School Connectivity ScaleUp Apr2021

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School Connectivity ScaleUp Apr2021

Title School Connectivity ScaleUp & internationalisation
Place Google meet
Date, Time 2021/04/29, 1500-1600h TZ time
Contact Person Catherine R. Kimambo
Participants Josef.Noll, Catherine R. Kimambo, Sandra Oswald, Salome Mtali
related to Project School Connectivity TZ, BasicInternet
Keywords School Connectivity
this page was created by Special:FormEdit/Meeting, and can be edited by Special:FormEdit/Meeting/School Connectivity ScaleUp Apr2021

Purpose and status

Discuss the follow-up of the School connectivity. Main take-away and action items

  1. we join forces for the national strategy - @Rosalynn & @Sandra to discuss strategy towards other shareholders,
  2. we move together to international attention, including Vodaphone Foundation, African development bank, ITU (project GIGA), UNICEF, EU, - @Sandra to discuss with @Rosalynn the strategy, e.g. creating a 1-pager and inviting based on that 1-pager
  3. scale up to another 50 schools for "not losing momentum" - @Sandra will share the required documents
  4. Coverage and requirements for the scale-up: @Salome will discuss with @Catherine the coverage. The requirements from Vodacom are: ICT teachers available, Laboratory with ICT equipment either established or in planning.

These notes from the meeting may serve as input for the high-level guidelines and national framework, as suggested by MCIT in the meeting School_Connectivity_Report_MCIT. Main topics:

  • Excellent cooperation with local governments, resulting in local involvement
  • Good synergy between actors, including Vodacom Tanzania Foundation, UCSAF, TTCL, Shuledirect, Tamisemi, African Child Projects, BasicInternet
  • Integrated approach covering (i) Connectivity even in an area with bad mobile coverage, (ii) local content on the school server for enhanced Quality of experience, (iii) training for school teachers and students, and (iv) business model for sustainability
  • Established key performance indicators (KPI), though only qualitative assessment foreseen
Fig. 1: Integrated Approach for School Connectivity across TZ

International reach-out

The SchoolConnectivity project has a great potential to become the lighthouse for meaningful access to school material, not only nationally in TZ, but also worldwide. The project GIGA, available at, is focussing on mass-purchase of connectivity on a nationwide scale. Given the experiences on the ground, and our integrated approach, we see an excellent potential to get ITU and UNICEF to join us, as well as other international actors such as World Bank, African Development Bank, GSMA, EU, USAid and other countries. Though, we need to keep the pace up to not loose the advantage that we have today.

Integrated approach

The integrated approach, outlined in the attached presentation, is an example of the coordinated way in school connectivity in TZ. Besides all the topics mentioned in the figure and the presentation to MCIT, we'd like to point out the importance of local digital friends and the role of Tamisemi.

Thumb Title Author Date Keywords
Screenshot 2021-04-12 at 11.28.33.png School Connectivity TZ Status Apr2021
Click to Open
SchoolConnectivity TZ 8Apr2021
Catherine R. Kimambo 8 April 2021 School Connectivity


The connectivity solution through a directive and elevated antenna was chosen to (i) achieve connectivity in area with bad mobile coverage, and (ii) enhance the signal to noise ratio (SNR) by typically 18 dB. The solution, further described in BasicInternet:Solutions, offers a reach of more than 20 km in case of line-of-sight (LOS), or some 7-11 km in non line-of-sight (NLOS) areas. The increased SNR contributes to a better bandwidth, utilizing higher coding & modulation on the mobile link.

Local content

The suggested model used for connecting schools is based on a local installation of a school server, carrying the video material and school content. Through the local provision of educational videos, one can achieve (i) a higher Quality of Service with simultaneous streaming of videos and (ii) reduced bandwidth costs. (iii) restricting sites visited by students offered a safe space for teachers and the ministry to trust on our infrastructure

Despite the enhanced link quality, the service still depends on the cell capacity of the often 3G network. Thus, with a cell capacity of 2-3 Mbit/s (Mbps), simultaneous video transmission is practically not possible. Furthermore, video is a bandwidth-intensive application, eating up the total cap of e.g. 10 GB/month rather quickly.

Training for school teachers

Training of school teachers results in higher engagement, as well as lower costs for maintenance. A basic IT knowledge allows quick trouble shooting, thus lowering the costs for a technician to visit the installation. Even more important is the engagement of the teachers,(i) involving them in how they can access content of interest for their lectures.(ii) how to upload contents locally for their students.

Business model for sustainabiliy

The main goal of the School Connectivity is to establish a sustainable business model with focus on affordable operational expenditures (OPEX) of less than 20 USD/month. In countries like Norway, operators (Telenor) offer Fixed Wireless Access (FWA) on the 4G/5G network with 2 TB data volume for 499-999 NOK/month (57-115 USD/month), depending on the speed (10 Mbit/s to 100 Mbit/s).

Earlier on, a document was established to describe the impact of school connectivity on societal empowerment in Tanzania. The document discusses three components for the business model, being (i) wholesale provision, (ii) license reduction and (iii) regulations. In a discussion with Telecom operators, both a B2B version addressing (i) as well as the net-provisioning addressing (ii) were favoured.

Impact of School Connectivity on Societal Empowerment, see Media:Impact_SchoolConnectivity.pdf

@Sandra discusses with Rosalynn and invite an international group incl. Vodaphone Foundation for the discussion.

Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)

Fig. 1 shows an outline of KPIs for the assessment. In this work, we focussed on

  • easy access of students and teachers to content
  • number of schools connected to the Internet
  • the ability of Teachers to reach out to content on the Internet
  • the digital empowerment of both students and teachers

Other KPIs such as monitoring student performance are envisaged, but can only be performed on a qualitative basis.

Lessons learned and questions asked

  • How can we "top-up" when more than 10 GB is needed?
    A: The operators will open for a B2B contract, needs further discussion
  • Assign educational funds assigned to every school, supporting the installation
  • Students will learn something valuable

Best praxis

  • digital friends, local NGOs assist
  • learning content, made available offline
  • restricting sites that can be visited by the students and teachers
  • direct involvement of the local governments through TAMISEMI


  • network fluctuation in completely isolated areas - example: Simanjiro (Emboreet secondary school)
    A: The 3G network is vulnerable to usage, called cell-breathing
  • lack of digital skills to non-IT teachers

Wishes from the schools and follow up:

  • learning platform with teach involvement: teachers can download and make available for all children
  • voucher for e.g. 1h, 4h, 24h access of teachers to the Internet (see BasicInternet:Voucher_Platform)
  • top-up for schools
  • business model for "wholesale", e.g. 100 SIM cards and 1 TB of data per month
  • Reporting back from operators on usage in schools
  • Applicability for Affordable Access in institutions such as schools, hospitals and communities
  • Measuring the usage in the apps (Shuledirect, Vodacom Portal, Internet Lite)
  • Scalability to 1000 and 5000 schools

Way ahead and next steps

Based on these notes the MCIT will formulate questions to clarify.

Furthermore, the questions will highlight the way ahead towards a national framework with high-level guidelines, to be aligned with the national strategy. MCIT will get involved from a follow-up, to address a.o.

  • hand-over of school connectivity to local governments
  • model for connectivity costs
  • content provisioning, including NGOs such as Shuledirect, operators such as Vodacom with their portal or other providers
  • Extension from schools to health station and other points of interest

UCSAF, as well as MCIT, are interested in visiting schools to see the installations. African Child and BasicInternet are looking forward to add these schools, as well as participate in a larger roll-out of 100-500 schools.