After Google and Facebook tried (and failed), it was time for Microsoft advertise an internet project in remote places. But, instead of betting on a new access technology, the company decided to join forces with Viasat, satellite internet company. The partnership is part of a program called airband🇧🇷
The objective is not at all modest: to offer Internet access to around 10 million people. 5 million are in Africa. The plan is to make the service available in countries such as Angola, Egypt, Nigeria and Senegal. The other 5 million are in the Americas. Coverage should reach countries like the United States, Guatemala and Mexico.
Serving 10 million people seems like a big challenge. But Microsoft has experience with this. THE Airband initiative was created in 2017 and, since then, has had more than 50 million users in various parts of the world. The partnership with Viasat is, let’s say, a relaunch of the program.
Satellite Internet always generates distrust. Although this type of technology offers high bandwidth, the latency can be too high for certain applications. In addition, weather factors can interfere with the quality of the connection.
On the other hand, satellites are a practical way of accessing the Internet in remote places or with little telecommunications infrastructure. It is precisely places with these characteristics that the Airband program aims to serve.
Microsoft did not provide technical details about the partnership with Viasat, such as bandwidth fees and expected latency levels. Perhaps because these parameters will vary according to the region served.
In any case, the goal is audacious. Microsoft talks about offering broadband internet to 250 million people by 2025, 100 million in the African continent alone.
Every initiative to expand internet access around the world is welcome. Citing UN data, the Microsoft explains that 2.7 billion people do not have any kind of connection to go online.
However, it is impossible not to remember that Alphabet and Meta already had programs with the same objective, but that did not go ahead.
The Loon Project, for internet via balloons, was terminated by Alphabet in early 2021🇧🇷 Apparently, the high operating costs and the risk of balloons polluting the sky weighed in the decision.
In the case of Meta, the company ended the low-cost Internet program Express Wi-Fi in early 2022. Recently, the company disposed of the Connectivity division, which handled various internet access projects. One of them involved a giant drone🇧🇷 another was satellite based🇧🇷 None worked.