Giga

Accelerate is Giga's exploratory arm to test solutions and provide insights to fast-track governments' universal connectivity programs.

ACCELERATE

Through Accelerate, Giga is connecting the first schools in each partner country and exploring diverse technologies, business models, and regulatory arrangements to provide broadband connectivity to schools and communities.

UNICEF is mapping the location and real-time internet connectivity of every school in the world; using schools as a focal point, Giga can identify connectivity gaps and test technologies and business solutions that enable sustainable, affordable connectivity for the school and its entire surrounding community.

By connecting the first 1,000 schools across 9 Giga countries, we can connect ~2 million learners to information, opportunity, and choice – and scale these efforts at the national, regional, and global level.

In response to COVID, Giga also supported communities by accelerating key initiatives, including providing connectivity and necessary services to high-impact countries. See our COVID-19 Response here. 

On 30 March 2016, Winny Moreira, 17, checks her mobile phone on a street in Taiobeiras municipality in the Southeastern state of Minas Gerais, Brazil. Winny was born and raised in Taiobeiras, a town of about 30,000, where she lives with her parents, grandparents and 8-year-old brother, Kennedy Caciano. Winny was 10-years-old when she began using the Internet. During high school, she was cyberbullied and reported the incident to the police. Many of her friends were victims of sexting (sending/receiving sexually explicit photographs or messages via mobile phone) and similar online abuse, which included inappropriate photographs being shared throughout the community. Ashamed of the harassment and bullying they endured, several girls stopped attending school altogether and some even moved away from their community. Winny’s friend, Jessica, now 20, was the victim of cyberbullying, social isolation and embarrassment during high school, when inappropriate images from her mobile phone were shared with her peers in school, following the theft of her phone. The device contained nude images she had taken of herself, but had never shared online. Although Jessica reported the theft to the police, they told her nothing could be done without evidence. Winny supported her friend, and became an advocate against online sexual exploitation and cyberbullying. In 2014, she participated in a UNICEF-supported girl’s empowerment programme in Brasilia and in 2015, was a finalist of UNICEF Brazil’s Safe Surf Campaign for her You Tube video “Internet sem Vacilo,” (Internet without Hesitation). The video provided guidance to girls on the topic of cyberbullying, sexting, online digital citizenship and safety. Last year, Winny graduated from Oswaldo Lucas Mendes Public High School and is now preparing for the national college entrance exam. She would like to attend law school so she can continue her advocacy on behalf of her peers.

“I want to study law because I see so much injustic
Areas of exploration

Giga Accelerate is exploring and testing Technologies, Business Models, and Regulatory Arrangements, and specifically how these can help with:

  • Using real-time monitoring for transparency and accountability
  • Connecting schools in rural, remote, and challenging environments
  • Improving schools’ connectivity and quality of service
  • Ensuring schools can pay for connectivity services over time
  • Using the school as a hub to extend connectivity and service to the entire community
Accelerate prototypes per country

These countries have committed investments to connect a cluster of unconnected schools as Giga nodes, and are piloting a combination of the 5 Accelerate areas of exploration.

Leverage Kenya’s Digital Literacy Programme (DLP) and connect schools where devices have been distributed

  • Aggregate the connectivity demand of schools (100, >1,000) and launch two procurement processes:
    • The first to provide unlimited connectivity to 100 schools (at least 10 Mbps download & 5 Mbps upload) to test efficiency and reliability of available technology solutions in the market (LTE, WiMax, satellite and fiber) monitoring speeds and connectivity quality of service in real-time.
    • The second to test the most innovative technologies and business models to provide broadband connectivity, with a minimum of 20 Mbps, to the hardest-to-reach schools and prototype a model to redistribute connectivity to communities.
  • Use pilot results and lessons from procurement to help streamline the process to use and apply for USF funding.

No school left behind and sustainable approaches

  • Initial procurement for 63 schools that will be extended to at least ~120 schools.
    • In the first part of the pilot, 50 schools in Bugesera district and 13 schools in refugee camps will be connected. The pilot aims to test a bundled innovative technology, business model and solar power provision proposition to connect schools with unlimited data and a minimum of 25 Mbps per school.
  • This procurement also asks providers to offer solutions and partnerships to help with devices provision and redistribution of connectivity beyond the school.
  • The pilot will also explore different redistribution models to extend connectivity from the school to the surrounding community and assess which models are the most cost-effective to cross subsidize school connectivity operational costs.

School & infrastructure mapping to inform procurement decisions to connect schools without power supply

  • Sierra Leone has mapped all school locations in Project Connect and is implementing tools to monitor the connectivity status of schools in real-time. The procurement process of this pilot will use this data to help guide government decision-making and select the most cost-efficient connectivity and renewable power technologies, as 90% of the schools to connect do not have access to electricity.
  • The pilot will challenge the industry to provide unlimited connectivity with a minimum of 20 Mbps per school (current standard is 10 Mbps) using innovative access technologies and appropriate business models that offer both broadband and clean power supply for the school.
  • The pilot will also test the use of blockchain for smart contracts and innovative financing.

Testing solutions to connect schools in mountainous and remote areas

  • Kyrgyzstan has provided basic broadband to 99% of its 2,150 schools, with only 20 mountainous schools remaining unconnected. For these remote schools, connectivity costs far exceed national average (~$60k per school) as they are far away from current fiber points of access (>30km).
  • While the government has connected 99.4% of schools in the country to fiber optic or WiMax, this pilot will explore the cost-efficiency, speed, reliability and sustainability of alternative innovative solutions (LEO, light beams, etc.). At least 8 schools will receive unlimited data with a minimum broadband of 20 Mbps outside the KG zone and 50 Mbps in the KG zone, report speeds and quality of connectivity in real-time, and prototype the extension of connectivity to the community.
  • Providers willing to participate will also be included in a pilot to pay for connectivity services with crypto and based on performance.

Connecting schools in the most challenging environments in the country

  • By the end of 2020, there were 7,378 schools with internet connectivity in Kazakhstan, and only 60 schools without, including schools located in prisons.
  • This pilot will test innovative solutions to connect schools in the most challenging environments and use those schools as hubs to extend connectivity to the surrounding community. 
  • For schools to be connected to receive unlimited data and 10 Mbps as a minimum per school, the pilot will explore the use of last-mile disruptive technologies and schools will report the quality of connectivity in real-time.

Real-time monitoring for decision-making and extension of connectivity

  • The pilot will use real-time monitoring of school connectivity to inform the Ministry of Public Education’s decision-making process to continue rolling out the connectivity program.
  • Leveraging the network of 200 schools that will be connected by MoPE, MoICT, and IT Park in the following 2 years, the pilot will launch an innovation challenge for the industry to provide technology solutions and business models to redistribute the connectivity from schools and extend it wirelessly to the community.

Connect schools to the National Connectivity Network

  • The pilot will support Secretaría de Innovación to connect 35 schools in the most impoverished areas of the country to the National Connectivity Network (NCN)—a fiber optic backhaul network to connect all public entities in central and municipal governments, that is mounted on the country’s electrical grid network.
  • Using TV White Space, microwave PtP, and Wi-Fi, schools will be directly connected to the NCN, thus enabling the Ministry of Education to integrate any future applications and connecting schools to other public entities, ministries and to the digital ecosystem of the country. Schools will receive unlimited data and 20 Mbps as minimum.
  • The pilot will leverage GoES partnership with ETESAL (the national telecomms company) to prototype a business model where part of the returns from connectivity projects will be reinvested to extend connectivity in rural areas.

Use schools as Wi-Fi hotspots to extend connectivity to the community

  • The pilot will connect at least 10 schools with the ideal bandwidth to support digital learning needs and the deployment of the Ministry of Education’s educational platform Educatrachos.
  • Connected schools will report connectivity status in real-time, and each will work as a Wi-Fi hotspot to provide broadband internet to the community. Different business models for redistributing connectivity from the school will be tested.
  • The results from the pilot will help inform available sources of funding from development banks.

Connectivity pilot to inform better practices to use Universal Service Funds

  • Connect 20 schools to provide insights and best practices for the government on how to use the Fundo de Universalização dos Serviços de Telecomunicações (FUST) for school connectivity.
  • The lessons from the connectivity pilot will help to inform advocacy campaigns, and to streamline the process to use and apply to FUST funding.

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