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Microsoft and Viasat plan internet project to reach 10m people

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Microsoft and Viasat, the satellite company that is hoping to buy Inmarsat, have formed a partnership to help deliver the internet access to 10 million people.

Viasat is the first satellite partner to work with Microsoft’s Airband Initiative, which seeks to expand internet access across the world.

Mark Dankberg, CEO and chairman of Viasat, said: “Connecting the world is an expansive and challenging goal, and we believe it is equally important that it is done in a way that is sustainable, responsible, and inclusive.”

Viasat’s planned purchase of UK-based Inmarsat for US$7.3 billion is being considered by the UK’s regulator.

Dankberg said: “The partnership with Microsoft is another important step in bringing affordable internet service across Africa, Latin America and the US, as both companies continue breaking down barriers to bridge the digital divide and make significant progress towards digital equity and inclusion.”

The move coincides with Microsoft’s efforts at this week’s US-African Leaders’ Summit in Washington DC, when the tech company said it was expanding its Airband Initiative through new partnerships with local and global providers to bring internet access to 100 million Africans by the end of 2025.

The Viasat deal is part of a broader global ambition for Airband to bring internet access to a quarter of a billion people around the world by the end of 2025, said Microsoft.

The Microsoft-Viasat relationship focuses on the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Nigeria, Guatemala, Mexico and the US, and will also cover Senegal and Angola.

Microsoft said: “An estimated 37% of the world’s population – or 2.9 billion people – have still never used the internet. Satellite allows internet access to reach remote areas that previously have had few, if any, options for conventional connectivity.”

The companies said they will collaborate to provide and pilot technologies including satellites and fixed wireless.