A startup funded by Talia Ltd. is aiming for the skies in its efforts to end the digital divide: London-based Quika expects its free high-speed satellite broadband service to transform developing nations by delivering complementary Internet connectivity to residences and affordable broadband to small and midsize enterprises.
Quika on Monday unveiled plans to begin offering its services in March, starting in Afghanistan and Iraq and later rolling them out across Africa, Alan Afrasiab, founder and chairman of Quika and CEO of Talia, told Broadband World News via email. Coverage will be based on the satellite footprint of Al Yah 3 and Arabsat 5C Ka, and is expected to eventually cover Angola, Benin, Botswana, Burundi, Cameroon, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ghana, Libya, Loesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria, Ivory Coast, Republic of Congo, Rwanda, Senegal, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Togo, Tunisia, Zambia and Zimbabwe, he noted.
"[Today] 3.9 billion people (53% of the world’s population) are still offline. The main reasons for people not using the Internet are inequalities in relation to income and education, as well as the lack of infrastructure, relevant online content and services, plus relatively high costs of access and usage," Afrasiab said in a release.
Ad revenue and the provider's commercial services will support the provider's free satellite-based service, Quika Free. Subscribers also can upgrade to ad-free content by buying "e-scratch cards at competitive rates, which will provide additional capacity at lower prices," Afrasiab told BBWN.
Other services include Quika Start, an entry-level, volume-based program for small and midsize businesses available on a monthly basis, as well as Quika Plus, a bandwidth based service for ISPs and enterprises sold via annual contract, according to the company.
Currently Talia Ltd. is the main financial investor, although Quika seeks additional investors and is speaking with several, said Afrasiab.
"Whilst Talia’s commercial activities are focused on large multi-national organizations in the communications, energy, [non-government organizations] and governments sectors, Quika will be strategically focused at the consumer and SME markets," he said.
Users must provide Quika with a deposit of $350 for the hardware, refundable upon return of the device. The company is looking for "funding opportunities to reduce or remove" that cost, Afrasiab added.
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