Broadband in the boondocks

Inmarsat has introduced satellite-based internet access for schools in South Lebanon previously deprived of the technology. Inmarsat has also called on other companies to do more to deal with information poverty in the region.

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By  Simon Duddy Published  June 11, 2003

Inmarsat has unveiled an e-learning aid initiative in two schools in the South of Lebanon. The project aims to show how mobile satellite communication technology can play a role in delivering fast, cost-effective and mobile internet connectivity to rural societies in the region, where telecommunication infrastructure does not exist.

Samer Halawi, Inmarsat regional director, said, “Much has been done by our governments and private sector to bridge the digital divide between us and the developed world, however, and given the limited resources, most efforts have been directed towards the more economically viable urban centres. To illustrate this point, there are only 26 thousand internet connections in the rural areas of the Middle East and North Africa, compared to 2.3 million connections in the urban centres”.

“Inmarsat decided to play a role in addressing this internal divide; we have taken initial steps but we need now to join hands with both the private and public sectors in order to deliver solutions to the information poverty problem, everywhere those are needed”, added Halawi.

Al-Ishraq School in Ainata and Saint Joseph School in Ain Ebel have both been using Inmarsat’s Regional BGAN satellite modem in the delivery of their education material. The solution is allowing students in both schools to access the internet from the two villages, where terrestrial infrastructure is not available. Students and teachers are both reaping great benefits from the solution offered by Inmarsat.

Sister Amale Yamin, Director of Saint Joseph School (Ain Ebel) comments: “Students are learning what the internet is all about, and how they can use it for research, to obtain supportive information, and to apply for universities. Through the internet, we can deliver to them more exciting and more updated material than what we can deliver using only textbooks.

Their performance in exams has improved, so has their level of stimulation”. Ms. Rabiaa Baydoun, Director of Al-Ishraq school (Ainata) adds : “In Ainata, teachers do not have access to comprehensive libraries and therefore have to travel all the way to Beirut every time they need to research a topic. Since we installed the Inmarsat solution, everybody has information right at their fingertips.”

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