Interview with Steve Birnbaum, Business Development Manager, Marlink

Interview with Steve Birnbaum, Business Development Manager, Marlink

How is Marlink involved in the humanitarian aid and development sector? 

Marlink has a long history of serving the humanitarian and development sector. Tracing its corporate heritage back to Telenor, the company has been providing satellite-based communication services in austere environments since the 1970s. Today, numbering over 800 employees spread across the world, Marlink supports UN agencies and NGOs and serves core commercial markets such as mining, oil & gas, utilities, and media, whilst being the leading maritime communications and VSAT provider in the world.

Marlink supports our customers with a very wide portfolio of satellite-based communication tools. The company delivers fully managed connectivity solutions via global multi-band satellite networks (Ku, Ka, C and L-band) extended with terrestrial and wireless links, Terralink VSAT high-speed broadband using quick-deploy and fixed satellite systems, hybrid interconnectivity, M2M & tracking services, and ultra-compact portable mobile satellite services.

Marlink provides resilient connectivity to support initial disaster response teams that need rapid deployment communication tools to be carried in their backpacks. It also deploys complex hybrid network solutions to interconnect refugee camps, regional and local offices. Its global infrastructure enables to supply a secure and optimized work environment anywhere in the world within hours of an event. Marlink's customers simply power up their equipment and they are immediately connected. The company also provides their IT management with centralized control over remote sites, applications, traffic usage and security so that the teams in the field can focus on their work.

Steve, what does your position at Marlink entail? 

My role at Marlink is to support humanitarian organisations and NGOs that are based in the Americas, to ensure that we are able to provide them with technology solutions that are responsive to their needs. In the past, I have filled a variety of roles within the humanitarian community, from representing the satellite industry within the UN Emergency Telecommunications Cluster (ETC) to being the ETC NGO Coordinator in Vanuatu after Cyclone Pam. Today, I use my experiences to offer even better solutions for Marlink’s customers that address some of the challenges I have experienced through my work over the years.

Our priorities are to ensure that our customers are supported with the right communication solution for their needs today, and to provide them with a path towards new technologies that we will adopt over the next several years.

What will your speaker panel at the Global Disaster Relief & Development Summit address and why is it important for those attending to engage in this topic?

I will be participating in the "Emergency Communication, Connectivity and Social Networks" panel, which will take place on the second day of the summit. I will focus on topics such as the role of the private sector in humanitarian ICT and ways that we can work together to improve emergency preparedness and resiliency. I also look forward to discussing the potential implication of new innovations being developed within the satellite industry.

What are some of the challenges you see in disaster response and disaster resilience?

Cyber security is an increasing challenge. We are seeing an increase in cyber attacks directed at humanitarian networks. 

Data carried on humanitarian networks is increasingly sensitive, as it contains a growing amount of financial, personal and medical information. Are the private sector and humanitarian organisations doing enough to secure it? What can be done, and what are some of the best-practices available?

And finally, the humanitarian crises related to conflict zones are placing more humanitarian workers in potential harm. While we cannot solve the conflicts or address the physical security challenges, there are new technological tools that may be able to provide increased situational awareness, improving the security of humanitarian workers working in those environments.

Why is it important for Marlink to take part in the Global Disaster Relief & Development Summit 2017?

The Global Disaster Relief & Development Summit is an important event for Marlink. This event presents us with the opportunity to meet with humanitarian organisations from around the world, to learn what they are doing, what their challenges are, and to seek out ways to help them accomplish their missions safely and effectively.

This is also the opportunity to share with the humanitarian community that amidst what appears to be a barrage of news suggesting turmoil within our industry caused by acquisitions and new technologies, with a history going back almost 40 years, Marlink remains the stable and reliable choice to support their mission into the future.

Steve Birnbaum, Business Development Manager Americas, Humanitarian & NGO, Marlink will take part in the panel on "Emergency Communication, Connectivity, and Social Networks" at 11am on 7th September at the Ronald Reagan Building & International Trade Centre in Washington D.C. 

For more information about Marlink, visit or email For all inquiries, please email Alina O’Keeffe at

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