Broadband: Bridging the Digital Divide

Advances in information technology and communications continue to spur economic growth around the world, but they also highlight a growing disparity between the haves and have-nots. According to the Report on Global Internet Access, 4.1 billion of the world’s citizens are unconnected. In developing countries, there is a huge divide between the well-connected urban centers and off-the-grid rural areas.

Closing this gap requires ubiquitous, high-speed broadband connectivity. But connecting these areas is no easy task. Many emerging regions in the world, including segments in Latin America and Africa, have either unreliable or non-existent terrestrial infrastructure in place. Extending MPLS or Ethernet networks to these regions is a slow, incremental process that takes time and considerable resources. And therein lies the challenge. By the time these networks are put in place, the competitive landscape, customer requirements and technology advances will have changed.

It’s not hard to understand why service providers are hesitant to bear the brunt of this undertaking. Even in light of the obvious long-term socioeconomic benefits to a region as a whole – it puts their business at risk.

Closing the gap…with satellite

If we’re going to change the outcome for these regions of the world, we first need to find a way to make it profitable for service providers to adequately serve these areas. Instead of being a burdensome investment with no guarantee of success, what if we could turn the tables to make it profitable and easy for them to provide universal, high-speed connectivity?

This is where advances in satellite technology can – and should – play a crucial role. It is the only technology that is capable of providing truly global coverage (at Intelsat, our satellites cover 99% of the earth’s populated regions). However, outdated perceptions of satellite as a cumbersome, costly alternative still persist, which don’t represent the powerful ways that satellite is now transforming the communications landscape.

For instance, our IntelsatOne® Flex for Enterprises allows service providers to efficiently access our Globalized Network to quickly incorporate high-throughput satellite technology into new and existing enterprise networks – without having to manage the network themselves. So, whether they choose to jump start a new service, extend their network to hard-to-reach places or satisfy traffic growth, leveraging Flex as a gap-filler makes it both cost-effective and easy to do.

Beyond connectivity

Reaching emerging, untapped markets is not just about connecting them, it’s about providing valuable services to support business growth, drive entrepreneurship and enhance the quality of life. Consider just a few examples of how our customers are achieving this:

  • Skynet de Colombia is bringing high-speed broadband and internet connectivity to 600 remote sites, across 250 municipalities in Colombia, making digital inclusion available to people who previously had no access and enabling the same types of advantages and services afforded to those who live in the more developed areas of Colombia.
  • African mobile communications company Vodacom has been able to extend service to over 700 rural sites in the Democratic Republic of Congo, and has done so profitably with a cost-effective, quickly deployable solution that has given them a first-to-market advantage.
  • Detecon Al Saudia Co. Ltd. (DETASAD) is delivering broadband and internet connectivity to corporate networks operating in and outside of Saudi Arabia, supporting the largest financial transaction networks in the region (including thousands of ATMs) and the needs of maritime operators, oil and gas companies, government agencies and ISPs to help power the country’s economy and deliver services to urban and remote areas.

A new story is unfolding, one that has the greatest potential to bridge the digital divide and foster a more inclusive global economy. Closing the gap between the haves and have-nots and driving new, profitable opportunities – anywhere in the world – doesn’t have to be difficult or cost-prohibitive. Rather, it’s about understanding how to intelligently combine satellite with terrestrial infrastructure with business models that make it practical and profitable for organizations to be everywhere they need be.

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