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How to Accelerate Wireless Broadband Access to the First Mile

By Eric Blantz on June 20, 2011

Broadband Access first mile

Closing the access gap with low-cost broadband service delivery modelsJust 9.6% of the total population in Africa has access to the Internet. This is less than 1/5th and 1/6th of the rate in the Americas and Europe, respectively. But this statistic does not convey the real situation in the world’s poorest countries. Of Africa’s 48 sub-­Saharan countries, 29 (60%) have total Internet usage rates (at any speed) of less than 3%, and 15 (31%) show less than 1%. Broadband access rates are far lower still.

Thus, while wireless broadband has exploded in much of the world, as the ITU’s 2009 report points out, there remains “a dramatic broadband divide, with very few fixed broadband subscribers or mobile broadband subscriptions in Africa.”

Rural Broadband Whitepaper

Inveneo believes that closing the broadband gap will require new, collaborative and low-cost broadband service delivery models. Moreover, we believe that the essential components of such a model already exist; what’s needed is a well-conceived and coordinated effort to bring them together in a functioning service delivery framework.

In the Accelerating Broadband to the First Mile white paper, Inveneo and our partners are working to define and deploy a novel, locally sustainable wireless broadband delivery model, starting in Haiti.

The Inveneo­-led Haiti Rural Broadband (HRB) initiative is a collaborative program seeking to catalyze sustainable broadband access in underserved parts of Haiti. The program is founded on the idea that dramatic capital and operating cost savings can be realized through the use of ultra-low-cost wireless technologies, an emphasis on building local IT capacity to deploy and support broadband infrastructure and new approaches to cooperative network ownership and management.

HRB’s primary short-term objective is to bring affordable, reliable and sustainable broadband access to 6 regions and 20 currently un-served population centers across Haiti. The longer-term goal is to explore how the HRB model can be replicated in similarly rural and low resource areas across the developing world.

Filed Under: Connectivity
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Written by
Eric is the Senior Director for Healthcare Solutions, responsible for Inveneo’s overall approach to this rapidly changing problem area, including strategy, select project management and development of health-specific ICT solutions in collaboration with Inveneo's strategic partners in the health sector.
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One Comment to “How to Accelerate Wireless Broadband Access to the First Mile”

  1. Anthony Musaluke says:

    Great article and initiative.
    May be you can shed some light on the happenings with the mobile carries becoming the defacto ISPs in Africa.
    At least here in Zambia, the traditional ISP business is under serious threat. First, due to the low numbers and high cost of delivering real broadband to end users, the traditional ISP simply does not have the financing needed to provide real coverage to most parts of the urban areas, let alone low income rural areas. On the other hand, the mobile operators whose motivation is to cover the rural areas with cellphone primarily for voice have now started offering data with decent 3G speeds. These mobile carrier turned ISPs have the money and are able to charge far much less than any traditional ISP can charge. The cellphone coverage is more widespread than coverage provide primarily for data by traditional ISPs. In Zambia, we are nearing cell phone coverage of close to 80% of the country and with it 3/4G data services.
    How does the traditional ISP compete? No form of last mile wireless deployment can be done such that the ISP can make a profit and compete with the mobile carrier, its just so hard. Is the model being proposed here sustainable with this scenario in mind? May be a not for profit ISP?
    What would the motivation be for the ISP to even go into this business anymore?