Microsoft and Viasat to deliver satellite internet access to 10 million people globally
Microsoft and Californian-based satellite firm Viasat have entered a partnership aiming to bring internet access to underserved communities worldwide.
The partnership will mean internet access should be available for 10 million more people around the globe, including five million across Africa, by 2025.
Viasat is the first satellite partner to work under Microsoft’s Airband Initiative, which hopes to provide digital connectivity to underserved communities across the world, according to Microsoft’s blog post on Wednesday.
Specifically, the partnership will work to broaden Airband’s network across the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Nigeria, Guatemala, Mexico, and the United States. It will expand the program to Egypt, Senegal, and Angola to deliver internet connection, in a lot of cases for the first time.
Microsoft said that its initiatives ultimate aim is to provide internet access to a quarter of a billion people across the world, including 100 million people in Africa, by the end of 2025.
According to the International Telecommunication Union at the UN, 2.7 billion people across the world have still never used the internet.
Satellites allow internet access to reach remote areas that previously did not have many, if any, options for conventional connectivity.
“We believe access to the internet is a fundamental right and that digital skills create and enable economic prosperity for people, businesses and governments,” said Teresa Hutson, Microsoft’s vice president of Technology and Corporate Responsibility.
Together with Viasat, “we will be able to rapidly scale and expand Airband’s reach, exploring a wider pipeline of projects and new countries where we haven’t yet worked”.
Other satellite internet competitors have been working towards similar goals, with SpaceX’s Starlink providing services in 37 countries, including additional satellites in Ukraine following the Russian invasion. Plus, satellite firm HughesNet and Amazon’s Project Kuiper also provide internet connection for households and businesses across rural areas in North America.
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