As a company, one of our highest priorities is to help bridge the digital divide across the globe with advanced, reliable and affordable satellite solutions. That’s why we are proud to participate in the Partner2Connect Digital Coalition. Spearheaded by the Development Sector of the International Telecommunications Union (ITU), Partner2Connect is an opportunity to move the needle on helping to connect the unconnected 2.9 billion people worldwide and contribute towards achieving the United Nation’s (UN) Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Meaningful connectivity is the key to unleashing digital transformation opportunities in the world’s hardest to connect places.
As evidence of our commitment to bridge the digital divide, we have registered our company’s pledges with Partner2Connect to help bridge the digital divide and achieve universal meaningful connectivity.
First, we have made an Advocacy Pledge. Policy, regulatory and licensing regimes that are streamlined and modernized are necessary in order to promote and accelerate the deployment of affordable satellite connectivity solutions throughout the globe. We pledge to work with regulators and together with the ITU to advocate for satellite solutions to bridge the digital divide through a series of white papers and trainings on key aspects of this process, including:
Community Wi-Fi as a tool to address the digital divide
Licensing of satellite devices to solve the digital divide
Market access for satellite systems; easing access to address connectivity issues
Spectrum management in new space
A technology inclusive approach to Universal Service Funds
Our advocacy pledge is cemented by a Financial Pledge based on the company’s strong belief in satellite-enabled Community Wi-Fi solutions. We have seen first-hand how a community can blossom when this kind of connectivity becomes available. For example, opportunities for new internet-based businesses and remote learning become available for those located in even the most remote locations.
Recognizing that home internet service is unaffordable for many – and a reason why we still have a digital divide – we are committed to investing USD 2.2 million to deploy Hughes Express Wi-Fi in approximately 2,000 communities in Latin America by the end of 2024. This will supplement the 2,500+ communities we already serve with our solution, providing more than 750,000 people with internet access through a Wi-Fi-enabled device (mobile phone, tablet or laptop), right in their neighborhoods.
Now, how does Hughes Express Wi-Fi work? In communities outside the reach of cable and fiber, Hughes recruits local retailers to host internet access for their neighbors. At the retailer, we install a satellite internet connection and a Wi-Fi access point that makes internet available to anyone using a Wi-Fi enabled device within reach of the signal (about 40-80 meters). Hughes also trains and equips the retailer with everything they need to sell data packs to customers on a prepaid basis (for example, USD 1 for an hour).
With Hughes Express Wi-Fi, the community enjoys a reliable and reasonably priced broadband solution for work, education, healthcare, connecting with family and friends, and more, and the retailer enjoys increased revenue from data pack sales plus additional foot traffic to the store. This video tells the story of one of many rural communities across Latin America that already benefits from the Hughes Express Wi-Fi solution.
Over the next two years, we plan to connect even more communities with our solution and as part of our Partner2Connect pledge. The Partner2Connect program is an exciting opportunity for the global community to come together to find meaningful solutions to the digital divide. We at EchoStar and Hughes welcome the opportunity and look forward to working with the ITU-D and the global community to meet this important goal.