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EU project to bridge digital divide in Latin America

As information and communication technologies bring many benefits to societies, an EU funded project is aiming to help bridge the digital divide in South America by developing interactive broadband services via satellites.

The BRASIL (Broadband to Rural America over Satellite Integrated Links) project, whose motto, 'Broadband any Place via Space', reflects its mission to harness satellite technology in order to deliver broadband services to companies and isolated households across South America.

Beginning with the largest and most populous country in Latin America, the project will export to Brazil a system based on DVB-RCS (Digital Video Broadcast - Return Channel Satellite), a world leading open standard developed in Europe for the provision of interactive broadband services via satellite.

Through this non-proprietary technology, the project hopes to achieve the twin goals of disseminating DVB-RCS throughout the continent so as to encourage competition between service and hardware providers and bring many public service advantages including e-education and training, e-health and e-government.

'This is an inspiring project,' Dr Harald Skinnemoen, CEO of AnsuR, an advanced satellite communication company and BRASIL coordinator, told CORDIS News. 'We are applying technology in a context which will have a significant, positive impact on the societies of South America by bridging the digital divide between information rich and poor, and urban and rural communities.'

Dr Skinnemoen believes that the project is a 'win-win' endeavour for all the people involved. But ultimately it will be the technology small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) and citizens on both sides of the ocean who will benefit the most from being connected to this information super highway.

Cristovam Nascimento of Unisat, one of BRASIL's South American partners, agrees: 'Experience from other parts of the world shows that increased broadband penetration brings benefits for business of all sizes and to consumers. DVB-RCS technology, developed in Europe, is an ideal platform for accelerating broadband penetration here in South America, and that in turn will have a positive impact, from the economy, to education, to home entertainment.

The recently launched three-year project will begin by building the minimal infrastructure needed, consisting of satellite terminals, solar panel power structures and Wi-Fi (wireless fidelity) and mobile phone access points or Base Transceiver Stations (BTS), as soon as the market research has identified where these should be constructed in the first instance.

Virginia Mercouri | alfa
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