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Headlines » TV white space trial in Namibia connects 28 rural schools

TV white space trial in Namibia connects 28 rural schools

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Sep 02, 2014 by Toby Youell

Microsoft and Adaptrum have deployed a TVWS network over an area of 62 x 152 km.

A trial led by MyDigitalBridge Foundation has deployed the largest TV white space (TVWS) network yet built in a rural part of Northern Namibia. The pilot is the latest in a series of TVWS initiatives in Africa.

A Namibian parliamentary committee was shown a two hour demonstration in August, which included Skype video conferencing from three locations.

The pilot, called "Citizen Connect", uses Adaptrum equipment to provide connection speeds of between 5-10 Mbps to three regional council offices in Oshana, Ohangwena and Omusati and 28 schools. The connections all had a link distance of 8-10 kilometres.

“The next steps are to enhance the network’s operational efficiency and to trial video teaching, e-content distribution and peering between the connected sites," said the foundation's founding director and vice-chairman Paul Rowney. "We envision video streaming mathematics classes using one qualified teacher to reach 20 to 30 schools."

Africa has become something of a test bed for TVWS technology. One of its most ardent advocates, Microsoft, has piloted TVWS projects in Kenya, Tanzania, South Africa and Ghana under the auspices of its Microsoft 4Afrika Initiative.

Many African countries suffer from a particularly wide digital divide. According to ITU data, only 14 per cent of Namibia's population uses the internet. “This pilot project came at the right time for us to answer the challenges of internet access, or the lack thereof, to all our citizens,” said Moses Amweelo, the chair of the parliamentary committee that witnessed the demo.

Microsoft is also an active participant in the Dynamic Spectrum Alliance, which campaigns for a regulatory framework conducive to all types of dynamic spectrum access such as TVWS, and runs a spectrum observatory designed to highlight how inefficiently licensed spectrum is used.•

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