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Vodafone Foundation's Instant Network Deployed In Hard-Hit Davao Oriental With Partners Telecoms Sans Frontieres And Smart Communications

HONG KONG, Dec. 25, 2012 /PRNewswire/ --  Thousands of people in the Philippines hit by Typhoon Pablo will be able to contact relatives and aid agencies will be able to carry out life-saving emergency work with the deployment of the Vodafone Foundation's Instant Network today. Communications lines were cut when Typhoon Pablo hit the province on December 4, flattening buildings and damaging cell sites and telecoms transmission facilities.

The Vodafone Foundation's Instant Network is a portable mobile phone network which packs in to three suitcases, weighs less than 100kg and can be taken on commercial flights. Once on location, a network can be established in 40 minutes. The 'ultra-portable' mobile network will be used in the municipality of Baganga, where relief agencies have set up an operations base and connected via satellite to wireless services provider Smart Communications' network. Once operational, the portable communications network can provide coverage of three to five kilometres and the GSM base station can transmit and receive thousands of text messages and dozens of calls simultaneously.

The Instant Network has been previously deployed in response to a humanitarian situation, when it provided communications during severe droughts in Kaikor, Northern Kenya earlier this year. However, this is the first time it has been used in an emergency disaster situation.

Instant Network, developed by Vodafone in collaboration with Huawei, is being deployed in partnership with emergency communications specialist Telecoms Sans Frontieres and Smart Communications. Smart has also provided 30 mobile phones for the use of relief agencies and local governments. Telecoms Sans Frontieres has set up the satellite, which links the Vodafone Instant Network with the core network. Some of these phones will also be used to provide residents with free calls. This is the first time that the Vodafone Foundation has used the technology in a country where it does not operate. It is being deployed by a team from Vodafone New Zealand - engineers Cliff Robertson and Jason Rogers - and the Vodafone Foundation.

In February 2012, the Vodafone Foundation's Instant Network was set-up in Kaikor in partnership with Safaricom and the Kenyan Red Cross to assist with relief efforts and the delivery of food. The Kaikor community of 15,000 previously existed without power, running water or reliable communications and was dependent upon aid agencies such as the Red Cross to provide medical and educational support and sanitation. In the 47 days of the deployment, 264,104 calls were made over Instant Network, including almost 12,000 free minutes used by aid agencies and humanitarian calling centres for those people without access to a phone.

Andrew Dunnett, Director, Vodafone Foundation, said: "The Instant Network is part of our Mobile for Good programme, where the Foundation is combining funding with mobile technology as an enabler. Providing mobile communications in a disaster situation enables aid agencies to work faster and more effectively, helps reunite families and saves lives."

Ramon Isberto, Head of Public Affairs, Smart Communications, said: "We are delighted to be collaborating with the Vodafone Foundation and Telecoms Sans Frontieres to respond to the extraordinary challenges posed by Typhoon Pablo. This will complement our efforts to fully restore communications services in parts of the province where the typhoon's damage has been severe."

Sebastien Latouille, ICT manager and head of mission Philippines, Telecoms Sans Frontieres, said: "Telecoms Sans Frontieres (TSF) has been working in the affected area of Davao Oriental, where communications have not been available for the last seven days. The deployment of the Vodafone Instant Network will provide connectivity back in the area, greatly enhancing the relief work efficiency and enabling the displaced families to get in touch with their loved ones. TSF is proud to be a part of this innovative and fruitful partnership with the Vodafone Foundation and Smart Communications."

For further information:

Vodafone Group
Media Relations
Telephone: +44 1635 664 444

About Vodafone Foundation

At the heart of the Foundation is the belief that Vodafone's mobile communications technologies can address some of the world's most pressing humanitarian challenges and Vodafone's responsibility is to utilise mobile technology in mobilising social change and improving people's lives. The Vodafone Foundation invests in the communities in which Vodafone operates and is at the centre of a network of Vodafone's global and local social investment programmes. Vodafone Foundation UK registered charity number 1089625.

About Smart Communications, Inc. (Smart)

Smart Communications, Inc. (Smart) is the Philippines' leading wireless services provider with 52.1 million subscribers on its GSM network as of end-September 2012. Smart has built a reputation for innovation, having introduced world-first wireless offerings such as Smart Money, Smart Load, Smart Padala, the Netphone, and Smart LTE -- the world's first multi-band LTE service. Smart also offers 3G and HSPA+ services, while its satellite service, Smart Link, provides communications to the global maritime industry. Smart Broadband, Inc., a wholly-owned subsidiary, offers a wireless broadband service, Smart Broadband, with 1.69 million subscribers as of end-September 2012.

Smart is a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Philippines' leading telecommunications carrier, the Philippine Long Distance Telephone Company. For more information, visit http://www.smart.com.ph

About Telecoms Sans Frontieres

Founded in 1998, Telecoms Sans Frontieres/Telecom Without Borders (TSF) is the world's leading emergency telecommunications NGO. For more than 14 years, TSF has participated in emergency response, setting up emergency facilities in war or disaster zones for affected populations and relief workers. With its 24-hour monitoring centre and bases in Europe, Central America, Asia, and its office in the United States, TSF rapid-response teams: (1) intervene anywhere in the world in less than 24 hours to provide emergency broadband service; (2) work with partners to make long-term development missions more effective and efficient using broadband and empower advances in health, development, education, and food security; and (3) train governments, UN staff, and NGOs on how to use telecom and Internet tools in emergencies.

About Vodafone Group

Vodafone is one of the world's largest mobile communications companies by revenue with approximately 407 million customers in its controlled and jointly controlled markets as of 30 September 2012. Vodafone currently has equity interests in over 30 countries across five continents and more than 50 partner networks worldwide. For more information, please visit www.vodafone.com.

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