Kacific, Microsoft to connect APAC schools and hospitals with satellite

Kacific, Microsoft to connect APAC schools and hospitals with satellite

Kacific Broadband Satellites Group revealed on Monday it’s collaborating with Microsoft’s Airband initiative to connect rural educational and healthcare institutions across developing countries in the Asia Pacific using satellite broadband connectivity.

The Kacific project aims to deploy broadband connections over the next two years to 750 rural educational and healthcare institutions in Papua New Guinea, the Philippines, Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, Cook Islands, Samoa, and Timor-Leste using high-powered Ka-band beams from the Kacific-1 satellite.

Kacific says the project sports a geographical coverage of 10 million people across those countries. The satellite broadband connections will serve not only the targeted schools and healthcare centres, but also the surrounding communities.

TheAirband initiative aims to bring together internet and energy providers, government agencies, non-profits and the private sector to focus on closing the digital divide, said Kacific’s corporate development director Beatrice Mok.

“These new sites will contribute significantly to expanding highspeed affordable internet usage in isolated communities,” she said in a statement.

Mok added that Kacific’s approach to choosing who gets connected is determined by its policy of prioritising education institutions and public health facilities and aligning with their commitment to ESG goals.

“We look at the size of the community, its requirements for connectivity and what it can afford to ensure each site benefits as many people as possible in a sustainable manner,” Mok explained. “The sites for the project have been selected to ensure minimal overlapping coverage between the Wi-Fi hotspots (across both schools and clinics) and maximum population coverage in areas where the need is identified.”

Kacific also offered up a case study of an early success story in the Microsoft project: Palawan Baptist Hospital in the Philippines, which uses PhilHealth’s electronic claims system for claims management. Because claims management can only be done online, that requires reliable internet connectivity, but the hospital had to make do with signal boosters, pocket Wi-Fi or prepaid Wi-Fi.

Palawan Baptist Hospital now uses satellite broadband connectivity, which has not only increased its efficiency and communication between hospitals, but also halved the costs for patients, as they no longer need to travel for hours to contact friends and family, said Darren Jay Gacot, the hospital’s head of marketing, communications and IT.

“Better internet access and streamlined communication for hospital transfers go hand in hand,” he said.

Vickie Robinson, GM of Microsoft’s Airband Initiative, said its strategic alliances such as Kacific “play a pivotal role in advancing access to connectivity and digital equity, particularly in some of the world’s most critical markets.”

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