Disaster relief activities

 At TeliaSonera, one of our key drivers is to ensure our customers have access to our services at all times – so they are connected always. We strive to do this 24/7, also during natural disasters.

This requires investing in our network and preparing back-up solutions in the event of natural disasters. In Eurasia, for example, most of our companies have mobile base stations that can quickly and easily be set up in areas affected by disaster. The networks are designed in such a way that traffic can be re-routed through alternative network nodes.

Below is an overview of some of the initiatives we have taken with regard to disaster relief in the last few years (in chronological order):

On January 12, 2011 the world was shocked by the earthquake affecting millions of people in Haiti. We contributed locally to this human crisis in various ways. In Sweden we reduced the operator share of the value added SMS support messages to SEK 0, topped up with an extra SEK 5 for each value added SMS that had been sent to any NGO using our short numbers. All our customers located in Haiti at that time could communicate globally free of charge between 15- 29 January. TeliaSonera’s direct financial support to NGO’s work in assisting Haiti totaled SEK 2 million.

On Friday, 11 March 2011 an earthquake of magnitude 9.0 caused a powerful tsunami that swept over Japan’s Pacific coast in the Tohoku region. This was the most powerful known earthquake ever to hit Japan, and it caused great destruction, killing many people and damaging and destroying many buildings, including nuclear plants. Telia Sweden, Sonera Finland, Netcom Norway, Telia Denmark and Kcell in Kazakhstan  provided free calls for their customers located in the area affected during the aftermath of the tsunami.

On Sunday, 23 October 2011 an earthquake of magnitude 7.1 affected tens of thousands of people in eastern Turkey near the city of Van. TeliaSonera funded the building of a high school, replacing the Van Kazim Karabekir High School, which became unusable after the earthquake. The construction of the24-classroom school was completed at the end of September, 2012. The project is being run in coordination with the Turkish Ministry of Education. TeliaSonera’s direct financial support for the project will total around SEK 9.7 million.

 In 2010, we sent 135 million SMSs to alert our customers about natural disasters in Azerbaijan, one of them being the flooding in March 2010. On other occasions, we offered phones and free call minutes to people affected to allow them to stay connected, for instance in Moldova, Kazakhstan and in Azerbaijan.

In Lithuania, TEO provided 12 short numbers free of charge for local campaigns to raise money for local disasters and social projects. In Denmark we have entered into collaboration with the Danish Foreign Ministry about sending out warning SMSs to Danish citizens who are in disaster or crisis areas abroad.

In March 2010, due to heavy rains in the Almaty region in Kazakhstan, a dam was broken causing a severe mud flood. Over 2,000 residents of Kyzyl-Agash village suffered, several people lost their lives and most of the houses in the village were destroyed. Kcell secured the network operations and in addition, provided 500 families with mobile phones and SIMcards worth 5,000 unit balance to help them stay connected.

In 2011, we sent 160 million SMSs to alert our customers about natural disasters in Uzbekistan and in 2012 already 180 million SMSs have been sent. On other occasions, we offered phones and free call minutes to people affected to allow them to stay connected, for instance in Moldova, Kazakhstan and in Azerbaijan.

In Lithuania, TEO provided 12 short numbers free of charge for local campaigns to raise money for local disasters and social projects. In Denmark we have entered into collaboration with the Danish Foreign Ministry about sending out warning SMSs to Danish citizens who are in disaster or crisis areas abroad.

In March 2010, due to heavy rains in the Almaty region in Kazakhstan, a dam was broken causing a severe mud flood. Over 2,000 residents of Kyzyl-Agash village suffered, several people lost their lives and most of the houses in the village were destroyed. Kcell secured the network operations and in addition, provided 500 families with mobile phones and SIMcards worth 5,000 unit balance to help them stay connected.

In Azerbaijan, a flood in the country’s central areas left a number of regions under the water. In order to support people living in disaster impacted areas, Azercell granted 500 free-of charge units, which correspond to 25 call minutes, to each Azercell subscriber living in those areas. This response covered 136,600 subscribers and a total of 3 million call minutes in the region. In addition, as we knew the demand for mobile calls rapidly increases during the emergency times, we installed six additional Mobile Radio Base Stations in the places that most suffered from the flood and in places where the government requested support.

In July-August 2010, part of Moldova was affected by severe floods. Moldcell provided free communication to the people living in those areas, as well as to the rescue and emergency teams working there. In total, Moldcell granted over three million free-of-charge on-net call minutes to over 77,000 people in 16 flooded regions. Moldcell estimates having covered about 11 percent of the country’s territory with free mobile communication during the two month period. Moreover, Moldcell collected about USD 23,000 for the flood victims through its fundraising SMS campaign.

In Georgia, during the war in 2008, we undertook several initiatives to ensure telecommunications was still possible, as due to intensive bombings regular voice services were, for example, very limited.

1) We launched our information delivery service, together with local radio stations, by dialing a dedicated short number, customers were updated about the most recent news regarding the “Cease Fire” resolution. It was an IVR based solutions and the news was updated every five minutes.

2) WAR facts via MMS/SMS – this was a service which providing immediate facts on the war. We also provided a dedicated Hot Line Number 5555, to enable those persons in the war regions to send pictures, SMSs and MMSs, basically to share information, which was nearly impossible via voice calls.

3) We introduced a special tariff plan for those people who due to the war were forced to move to different regions as refugees, so making communication affordable and accessible to them.

The above examples provide insight into some of the initiatives we have taken to continue to provide our customers with access to our services. This is our ongoing commitment and is extremely important to us at TeliaSonera and we shall carry on to do all we can to ensure that our customers have access to our services 24/7- whatever the circumstances.

 Author: Kristina Hunter Nilsson

 

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