By Narayan Ammachchi
The Colombian government has renewed a contract with Israel’s Gilat Satellite Networks to provide high-speed Internet service to thousands of schools in the country’s outlying regions.
The extension of the contract requires the Colombian government to disburse an additional US$6.75 million to the Israeli company.
Under the contract, Gilat will provide broadband internet connectivity to over 1,500 schools in remote areas lacking access to other terrestrial telecom service providers. The first contract was signed on December 2011, and the company is due to roll out the service for all the schools by the end of this year.
“Gilat is proud to be part of improving the quality of education around the world by enabling broadband-enabled classrooms, providing students and teachers with fast, reliable, satellite connectivity,” said Danny Fridman, CEO of Gilat Peru and Colombia, in a press release.
The Israeli firm, which utilizes VSAT, will provide the broadband service with speeds up to 2 Mbps. A recent study from Cisco says the number of broadband connections in Colombia exceeded 4.7 million in 2012.
The program is part of the Colombian government’s ongoing efforts to “bridge the digital divide”, and improve education and employment opportunities in the remote rural areas.
Gilat also provides managed network and satellite-based services for rural telephony and Internet access via its subsidiaries in the United States, Peru and Colombia.