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Fire + Space ...Driving Innovative Communications Tech
Botica Butler Raudon Partners


Deep below the Pacific Ocean, the crusts of the Earth’s tectonic plates meet in a ring: The Pacific Ring of Fire. 

Responsible for creating 75 percent of the Earth’s volcanoes and 90 percent of the Earth’s earthquakes, The Ring of Fire has unleashed some of the planet’s most violent seismic events, causing loss of life and widespread infrastructure damage across the Asia Pacific. 

Major weather events also contribute heavily to the need for disaster planning in the region. In December of 2021, Typhoon Odette injured nearly 1,400 people and killed 405 people. Aid teams struggled to reach cut-off communities — roads were impassable due to debris and flooding. There was widespread damage to utilities infrastructure, leaving regions without electricity, internet and phone lines which took weeks to repair. 

Since 1970, Asia and the Pacific have accounted for 57 percent of global fatalities from disasters and 87percent of the total global population affected by natural hazards. Such disasters create a need for robust, resilience planning at a governmental level, particularly as to how they will equip and prepare their civil defence, emergency services and military personnel to provide aid and relief. 

Christian Patouraux, Founder and CEO of Kacific Broadband Satellites Group, experienced one of the region’s most deadly tsunamis in recent times: the 2004 Boxing Day (or the Indian Ocean) Tsunami which impacted coastal communities in Indonesia, Sri Lanka, India and Thailand. 

Christian was on a small island where the death rate hit 50 percent. After the impact, two mobile towers operated on battery for an hour and a half... and then all communication ceased. The entire island was shut off from the rest of the world. 

People were seriously wounded and needed emergency evacuation. There was also an urgent need for food, water and sanitary infrastructure. Fast-forward almost 20 years, this experience has stayed with Christian and has formed the design of the Kacific CommsBox: a transportable, all-in- one, satellite communications product designed to provide instant connectivity in disaster zones. 

The CommsBox container is made of aluminum alloy and is salt, water and fire-resistant. The container is designed for civil defence and emergency relief personnel to safely airlift or ship into a disaster zone. The unit is incredibly user-friendly, thereby removing the barriers to into a disaster zone. instant connectivity. 

On the ground, the C ommsB o x takes just minutes to open the box — pressing two simple buttons activates the satellite antenna to produce a Wi-Fi access point. The small, auto-pointing, satellite antenna inside connects to a pre-configured modem and satellite electronics. 

Once connected, users can connect with unlimited data with speeds of up to 50 Mbps to reach first responders and to communicate with their loved ones. A user tablet is included so the user of the CommsBox can begin communicating within minutes of its installation. 

The unit is solar-powered, which means there’s no reliance on power lines that are commonly damaged in natural disasters. 

The Kacific team required approximately two years to develop the final version of the CommsBox. A major challenge was to streamline the design to provide the simplest deploy experience for the end-user. The company produced a piece of satellite equipment that requires no training to use — just an understanding of how to use a tablet or device. 

Constructed by suppliers with backgrounds in building military equipment, the product is robust and can meet challenging, environmental demands. With many island nations and mountainous regions, Asia Pacific’s geography adds an extra challenge for coordinating rescue and relief. Disaster communications systems currently include radio, satellite phones, landlines and, increasingly, social media apps that rely on a cellular network. 

However, ground-based technology is often destroyed or left without power in disaster events. Kacific’s solution is absolutely unique. The CommsBox provides the civil defence with a communication solution that does not rely on local, ground-based technology. 


The ground stations for the Kacific1 satellite are located at three different sites, thereby ensuring the satellite network will continue to function even if one site is damaged. Unlike radio or phones, the Wi-Fi access point allows relief teams to use multi-media communications, including images to convey the needs of the area to central relief operations. It also allows them to use any cloud- based software or databases for coordination and logistics. To combat the possible overload of networks, as citizens rush to contact family and friends, the CommsBox antenna has been set up with a first-priority connection. 

On December 20, 2021, a volcano eruption on Hunga Tonga — Hunga Ha’apai destroyed the Tonga Cable System, leaving many without internet access and a means of communication. While Kacific had 50 existing VSAT terminals ready in Tonga and was able to rapidly deploy internet connectivity within days to connect remote communities and enterprise customers and aid recovery, such an event illustrates the need for a disaster response product such as CommsBox, as the unit can provide instant Internet access for first aid communications. 

During Category-5 Cyclone Harold, Kacific worked with the ITU (International Telegraph Union) to boost the capacity in Vanuatu and provide a reliable communications network. Kacific and ITU provided equipment, such as VSATs and a Community Wi-Fi service, to provide crucial connectivity and help relief efforts after normal network coverage was wiped out. 

The Asia-Pacific region is extremely vulnerable to natural disasters and will continue to face the threat of worsening climate change. Self-contained disaster recovery systems like the CommsBox can effectively respond to help the region’s large, growing populations to respond more effectively can effectively respond to hel to disasters in a riskier world.