Telecom company Econet Group, has teamed up with X’s Project Taara to expand and enhance affordable, high speed internet connectivity to communities across Sub-Saharan Africa using a revolutionary new optical wireless technology developed by Taara.
The partnership will see the first roll-out of Taara’s technology in Africa.
Econet will deploy Taara’s technology in Africa across Liquid Telecom’s Fibre Optic Backbone and Mobile Network Infrastructure starting in Kenya.
Norman Moyo, Econet’s Executive for New Enterprises said, “This technology and our partnership with Taara forms an important building block towards realising our vision of a digitally connected future that leaves no African behind.”
Taara is a project at X, Alphabet’s Moonshot factory (formerly known as Google [x]) which is working to bring affordable and abundant high-speed internet access to unconnected and under-connected areas and communities using an innovative approach to wireless optical communication technology.
The company’s wireless optical communication links use beams of light to deliver high-speed, high-capacity connectivity over long distances.
In the same way traditional fibre uses light to carry data through cables in the ground, Taara uses light to transmit information at speeds as high as 20 gigabits per second as a very narrow, invisible beam.
This beam is sent between two small Taara terminals to create a link. The links offer fibre-like speed internet access in areas where it is not economically viable, or too difficult to install fibre.
Fibre networks require backup links in order to provide 99.99 % availability. By delivering fibre-like speeds, Taara links offer an effective fibre backup solution where there is no other viable backup fibre route.
Microwave and satellite backup are often not able to keep up with bandwidth demand for city to city links.
Econet and Liquid Telecom will make the technology available to other telecoms customers, namely Mobile Networks Operators (MNO), Internet Service Providers (ISP) and also National Research Education Networks.
Liquid Telecom and X have been running pilot tests of the technology in Kenya since 2019. Remote communities with high data demands which are not yet connected to fibre, stand to benefit greatly from the enhanced data speeds.
“Liquid Telecom has always been an early adopter of leading-edge technologies that support the Econet mission of using technology to empower Africans for economic prosperity. The trials we have conducted in Kenya have shown encouraging results of how we can reach new underserved areas with huge bandwidths as well as increase our network reliability,” said Nic Rudnick Liquid Telecom’s CEO.
Taara’s links are an investment in the “middle mile” which The United Nations Broadband Commission defines as “the national backbone and intercity networks.” Econet hopes this technology will support the revitalization of economies which rely heavily on tourism, and have been negatively affected by international travel disruptions, and overall efforts to enable and accelerate growth.
“We are delighted to be working with Econet to provide high speed, abundant and affordable internet to more people in Sub Saharan Africa. The Taara team shares Econet’s vision of bringing about a more inclusive connected future that leaves no one behind, says Mahesh Krishnaswamy, Taara Project Lead at X, the Moonshot Factory.