Viasat partners with Microsoft to connect the unconnected

Viasat partners with Microsoft to connect the unconnected
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Viasat and Microsoft have formed a partnership to help deliver internet access to underserved communities.

According to the International Telecommunication Union, approximately one-third of the world’s population – around 2.7 billion people – have never accessed the internet.

Internet access is increasingly seen as a human right. Without a reliable connection, an individual’s education, work, and social opportunities are limited. Other fundamental rights, such as freedom of expression, are also hindered without access to the web.

Viasat will become the first satellite partner of Microsoft’s Airband Initiative.

Airband is a collaborative effort across private, public, and nonprofit entities to provide affordable internet access to communities around the world. To date, Microsoft says the initiative has helped more than 51 million people globally—including four million in the US and nine million in Africa.

“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,” said Teresa Hutson, Microsoft’s VP of Technology and Corporate Responsibility. 

“Working with Viasat, we will use satellite to reach remote areas that previously have had few, if any, options for conventional connectivity. Together, 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.”

There is no one-size-fits-all approach to connecting the unconnected. Where laying fibre to rural areas would be prohibitively expensive and time-consuming, Microsoft has previously taken advantage of unused broadcasting frequencies between television channels (known as TV white space) to provide connectivity:

(Credit: Microsoft)

Viasat’s technologies will be a powerful new capability in providing connectivity to the most rural of locations.

“We’re proud to partner with Microsoft as it represents another important step in bringing affordable internet service across Africa, Latin America and the US, as both companies continue to break down barriers to bridge the digital divide and make significant progress toward digital equity and inclusion,” commented Evan Dixon, President, Global Fixed Broadband at Viasat.

“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.”

(Photo by Uriel SC on Unsplash)

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