.
Additional information can also be found in the Communications Platforms section of Safe & Sound, Chapter 7, pages 111 -118.