Microsoft unveils TV white space pilot in Tanzania

The Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) 4Afrika Initiative added another TV white space (TVWS) deployment to its portfolio, rolling out a pilot project in collaboration with the Tanzania Commission for Science and Technology (COSTECH) and local Internet service provider UhuruOne to provide wireless broadband access to university students and faculty in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.

"We anticipate that tens of thousands of Tanzanian students and faculty members will be able to take advantage of the wireless broadband packages offered by UhuruOne through the project," said Dr. Hassan Mshinda, director general, COSTECH.

Microsoft said the collaboration will also enable UhuruOne to offer Windows 8 device and service packages to universities in Dar es Salaam. The integrated solutions will include a Windows 8 laptop or tablet, wireless broadband connectivity and applications and services. The partners are working with banks to offer small loans to cover the cost of the packages. The Tanzanian TVWS pilot also will provide a number of jobs via the hiring of a team of students as on-campus support staff for the network infrastructure.

Africa has the highest growth rates in the world for mobile broadband penetration, but wireless broadband services remain largely unaffordable throughout the region, according to Microsoft. The company believes TVWS technology, which makes use of vacant spectrum between TV broadcast channels, can enable affordable mobile broadband services.

The project in Tanzania follows a similar pilot Microsoft launched in Kenya during February using TVWS and solar-powered base stations to deliver low-cost broadband access to rural areas and other unserved communities.

"After announcing our 'Mawingu' pilot in Kenya, Microsoft has been flooded with requests from a wide range of companies and governments interested in developing similar projects," said Paul Garnett, director at Microsoft's technology policy group.

As part of the Microsoft 4Afrika Initiative, the company intends to work with African governments to help drive a clear understanding of the legal and regulatory environment needed for large-scale, commercial deployments of TVWS technology across the continent.

Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) is also working to prove the value TVWS in Africa. The company recently joined with a number of companies and groups to launch a network trial with 10 South African schools, which will receive wireless Internet connectivity via TVWS.

For more:
- see this Microsoft release

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