• Instant Network equipment deployed on 20 missions over 7 years
  • Innovative kit helps survivors to connect to loved ones in the aftermath of disasters

The Vodafone Foundation has introduced Instant WIFI to its range of innovative emergency communications solutions. Instant WIFI is one product within the Instant Network portfolio, which has been used to deliver communications and education to more than 20 disaster situations over the last 7 years.

The new equipment, which is transported in a portable case, offers a fast, easy way of providing WIFI in environments affected by natural disasters. The technology gives more people the ability to connect with their loved ones for free and enables them to receive dedicated assistance and information in an emergency. The kit is also used to aid the disaster recovery process by facilitating crucial cash transfers and helping to restore infrastructure.

In quick operation mode, the Instant WIFI is able to operate within minutes to create a WIFI cloud over an approximate 80m range, serving up to 500 users at any one time. For a larger deployment, the extra access points extend the capacity and the area of coverage to 1500 users across an area of up 10,000 m2.

The Instant WIFI equipment has been added to the existing Instant Network portfolio, which includes a portable 3G network that packs into three 30kg boxes for rapid deployment on commercial flights, and Instant Charge, a durable and portable outdoor mobile charger that can charge 48 devices simultaneously. The equipment allows the Vodafone Foundation Instant Network team to set up Multimedia Centres within 24 hours of a disaster happening, enabling those affected to charge their devices and use the internet whilst providing access to connected tablets and phones for those without their own. These centres are also often used by emergency services and NGOs to coordinate rescue and relief efforts in effected areas.

With the increase in access to smartphones, including in developing countries (70% of the World’s population are predicted to have smartphones by 2020), the internet has become the main method of communication for millions of people globally.

The Vodafone Instant WIFI solution builds on the Vodafone Foundation’s work in providing WIFI for refugees arriving in Greece in 2015-2017, where a prototype of Instant WIFI was deployed in the Lavrio refugee camp. During this time, refugees used the equivalent of 2.2 billion free messages in data to contact friends and family on their arrival in Europe.

Vodafone Foundation also deployed free WiFi solutions in St Martin for victims of Hurricane Irma which devastated the Caribbean in September 2017 and most recently in the Philippines with Smart Communications after Typhoon Mangkhut hit, connecting 5,900 people and providing the equivalent of a million call minutes in data.

Andrew Dunnett, Director of the Vodafone Foundation, said: “Since it was first developed 7 years ago, Instant Network has evolved from a “network in a box” which facilitated voice calls and SMS, into a suite of products that help reconnect disaster affected areas. We have evolved our technology to respond to the needs on the ground. Data is now key with people communicating via WhatsApp and social media. Deploying Instant WiFi and Instant Charge, means those affected can use their own devices to reconnect with family and loved ones to let them know they are alive. In the aftermath of a disaster, communications is life saving and we are proud of our global team of trained Vodafone volunteers who work hard to provide support and connectivity in some of the world’s most challenging environments.”

 

Instant WIFI - Key Features

  • All in one box solution in ruggedized casing
  • Pre-configured solution can be operational in minutes
  • Cloud-based management with live reporting capabilities
  • Weighs less than 25Kg and easily transportable on commercial flights
  • Cloud managed security features, Fortigate based firewall
  • Load balanced multiple sim capability
  • 3 x Access points included
  • Multiple SSID’s capability
  • Capacity for 500 up to 1,500 simultaneous users (Backhaul dependent)
  • Bandwidth control per user
  • WiFi coverage of 80m, extendable to 200+ m with 2 extra WiFi access points
  • Dynamic uplink capable of utilizing 3G, 4G, fixed and satellite connections - capable of auto-failover and load balancing of connections
  • Included Point to Point antennas: enable deployment of WiFi in areas 500+ meters away using single backhaul. Deploy WiFi in new area from base area 500+ m using Point to Point antennas
  • Uses either 220V AC mains power or 12V DC power from solar or car battery

The Vodafone Foundation will be exhibiting the Instant WIFI with the other Instant Network kit at the International Disaster Response ExPo on 28 & 29 November, London https://www.disasterresponseexpo.com/

 

Notes to editors:

About Vodafone Foundation

The Vodafone Foundation’s Connecting for Good programme combines Vodafone’s charitable giving and technology to make a difference in the world. Globally, the Vodafone Foundation supports projects that are focused on delivering public benefit through the use of mobile technology across the areas of health, education and disaster relief. The Vodafone Foundation invests in the communities in which Vodafone operates and is at the centre of a network of global and local social investment programmes. The Vodafone Foundation is a UK registered charity (1089625)