Red Cross building VSAT VoIP network for Katrina relief effort

eWeek's Wayne Rash has this news flash: at the American Red Cross' national headquarters in McLean, Virginia, they are using VoIP technology to communicate with field operations in the region affected by Hurricane Katrina.No, this isn't the matter of getting a few lines from a VoIP carrier such as Vonage.

eWeek's Wayne Rash has this news flash: at the American Red Cross' national headquarters in McLean, Virginia, they are using VoIP technology to communicate with field operations in the region affected by Hurricane Katrina.

No, this isn't the matter of getting a few lines from a VoIP carrier such as Vonage. This deployment involves VSATs (Verry Small Aperture Terminals) which then provide a TCP/IP link to the outside world.

Almost any type of phone call can be routed over a VSAT. But with VoIP sharing bandwidth with Internet traffic, it provides for more efficiency over the VSAT link than other types of phone traffic VSAT might carry.

The deployment of the VSAT systems and the IP phones to Red Cross communications centers in the region impacted by Hurricane Katrina began on Sept. 7.

This advanced VoIP network uses Cisco Call Manager to process these calls.

Rash reports that volunteers are preparing a hundred more VSATs and hundreds of IP phones for shipment in the next few days.

"Everywhere (the volunteers) go, VOIP will go with them, providing some of the first reliable phone service since the storm hit," Rash says.