LONDON--(BUSINESS WIRE)--First contract announced as European Space Agency (ESA) contributes €10.7 million to help connect 1,400 sites across Sub-Saharan Africa in the next two years using ECO.
Avanti Communications Group plc, a leading provider of satellite data communications services in Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA), launches ECO – a new sustainable digital inclusion initiative focused on providing affordable, superfast satellite broadband to schools and their local communities across Sub-Saharan Africa.
ECO delivers connectivity that drives economic and social gains for children, families, communities and businesses across the region. It allows countries to bridge the digital divide and increase iGDP by fulfilling, in a sustainable manner, the aims of national broadband strategies and the strategic programmes they support. In addition, it also addresses the issue of providing connectivity to ‘unbanked’ consumers via the use of an app, which allows communities to purchase and trade broadband credits.
Avanti’s first ECO contract, announced today, with the European Space Agency (http://www.esa.int/ESA) (ESA) includes a contribution of €10.7 million to aid in the deployment of the ECO initiative to 1,400 sites across Sub-Saharan Africa over the next two years. Under the contract, Avanti will partner with Newtec to roll out an innovative technology platform that will deliver affordable connectivity, and will provide services through multiple partners.
Memorandums of Understanding on ECO have been signed with the South African Ministry of Communications and Sentech in South Africa; Wananchi, Intersat and Imarasat in Kenya; and the Tanzania Education Authority. Many other governments, Service Providers and other Avanti partners have expressed support for the ECO initiative. This includes World Bank International Finance Corporation, Telkom Kenya, Internet Solutions, Safaricom, iWayAfrica, iSat Africa, MainOne, Nynex, TelOne, Quantis, Newtec and Discovery Learning Alliance.
David Williams, Chief Executive Officer of Avanti, said: “Through product innovation and a partner strategy we have found an economically viable way to deliver broadband to low income customers in rural Africa. Working with governments and local Service Providers, and with support from ESA, this first project is a significant step towards creating something that we hope will address a need across the entire continent. When HYLAS 4 launches we will be able to cover every country in Africa.”
How does ECO work? The solar-powered ECO Wi-Fi hotspots will be hosted at schools that will benefit from subsidised Internet access. Consumers and local businesses, within range of the ECO Wi-Fi hotspot, will also benefit from connectivity by using the ECO mobile app to make micropayments for broadband usage. More detail on ECO1 and how it will be rolled out2 can be found in editor’s notes or at www.avantiplc.com/eco.
Why Avanti? Avanti has a proven pedigree of delivering connectivity to hundreds of schools and tens of thousands of children in Sub-Saharan Africa gained from leadership roles in similar major initiatives, such as the iMlango and iKnowledge projects. This experience, which includes working with the Department for International Development (DFID), UK Space Agency and other partners, will be invaluable in making ECO a success.
Why is it needed? It is well documented that wider Internet access will drive social transformation and economic growth in education, government and key industries. McKinsey predicts3 that iGDP could rise from 1pc to 10pc by 2025 and potentially add $300 billion a year to Africa’s GDP in that period. ECO will support a number of global initiatives that aim to help realise that potential, including the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals, which include targets for Internet connectivity, education and economic growth, amongst others4.
For more information on ECO, visit www.avantiplc.com/eco
Notes to Editors
More detail on ECO? ECO is a new initiative, which includes a Wi-Fi hotspot, mobile app and
Wi-Fi credits, focused on providing superfast satellite broadband:
· ECO aims to:
· o Provide low Average Revenue per User (ARPU) wireless Internet connectivity via satellite broadband to consumers and businesses at less than $3 per month
· o Support better education outcomes, by enabling online education resources for students, training tools for teachers and Wi-Fi for their schools and colleges
· o Unlock business opportunities for Service Providers to connect new customers, earn new revenues and increase prosperity for themselves and the communities they serve
· o Provide a connectivity platform that enables NGO and CSR initiatives to fulfil long term programs
· It is based on Avanti’s experience of successfully working in partnership with organisations of all shapes and sizes to drive major initiatives that are beneficial to society, businesses, countries and regions. Partners include Service Providers, governments, global organisations, technology vendors, software suppliers and other organisations
· The ECO Wi-Fi hotspot is a modular VSAT-Wi-Fi terminal product that is effectively an Internet Point of Presence (PoP) hosted at a school, or another community building. Users connect to ECO via Wi-Fi-enabled smartphones, tablets, laptops and other mobile devices. Version 1 of the ECO Terminal is modular and consists of:
· § High throughput Avanti VSAT system, providing 15-35 Mbps broadband based on Hughes or iDirect technology. NOTE: v2 of the ECO Terminal PoP will be based on Newtec technology and provide speeds of up to 100 Mbps
· § VSAT modem inside a secure metal cabinet installed within the school
· § Local Wi-Fi Access Point for school classroom use
· § Wi-Fi transmitter providing a local community Wi-Fi hotspot
· § Solar power cell on the roof, with batteries inside the cabinet to fully power the VSAT and Wi-Fi systems
· The ECO mobile app supports subscriber sign-on and purchase of ECO Wi-Fi credits. Users pay per gigabyte, not per hour, so credits don’t expire. Via the app, users can transfer and trade ECO credits on a peer-to-peer basis among friends, family and the community at large. This benefits the unbanked significantly and increases the usability of the service. For example, an estimated 23.5% of the people in South Africa are considered unbanked, while R12bn ($1.04bn) in cash is believed to be held outside of banks – Oxford Business Group report on ‘South African banks making efforts to reach and integrate the unbanked population’.
1. There are two models for rolling out ECO to schools and their local communities. Firstly, a subsidised partnership model based on third party funding for ECO from governments, international donors, NGOs or other global organisations that is rolled out by local partners. Secondly, a commercial model that provides a first mover business opportunity for local and regional telecoms companies and Internet service providers to connect new customers, and earn new revenues from Wi-Fi hotspot services.
2. McKinsey report, entitled Lions on the Move
3. Goal 9c of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals aims to significantly increase access to information and communications technology, and provide universal and affordable Internet access in least developed countries by 2020. Similarly, ECO will contribute to attaining other goals, such as Quality Education Goal 4) & Sustainable Economic Growth (Goal 8).
About Avanti Communications
Avanti connects people wherever they are – in their homes, businesses, in government and on mobiles. Through the HYLAS satellite fleet and more than 180 partners in 118 countries, the network provides ubiquitous internet service to a quarter of the world’s population. Avanti delivers the level of quality and flexibility that the most demanding telecoms customers in the world seek.
Avanti is the first mover in high throughput satellite data communications in EMEA. It has rights to orbital slots and Ka-band spectrum in perpetuity that covers an end market of over 1.7bn people.
The Group has invested $1.2bn in a network that incorporates satellites, ground stations, datacentres and a fibre ring.
Avanti has a unique Cloud based customer interface that is protected by patented technology.
Avanti Communications is listed in London on AIM (AVN:LSE).
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