Satellite broadband bridges the digital divide
Governments throughout the world are bringing broadband connectivity to all parts of their countries in order to provide a range of services for their citizens. Of all these services,education generates the greatest long-term impact, as the development of knowledge is the single most critical element in the economic health of a country.
Why Satellite Broadband?
Satellite technology is used around the world to deliver education services for a variety of reasons including;
Universal Coverage: Using satellite technology, broadband services can be delivered anywhere within a country. People in rural areas get access to the same level of services as people in urban areas.
Simple and Quick to Deploy: Modern satellite technology is very simple as there are only three (3) elements in a link—a hub station (perhaps located at the capital city), the satellite,and the remote site (school). With no wires, deployment of high-quality broadband services can be accomplished quickly, wherever the schools are located.
Cost-Effective: The cost effectiveness of satellite cannot be matched for “multicast” sessions, where a teacher is conducting training with students who are scattered over a wide area. This is because satellite enables continentwide services at uniform quality and cost independent of location, and with the unique ability to “transmit once and receive everywhere.”
Videoconferencing is possible at each site, so teachers can interact with students as though they were together in one classroom.
It is often difficult to attract skilled teachers to live in rural communities. Satellite broadband technology allows governments to extend the same level of educational services to these rural communities that they would provide in urban areas. Students in remote areas need not be disadvantaged, can continue to live with their parents, and obtain a meaningful education.
Some recent examples of using a broadband satellite solution to provide educational services are listed below.
The Brazilian SEDUC (Department of the State of Amazonas) project provides interactive distance learning over satellite to more than 20,000 students in 700 classrooms across 300 schools in the State of Amazonas. The Amazonas project utilizes the Brazilian-wide HughesNet® broadband satellite service, along with IPTV (television over the IP protocol) capability, to transmit classes conducted every day from the media center in the state capital, Manaus, to more than 20,000 students located in rural communities. The technology enables teachers and students to interact as if they were in the same physical space.
Enciclomedia Project, Mexico
Enciclomedia is considered by the Federal Mexican Administration as the most important education project in the country. It has been tested and accepted in over 50,000 classrooms throughout the country and is being expanded.Enciclomedia is essentially an “electronic whiteboard” that allows an instructor at a school to organize, integrate, and articulate lessons using a multimedia display.
Each Enciclomedia classroom is equipped with a local server that contains the course material the teacher delivers to the classroom. Each server is connected to a central location via a broadband connection—the majority of which are satellite.
E-Mexico is another innovative project launched by the Mexican government to bring Internet access to all parts of Mexico, whether urban or rural. The stated vision of the E-Mexico program is “providing visitors with a space for knowledge exchange based on information technologies.”
Over 10,000 locations, mostly schools, but also including libraries, have been connected to the Internet using satellite broadband technology.
The Ethiopian government, working with the World Bank,developed a satellite-based network to deliver high-quality education services as the foundation enabling the transition of Ethiopia from an agricultural-based economy to a technology-based economy. Every school day, students in over 1,000 schools receive expert instruction via high-quality satellite video transmission. Additionally, these schools now have Internet access via the satellite broadband solution, allowing students to gain access to all that the Internet has
EDUSAT is the first Indian satellite network designed and developed exclusively for serving the educational sector.Its prime purpose is to meet the demand for an interactive,satellite-based distance education system for the country.
Over 30 satellite hubs have been established in the country,each located at a major university and with at least one in each state. These 30 hubs enable the delivery of interactive distance learning, whereby students pose and answer questions and instructors can grade their knowledge, to over 4,000 schools throughout the country.
Educational services are just one government-provided service enabled by satellite broadband technology. A host of e-Governance services are being delivered via satellite, making India a leader in the deployment of citizen services. These include a satellite-based telemedicine network by the Ministry of Health, which links university hospitals with rural health centers around the country. Additionally the Indian government is in the process of deploying satellite broadband connectivity to over 100,000 locations to enable delivery to kiosks of services such as land records, para-banking, and other government services.
Bridging the digital divide means improving the quality of life for a country’s citizens and satellite is the most cost-effective and quickest way to make this happen.