Satellites can be a vital communications element in case of emergencies or natural disasters. This is not only true for developing countries, but also for highly developed regions. As the example of the floods in Central Europe in 2002 have shown, even basic telecommunications services can become unavailable. During natural or man-made disasters, access to data from meteorological and remote sensing satellites is extremely important for assessing the situation.
Using very small aperture terminal (VSAT) technology, it is possible to provide broadband connectivity to disaster sites by communications equipment, which can be, for instance, flown in by helicopter.
The transfer of remote sensing and meteorological images, aerial photographs and situation maps can be carried out at high speed. In parallel, voice (telephony) and videoconferencing services may be utilized by decision makers. Furthermore, the emergency teams get connection to the Internet as well as Intranets to access databases, which are vital for their work. This implies that the satellite network and its terrestrial tails should ideally all support the Internet protocol suite. Data services, these days, are by definition using the IP protocols. Telephony is supported by voice over IP (VoIP), video services are also provided on top of IP. The advantages are a homogeneous network architecture and a single interface (Ethernet).