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Tapaz City, the Philippines, January 3, 2014
By: Ted Wendel, Project HOPE volunteer

Landline phones are almost unknown on Panay Island. The few phone lines that did exist were torn down by the 180 mph winds of Typhoon Yolanda. Cell phones play an important role when a cellular connection is available. But, when it comes to being able to communicate from the edges of civilization, the reliability of an Iridium satellite phone (Sat phone) brings an unmatched sense of security.

Using an Iridium satellite phone in the Philippines

Travel for the Project HOPE team is part of the daily routine. The roads on the Island of Tapaz quickly take their toll on even the sturdiest vehicles. It is only a matter of time until a van full of team members gets stranded far from the safety and security of the main compound in Tapaz City. Every time a group leaves the Tapaz compound they are required to carry an emergency pack including a freshly charged Iridium Satellite phone. If there is a breakdown, using the Sat phone ensures that no one gets stranded.

The Iridium satellite phones have proven useful at the medical outreach sites set up by Project HOPE volunteers. A medical outreach site can challenge even the wisest health care provider. The physicians and nurses are constantly faced with complex multi-system disease patients that require special skills. Once again, the security of being able to use a sat phone to connect to stateside colleagues is an important life line. 

In an age of international cell phones and smart phone programs like FaceTalk, it is hard to imagine the value of a satellite phone. Big and heavy, these phones seem to be throwbacks to an older generation. But, when you are in the middle of a Philippine Island far from cell phone coverage and need to connect with someone, these phones get the job done.

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