Affordable and reliable Wi-Fi hotspots for low-income users in sub-Saharan Africa

In 2019, only 28% of urban African areas and 6% of rural areas had an internet access. The ESA-supported Every Child Online partnership aims at developing new ground technologies bringing affordable and reliable satellite broadband services to schools and their local communities in sub-Saharan Africa.

Source: International Telecommunication Union ITU

Every Child Online, or ECO, a public-private partnership between ESA and UK satellite network operator Avanti Communications under ESA’s ARTES partner programme, is set to bring affordable and reliable Wi-Fi hotspots to low-income users in sub-Saharan Africa. While new generation satellites offer greater speed and flexibility at lower cost, ground infrastructures and satellite services in Africa have not aligned to the local market price points, stifling growth. To meet the high potential demand for sub-Saharan Africa satellite broadband, ECO aims to implement enhanced ground technologies and exploit novel service delivery methods, leveraging the latest capabilities of Avanti’s Hylas-4 telecoms satellite which will be operational by mid-2017. The programme will enable managed community internet access to be deployed both quickly and cost effectively, using a service model which supports socio-economic development within communities beyond the benefits of broadband access alone. Each ECO network point will be scalable to the demands of the local community, handling tens to hundreds of subscribers. This will be achieved by using the latest generation of Wi-Fi standards to maximize service range, minimize power consumption and deliver robust connectivity for smart phone and tablet users. The ECO satellite broadband services will benefit schools, health centres, community centres, Internet cafés and community area networks, along with governments, telecom providers, mobile network operators, Internet service providers, private network operators and local resellers. The ECO community shared access services will initially be deployed in a number of pilot sites across several countries, including rural and edge-of-urban communities, as well as in towns or suburban areas where fixed line or mobile connectivity is unavailable or unreliable. ECO services and technologies will be deployed as part of the roll out of Avanti’s services over the Hylas-4 satellite, which upon launch will offer significant additional capacity across sub-Saharan Africa. This will be in addition to the business partners who are already in place providing services from the existing Hylas-2 satellite. With ECO, Avanti is developing a range of services and capabilities, supported by two Belgian companies: satcom service provider SatADSL and technology provider Newtec. Newtec will lead the ground segment development with their enhanced Dialog platform while SatADSL will expand its current range of services in Africa using their flexible Service Delivery Platform. The ECO programme was launched in September 2016 and will continue for five years. This includes three years of evaluating pilot services for over 1400 community sites, including schools and internet cafés across six countries in Africa.

Digital divide
Economic development
Economic growth
ECO - Every Child Online
Integrated Applications Project
Avanti UK