Tsunami Relief ICT Update, March 29

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A major earthquake with an estimated strength of 8.5 occurred off the west coast of Sumatra on Monday morning, March 28, at 8:09 a.m. Pacific Standard Time (Monday night 11:09 p.m. local time in Sumatra; 16:09 UTC - Greenwich). See http://earthquake.usgs.gov/recenteqsww/Maps/10/95_5.html.

For current NOAA updates, see http://www.prh.noaa.gov/ptwc/wmsg.

We were alerted by Jonathan Thompson of International Medical Corps shortly after the earthquake. Jon wrote over Skype IM: "It was rolling for a good 5 minutes. Everyone ran out on the street." IMC had no injuries in Medan, but they are unable to get voice communications to Banda Aceh. We have notified several NGOs, who are attempting to get through to their relief teams.

Please check back for updates.

Since December 26, we at HumaniNet have had the privilege of supporting over 50 NGO field teams with mobile communications in Indonesia and Sri Lanka.

If your organization needs assistance with field communications, please email us at info@humaninet.org.

Please bookmark and revisit this page periodically for current updates on relief communications:

VSAT in Banda Aceh, Indonesia. PACTEC announced that it now has two emergency communications centers in operation in Indonesia providing support for tsunami relief workers. The centers are located in United Nations Base Camps in Banda Aceh and Meulaboh. Both centers, referred to as Internet Cafés, use Very Small Aperture Terminal (VSAT) satellite systems to provide high-speed Internet data and voice services for relief workers. The Cafés can also offer long range wireless LAN links to other organizations and individual aid workers within 20km of the centers. For more information and pictures, please click here and note the links at the bottom.


  • RBGAN coverage excellent in Sri Lanka, but not in Indonesia. Reports from several NGOs in Sumatra indicate that the RBGAN is no longer reliable in this region. One NGO reports that the two RBGANs that were connecting earlier in January are no longer connecting. Please contact us for other options for email from this region.
  • RBGANs and Iridium phones available at no cost. Please email us at info@humaninet.org if you need voice and/or email in the disaster areas.
  • Thanks to a generous donor, NGOs responding to the crisis can purchase Iridium minutes (airtime) at half price, or USD .70 per minute (minimum 500 minutes). Email info@humaninet.org for details.
  • Also note that data kits for email on Iridium 9500 and 9505a models are now available.
  • See our Satellite Communications page for details on Iridium phones and RBGAN terminals.
  • Callers to Iridium phones may send 160-character messages to the user of the phone. See our Iridium Tips page for details on this and two-stage dialing – you can call a U.S. number to connect to an Iridium phone anywhere.
  • CGNET and iPass have reduced their prices for roaming Internet access to CGNET's nonprofit customers who are providing relief and rebuilding services to the victims of December's disastrous earthquake and tsunami in the Indian Ocean. The free service and reduced prices will apply to usage in Indonesia, Sri Lanka, India, Thailand and Malaysia.
  • Conference calls are often essential for relief coordination. If your organization needs a way to conference with team members in Asia economically, please contact us.
  • For health and medical ICT support for disaster relief, see the Satellife home page.

We are grateful to the following organizations for their generous assistance and support of partner NGOs since December 26:

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