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Are Your Comms Ready? Four Myths About Emergency Communications Readiness

1.  When we get there, cellular service will be back up. 
That’s a gamble, and it depends on when you get there.  If “there” is your city after an earthquake, you may have no communications whatsoever for one day, two days, a week or longer.  In Haiti, some rural areas lacked cell and regular phone service for a month or two.

2.  When we need satellite phones, we’ll buy or rent them. 
Don’t count on it.  In January 2010, right after the Haiti disaster, stocks of satellite phones were sold out in 2-3 days at most service providers, who were overwhelmed by requests.  Getting service activated can be a bottleneck, too – many users are in the queue.  And then there’s the shipping time, even more problematic on weekends.

3.  Our personnel can quickly learn how to use them. 
Not so easy.  Even for experienced users, it takes some time to get acquainted with the satphone.  Post-emergency is not a good time to get a new phone set up – it is extreme  “crunch time” for emergency responders.  Only those who train and test periodically will be “ready to go.”

4.  It’s too costly to have a satellite phone ready for use or deployment. 
The new IsatPhone costs $600 - 650, and an annual service subscription less than $200.  That’s less than the cost of a one-day workshop, or a new laptop.  Too costly?  When lives are on the line, communications matter.

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