Saturday, July 20

Unlocking Rural Transformation: Insights on Non-Terrestrial Networks from Mohammad Rashid Anwar, Senior Consultant in Core Network Design at STC

In an increasingly connected world, many remote areas remain isolated due to the lack of mobile network coverage. Non-Terrestrial Networks offer a promising solution to bridge this digital divide to reduce inequalities and drive economic growth, 60% of global GDP relies on digital communication (News, 2021). Mohammad Anwar Rashid, currently serving as a Senior Consultant in Core Network Design at STC (Saudi Telecom), brings nearly 16 years of invaluable experience in the telecommunications industry. Anwar has played a key role in developing cutting-edge solutions for a wide range of clients. His expertise includes designing infrastructure, deploying systems, and managing large projects. Anwar is known for delivering outstanding service, improving efficiency, and ensuring customers have positive experiences consistently.

In this article, Anwar shares his insights on how Non-Terrestrial Networks (NTNs) can revolutionize connectivity in remote areas, unlocking new possibilities in business, healthcare, education, and agriculture.

M. Rashid Anwar, Senior Consultant in Core Network Design at STC

Business Opportunities

Access to reliable internet can be a game-changer for rural economies. By enabling e-commerce and digital services, NTNs can help local businesses reach wider markets, thereby increasing their revenue and sustainability. According to the World Bank, internet access can boost GDP growth by up to 1.5% in developing countries (Global econometric modelling.2020). For rural entrepreneurs, this means new opportunities to engage in online commerce, remote work, and digital innovation. Additionally, NTNs can facilitate micro-financing and digital payment systems, empowering small businesses and entrepreneurs to thrive.

Medical Services

Rural areas often suffer from a lack of medical facilities, leading to higher mortality rates. The World Health Organization reports that insufficient access to healthcare contributes significantly to the high mortality rates in these regions. NTNs can revolutionize healthcare delivery through telemedicine, allowing patients to consult with doctors remotely and receive timely diagnoses and treatments. Moreover, NTNs can enhance emergency response services, providing real-time connectivity to medical professionals during critical situations. Case studies have shown that telemedicine can drastically improve healthcare outcomes in remote areas by providing access to specialist consultations and reducing the need for long-distance travel.


The digital divide has a profound impact on education in rural areas. UNESCO highlights that over 260 million children globally lack access to education with a significant proportion from rural regions (Unesco.)

NTNs can bridge this gap by providing access to e-learning platforms and virtual classrooms. This can enhance educational outcomes by ensuring that students have access to quality educational resources and interactive learning experiences. Programs leveraging satellite internet have already shown success in improving literacy rates and educational engagement in remote regions. By connecting schools to the internet, NTNs can ensure that rural students receive the same educational opportunities as their urban counterparts.

Agricultural Revolution

Agriculture is the backbone of many rural economies, and access to meteorological data is crucial for optimizing farming practices. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), precise weather forecasts can increase agricultural productivity significantly. NTNs can provide farmers with timely and accurate meteorological data, enabling them to make informed decisions about planting, irrigation, and harvesting. Additionally, NTNs can support precision farming technologies, which use data analytics and remote sensing to enhance crop management and yield. Success stories from other parts of the world demonstrate how satellite data has transformed agricultural practices, leading to increased productivity and sustainability.

The deployment of non-terrestrial networks holds the potential to transform rural lives by providing essential services and opportunities previously out of reach. From boosting local economies and improving healthcare access to enhancing education and revolutionizing agriculture, NTNs can play a pivotal role in bridging the digital divide. It is crucial for policymakers and stakeholders to invest in NTN infrastructure to ensure that rural communities are not left behind in the digital age.