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O3b Satellite Network Brings Digital Parity to First University Customer

March 17, 2015

O3b Networks announced it will provide trunking services to connect the Papua New Guinea University of Technology (UNITECH) and its students to the internet.

UNITECH is the only South Pacific technological university, outside of Australia and New Zealand. With approximately 3,000 students, primarily drawn from Papua New Guinea and neighboring Pacific countries, it becomes the first university in the world to provide reliable, high speed internet for staff and students using the innovative O3B satellite network.

The country of Papua New Guinea encompasses the eastern portion of a large island in the South Pacific, just north of Australia. UNITECH’s decision to take an O3b service is in line with the PNG Government’s desire to see reliable ultra-fast broadband country wide. While UNITECH was established almost 50 years ago in May 1966, with the focus of teaching and research on technological or 'applied' subjects, the lack of reliable or fast internet connectivity to the country made the university’s mission to produce innovative and entrepreneurial technology graduates extremely challenging to carry out.

Internet connectivity in PNG had previously been either via terrestrial fiber or geostationary satellites (which have high latency and low throughput). The O3b network delivers extremely high throughput and lower latencies than long haul fiber, with round-trip response times of less than 150 milliseconds. This will give UNITECH the communication independence they need to ensure reliability of service. UNITECH can now use sophisticated cloud-based higher education solutions such as Google Classroom, digital teaching materials, webcast classes, anti-plagiarism services, and even video conferencing for ex-pat faculty members.

UNITECH is fitting as the first education customer for O3b Networks. In the early 1990s, important radio frequency propagation measurements were performed at the UNITECH facility for the International Telecommunications Union (ITU). The data obtained from this work, along with measurements from other nodes around the world, helped drive the move towards higher frequencies for satellite communications, which made the state-of-the-art O3b system possible.  

Dr. Albert Schram, Vice-Chancellor and CEO of the Papua New Guinea University of Technology (UNITECH) said: “We are delighted and proud to be the first University in the world to use the O3b network. UNITECH will immediately make the jump to cloud computing, moving to Google education apps, and reducing reliance on servers and the local power grid. Our students are extremely excited to get this first-hand experience with such cutting-edge technology, and will be involved in installing, maintaining and running the O3b system.

Next month our first year students will be provided with O3b connected laptops. Every one of them will be able to use the internet just like students in Sydney or Hong Kong, and will be equipped to be leaders in the global digital revolution. We couldn’t afford for another generation of our students to be left behind.” 

Imran Malik, O3b VP Asia Pacific & the Middle East, said: “The relationship between O3b and UNITECH shows just how our network can help promote education and development. I am delighted that the university plans to involve its students in installing and operating the necessary technology to access the network.  UNITECH students will experience digital parity with highly developed nations. They will see the difference a state of the art communications infrastructure can provide and no doubt, they will teach us some new ways to use this powerful communications tool. As a result, they will become evangelists for the use of broadband across the country.”