Experts ready to intervene 24/7 anywhere in the world


Founded in 1998, Télécoms Sans Frontières is the world’s leading emergency telecommunications non-profit organisation. For  15 years, TSF has participated in international emergency efforts, setting up emergency communications facilities in war-torn or disaster zones for affected populations and relief workers.


The top priority for TSF is to reach the affected destination and set up communication facilities as quickly as possible, in the first hours of an emergency. The initial part of the response is the most critical part of the emergency - when we save lives.


With its three operational bases in Nicaragua, France and Thailand, and its office in the United States, TSF has a worldwide coverage and maintains a 24-hour monitoring. For the last 14 years, TSF has built a roster of IT and telecoms specialists (18 staff and 40 volunteers all over the world) that are competent, trained and motivated individuals ready to be deployed anywhere in the world with only a few hours notice. Thanks to mobile teams, TSF is among the first to arrive after a catastrophe.

This vital role is recognised in TSF’s status with regard to UN and other official agencies. Since 2006, it is the First Responder for the UN Emergency Telecommunications Cluster. TSF has also been a partner of the European Commission’s Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection Department (ECHO) since 2002, is partnered with the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) and is a member of the WGET, the UN Working Group on Emergency Telecommunications.

Emergencies: a critical need in telecommunications

Telecommunications services are frequently disrupted during emergencies. Telecommunication networks are often seriously damaged or destroyed (Land lines destroyed, GSM antennas damaged and/or GSM networks saturated). Some humanitarian crises threaten people living in areas where there was never a robust and reliable telecommunications system. Following a disaster the limited communication services, although functional, can become over-saturated slowing down the ability of local organisations to assist affected communities. The result is that in emergencies – where the need for telecommunications is greatest – telecommunications is often unavailable.

Once on the ground, TSF:
(1) initiates a humanitarian calling operation;
(2) establishes multiple emergency telecommunications centres for first responders; and, where necessary,
(3) conducts ICT assessments to assist with recovery planning.


• Humanitarian Calling Operations

Once on the ground in an emergency, TSF deploys specialists to wherever survivors have found shelter and offers a free three-minute phone call to every family. These calls are frequently the first contact displaced persons have with the outside world. Affected civilians can get in touch with their family members, find medical assistance, access emergency housing and nutrition services, and contact relatives to arrange for support or simply to let their loved ones know that they have survived.

• Satellite-based Emergency Telecommunications Centres

Simultaneously, TSF specialists establish emergency telecom centres for emergency responders. The centres offer – at no charge – broadband Internet access, voice communications, fax lines and all the IT equipment needed for a field office. These centres enable emergency NGOs, the UN agencies, and local authorities to communicate right at the heart of a crisis. They also facilitate the coordination of aid efforts. First responders use TSF’s telecommunications services to communicate vital information, stay connected with headquarters and other emergency responders in the country who are often spread across a wide geographic area. Information management and sharing has become critical for an effective humanitarian response.

IMG 0254• ICT assessment

TSF rapid response teams also assist local governments and emergency response coordinators to perform ICT assessments of damaged areas. We use our ICT experience to assist these organisations in preparing to reestablish commercial networks or planning to build the ICT support infrastructure needed for the recovery stage following an emergency.


In these deployments to sudden onset emergencies related to natural disasters and conflicts, TSF also engages in other types of missions: UN support (IT support), UNDAC support (telecoms assessments and IT support), Satellite lines provision and assessments.


Since 1998, TSF has intervened in more than 60 countries on five continents, serving hundreds of thousands of victims and more than 800 humanitarian organisations. The average length of a deployment is 47 days, until the re-establishment of telecom infrastructures, until UN agencies and relief organisations set up their own communications or until the handover to other organisation for longer term management.