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Ericsson Response volunteers are getting ready to deploy a GSM network in Haiti to support relief efforts in the earthquake-stricken country


January 21, 2010 – Rima Qureshi, head of Ericsson Response, says it will take about two days for the seven volunteers to roll out services over the portable GSM network and Wireless LAN In Disaster Emergency Response (WIDER).

The Ericsson Response team will also distribute 5,000 mobile handsets to relief workers, including those from the United Nations Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs and the International Red Cross. Once the GSM network is up and running aid workers can coordinate the relief operations using mobile communications.

“Our central purpose is to enable the UN to fulfill its mandate,” Qureshi says. “Beyond food, water, fuel and medicine, communications is a basic need and one we can provide support for. That’s the best contribution we can make given our technical expertise.”

Qureshi says Ericsson will provide a field team of between five and 10 volunteers to manage the GSM network and to assist the UN Humanitarian Affairs office with restoring basic telecommunications capabilities.

“The UN office was completely destroyed so they have asked us to bring our WIDER system, which will enable them to have an internet connection and to set up a local intranet,” she says. “They will be relying on us heavily for communications.”

“We focus on humanitarian assistance,” she says. “We will prioritise our volunteers to the aid effort, and once that’s in place we’ll see if there is other assistance we can provide to the market.”

Ericsson Response became engaged in the post-quake efforts immediately as a participant in the Emergency Telecom Cluster (ETC), a UN initiative that is coordinated with Télécom Sans Frontières (TSF), which makes the preliminary assessment of what is required from each of the partners. Ericsson Response has provided communications systems for humanitarian crises since 2000 in Kosovo, Turkey, Vietnam, Congo, Sudan, Indonesia and the Philippines.