Though the word ‘eco’ is normally linked to organic food and products, it will soon have another prominent meaning.
Every Child Online
At least in Africa, from now on ECO will be linked to quality education and Internet access: ECO stands for ‘Every Child Online’ and it’s the name of Avanti’s promising program to give broadband access via satellite to thousands of schools and rural communities in Africa.
One of these key partners is SatADSL, who will provide its Internet via satellite technologies. Another Belgian company, Newtec, will also participate in ECO supplying the ground infrastructure.
How does ECO work?
But what is ECO and how does it work? ECO is a reliable and sustainable solution to bring Internet access and Wi-Fi hotspots to hundreds of schools and communities in Africa located beyond the reach of fiber broadband.
Participating schools will install some simple equipment provided by SatADSL to connect to Avanti’s Hylas satellite.
They will also install a small antenna to spread the signal as a Wi-Fi. Then, any person or commerce near the school will be able to connect using the ECO mobile app. Within this app, they can buy ECO broadband credits which convert to data usage to browse the Internet. The top-ups of the users will be used to subsidize the school’s broadband.
So this way, the school will have quality, satellite Internet access, and at the same time will work as a WiFi hotspot from which any neighbour, local commerce or merchant will be able to connect as well.
The system is fully sustainable, as it doesn’t even require electric power: the WiFi hotspots will include solar panels that will supply the power.
The technology that SatADSL will provide for the ECO program is the same IP connectivity via satellite that the company is being used during past years in other solutions, like money transfers in rural banks or radio broadcasting through satellite and multicast.
European Space Agency funds the program
After two years of testings, Avanti has finally launched the project with the participation of the European Space Agency (ESA), who will fund ECO with up to 10.7 million euros in the next five years, according to Satnews. This collaboration is framed in the ESA ARTES Program.
The partnership betweeen Avanti and SatADSL
This partnership for the ECO program was officially signed last July 8th, during the one-day seminar ‘The Future of African Broadband’ hosted in London.