Serving underserved communities

08 October 2020

“The Digital Divide remains despite years of debate about solutions to bridge it.” This was the opening statement of the pre-event description for the latest in the GVF Webinar Series, organised in association with the Satellite Evolution Group (, and held on the Zoom platform every two weeks.

The ‘Serving Underserved Communities’ ( webinar took place on 27 August and featured panellists representing Kacific Broadband Satellites, Gilat Satellite Networks, ViaSat, and SES. If you missed the discussion you can still access the recording by clicking on the above link.

This webinar addressed the fundamental question of ‘How exactly is satellite now fulfilling the urgent need to bridge the digital divide?’ Satellite solutions can be deployed anywhere. Satellite coverage is ubiquitous. Satellite’s capacity continues to expand with more high throughput satellite systems being launched to geostationary orbit (HTS GEO), with deployment of enhanced additions to existing medium Earth orbit (MEO) infrastructure, and ongoing expansion of the new low Earth orbit (LEO) constellations. The webinar dialogue focused on such questions as:

• Is the biggest barrier to serving the underserved connectivity or affordability?

• Will there be a role for satellites in connecting underserved communities in five years? Ten years?

• Is community Wi-Fi the best way to bring the internet to remote communities in low-income countries?

• Are universal service funds a significant source of support to bring satellite delivered internet services?

• What advantages do GEO have over NGSO systems in bringing services to underserved communities? Conversely, what advantages do NGSO systems have over GEO systems?

• What is the role of satellite in emergency response and business continuity?

These questions from the webinar moderator were augmented with additional questions raised by the audience in real-time over the Zoom platform’s Q&A function. Those audience questions which remained unanswered at the conclusion of the webinar are answered in writing and feature on the GVF’s website webinar pages along with the webinar video recording. The geographic origin of the audience questions reflected the global appeal of the webinar, and of the series as a whole. Participants from some 69 countries featured during the discussion on the digital divide.

‘Serving Underserved Communities’ was the eighth webinar in the GVF Series. The video recordings of all seven previous webinar discussions are also available via the GVF website (, covering:

• The Satellite Industry’s Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic

• WRC-23: Spectrum Dialogues in a Post-pandemic World

• Space Segment Disruptive Evolution: GEO, MEO & LEO – Does a Global Crisis Make a Difference?

• The Satellite Integral Factor II: Will Working from Home Render the Cloud a Different Animal?

• 5G & Satellite: Driving Forward the ‘Network of Networks’

• Ground Segment: Transformational Antennas/End of the Parabolic Paradigm?

• Ground Segment: Transformational Antennas II – Will terminals realise the promised LEO Connectivity Revolution?

The Webinar Series is the product of GVF’s strategy of taking its digital presence into new areas, responding to the period of lockdown, social distancing and working from home brought about by the COVID-19 global pandemic. The Series is scheduled to continue for the remainder of 2020, with a schedule of discussion themes which will include:

• GEO/MEO/LEO – Satellite in the Finance Markets

• Global Transitions: Digital Economy, Digital Infrastructure, Connected Communities, Digital Planet

• A Regional Perspective on C-Band – The Next Battleground?

• The Regional Satellite Operators’ Voice

• Humanitarian Assistance & Disaster Response: The Evolving Role of Satellites in Disaster Response

In my previous column for this publication I focused on the subject of humanitarian assistance & disaster response, referencing that the global pandemic has, of course, led to a widespread cancellation of actual events and a general shift to digital/virtual events, including Pacific Endeavor 2020 and Satcom Endeavor 2020. Since this last column another actual event, a major one for the Middle East, northern Africa and south Asia regions, has also been affected by COVID-19. The CABSAT 2020 exhibition, already previously postponed from its usual March calendar slot to October, has now again been postponed. GVF continues to examine the practicalities for adapting the example of the virtualised Pacific Endeavor 2020/Satcom Endeavor 2020 model to CABSAT, thereby providing the GVF SATEXPO Summit @ CABSAT as an online event.

When confirmed, the further definition of the programme for the GVF SATEXPO Summit @ CABSAT will be announced through a GVF press release and will be posted at