Microsoft and global communications giant Viasat on Wednesday announced a new collaboration that will see the companies provide internet to 10 million people around the world. 5 million of those will be in Africa.
This is part of Microsoft's Airband project and Viasat becomes the first satellite partner to join the initiative. The collaboration will bring internet to underserviced communities in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Nigeria, Guatemala, Mexico, and the United States. Furthermore, the project will also expand its existing reach in Angola, Senegal, and Egypt.
It is an important first step for Airband as Microsoft works towards its goal of providing internet to 250 million people worldwide – 100 million in Africa – by the end of 2025.
“We believe access to the internet is a fundamental right and that digital skills create and enable economic prosperity for people, businesses and governments. Through our Airband Initiative we will extend high-speed internet access to 100 million people on the continent of Africa and to a quarter of a billion people living in unserved and underserved areas across the world by 2025,” says Teresa Hutson, Microsoft's vice president of Technology and Corporate Responsibility.
“Working with Viasat, we will use satellite to reach remote areas that previously have had few, if any, options for conventional connectivity. Together, we will be able to rapidly scale and expand Airband's reach, exploring a wider pipeline of projects and new countries where we haven't yet worked.”
Despite the way the internet has changed society, one-third of the global population remains without online access. Microsoft Airband is working to shift that balance and bring internet to more people.
“We're proud to partner with Microsoft as it represents another important step in bringing affordable internet service across Africa, Latin America and the U.S., as both companies continue to break down barriers to bridge the digital divide and make significant progress toward digital equity and inclusion,” says Evan Dixon, President, Global Fixed Broadband of Viasat. “Providing internet access to the world is a challenging and bold goal, and doing so in a sustainable and responsible manner will unlock enduring opportunities for those who need it most.”
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