Microsoft's latest TV white space effort connects 28 schools in Namibia

TV white space (TVWS), the spectrum that sits between channels in traditional TV band spectrum, continues to generate interest in Africa, and a new trial of the technology in Namibia is being called the largest yet in terms of geography covered.

MyDigitalBridge Foundation, Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) and Adaptrum are behind the pilot project, called "Citizen Connect," which covers 9,424 square kilometers in northern Namibia and connects 28 schools. Program backers said they aim to provide a blueprint of broadband Internet connectivity countrywide. Only 13.9 percent of the population in sub-Saharan Namibia uses the Internet.

"This pilot project came at the right time for us to answer to the challenges of Internet access, or the lack thereof, to all our citizens," said Moses Amweelo, chairman of the country's Parliamentary Standing Committee on ICT.

Typical data speeds for the TVWS project range from 5 Mbps to 10 Mbps. Adaptrum is providing its ARCS 2.0 TVWS radios along with voice, video and data applications. A recent demo included high-resolution Skype video conferencing from three locations, each connected to the Internet with the help of Adaptrum's TVWS technology.

Pilot backers hope to enhance the network's operational efficiency trial video teaching, in which one teacher could potentially reach 20 to 30 schools. E-content distribution and peering between the connected sites are also on the list of expected features planned for the future.

The Namibia project is part of Microsoft's 4Afrika Initiative, which launched in February 2013 as a means to provide Africa with relevant, affordable and accessible technology, including Internet access. Microsoft, along with local public and private sector partners, is also piloting TVWS projects in Kenya, Tanzania, South Africa and Ghana. As a member of the Dynamic Spectrum Alliance, Microsoft is also lobbying for legal and regulatory efforts that promote more efficient and effective spectrum utilization.

For more:
- see this joint release

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