The area of the Haute-Loire in France is a beautiful plateau at an altitude of more than 1,000 metres, which is separated to the east by the Loire river and to the west by the Allier river. The Gorges de l’Allier is a popular area for rafting and hiking and attracts large numbers of tourists, who sometimes require emergency assistance. However, the steep terrain in the area makes communications between the command posts, advance rescue teams and headquarters often difficult.
”The main issue is communicating in the theatre of operations. The terrain is steep and we often have to use the helicopter and winch and deploy teams on the ground on foot,” said Laurent Faure, Head of the Telecom Transmission IT Department for Haute-Loire Fire and Rescue Service. “Unfortunately, we also often do not have wired or mobile phone coverage in these areas and we needed an alternative form of communication.”
In the past the department had tried 3G mobile phone systems but found coverage to be too patchy. When the mobile phone service was available, the network could also become saturated with the number of people trying to use the service in a small area. The department had also tested older satellite solutions but found data connections were too slow for good quality voice and data communications.
Whilst working with the fire and rescue department, IT and telecoms specialist provider Adista recommended a Eutelsat satellite broadband solution for the mobile rescue operations.
“We were slightly reticent after the disappointments with other solutions, so we asked for a field trial,” said Laurent. “We cut ourselves off in an enclosed valley where there was no other communication and carried out a test that enabled us to secure internet access and exchange data with our servers, as well as establish an IP telephony link. We then repeated the test for our decision makers who then decided to adopt the technology.”
“This is a solution that genuinely meets our requirements. It can be carried in a small case and be set-up quickly to establish communications during a rescue or major incident.”
Adista has been using the KA-SAT satellite technology from Eutelsat for more than a year to offer communication and internet access to local authorities and business in remote locations. More than a third of fire and rescue departments in France are currently connected to the Adista terrestrial backbone network for communications and the Eutelsat KA-SAT solution is a mobile extension of this service. Rescue teams or response vehicles can be fitted with the Eutelsat satellite communication antenna for communications or they can be fixed to department buildings to offer VPN and data back-up services.
“We would have never been able to achieve such a high quality of service without the excellent relationship that we enjoy with Eutelsat Broadband,” said Xavier Wybo, Director of Major Accounts for Adista. “They facilitate the daily deployment of all of our services. It is our special relationship with Eutelsat that allows us to be a major player in today’s satellite sector in France, in addition to our terrestrial and hosting solutions.”