Microsoft and Viasat Partner to Bring Internet Access to Underserved Communities | THD

Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) and Viasat (NASDAQ: VSAT) announced a new partnership to provide Internet access to 10 million people worldwide, including 5 million in Africa. Viasat, a global communications company, is the first satellite partner to work with Microsoft’s Airband Initiative and together they will deepen Airband’s work in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Nigeria, Guatemala, Mexico and the United States, and prioritize program expansion in Egypt, Senegal and Angola to provide much-needed internet connection, often for the first time.

This first-of-its-kind global partnership is an important step for Airband in achieving the Initiative’s broader goal to provide internet access to a quarter of a billion people worldwide, including 100 million people on the African continent by the end of 2025.

According to the International Telecommunications Union at the UN, about 37 percent of the world’s population – or 2.9 billion people – have never used the Internet. Satellite enables Internet access to reach remote areas that previously had little or no conventional connectivity options. Working together, the companies will combine their expertise and strengths to enable telehealth, distance learning and education, precision agriculture, clean energy and other services to reach new areas through the transformational supply of energy and connectivity. The companies will collaborate to deliver and pilot technologies including, but not limited to, satellites (both in geostationary orbit and in Low Earth Orbit (LTO)) and fixed wireless.

Africa is endowed with immense potential. However, one of the challenges facing the continent is the expansion of infrastructure that will enable the acceleration of digital transformation and facilitate the connectivity of the African continent. Critical infrastructure enablers are needed to accelerate digital transformation and adoption of digital technologies. The Airband Initiative is key to accelerating access to broadband for the benefit of rural communities,” said Kunle Awosika, Managing Director, Africa Transformation Office.

Nearly a third of the world’s population lacks online access to education, better medical care, business opportunities, family connections, and more. And most of this population lives in just 20 countries in Africa and the South. Universal and affordable internet access is part of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and by focusing much of this new partnership on Africa, Microsoft and Viasat are working to provide connectivity and digital literacy for better education, healthcare and economic opportunities in critical markets.

“Connecting the world is a pretty broad and enthusiastic goal, and we think it’s equally important that the process be sustainable, responsible and inclusive,” said Mark Dankberg, CEO and President of Viasat. “Viasat’s mission is to keep space safe and accessible to all by using it responsibly as a shared resource for the benefit of humanity. The partnership with Microsoft is another important step in establishing an accessible Internet service in Africa, Latin America and the United States, which follows the mutual and continuous effort of the two companies working for equity and the digital inclusion by reducing digital obstacles and barriers”

Through the Airband initiative, Microsoft has already provided high-speed Internet access to more than 51 million people worldwide, including more than 4 million in unserved rural U.S. communities and an additional 47 million from 16 unserved or underserved countries. serviced outside the United States.

Launched in 2017, Microsoft’s Airband initiative relies heavily on partnerships with local and regional energy and internet providers, collaborates with telecommunications equipment manufacturers, but also with non-profit organizations , as well as governmental and non-governmental organizations for a universal progression to affordable connectivity and relevant digital skills. Microsoft believes that Internet access is a fundamental right for everyone, allowing access to education, information and the satisfaction of personal needs.

Viasat is a global communications company and innovator of satellite communications technologies and services, dedicated to making connectivity accessible, available and secure for everyone. Today, Viasat connects unserved and underserved communities around the world, many of which have been connected for the first time.

This partnership builds on the existing relationship between viasat and Microsoft Azur Space to advance satellite connectivity and advance Microsoft’s mission to connect anyone, anywhere on the planet. To learn more about the partnership and keep up to date with our projects and initiatives, visit http://www.microsoft.com/air band.

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