Home >> March 2023 Edition >> The Power Of Collaboration: Intelsat’s Hurricane Ian Disaster Response
The Power Of Collaboration: Intelsat’s Hurricane Ian Disaster Response
Joel Schroeder, Director, Land Mobile Product, Intelsat


In September of 2022, Hurricane Ian struck Florida as a Category 4 storm, causing widespread damage across the state. This was the deadliest hurricane to hit the state since 1935 and left much of Southwest Florida in shambles.

In communities where Hurricane Ian rendered cellular networks unavailable, satellite connectivity was crucial in arming first responders with a data and communications solution to support the deployment of essential personnel and mission-critical resources. Without satellite communications, communities also lost internet, voice calling capabilities, and access to life saving and property protection when the hurricane struck.

The Problem

HELP.NGO, an experienced international disaster response team trained to act quickly when existing communication networks fail in emergencies, required Intelsat’s reliable and ready-to-use internet connectivity to mitigate these risks, supporting essential disaster response operations and connecting residents affected by Hurricane Ian to friends and family.

An Intelsat StarWin terminal.

Intelsat provided HELP.NGO the resources and equipment that arrived at the disaster zone to rapidly restore connectivity.

How We Helped

Help.NGO was able to establish connectivity — within minutes — in the affected Fort Myers area using Intelsat’s FlexMove network and portable Starwin terminals. In leveraging the fully integrated broadband solution, first responders and essential personnel, leading relief and rescue operations, could quickly set up and deploy high- speed internet to manage fuel delivery operations, view high-resolution maps, as well as use data applications.

Help.NGO also used our services to extend internet access to residents of affected communities, enabling them to stay connected with loved ones and to begin mending the personal damage caused by Hurricane Ian.

NOAA GOES-18 visible satellite image of Hurricane Ian on September 28, 2022 as it neared landfall in Florida. Source: NOAA

Intelsat’s Solution

Intelsat’s multi-layered, high-throughput satellite (HTS) network, combined with Starwin’s portable terminals, enabled HELP.NGO quickly deploy disaster response operations and maintain reliable connectivity across a wide range of disaster sites as they set up fixed, Very Small Aperture Terminals (VSAT) equipment.

With Intelsat’s FlexMove, NGOs worldwide can quickly deploy to a disaster zone and immediately access reliable, ready-to-use, high-speed connectivity. From connected mobility solutions for vehicles to portable connectivity solutions for temporary network access in a fixed location, Intelsat and its partners have a range of services to meet connectivity needs in a disaster zone.

Joel Schroeder

FlexMove makes satellite connectivity simple. Users can establish an internet connection within minutes with minimal technical training required. As an end-to-end managed service, the solution is ideal for emergency teams that need to respond at a moment’s notice.

By decreasing network setup and knock-down time, NGOs, public safety organizations, and emergency response teams around the world can focus on what matters most during a crisis saving lives.

Joel Schroeder is Head of Land Mobile at Intelsat, where he has responsibility for building and executing the market, product, and partner strategy to deliver portable and mobile satellite services across the Enterprise and Mobility vertical markets. He has broad experience in telecommunications, business development, and product management. Throughout his career, Schroeder has worked with key global customers and ecosystem partners in the transportation, energy, and first responder segments to deliver fixed, wireless and satellite connectivity solutions.