Three mobile operators to set up joint line to be used in disasters

Three mobile operators to set up joint line to be used in disasters

Three mobile operators to set up joint line to be used in disasters

Turkey’s three mobile operators will set up a joint telephone line with a high capacity that the citizens can use during disasters to get in touch with their relatives and loved ones, Turkish Vice President Fuat Oktay has said.

The concern about telecommunication problems in emergencies, such as natural disasters, came up when Turkey’s telecom giant Türk Telekom failed to function during last week’s 5.8-magnitude earthquake in Istanbul.

After the telecommunication incident of the Sept. 26 earthquake, three GSM companies conducted meetings with government officials, Oktay conveyed.

“In a line where 20 million people call each other at a normal time, this figure rises to 160 million during an earthquake. They said the line collapsed and meticulously explained this to us,” Oktay said.

In order to prevent such a communication mishap from happening again, Oktay said the GSM operators will increase their overall capacity to 175 million calls from 118 million.

“They will reach this capacity in about six months. Vodafone said they will contact us in a week. Even though we regard this as a social imperative from Vodafone, we think they will contribute to the increase very soon,” he said.

Turkey needs to shift to audio communication, where communication is provided over the internet rather than normal telephone lines, Oktay added.

In this context, the three operators will set up a joint line that can be put into service under Turkey’s Disaster and Emergency Management Authority (AFAD), he said.

“In an event of a disaster, we will inform our citizens. We are establishing a line where everyone can communicate with anyone,” he said. The line will be free-of-charge for a certain amount of time and is expected to be actualized in three months, he added.

Another solution authorities have come up with is a transmitter system, the vice president said.

“There are different works of our Interior Ministry, something we call DMR. The gendarmerie forces have a JEMUS system, which includes rural areas,” he said.

These systems will help officials to communicate during the management of the natural disaster, according to Oktay.

“But the mid- and long-term solution is to shift to 5G,” he added.

Furthermore, wireless lines will be set up in assembly areas, to those who have the necessary infrastructure, he said.

Istanbul on Sept. 26 was jolted with a 5.8-magnitude earthquake. Tremors followed all night long, causing panic among the residents.

During the earthquake some 320 apartments were heavily damaged while 895 others had minor damages, Oktay said. The heavily-damaged apartments have been evacuated, and some 96 residents of the apartments are staying in relevant institutions, he added.

Regarding school closures, the vice president said 29 schools had suspended classes for one day on Sept. 30.

“Heavily-damaged schools that cannot be opened on Oct. 1 will be renewed right away. Works regarding where these students will continue their education [until renewal] is ongoing,” he said.