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Nokia, Safaricom and UNICEF connect remote primary schools in Kenya

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Vendor and operator collaborate to convert fixed wireless access to Wi-Fi.

Nokia has supplied its FastMile 4G fixed wireless access (FWA) system to help mobile operator Safaricom to connect 90 primary schools in rural and poor areas of Kenya with a broadband service.

Safaricom owns M-Pesa, one of the largest payment platforms on the continent with 40 million users, many of whom have access to a bank account and credit facilities fo the first time, thanks to the mobile operator.

Joint project

The joint project, which also involved the Kenyan Ministries of Education and ICT, aligns with the Kenyan government’s stated aim to connect all Kenyan school with broadband by 2030. 

The connected schools are spread across rural and urban settlements in Kenya, serving an estimated 32,670 students. Schools are using Nokia’s FastMile 4G FWA broadband system for fast connections to education resources using Safaricom’s 4G/LTE network.

The role of Nokia’s meshed WiFi Beacon technology is to boost the signal in classes and computer labs. It was first invented in 2018.

During the COVID-19 pandemic school closures 2020 forced Kenyan children to stay at home for six to nine months. The national emphasis on remote learning created a schism betwee the digitally empowered and the digitally impoverished.

Broadband connection, digital devices and teacher training will empower the less advantaged with video communication, enabling them to keep up with the digital curriculum and online content, according to Peter Ndegwa, CEO of Safaricom.

Broadband for all

“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,” said Ndegwa, “our partnership mean the students there are not left behind.” 

The Nokia FastMile 4G Receiver, a mature technology first deployed invented in 2016, lets operators build profitably on their existing Radio Access Network (RAN) installed base and use idle spectrum to offer fixed wireless broadband. It comprises 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.

“At Nokia we believe in broadband for all,” said Amr K El Leithy, SVP, Nokia’ SVP for the Middle East and African Markets.

The Nokia WiFi Beacons support the latest Wi-Fi 6 standard and use algorithms to detect and mitigate potential issues at home in real-time, select the strongest Wi-Fi channel and connect devices in the best possible configuration for maximum broadband.