Microsoft partners with Viasat to bring Airband broadband internet to Africa via satellite

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Microsoft launched the Airband Initiative in 2017 with the intent of bringing broadband internet to millions of rural residents who don’t currently have access. And today, Microsoft announced its new partnership with Viasat, a global communications company that is in place to further this cause and provide “internet access to 10 million people around the globe, including 5 million across Africa.”

The new partnership will help the Airband Initiative get a step closer to its main objective, “delivering internet access to a quarter of a billion people across the world, including 100 million people on the continent of Africa, by the end of 2025.”

Viasat will be the first satellite organization to work with Microsoft in the Airband Initiative. They’ll work closely together to ensure that the residents in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Nigeria, Guatemala, Mexico, and the United States can access an affordable and stable internet connection, which is also part of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). There are plans underway to expand the initiative to Egypt, Senegal, and Angola.

At the moment, an estimated 2.7 billion people have never accessed the internet, which constitutes one-third of the world’s population per the findings from the International Telecommunication Union at the UN. Accessibility plays a major role as to why some people are still yet to access internet, but with satellite, this will no longer pause as an impediment.

According to Microsoft:

Working together, the companies will combine expertise and assets to help enable telehealth, distance learning and education, precision agriculture, clean power, and other services to reach new areas through the transformational provision of power and connectivity. The companies will collaborate to provide and pilot technologies including, but not limited to, satellites (both geostationary orbit and low earth orbit) and fixed wireless.

Microsoft’s vice president of Technology and Corporate Responsibility, Teresa Hutson stated, “We believe access to the internet is a fundamental right and that digital skills create and enable economic prosperity for people, businesses, and governments. Through our Airband Initiative, we will extend high-speed internet access to 100 million people on the continent of Africa and to a quarter of a billion people living in unserved and underserved areas across the world by 2025.”

Viasat’s Global Fixed Broadband President, Evan Dixon further added that:

We’re proud to partner with Microsoft as it represents another important step in bringing affordable internet service across Africa, Latin America and the U.S., as both companies continue to break down barriers to bridge the digital divide and make significant progress toward digital equity and inclusion. Providing internet access to the world is a challenging and bold goal, and doing so in a sustainable and responsible manner will unlock enduring opportunities for those who need it most.

Microsoft’s Airband Initiative works closely with multiple partners providing both internet and energy access at a local and regional level. Telecom, nonprofits as well as governmental and nongovernmental organizations also play a crucial role and assist the initiative to achieve its main goal. This is why the program is currently able to provide high-speed internet access to over 51 million people on a global scale.

via GeekWire