The next time you complain about your telecommunications bill think about this: only 40 percent of the world’s population is online. Why? Cost. In developing nations broadband costs about one month’s wages. For most people reading this, the cost is a mere 1.5 percent per month. But we know that a lack of connectivity means a lack of economic progress.
It is repeated like a mantra, but it is a fact that for every 10 percent increase in broadband penetration, there is a 0.9 to 1.5 percent increase Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth according to the World Bank and others. Compound that growth year after year and you understand why there is reason to be optimistic. You will also understand why satellite’s role in shaping human skills is vital.
The “Broadband Economy”
We live in a broadband economy. Broadband makes business, institutions and government more productive – meaning they can do more with the same resources because of the knowledge, interchange and transactions that broadband makes possible. It also makes people more productive by equips them with skills. An IBM study revealed that the number one core competence for senior executives will soon be “creativity.” Creativity is, as Steve Jobs once said, “Simply connecting the dots.” It is problem solving grounded in knowledge and fueled by connectivity. This is best illustrated in education. Students and teachers using broadband have access to vast information resources from Kahn Academy to online history lessons and collaboration with great teachers. That is why governments the world over strive to put schools online.
Satellites are there for them, helping to develop the endless resource of human capital.
In Peru, Gilat connects 42,000 rural schools via satellite for the Ministry of Education to provide Internet access, video collaboration and IPTV. The Ministry is contributing Internet-ready content for use in classes. In Brazil, Internet access is extended to thousands of rural schools and municipalities using 500 Mbps of satellite capacity.
In India, a nation on the rise, Hughes Network Systems enables the Edusat Network. In 14 states, a government hub connects to state-run schools and colleges, which are growing at a rate of 5,000 sites per year. In the state of Punjab alone, Hughes connects 2,960 educational institutions to deliver general education and vocational training.
In Thailand, 90 percent of the population lives in rural areas, where the economy is based on farming, fishing and tourism. Connecting them to knowledge skills is Sat-Ed Systems. The company relies on satellite to provide Education on Demand and Rooms for Life, a network of community centers, where adults can gain digital literacy and skills training.
The correlation between broadband access and economic growth persists and is being further studied by researchers at Mississippi State University’s Institute for the Study of the Intelligent Community and elsewhere. If satellites can continue to eliminate “the middle of nowhere,” then surely more widely diverse educational systems will emerge, which lead to economic growth.
With a little help from our friends at Via Satellite and fellow global non-profits ESOA, GVF, WTA, SIA and CASBA, SSPI has launched a campaign to tell the human side of the satellite story. We call it “Better Satellite World.” It is designed to gather stories from around the world and to change the global conversation about this amazing industry. Join us by sending us your story. #bettersatelliteworld