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State turns to SAT satellite phones to stay in touch with victims; partners with BSNL

Fisheries Director S Venkatesapathy said the department has placed a proposal to purchase 1,000 sat phones from BSNL.

Published: 06th September 2018 01:53 AM  |   Last Updated: 06th September 2018 01:53 AM   |  A+A-

Image for representation. (File | Associated Press)

Express News Service

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM:  Following calamities like Ockhi and the recent deluge where authorities and service personnel lost contact with the affected people and found it really hard to coordinate the rescue operations, the state has linked all coastal police stations with satellite phones and placed a proposal for procuring 1,000 of them for fishermen.AIG Coastal Police Zachariah George said it has purchased 18 I-SAT satellite phones from a company named Virtuoso Technologies in association with BSNL.

Fisheries Director S Venkatesapathy said the department has placed a proposal to purchase 1,000 sat phones from BSNL. The Ockhi monitoring committee meeting, to be held on Thursday, will forward the proposal to the Cabinet for approval. 

Fisheries Minister J Mercykutty Amma said the department, in fact, requires around 15,000 sat phones, but presently an order for 1,000 has been made as each set costs the department around Rs 1.1 lakh.The satellite phone will allow fishermen to stay connected even when they are 150-250 km off the shore without internet or tower connectivity. The communication will be made possible with the help of British satellite INMARSAT 1-4F2. 

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The set will have features like text message, e-compass, incoming and outgoing call options. The distressed people can also send SoS messages with location details from the set to various agencies as it is enabled with Global Positioning System (GPS).

Since BSNL’s GSPS (Global Satellite Phone Service) provides voice communication and messaging, all incoming and outgoing calls as well as messages will be monitored by the law-enforcement agencies. 
Further, there will be some restrictions on the use of sat phones by fishermen as they will be charged only a subsidised rent. Only 40 minutes’ call will be allowed for free, with Rs 40 being charged for every minute after the permissible limit, according to officers.

The sat phone is suitable for persons working in remote areas or disaster-affected areas --- defence, border security organisations, disaster management bodies, trekkers, fishermen and maritime applications. Thunderbolts, the state police’s anti-Naxalite force, have been using it for its operations.

Why it is better
Besides providing better connectivity, the phones will have features like text message, e-compass, incoming and outgoing call options
Distressed people can also send SoS messages with location details
Fisheries Department requires around 15,000 sat phones, says minister



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