ESA is now working with satellite operator Avanti Communications to bring a swathe of new affordable Internet services to more people across sub-Saharan Africa through the Hylas-4 telecom satellite, due for launch next year.

Every Child Online, ECO, has been set up under ESA’s ARTES partner programme.

ECO aims to secure Europe’s foothold in a rapidly expanding market by improving ground infrastructure to exploit the capabilities of the next-generation telecom satellites, providing broadband connectivity to communities.

The result will be more accessible and reliable Internet services at locally affordable prices.

The ECO community shared access services will be deployed in a number of sites including rural and edge-of-urban communities, as well as in towns or suburban areas where fixed line or mobile connectivity is unavailable or unreliable.

This will foster socio-economic development within communities that extend beyond broadband access alone.

The ECO partnership will continue for five years. Schools and Internet cafes will be the first to benefit when pilot services with satellite coverage from Hylas-4 begin next year.

The launch of ECO was announced by Avanti today.

Two Belgian companies are supporting Avanti. Technology provider Newtec will lead the ground segment development while satcom service provider SatADSL will expand its current range of services in Africa.

“ESA’s ECO partnership is investing in European ground technology and fostering the delivery of satellite services in global markets that will secure and enrich European exports,” commented Mrs Vaissiere, ESA’s Director of Telecommunications and Integrated Applications.