As the global leader in broadband satellite networks and services, Hughes has long focused on developing solutions to bridge the digital divide, providing high-speed Internet access to the unserved and underserved.
“Everyone wants to be connected—everywhere, all the time—and we are innovating the technologies and services that make constant connectivity possible for people, enterprises and things, which is indeed our mission” said Pradman Kaul, president of Hughes.
One area of innovation has been around Hughes Community Wi-Fi Hotspot solutions. Community Wi-Fi offers a shared cost solution for making Internet access affordable to people in areas around the world where terrestrial broadband is unavailable or too expensive. Leveraging the Hughes JUPITER™ System, the world’s most widely deployed platform for broadband satellite services, along with a Hughes satellite VSAT (very small aperture terminal) and Wi-Fi equipment, these hotspots can be readily configured in public places. When set up in schools, community centers, neighborhoods or small businesses, users can then access the Internet with a Wi-Fi capable handheld or laptop. These shared solutions can serve tens or even hundreds of users – either for free, with the capital expense per user being far less than a dedicated broadband deployment – or on a low per-use basis.
Powering the Connected Community
Working with Facebook Connectivity, Hughes recently announced its 1000th Express Wi-Fi Hotspot in Latin America, a solution providing affordable Internet access to approximately 500,000 citizens who are otherwise unconnected. Each Hughes Express Wi-Fi Hotspot, powered by Facebook Connectivity’s Express Wi-Fi platform, is backhauled over Hughes satellite links, enabling merchants to offer affordable Internet access on a pay-per-use basis to their communities. Without this innovative solution, conventional terrestrial means to backhaul traffic is too expensive to make the service affordable. “Before we had the Wi-Fi, we had to stand by the mango tree or go across the street to try to get a signal,” said Thais Gomes Silva, whose family owns the market in Santa Barbara village in rural Brazil that offers Hughes Express Wi-Fi. “Now, the Internet access is better, and so are sales in our grocery store.”
There are similar success stories occurring across Latin America. For example, Hughes Express Wi-Fi Hotspots are being deployed in as many as 4,000 rural communities in collaboration with Telecomunicaciones de México (TELECOMM), a decentralized body under the Mexico Secretariat of Communications and Transportation. TELECOMM makes telecommunications services available
through programs and infrastructure from the Mexican government and third parties, ensuring coverage, quality and affordability for its citizens. The Hughes equipment used for Community Wi-Fi Hotspot solutions can be readily deployed virtually anywhere within the satellite footprint, including areas unserved or underserved by wireline or wireless infrastructure.
“This is the first time I have been able to enjoy a video call with another person,” said Mr. Valdemar Zea Sanchez, a resident from the town of General Sandino, where the first Hughes Express Wi-Fi Hotspot was installed under the TELECOMM program. “Now I can communicate with my son and friends when they are away—a benefit to our community to help us get in touch with our relatives in an easier and less expensive way.” In General Sandino, located two hours away from the state capital, there was previously no high-speed Internet for the town’s 300 residents.
“Across Brazil, Colombia, Mexico and Peru—even in the most remote and rural places—this solution changes lives for the better, making it possible for people to connect with family and friends, seek healthcare, reach online training and conduct business in ways they never could before,” said Bhanu Durvasula, vice president, International Division at Hughes.
For Hughes, that’s the most important benefit of its innovations: changing lives for the better around the world.