Should the UN have its own LEO Satellites

Should the UN have its own LEO Satellites?

LEO is short for Low Earth Orbit.

LEO Satellites can provide broadband Internet to the whole of the earth’s surface.

Currently, an estimated 2.6 Billion people remain unconnected to the Internet.

That means one-third of the earth’s human population, can’t go online.

Whilst the reasons are not just due to lack of coverage, it is a factor.

LEO Satellites, and in particular the latest innovation of direct communication between satellite and mobile (Cell) Phone, has the potential to reach unconnected remote areas.

But should the UN (United Nations) have its own satellites?

Currently, there are two companies that have successfully launched and demonstrated ‘sat2handset’.

These companies are AST Space Mobile, & Lynk.

But they are commercial companies, and in the case of AST Space Mobile, Shareholders.

Therefore need to make profits.

The UN (United Nations) has set seventeen Sustainable Development Goals known as the SDGs.

These goals include SDG4, which aims to provide quality education and lifelong learning opportunities, for everyone worldwide.

Unfortunately at the halfway point in the initiative, we are not on target.

The 17 SDG targets were agreed in 2015, with a completion target date of 2030.

During the #SDGDIGITAL conference at the United Nations on 17th September 2023, a speaker revealed that we would need to connect people at a rate of 1 Million a day, starting now, in order to connect everyone by the 2030 target date.

Clearly, this is not happening, despite some really great announcement pledges being made at the conference, by the leading telecommunications operators.

Therefore a UN-sponsored LEO Satellite system would help achieve the SDGs, particularly in the goals of Education (SDG4), and Health (SDG3).

Imagine being able to connect to local village terminals, or even directly to donated Mobile / Cell phones, which could serve as WIFI Routers.

Direct to Mobile (Cell) from LEO Satellite, now exists.

The UN could either pay for its own system, or partner with the existing commercial companies, to provide the service.

I suppose you could think of the arrangement, as being similar to a MVNO (Mobile Virtual Network Operator).

Should the UN have its own LEO Satellites?

Giving Fifty Percent Of Profits to Charity

Giving fifty percent of profits to charity, is something I woke up thinking about this morning.

So I googled it, to find out if it already existed, and it did.

As some of you may know, I run a small business, but am also a part time teacher.

This year I have become increasingly interested in the United Nations SDG4 goal of providing every child in the world with what is termed ‘Quality Education’.

Quality Education is the official term used for SDG4 (Sustainable Development Goal 4).

Unfortunately the there is a need for this goal in 2023.

Unfortunately we as a world are not currently on track to meet the SDG4 target of goal achievement by 2030.

So what has this got to do with giving away fifty percent of profits?

Well just visualise and imagine for a moment, a world where all businesses voluntarily did this.

Imagine the impact on the world, both in your local community and in developing countries.

In your local community, there could be a flourishing of arts, sports and mental health, as local charities and groups receive cash boosts.

On the world level, successful businesses from wealthy countries, could benefit would-be entrepreneurs in developing countries, by providing much needed micro-finance.

Accessing this micro-finance could be done via an online website, powered by a newly expanded Internet, using LEO Satellites.

An expanded Internet, that reaches all remote corners of the earth.

A secondhand smartphone is potentially all that is required.

Giving fifty percent of profits to charity is something I am considering now.

Refugee Education Using Satellites

Refugee Education can traditionally be hard to achieve.

The very nature of a refugees situation, means that they are displaced.

Being displaced from their normal geographic home, disrupts schooling for the young.

But there is a new possible solution.

The solution is direct to handset education.

More specifically I am talking about direct-to-handset, from Low Earth Orbit Satellite (LEO).

Traditional mobile / cell phone connectivity is achieved using ‘Cell Towers’

Cell Towers are the metal towers with rectangular antennas on, that are a common everyday sight.

The issue with cell towers is that they are owned by regional telecommunication companies, who also provide geographically limited SIM cards.

Displaced people may be in refugee camps newly arrived locations, not covered by their existing phone contract.

This can mean high roaming charges, or even no connectivity at all.

Imagine instead, a worldwide SIM card, for refugees education.

Imagine accessing broadband enabled lessons, from any location.

This could be achieved, as the technology now exists.

Currently two companies have successfully in 2023, run trials of satellite to ordinary mobile / cell phone.

Therefore worldwide quality refugee education for all, including refugees, is now possible.

Reading Links: 2023 Connected Education GRF Pledging Roadmap.pdf (

Reliable space services: Why and how? – ITU Hub

How technology is helping education reach refugee children | CIO

Improving futures through education | The Global Compact on Refugees | UNHCR (

The Role of Technology in Refugee Education – Refugee Research Online

AI Teachers for SDG4

Ai Teachers.

AI is short for Artificial Intelligence.

AI has the ability to revolutionise teaching and education.

It also has a role to play in meeting the SDG4 goal.

The SDG4 goal is short for Sustainable Development Goal 4.

Sustainable Development Goal 4, is a United Nation initiative, to provide ‘Quality Education’ for all of the worlds people.

So how does AI help achieve Quality Education for all?

AI education chatbots can be tailored to respond to an individual learner.

AI can also learn via the actions of the user (the students), and tailor the teaching and learning experience delivered.

This ability of AI to provide individualised teaching, based on monitoring, is important for SDG4.

It is important because there is a shortage of teachers worldwide.

And millions of children don’t even go to school!

Imagine a new way.

Imagine students with smart phones, connected via LEO Satellites, direct to their handset, anywhere in the world.

Imagine students with a personal learning device (app & smartphone), able to not only teach, but to adapt that teaching style and content, based on user inputs.

The current schools model is broken, certainly in the UK.

At the same time its surely morally right that every child has the access to education, to level the field, to give everyone a chance.

Therefore we have the chance to reimagine our schools, as we enter this new AI era.

New schools where there are currently none.

And a new educational environment, in schools worldwide, where AI helps ‘know’ the child, based on device interaction.

I’m not saying teaching in its current form is redundant, but that we can improve student engagement, and attainment progress, using AI.

Further Thoughts

Current teaching in schools, is not an optimal education experience.

Its not an optimal experience for many of the children in each class.

This is because of individual educational needs.

Individual educational needs include ADHD, Dyslexia, Autism.

They also include a hidden issue.

The hidden issue affecting individual educational needs, is family, life events and environment.

As a teacher, I’ve seen this first hand.

We aren’t robots, and life affects us.

Life events therefore affect the students ability to learn.

If your parents are getting divorced, for example, that is often likely have an emotional effect on a child.

Life events occurring outside school, can have an affect on lesson focus and concentration.

So how can we improve the situation?

AI chatbots and personalised education through AI Teachers, will help.

SDG Goals Using LEO Satellites

SDG is short for Sustainable Development Goals.

SDG comprises seventeen separate development goals.

The seventeen goals were agreed by the United Nations in 2015.

The goals cover various development goals, such as gender equality and education for all, and have an achievement target date of 2030.

My personal focus is mainly on SDG4, though there is a crossover with other SDG goals.

SDG4 has the aim of providing ‘Quality Education’ for all of the citizens of the world.

Currently, this is not the case, with millions of children growing up, without an education.

LEO Satellites are clusters of small satellites, located in a low orbit, of less than 1000 miles from the earth’s surface.


Connecting Schools To The Internet

Visualise and imagine this.

You’ve never used a mobile phone, you’ve never even heard of Google; even the Internet itself is an alien concept.

This is not science fiction, this is the lived reality for an estimated 2.7 Billion of our fellow world citizens.

This impacts the lives of unconnected people, through less access to opportunities, opportunities that we in this room, take for granted.

One example of less access to opportunities is in education.

By the end of this article, I hope to share with you, and explain three ideas:

Idea one, is that the United Nations’ ambition of universal access to education for all, can be helped using Low Earth Orbit Satellites.

The second idea is, that universal education for all, will help stimulate the world economy, for the better.

And finally, idea three, is that universal education for all, will have cultural benefits, on a local and international level.

Universal Education is a long-time declared objective of the United Nations but has yet to be realised.

Its latest incarnation is the Sustainable Development Goal 4, known as SDG4.

Universal education means that everyone has access to an education.

Unfortunately, currently, not everyone does.

According to the International Telecommunications Union, which is the agency of the UN, concerned with telecommunications:

An estimated 5.3 billion people, or 66 per cent of the world’s population, were using the Internet in 2022.

This represents an increase of 24 per cent since 2019, which was accelerated due to COVID, with an extra 1.1 billion people estimated to have come online during that period.

However, this leaves 2.7 billion people still offline.​ Source: International Telecommunications Union (

Whilst the increase is good news, that still leaves 2.7 billion members of the world’s population with no access to the Internet.

This impacts the goal of educational and life opportunities for those 2.7 billion unconnected people. Source: International Telecommunications Union (

Another reality, is that women and girls are affected more, with less access than males, to the internet.

According to the 2022 report entitled ‘ Measuring Digital Development: Facts and Figures 2022’ (—ind-ict-mdd-2022), overall the world average is 6% more males have internet access, than females.

This figure however is an average, with gender parity in the Americas region, but an 11% difference in Africa overall.

Providing Internet connectivity for all, as a way of contributing towards to objective of education for all, is one part of the solution.

In a world where one in five schools are estimated not to even have proper access to drinking water, and same-sex toilets, internet access may not seem a priority. (Source:

Indeed the SDG 2021 report also states that an estimated quarter of schools worldwide, don’t even have electricity!

Another issue highlighted in the same report, and facing many parts of the world, is a lack of trained teachers, which impacts the educational attainment of students.

The United Nations through its Sustainable Development Goal 4, is trying to address these issues.

However there is one important issue that hasn’t been talked about, and that is reaching all children, to provide an education.

Some areas of the world are remote and sparsely populated.

This presents a challenge in meeting the UN SDG4 goal of every child being able to access education, by 2030.

Not all children can physically attend a school, for many reasons, including remote location, or being a displaced refugee.

You might think the solution is mobile or cell phone data, thus allowing remote learning.

But to use a mobile phone, you need the telecommunications infrastructure, to connect your call.

Traditional mobile phones, rely on a network of locally positioned ‘cell towers’.

These cell towers connect the radio signals sent back and forth to your phone, enabling calls and data to be sent.

Installing a cell tower involves money, and the company naturally wants a return on investment, simply put, to make a profit.

This is not an issue in central London or even central Lincoln, but in a remote village in Sub-Saharan Africa, with ten villagers, and low income….its an issue.

It’s also not feasible to supply the electricity and communications links, that connect the cell towers to the network.

So what’s the answer, how can we connect those in remote locations, and give them access to the modern world?

Through recent advancements in telecommunications, and in particular, the satellite industry.

such as LEO Satellite constellations, the realisation of education for all, is potentially here.

All it takes is a will! I will share ways that through new technologies, we as a planet can ensure everyone has the right to an education.

I will also discuss the economic and cultural benefits of providing Universal Education.

Well I want help to spread this idea, and want people to know that the UN aim of Universal Education, is possible, with the aid of new satellite communications technologies, to provide 100% global Internet coverage.

I want as many people as possible to come together, and start taking action on making this happen.

My hope, is that the idea will spread, and reach those members of the world community, who can help make the aim of Universal Education, a reality, within the next five years.

Its just not right (in my opinion), that there is a gulf of educational opportunity, based on where you happen to be born in the world.

Satellite Communications can help bridge this educational divide.

Imagine a world, where there is no such thing as an ‘economic migrant’, as their country of birth has the same opportunities, enabled by telecommunications, and educational leadership, on a world scale.

There are 263 million children and youths, aged between 6 and 17, according to recent estimates, not attending school, according a UNESCO.(

At least that’s the estimate, from UNESCO, which is part of the United Nations.

Lack of access to educational opportunities, hinders children’s life chances.

I have a child, maybe you do to.

Or maybe you know a child.

Imagine that child without a school to go to.

Imagine a child you know, not able to fulfil their greatest potential, dreams, or life ambitions.

Instead that child is more at risk of a life being imposed on them.

A life possibly of child labour, child marriage, or even modern slavery.

You see schools (for all their faults, but that’s for another time) are a way of giving visibility to a child, as well a life chance.

The UNESCO estimate of 263 Million (2018 figures) children and youths, without education is an estimate, as the true figure isn’t accurately recorded.

We don’t actually know the true figure, because we as a world don’t see them, we don’t mark them on any kind of school register.

Its not all bad news, according to UNESCO, the world situation has improved, over the last 50 years of tracking.

According to their data, we as a world have gone from a quarter of the youth population lacking basic literacy skills, to less than 10% in 2016. However the global adult literacy rate in 2016, was at 86% (Source:

But that still leaves 750 million people, two thirds of whom are female, behind. (Source: as above)

That’s 10% of other peoples children, but for the grace of god and luck of the draw, wasn’t you and yours.

Your kids, or children you know, got an education…….whether they appreciated it at the time of not 😊

So how do we ensure all children get that opportunity.

The right to school, the right to lifelong learning, the right to freedom.

As I briefly touched upon, in my introduction, the United Nations, has set 17 Sustainable Development Goals, known as SDG’s.

Those goods were agreed in 2015, with a target of 2030, to achieve them.

So good news, problem solved, what the heck is the point of this TED talk then.

Well are we on track to achieve it.

Back in the year 2000, the UN adopted the target of providing ‘Education For All’ (at the World Conference on Education for All, Jomtien, Thailand, 5- 9 March 1990) , by 2015.

It wasn’t achieved, and despite progress, and may well of got worse, due to the covid19 pandemic.

 “Unless we act now, the 2030 Agenda will become an epitaph for a world that might have been”. 

António GuterresSecretary-General, United Nations, on 10th July 2023. (Source:

But I believe its still possible to achieve sustainable development goal 4.

Its possible to provide education for all our children, wherever in the world they are located.

It just requires a concerted effort by the world community, and help from LEO.

Who is LEO?

LEO is not a person, or even the name of a lion, but instead is an abbreviation of Low Earth Orbit.

Low Earth Orbit, or LEO, refers to a type of space satellite that, as the name suggests, is closer to the surface of the earth, than other types of satellite.

These satellites are smaller and lower powered than traditional satellites.

They orbit much closer to the earth, at less than 1000 KM from the earths surface, compared with 36,000 km for a bus size geostationary satellite.

LEO satellites have been put into space in large numbers in recent years.

This is because unlike geostationary satellites, which are stationary, in relation to part of the earths surface, LEO Satellites are constantly going round the earth every 90 minutes.

Traditional geostationary satellites have communications coverage with part of the earths surface, such as the European continent.

This is known as the satellites footprint.

As the earth is round, the geostationary satellites footprint cannot cover the whole of the earth.

LEO satellites work in a different way, to geostationary satellites.

LEO Satellites are able to provide worldwide communications coverage, because there are a large number of them, known as a constellation, constantly circling round the world.

This ensures that there is always one above the earth within communications range above whatever location you are in, anywhere in the world.

So what you may say!

Well imagine a world where geographic location is no barrier to being connected to the Internet.

Imagine a world where all children, young people and adults, could benefit from online learning.

Imagine remote schools and communities, being able to access up to date information, rather than relying on limited text books.

By utilising LEO Satellites, we could enable this.

There are two ways that LEO satellites can provide Internet connectivity to all.

The main way currently used is using ground terminals, which receive and send the internet data between the ground and the LEO Satellite.

Another technology that has just become a reality, is direct to phone internet connectivity, via LEO.

Direct-to-phone connectivity, could be an access to education game changer.

It could help reach more children. This technology now exists!

But they don’t have phones, is the obvious retort.

True, but LEO could connect up isolated villages to village terminals.

We could use refurbished community computers, or even low powered raspberry pi computers, running from open source software.

These community computers could be tethered to an old smartphone. The smartphone would be the device that connects the computer, via Wi-Fi tethering, to the satellite.

Who in this audience has an old smartphone that they no longer use?

This could be part of the solution, towards enabling education for all.

Lack of electricity to power the phones and computer, can be overcome using small solar panels, or other cheap ways of charging, such as wind up chargers.

So what are the benefits of education for all, and lifelong learning opportunities.

Economic empowerment on a worldwide scale, could be revolutionary.

Imagine a world, where there are no economic migrants, because there are plenty of opportunities, in their home country.

Of course it would be naive to believe that there would be no need for people to move around, ever again.

War and conflict encourage people to seek a safer country.

In the past displacement of people, could be disruptive of there access to education, but this can also be solved vis LEO, and online learning.

Low Earth Orbit satellites, and internet connectivity for all, I believe, go hand in hand with the SDG4 vision of ‘Quality Education’ for all.

Not only can lessons be bought to children in the most remote areas of the planet, but new world markets and opportunities for business and economic trade will develop.

Is it a threat?

Will my livelihood suffer, due to competition from newly connected parts of the world.

I don’t believe so, as…currently offline communities will be able to sell their unique local goods, to the world.

Over time they will get wealthier.

They will then become consumers, which could include British goods and services, and of course other countries.

There are cultural benefits too, both for the local communities, in these remote areas, but also for the wider world.

By connecting these communities to the outside world, we not only provide access to education, and opportunities, but allowing new ideas, information and products to spread to a wider audience.

In summary and to conclude,

  • It doesn’t seem right that a child goes to school, based on where they were born, or how rich their parents are.
  • Satellite technology, via the new generation of Low Earth Orbit Satellites, now enables fast worldwide connectivity.
  • We can provide education, even to the most remote places on the planet.
  • All we need is a collective will, by the international community.

Thank you for reading.

General notes:

SDG4 Last Mile Connectivity

SDG4 is the United Nations’ target of providing quality education for all, by 2030.

Part of the issue is that 2.7 billion people are still not connected to the Internet.

By connecting these 2.7 billion people, we can improve access to education, and also improve existing attainment standards.

LEO Satellites can provide low-latency broadband Internet to the earth ground stations.

In fact, the latest developments, enable direct from satellite to mobile/cell phone connectivity.

Heres some ideas on my creative engineering video blog.

Using Mobile Cell Phones to Achieve SDG4

Using Mobile Cell Phones to help achieve SDG4.

SDG4 is short for Sustainable Development Goal 4, and is one of 17 goals.

The 17 goals were set up in 2015, by the United Nations.

SDG4 is concerned with education.

Specifically the goal is to provide ‘Quality Education’ for all of the worlds children and youths.

The goal also promotes lifelong learning opportunities for all of the worlds population.

However in a recent ITU (International Telecommunications Union) meeting (available on YouTube), it was stated that in 2023, only 15% of the target has been achieved.

So we are half way through the SDG goals target timeline, yet have only achieved 15% of the target.

The Challenge is Remote

One of the challenges of providing education to every child, is remoteness.

Children in isolated communities may not have access to schools.

Even if some form of school exists, a lack of teacher training, affects attainment outcomes.

So why can’t they just Google it?

The internet has revolutionised access to education for millions, but millions still don’t have access to the Internet.

In fact less than half of the worlds population still currently has no Internet access.

Factors causing this include extreme poverty, but also connectivity issues.

There are two main ways that the Internet is delivered to people.

The first is via Mobile or Cell Phone data.

The second way is via cables under the ground.

Connecting a community to the Internet via these two methods, can be uneconomic.

It can be uneconomic due to Socio-Economic and Population Density issues.

Basically what that means is the people are too poor to afford it, and / or there are two few in one place, for a telecommunications provider to make a profit.

So how can phones help?

There is now a third way of connecting to the Internet.

The third way uses standard Mobile Cell Phones, but connects to the network in a different way.

The different way is via Satellite.

Whilst Satellite phones have existed for a long time, they were specialised pieces of equipment, and used traditional Geostationary Satellites, at high orbits from the earth.

New technology using what are known as LEO, or Low Earth Orbit Satellites.

LEO Satellites orbit the earth at a much closer distance, than traditional communication satellites.

This has reduces latency.

Latency is the time it takes for the radio signal to go from earth to the satellite, and back down to earth.

Reduced latency allows for effective online learning to take place, in the same way that it can via traditional terrestrial based Internet communications infrastructure.

Direct communications to Mobile Cell Phones, from LEO Satellite, is now a reality, with several pioneering companies now operating satellites services.

This technology has the potential to help achieve SDG4, and provide Quality Education for all.

SDG4 Using Direct to Handset Satellite

SDG4 Using Direct to Handset Satellite connectivity.

Direct to handset is the connection of standard mobile phone (cell phone) handsets, straight from a communications satellite.

Traditional mobile / cell phones, connect to the nearest cell tower, on earth.

These towers only have relatively short distance communications coverage, so there are many of them, within a relatively local area.

What is SDG4

SDG4 is short for Sustainable Development Goal 4.

SDG4 is one of seventeen goals set by the United Nations (UN) in 2015, with the aim to achieve them by 2030.

The aim of SDG4 is the ensure that all children and youths, have access to ‘Quality Education’.

Although access to education worldwide, has improved over the last six decades, millions still can’t access it.

Direct to Handset communications via satellite, offers a way to help address the challenge.

Traditional mobile / cell phone connectivity is uneconomic to implement in remote areas of the world.

One reason is because of the costs associated with what is known as the ‘Backhaul’.

Backhaul is how to cell tower, is connected the the rest of the network.

Backhaul via Fibre Optic links, isn’t feasible, due to the remote locations of local populations.

Another backhaul technology used in traditional cellular networks, is satellite or microwave links.

This can solve the backhaul issue, but there is a second issue.

The second issue, is financial.

Remote communities in the poorest parts of the world aren’t exactly ‘cash cows’.

It is not financially viable, for private telecommunications companies to install infrastructure, to connect remote communities.

A dollar a day is apparently what people in many parts of the world, have to live on.

These people could not afford to pay, what the telecoms company would need to charge, to make a profit.

Good News

Direct to Handset connectivity via satellite, is now a reality.

We as a world, have the ability to connect even the remotest communities in the world.

Connecting people to the Internet will help achieve SDG4, as well as other SDG’s.

I heard on BBC Radio 4 yesterday, someone say that we are all now online.

Not true!

It is estimated that there are 2.7 Billion people, still not connected to the Internet.

Achieving the goal of ‘Quality Education’ for all, needs all people to be able to access information.

Internet connectivity and UN Sustainable Goal 4, go hand in hand, in helping meet the 2030 target.

SDG4 using direct to handset satellite, can help achieve this.

SDG4 Using LEO Satellites

SDG4 Using LEO Satellites to help achieve the UN Goal of Universal Education Access.

SDG4 is part of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals, of the United Nations.

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) were announced in 2015, with a target of achieving them by 2030.

SDG’s are part of a UN plan of action to end poverty, protect the planet, promote prosperity and ensure peace for all of the the world

SDG4 is focussed on Quality Education for all.

Specific Goals

The goal aims to “ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all.”

The United Nations breaks this ambition down into specific targets, to be achieved by 2030.

Target 4.1

All girls and boys are able to complete free, equitable, and quality primary and secondary education, leading to relevant and effective learning outcomes.

This is not currently possible, with millions of children not able to access education.

Although the situation has improved in recent decades, there are estimated to still be 258 Million children and youths, out of school.

Females are affected more than males.

Target 4.2

Ensure that all girls and boys have access to quality early childhood development, care, and pre-primary education, so that they are ready for primary education.

Target 4.3

Target 4.3 aims to ensure equal access for all women and men to affordable and quality technical, vocational, and tertiary education, including university.

Target 4.4

Substantially increase the number of youth and adults who have relevant skills, including technical and vocational skills, for employment, decent jobs, and entrepreneurship.

Target 4.5

Eliminate gender disparities in education and ensure equal access to all levels of education and vocational training for the vulnerable, including persons with disabilities, indigenous peoples, and children in vulnerable situations.

Target 4.6

Ensure that all youth and a substantial proportion of adults, both men and women, achieve literacy and numeracy.

Target 4.7

Ensure that all learners acquire the knowledge and skills needed to promote sustainable development, including, among others, through education for sustainable development and sustainable lifestyles, human rights, gender equality, promotion of a culture of peace and non-violence, global citizenship, and appreciation of cultural diversity and of culture’s contribution to sustainable development.

Target 4.A

Build and upgrade education facilities that are child, disability, and gender-sensitive and provide safe, nonviolent, inclusive, and effective learning environments for all.

Target 4.B

Substantially expand globally the number of scholarships available to developing countries, in particular least developed countries, small island developing States, and African countries, for enrolment in higher education, including vocational training and information and communications technology, technical, engineering, and scientific programs, in developed countries and other developing countries.

Target 4.C

Substantially increase the supply of qualified teachers, including through international cooperation for teacher training in developing countries, especially least developed countries and small island developing States.

These targets aim to ensure access to quality education, promote lifelong learning opportunities, address gender disparities, improve literacy and numeracy, and prepare individuals with the skills needed for sustainable development.

So how can we achieve SDG4 using LEO Satellites.