GVF Online Events

Serving Underserved Communities

Thursday, 27 August 2020

3:00 pm UK time / 10:00 am US Eastern time

“The Digital Divide” remains despite years of debate about solutions to bridge it. Often once characterised as primarily a developing world issue, we have come to better realise that, as parts of the world undergo massive digital transformation, the divide manifests itself even more widely than before – wherever the limited or complete absence of access to broadband communications leads to socio-economic polarisation, between and within countries. Access, or the lack of it, to ICTs affects education and skills, economic activity and income, and social engagement and political/cultural awareness; and the divide is not only of geography (urban vs rural/remote) and population density differences, but one of age, race, gender, and other factors.

Recent events – the global public health crisis and its economic consequences – have really underlined the degree to which access to broadband has changed the way we live and work, and actually making the continuation of economic activity possible during a time of lockdown and social distancing.

The roll-out of 5G, lauded as the next great leap in connectivity, will bring more speed and more bandwidth for some, but essentially, as a stand-alone terrestrial solution it will, like previous Gs, bring the greatest benefits to where population density and income distribution support investment in infrastructure. Consequently, 5G solely enabled by terrestrial solutions may widen, rather than narrow, the digital divide. As has been the case with prior Gs, satellite will be essential in extending the reach and taking these otherwise stand-alone terrestrial solutions to wider communities and geographies.

Satellite can be deployed anywhere, and its coverage is ubiquitous. However, to varying degrees, concerns exist with respect to satellite communications capable of bridging the digital divide around cost, latency, bandwidth, and speed. Continued technological evolution such as high throughput satellites and non-geostationary orbiting satellites will address many of these concerns – particularly with expansion of HTS coverage across the globe, the increased capabilities in existing MEO satellite systems, and with the new wave of LEO mega-constellations.

This session will address the fundamental question of ‘How exactly is satellite now fulfilling the urgent need to bridge the “digital divide”?

Registration will open soon!

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