Give me a simple explanation, how does it work?
Bandway uses satellites to deliver content to ground stations where the information is recorded so that it can be looked at whenever the local population has available time; thus suiting their time schedule.

So what equipment is needed?
You asked for a simple explanation!  Seriously, you should read our technical section for a full understanding of the technology, but all you really need to know is that it is a totally proven method, updated to use the latest techniques, and it will reach the places that no other delivery medium can.

Is it like Internet then?
No, that would be an incorrect understanding, though of course we use many elements that might have the same look and feel.  The satellite broadcasts “one to many”, and is a hugely efficient source of planned information, such as education content, but it is not designed to deliver individual search requests, nor to display web pages.  There is a very small, low speed “return channel”, but that is only for use in situations such as a medical emergency, or what we call e-grams.

Why use your system, there are lots of satellites, why not use TV?
TV is one to many, but even digital TV is inefficient as a data source, and we are planning for the provision of stored data content, so we can send massively more information using our protocol, and that means much cheaper.  And yes, there are lots of satellites, and we will always use the most reliable and sensible available system – and we can normally secure a good price because we use almost an unwanted part of the spectrum – but generally the satellite provider is serving a different market sector, and at a different price level.  However, we are not proud, our mission is to deliver services to remote communities, and if there is an existing provider who can assist us, then we will work with them.

How much does it cost then?
Concentrating first on our social mission, which is to bring education, medical and health information, plus crop and weather data; to the poorest and unserviced communities of the world, and the system is free at the point of use.  Of course it is not actually free, but we expect the costs to be met by various levels of philanthropic and donor funds, broken down across a range of provider levels; and that can often depend on where the control lies.

What do you mean by control?
Bandway is an enabling technology and a delivery medium, within a closed user group, which can be adopted and used by individual national authorities in a manner of their choosing.  Much of the content may be common to all, especially in the case of basic medical data, but within a literacy and numeracy programme there may be a question of language and culture.  Thus we expect the local national or regional authority to manage and control the content being delivered to their community.

So the content provider pays?
Essentially yes, though they may well be receiving grants and support from international authorities who are prepared to support the concepts of the underlying social mission – especially a numeracy and literacy programme; and the creation of the infrastructure is also underwritten by philanthropic support.  As a guideline, and asking for your understanding that there is no such thing as an average within such a structure, we would aim to deliver a range of bundled support services to a community at $5 per capita per annum.  Given its precisely targeted nature, we consider that to be exceptional value, that is unachievable by any other means.

Would it ever be more than that?
Quite possibly, indeed definitely if there was a remote commercial user, such as oil company exploration – we would then charge a full rate and use the proceeds to support the social component.  But it could also be less, since this is a “numbers” game.  At some point the delivery cost becomes fixed, and after that every extra person who has access becomes essentially free.  If you have a very small target population, then it could be a lot more per capita, but equally it could remain the most economic means of reaching out to that group.

What other benefits are opened up by the system?
We would want to be careful with an answer to that question, because we would not want to lose sight of the basic social purpose, and indeed some regional and national authorities are going to have their own views on the subject, and we have to respect their attitudes and opinions.  However, part of the answer may be derived from how we perceive the system to be actually used locally.

And how is that?
Well, realistically, it must fit in with the manner in which the community currently operates, we cannot expect all the children to suddenly be released for a daily education period – and in any event, a total success would be to also bring literacy and numeracy to the adult and elder population.  Thus there has to be some degree of “excitement” and interest within the content that brings them all together, perhaps for an hour or two in the evening, and how that is achieved will be decided by experts within these subjects; over time I am sure there will be many challenges and improvements on that front.

Anything else?
Conceptually – yes, because we have a communications medium, but remember it is deliberately structured to offer a huge element of “one to many”, but the design cost only allows very limited ‘back channel’ information.  It will carry personal information so that remote workers can communicate with their families, but we deliberately choose the term e-gram as an abstraction of telegram, and to differentiate it from anything you would think of as e-mail – much better than nothing, but a spin off benefit, not the main purpose.  Similarly, because it is a closed network, we could securely structure an e-payments component so that funds can be remitted home in a controlled manner.  In a disaster scenario, such as we have seen all too often recently, then the resources could be opened up and dedicated to communication, perhaps making a real difference.

Is all the content visual?
Excellent question.  Two points, before we go into that.  First, there is a large body of academic theory on teaching methodology and content, and it is an intention of the social mission to both embrace and enhance that academic understanding, and it is possible that different theories may be applied in different areas.  But secondly, it would be a popular belief that the best education would be a one on one personal relationship, with the value decreasing as class sizes increase.  Thus it is a challenge to the expert to provide visual content that gets as close as possible to the personal component.  But we have asked ourselves how long we would be able to gather together the entire local population for, in order to view the content, and whether it can be supplemented by “local radio”.  Suffice it to say that the ground station would have that capability, always assuming that a solution can be found to the power requirement, and that learning tables by rote, even if put to a tune, may communicate the message!

Ok, I think I have got all that, and it does seem to be a solution that we have been dreaming of, we will have to see if we can get the funding.  What is the next step?
We hope and believe that you will find funding to be the easy bit, since it must be construed that providing basic literacy and numeracy, access to health information, and data to assist in producing subsistence crops are all human rights that the developed world has a duty to provide where it is absent.  We need a joint planning group to cover your area of specific interest, and a nominated coordinator to ensure that there is relevant cross co-operation between regions and other interested parties – since the spectrum is likely to be shared over a wide area.  There will be a considerable local commitment to the provision of content and the management of a control centre, not to mention the need to carry both the message and equipment (with related training) out into the field – so the timing is mainly in your hands.  The sooner we can turn it on, the quicker we can bring real change to an increasing percentage of our less advantaged population.

Let’s do it!