As part of UKspace’s series of articles during World Space Week 2020, looking at how satellites improve life, Avanti Communications’ Chief Regulatory Officer, Ann Vandenbroucke, and Head of Marketing, Nathalie Gaudillat, highlight the far-reaching benefits that satellite communications can bring to rural or remote communities.
Satellites improve lives in many different aspects, and often invisibly to the end user. With the COVID-19 pandemic that we are currently facing, when the world had to stay connected behind closed doors, satellite technology has enabled businesses, governments and schools to continue to operate, and families and friends to remain connected. Satellites continue to also enable communication with rural and remote clinics, allowing access to better healthcare which is particularly key now, as it is for natural disasters.
Satellite communication plays a crucial role in providing reliable and secure connectivity when and where it matters the most, for first responders, government bodies and health organisations. One example of this is the provision of satellite backhaul for mobile operator EE to connect the UK’s emergency services network (ESN). Relying on Avanti’s robust and secure gateway earth station in Goonhilly, we enable ESN to support over 300,000 users and 35,000 fitted vehicles, providing access to voice, data and video services to first responders.
More broadly, satellites can connect the unconnected, encouraging growth and economic development in countries that have sparsely populated rural or remote areas, or where the population is spread out over vast areas. At Avanti, our high-throughput satellite network has the power to connect over 1.7 billion people worldwide and covers over 60% of Africa, providing connectivity in the remotest of locations.
To that end we have been supporting a vital education project in Africa for the past six years. The iMlango initiative, which we run in partnership with Department for International Development (DFiD) and the Kenyan Ministry for Education, is a first of its kind e-learning partnership, created to deliver improved educational outcomes for marginalised children in Kenya. Running since 2014, this project provides high speed satellite internet connectivity to 245 rural and remote schools bringing new life opportunities to over 180,000 children.
And the future is bright. Increasingly, satellites will play a key role in the 5G ecosystem by providing backhaul connections to remote and rural locations where terrestrial solutions do not reach; using satellite multicast in video and game content to store data; providing 5G services direct to homes and small businesses; and providing 5G connections direct to moving locations such as planes, ships and trains.
Overall, satellite technology connects communities and individuals wherever they are based. It carries information that enlightens, educates, protects people and changes their lives.