Connected with LEO!
With nearly half of humanity remaining on the wrong side of an ever-widening digital divide, three main barriers to adoption persist: availability, affordability and usability.
The Covid-19 pandemic has underscored the urgent near universal need for access to essential services like telehealth, distance learning, remote working and e-government/ public information services including disaster response.
A Practical Response: “LEO Libraries” a global testbed of local
“LEO Libraries,” an initiative of the Gigabit Libraries Network that marries potentially game-changing low earth orbit (LEO) satellite internet access with the myriad public services of libraries. The initiative invites libraries or other centers to join an exploration of this new technology to connect the unconnected and address the unmet digital information needs in tens of thousands of communities around the planet.
Specifically this initiative addresses:
Without robust broadband connections to the global internet, questions of affordability and usability are essentially moot. Emerging LEO systems have begun providing 100+ Mbps plug-and-play connectivity at low latencies in the most remote and hardest to serve locations.
From books themselves to first generation broadband, public libraries have a long history of meeting the information needs of people who may be unable to buy these services. In particular, libraries or other community centers almost uniquely offer no-fee / low-fee non commercial internet access.
Essential skills, devices, content, relevance, safe, comfortable spaces and other resources are necessary to make the internet useful, desirable and otherwise meaningful. With training and support, libraries or other trusted community hubs provide open public access. LEO systems, nearly impervious to local outages, can serve as a powerful disaster response tool to anchor community adaptation strategies.
The initiative enables national, provincial/state library agencies and library associations to:
- field test services for performance and reliability.
- evaluate impact on facility operations and on surrounding communities.
- develop wider implementation plans.
Partner with national, provincial and state library agencies to identify eligible facilities and to supply trial /demo units at local community libraries or other centers in countries where LEO system-based ISP’s are permitted. Publish performance data and impact reports from testbed participants.
Gigabit Libraries Network (GLN), the International Federation of Library Associations (IFLA), the Internet Society, Bibliothèques Sans Frontières, Partnership for Public Access (P4PA.net), Alliance for Affordable Internet (A4AI), African Library and Information Associations (AfLIA), U. WA iSchool.
Vint Cerf, Stephen Wyber, Sascha Meinrath, Nkem E. Osuigwe, Sonia Jorge, Muy-Cheng Peich, Martha Suarez, Joe Hillis, Chris Jowasis