Uni of York academics to boost Internet connectivity in rural areas in Nigeria using HAPs


This is a fact: Some places in Nigeria, especially the rural or remote areas, still don’t have access to decent (or any) Internet connectivity.

Something has to be done (I thought they wanted to make having the Internet a basic human right?) to let people in those areas enjoy the Internet just like you and I.

A lot of companies have been exploring ways to do this, and academics from University of York in England have joined in – they want to help using high-altitude platforms (HAPs).

HAPs are airships or solar-powered aircraft which are permanently located in the skies at an altitude of 20km, above aeroplanes but below satellites.

The platforms are capable of delivering wireless services without the need for significant and expensive ground-based infrastructure.

The university has already teamed up with Dr Abimbola Fisusi, from the Department of Electronic and Electrical Engineering of the Obafemi Awolowo University in Nigeria, to lead the project in Nigeria, and is searching for potential collaborators.

“Affordable broadband will result in an improvement in the livelihood of hard-to-reach rural areas of Nigeria, which this project targets, as it will give them access to a wider market, diverse learning resources, and expert medical advice,” said Dr Abimbola, who’s a former University of York PhD graduate.

A workshop is planned for December at the University of York to engage with stakeholders and to disseminate findings.

The project has been funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) Global Challenges Research Fund Institutional Sponsorship Award.

“We have quite a track record in this area and have built up a level of expertise which allows us to pursue some exciting projects with high-altitude platforms,” said Professor David Grace, from the University of York’s Department of Electronics.

He added, “It has the potential to be rapidly deployed and will provide the same level of service as you would get in an urban area, empowering communities and transforming lives.”

This very commendable project is quite similar to what Facebook is trying to do with Aquila, which was successfully tested some weeks back, and its Internet.org satellite that got damaged in a explosion recently.

Once the HAPs and Aquila are launched and become operational, people living in remote areas in Nigeria and across the world will enjoy the awesomeness of the Internet like the rest of us!

Photo Credit: BBC.

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