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Here’s how one company is delivering the internet to remote villages

Viasat is one of Fast Company’s 2020 World Changing Ideas honorees.

Here’s how one company is delivering the internet to remote villages

Nearly four billion people worldwide lack internet access, mostly in rural, remote areas, where wireless infrastructure is too costly to install. Carlsbad, California–based broadband company Viasat is using satellite-connected Wi-Fi hot spots to change that. Last year, the company launched its first community Wi-Fi service in more than 3,000 locations across Mexico, putting over 1.8 million people within a 5-to-10-minute walk of a hot spot. While many of these people already had smartphones, their limited cell service did not allow for anything beyond phone calls. Viasat charges users as little as 50 cents for an hour of broadband internet, enabling people to Skype with relatives, check weather forecasts, or do homework. “They want to do a lot of the things other people want to do,” says Viasat cofounder and CEO Mark Dankberg—listen to music, browse social media, or watch videos. Viasat recently expanded its community internet to Brazil and is now turning to Africa, where it plans to power Wi-Fi with solar energy. “A big part of what makes this work is being able to give high connection speeds at really low cost and with very low electrical power,” Dankberg says.

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