Learning from satellites

Inmarsat, the satellite communications company, announced today a strategic three-year agreement with the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) to bring satellite-based internet education to rural schools across the Middle East.

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By  Maddy Reddy Published  December 11, 2003

Inmarsat, the satellite communications company, announced today that it has secured a strategic three-year agreement with the International Telecommunications Union (ITU), to start a 'Distance E-learning Initiative' to bring satellite-based internet education to rural schools in the Middle East.

"Regional BGAN is instant, portable, easy to use, reliable and secure. It offers developing countries a cost effective entry into the internet Age," says Samer Halawi, Inmarsat's regional director for Middle East and Africa.

Relying on Inmarsat's Regional BGAN satellite service, the e-learning service uses a secure shared channel, and provides high-speed data service at up to 144 Kbit/s to any place regardless of geography. It is aimed at bridging the digital divide in countries where technological infrastructure hinders the local population from accessing information, medical services and educational facilities.

The 'e-learning kit' consists of a satellite IP modem, weighing 1.6 kg with USB connectivity and priced in the range of US$2000, with additional charges for usage time. By pointing the lid of the unit at the satellite, users can connect on a high-speed link to the internet in seconds via satellite.

It is currently available in up to 99 countries in the Middle East, North and Central Africa, Europe, the Indian sub-continent, and parts of Central Asia.

"It is our aim to provide effective, useful and self-sustaining projects for the deployment of telecommunications infrastructure in poorer economic countries across the world. The Inmarsat service, already a proven success in e-learning projects in the Middle East, will enable a quantum leap for educational communications in developing communities, " says Hamadoun TourT, director, telecom development bureau of the ITU.

Rural communities in the south of Lebanon are already utilising the Regional BGAN service to great success. Al-Ishraq School in Ainata and Saint Joseph School in Ain Ebel have both been using Inmarsat's Regional BGAN satellite modem for delivering education material as terrestrial infrastructure is not available.

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