In recent years, there has been a boom in ed-tech services, with numerous new companies promising career-building services aside from the already existing ones such as Coursera, Khan Academy, Byju’s, etc. However, one of the toughest hurdles to cross has been satisfying one of the basic requirements for accessing these services. Approximately 4 billion people worldwide struggle to adequately access the internet, especially people in rural areas of developing and underdeveloped nations. As such, ensuring access to the internet via affordable devices is the need of the hour.
Over the last few years, the satellite internet industry has gained momentum. While previously companies such as Teledesic had struggled to achieve sufficient returns on their investments, recently companies such as SpaceX, OneWeb, Google and Airtel have been vying to capture the market in various regions. While SpaceX’s Starlink uses a network of satellites to provide internet services over large areas, Google Loons uses high altitude balloons to do the same. Satellite internet solves the issue of decreasing network speeds due to increasing distance from wireless cell towers. Companies tend to build less towers in areas with low population density and low buying power, which effectively ensures that people in remote areas would be plagued by the lack of network connectivity and low internet speeds. Satellite internet due to its higher altitude can provide internet services over a larger radius. This would help students in rural areas to access both live and pre-recorded online lessons seamlessly, thus reducing the gap in educational quality between students in rural and urban areas.
The other major drawback of online education has been the lack of affordability when it comes to the educational devices such as laptops and smartphones. High income inequality in underdeveloped areas of the world means that a large section of the people still lack buying power when it comes to laptops and tablets. However, it might be achievable to secure smartphone access for most of the people due to the falling prices of smartphones worldwide. While previously Lithium-ion batteries used to be the norm for power storage in smartphones, recent advancements in Sodium-ion batteries could offer a cheaper alternative, bringing down the price of smartphones even further. In early 2022, a subsidiary of Reliance Industries Ltd acquired Faradion, a maker of Sodium batteries. Various other Sodium battery producing companies have been started over the past decade. This signifies major businesses are viewing Na-ion as a potential alternative to Li-ion. This would further help to bring down the price of various battery powered devices due to the greater availability of Sodium.
These two relatively recent developments in the technological sphere could help alleviate concerns over the EdTech industry leading to greater inequality in the future. With more widespread access to educational devices and high-speed internet, children in rural areas could gain unhindered access to quality education, one of the basic requirements for achieving equality.