While most of the developed world has had access to broadband in increasing speeds for many years now, there remain billions more people around the world without meaningful access to high-speed internet. According to the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) 2022 Global Connectivity Report, today only 63% of people 15 and older are internet users, and only 66% of households have internet access.
This so-called digital divide prevents many people and countries around the world from full participation in the digital society, a limiting factor that persistently puts them in the back seat and stifles the social, economic and governmental advantages connectivity brings.
There are a great many efforts going on around the world to help correct this situation, but it remains a difficult problem to address as the cost of connectivity remain out of reach for many.
Beyond broadband, there’s a growing awareness of the extraordinary capabilities of connected “Internet of Things” devices. Outfitted with artificial intelligence (AI) to create a “Smart-IoT” platform these devices can address a wide range of use cases. Alongside the connected sensor is an AI component that creates actionable intelligence for the end user. And, when connected via a global satellite system, they can operate virtually anywhere.
For one example, Smart-IoT can allow a small farm to operate more efficiently by monitoring soil moisture content and creating action items to efficiently regulate water usage in drought-prone areas. Another would be the ability to monitor livestock with connected sensors that can track their location, heartbeat and more. These devices can also aid in monitoring illegal fishing, poaching, wildfires, critical infrastructure and a great many other use cases — some of which have yet to be imagined.
I was honored recently to participate in the Commonwealth Telecommunications Organisation’s (CTO) “Digital Week: Action for Impact” event in London, which focused on digital transformation. It was clear that the CTO member countries are highly interested in emerging technology in this new digital innovation space, but there are limiting factors — particularly with cost. Countries that lack the resources to have their own space program may also be challenged to afford third-party solutions from legacy satellite providers that have invested billions in their networks.
At E-Space, we’re working to break down those barriers by creating a new type of satellite constellation that’s much less expensive to build, launch and operate. Our goal is to use this system to connect the world using unique devices that can operate anywhere to address a wide array of problems here on Earth.
As we watch the IoT market grow — 21% in 2022 alone — the time is now to start thinking about how to avoid leaving less-wealthy nations behind. Understanding that this technology is only useful in most places around the world if it is affordable and accessible, we believe our approach will help prevent yet another digital gap. And we look forward to continuing to work with countries around the world to ensure all people and “things” can connect wherever they may be.