Satellites can lift the poorest countries out of the digital desert.

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Only a third of people in the world’s poorest countries can connect to the internet, but low-flying satellites could bring hope to millions, particularly in remote Africa, the UN telecoms agency said on Sunday. Drawers in corners.

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Tech giants including Microsoft Promising to help populations underserved by poor internet services “leapfrog” into an era of online connectivity, satellites will play a key role as rival firms deploy thousands of new-generation transmitters into low-level orbit. Sends

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Currently, only 36 percent of the 1.25 billion people in the world’s 46 poorest countries can plug into it. InternetThe International Telecommunication Union said. In comparison, more than 90 percent have access to the European Union.

The ITU condemned the “shocking international connectivity gap” which it said had widened over the past decade.

The divide has been a key complaint at the UN’s least developed countries summit in Doha, where UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres told leaders that “you are being left behind in the digital revolution”.

The digital deficit is particularly acute in some African countries, including the Democratic Republic of Congo, where barely a quarter of the population of nearly 100 million can connect.

While internet access is easy in major DRC cities like Kinshasa, large rural areas and areas fought between rival rebel groups for more than two decades are digital deserts.

Tech experts promised at the Doha summit that the launch of thousands of low-Earth orbit satellites could speed change and boost African hopes.

‘Leap the frogs of other nations’

The satellite coverage will play a key role in Microsoft’s commitment to bring internet access to 100 million Africans by 2025, which was outlined before the summit.

Microsoft announced the first phase for five million Africans in December and last week added a commitment to cover another 20 million people.

The first five million will be served by Viasat, one of the companies sending satellites into space to compete with ground-based fiber broadband.

Elon Musk’s SpaceX and Starlink Thousands of satellites are also being put into orbits 400 to 700 km (250 to 430 mi) high. Earth.

President of Microsoft Brad Smith told AFP that when he first saw the figure of 20 million proposed by his team last year, he asked “is it real?”, but was now convinced it was. It is possible.

“The cost of technology has come down substantially and will continue to come down,” he said. “That’s part of what’s made it possible for the population to reach this size so quickly.

“African countries have an opportunity to leapfrog other nations when it comes to regulatory structures for something like wireless communications,” he added.

“We can reach a lot more people than the fixed-line technologies of five or 10 or 15 years ago.”

Bandwidth bonanza

Rich countries have already largely allocated available bandwidth for telecom and television.

“Spectrum is underutilized in Africa and so it’s available and governments are moving quickly to bring that connectivity to as many people as possible,” Smith said.

Microsoft is working with Africa Telecom specialist Liquid Intelligent Technologies to bring internet to another 20 million people.

Providing internet and digital skills training for thousands of Africans was part of an effort to provide a private-sector alternative to “foreign aid,” Smith declared, “We’re excited about what we believe is digital technology development.” can do for”.

But Microsoft’s president acknowledged that the private sector is “unfortunately underdeveloped and underinvested” in many LDC economies.

Liquid Intelligent says it has 100,000 kilometers (62,000 miles) of terrestrial fiber across Africa but is building a larger satellite footprint.

“In hard-to-reach areas,” said Nick Rudnick, its deputy chief executive, “satellite is often the only technology or the most reliable technology for high-speed. Broadband It always works.”

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