Vanuatu is a Y-shaped chain of islands that consists of about 83 islands with a total land area of 12,336 square kilometers. The four largest islands are Espiritu Santo (3677sq km), Malekula (2023 sq km), Erromango (975sq km) and Efate (915 sq km). Efate is the main island of Vanuatu, where the capital Port Vila is situated. Vanuatu has six provinces: Torba, Sanma, Penama, Malampa, Shefa and Tafea. The total population of Vanuatu is approximately 272,000. The population of the capital, Port Vila, is approximately 44,000.
Port Vila is the largest town in the Shefa province on the island of Efate. Luganville is the second largest city located in the Sanma province on the island of Espiritu Santo. Vanuatu has several active volcanoes both on land and undersea, leading to the threat of earthquake and tsunami.
Category 5 Tropical Cyclone Pam hit Vanuatu on 14 March 2015 with winds of up to 250 kilometres per hour, and gusts up to 350 kilometres per hour, causing widespread devastation across the country. At the request of the Government, the ETC responded to Cyclone Pam with services and ICT coordination assistance. The ETC provided data communications for the humanitarian operation at 7 sites in the country. Three months after Cyclone Pam hit Vanuatu, the ETC concluded its mission in June 2015.
In 2016, the National Emergency Telecommunications Cluster (NETC) was established in Vanuatu as a national coordination mechanism for emergency telecommunications in Vanuatu. The lead of the NETC is the Office of the Government CIO.
The ETC is focussed on preparedness activities in Vanuatu and nearby Pacific Island countries under its Pacific Emergency Preparedness and Response (EPR) project, lead by WFP.
International dial code: +678
Telecom Vanuatu Ltd (TVL) is the only fixed line operator on the islands with an estimated 5,800 connections (2012).
There are two mobile operators – Telecom Vanuatu and Digicel – both offer GSM and 3G+ services.
More than 92% of Vanuatu's population has mobile network coverage. TVL’s network reaches about 80% of the population, and Digicel’s around 90%.
There are no UN radio channels operating on the islands at this time.
The Vanuatu National Disaster Management Office (NDMO) have a VHF radio system which has repeater coverage in Port Vila. The VHF radio system at the NDMO headquarters (in Port Vila) is made up of a base station, a set of handhelds, and a mobile VHF station in the main NDMO vehicle. NDMO HQ also have an HF base station. The Vanuatu Office of the Government CIO (OGCIO) keep an active satellite phone and BGAN in each of the six Provinces.
Vanuatu Meteorological Services have HF base stations at their met offices in Port Vila (domestic airport), Vanua Lava, Santo, Ambae, Malekula, Tanna, and Anytuim. Each of the met HF stations have an assigned call sign.
Red Cross Vanuatu have 6 HF base stations, including their HF station at their main office in Port Vila. The Vanuatu Red Cross has its own HF frequency and channel. The Red Cross also has a pre-configured VHF kit of 12 handheld radios, two VHF antennas, and two repeaters. The Red Cross also have satellite phones that are used in emergencies only.
World Vision Vanuatu have a VHF radio system for emergency communications with coverage in Port Vila and Santos. They also have some satellite phones for emergency communications.
A number of churches also have HF communication systems in the country for their communication purposes.
28% of the population has access to the power grid.
Power is generated by two companies, UNELCO, which operates on Efate, Tanna and Malekula islands, and VUI which operates on Espiritu Santo only.
19% of power generated is from renewable energy (including wind energy), and the remainder is from diesel and coconut oil.
Electrical power transmission in Vanuatu is 220V, 50 Hz, type 1 plug and socket. The Type I plug has two flat pins in a V-shape as well as a grounding pin. A version of the plug, which only has the two flat pins, exists as well.
The Telecommunications and Radiocommunications Regulator (www.trr.vu) is the main regulatory body for the telecommunications sector in Vanuatu.
Radio licences are required for the import and operation of radio and VSAT equipment although in the event of disasters this may be waived. The normal process takes approximately 3 weeks.
Cyclone season runs from November to April. The majority of population live in low lying coastline areas which are susceptible to flooding and tsunami effects.
Vanuatu is in the process of deploying a tsunami siren warning system and signage in the municipalities of Port Vila and Luganville, expected to complete in 2017.
A fibre-optic submarine cable, called Interchange Cable Network (ICN1), connects Port Vila to Suva, Fiji. The ICN1 cable project links Vanuatu directly to the high capacity Southern Cross Cable Network (SCCN) via Fiji. The SCCN has landing stations in Australia (Sydney), New Zealand, Fiji and USA. There are plans to connect two other fibre cables to the islands of Espiritu Santo and Tanna in Vanuatu.
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