Nokia in partnership with Safaricom, UNICEF and the Kenyan Ministries of Education and ICT, today deployed FastMile 4G Fixed Wireless Broadband in 90 schools in Kenya in a bid to support the Kenyan Government’s plans to scale broadband connection to all schools by 2030.
Using Nokia’s FastMile 4G Fixed Wireless Access (FWA) broadband, the firms aims to provide reliable, high-speed connectivity delivered over Safaricom’s 4G/LTE network. Nokia’s meshed WiFi Beacon technology is used to boost the Internet signal in selected classrooms and computer labs to the connected schools which are spread across rural and informal urban settlements in Kenya, serving an estimated 32,670 students.
In a statement, Amr K. El Leithy, SVP, Middle East and Africa Market, Nokia, said: “ With remote learning becoming the prevailing issue during the Covid-19 pandemic, the topic of digital equity takes center stage again, so we are excited that this collaboration will facilitate access to many students currently unconnected.”
The Nokia FastMile solution runs on clients existing Radio Access Network (RAN) installed base and idle spectrum so they can offer fixed wireless broadband to urban, suburban and rural users. Nokia FastMile includes customer premise equipment with a built-in modem and antenna, a cloud-based controller for point of sales, monitoring and control, and smartphone applications for installation and support. Together they provide a powerful end-to-end solution delivering fast and reliable broadband to fixed subscribers.
Nokia WiFi Beacons support the latest Wi-Fi 6 standard and use algorithms to detect and mitigate potential issues at home in real-time. The Beacons always select the strongest Wi-Fi channel, and ensure that client devices are connected in the best possible way to maximize the end-users’ broadband experience. The Wi-Fi network can be seamlessly extended by adding Beacons to avoid any dead spots in the house. A mobile app brings ease of installation and management to the end-user.
Peter Ndegwa, CEO of Safaricom, said: “As part of our Transforming Lives purpose and vision to become a purpose-led technology company, we are always looking for partnerships that allow us to use our services to deliver social impact in areas aligned to the Sustainable Development Goals. Our shared value partnership with UNICEF and Nokia allows us to connect schools in underprivileged areas and increase access to digital literacy. This will ensure that the students there are not left behind when it comes to reaping the benefits of an ever-increasing digital society.”
With COVID-19 most schools closed in Kenya in 2020 and children had to stay at home for six to nine months, leaving them reliant on remote learning. The digital divide meant that students who could access the internet were better placed to continue with their learning. Schools equipped with a broadband connection, digital devices and teacher training will now be able to make better use of video communication, digital curricula and online content, thereby improving digital literacy and skills amongst school children.
“Children have a right to access quality education wherever they are, yet for too long, the digital divide has prevented disadvantaged children from enjoying the same benefits as their connected peers. By connecting schools to the Internet – with a focus on the most disadvantaged areas – we can start to level the playing field. This allows students and teachers to gain digital skills and access the latest education materials, providing a brighter future for some of the most vulnerable children in Kenya,” said UNICEF Kenya Country Representative Maniza Zaman.