Bogotá, ColombiaApril 27, 2021 — Speedcast, the world’s most trusted communications and IT services provider, was selected by Colombia’s Ministry of Information and Communication Technologies (MinTIC) to design and install a satellite connectivity solution on the islands of Providencia and San Andrés, after the islands were devastated by Hurricane Iota in November 2020. The short timeframe in which these connectivity solutions were installed across the two islands was made possible by swift decision-making at MinTIC, under the leadership of Minister Karen Abudinen, and Speedcast’s expertise in engineering design, technology procurement, logistics and site installation. The ICT Ministry, based in Bogotá, is an executive department of the Government of Colombia overseeing the information technology, telecommunications and broadcasting sectors in the country.

A total of 30 sites each had two VSAT antennas and a Wi-Fi hotspot installed to enable high-bandwidth connectivity. Electric power was available in the areas of San Andrés that were not severely damaged by the hurricane, but installing the infrastructure in Providencia required the use of solar panels and battery storage to power the terminals and Wi-Fi. Service was contracted until November 2021 to support ongoing recovery efforts on the islands, where 98% of housing was destroyed. To help these devastated communities, the ICT Ministry provided a free connectivity service for users in each area. It was also able to monitor usage of the network through Speedcast’s Compass portal, which offers real-time visibility of customers’ bandwidth consumption.

“We are pleased to announce that we have been able to provide connectivity to San Andrés and Providencia through 30 new digital zones in record time, after the devastating impacts of Hurricane Iota,” said ICT Minister Karen Abudinen. “The islands now have greater capacity and speed, enabling their communities to reactivate their economy, communicate with their family members and connect to the world.”

The project faced great challenges from beginning to end. After purchasing, importing and integrating the equipment, Speedcast shipped more than 12 tons of hardware by air to the island of San Andrés. With the help of the Colombian Air Force, the equipment for Providencia was also airlifted to the island. Each stage in the operation was successfully completed despite the extreme damage to infrastructure, and while following COVID-19 safety protocols to protect employees conducting site surveys and deploying technology. In a small but vital step, Speedcast delivered satellite phones and BGAN (Broadband Global Area Network) terminals to Minister Abudinen’s team to keep them connected while they inspected the damage and coordinated operations on the islands. Recovering the infrastructure for these 30 areas included the full range of activities: equipment importation, transportation to the islands, civil works, installation and receipt at each site.

“I want to highlight the efforts of the Speedcast team to deliver despite the strict conditions and safety measures implemented in response to the global pandemic,” said Ricardo Egas, Speedcast Country Manager in Colombia. “I am pleased with how swiftly we were able to successfully complete this project which benefits the Colombian communities affected by the hurricane and directly contributes to the important role that MinTIC plays in rebuilding these areas.”

Hurricane Iota was the thirtieth named storm and the sixth major hurricane in the record-breaking 2020 Atlantic hurricane season. A category-five storm by the time it made landfall, Iota devastated parts of Colombia, Nicaragua and Honduras that had already been severely affected by Hurricane Eta two weeks earlier. It is estimated that 5.2 million people were affected by the storm, and hundreds of thousands were displaced from their homes.


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