World’s “largest” TV whites spaces project successfully tested in Namibia

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Using Adaptrum’s ARCS 2.0 TV white spaces radio, MyDigitalBridge says its pilot network in Namibia achieved speeds ranging from 5Mbps to 10Mbps.

MyDigitalBridge Foundation says it has successfully trialled the world’s biggest TV white spaces (TVWS) project.

Working in partnership with Microsoft and Adaptrum, and with support from the Millennium Challenge Corporation and Millennium Challenge Account, the foundation carried out the trial in late August as part of Namibia’s Citizen Connect TVWS pilot project.

‘White spaces’ refers to radio spectrum that exists between airwaves that were mainly used for terrestrial TV broadcasting (470MHz to 790MHz). As broadcasting moves to digital, this spectrum is freed-up creating so-called ‘Digital Dividend’ frequencies that can be used to cost effectively rollout mobile broadband, particularly to rural and remote areas.

Citizen Connect aims to provide a blueprint of nationwide broadband internet connectivity. The TVWS pilot consisted of a network deployed across a 9,424km² area covering several regional councils as well as a number of schools in northern Namibia. It’s claimed this makes it the biggest white spaces project of its kind in terms of area coverage.

At the University of Namibia’s Jose Eduardo dos Santos Campus in Ongwadiva, the trial demonstrated the connection of three regional council offices in Oshana, Ohangwena and Omusati, 28 schools, and seven education circuit offices. All has a link distance of 8km to 10km, with two links at 12km.

MyDigitalBridge says typical speeds ranged from 5Mbps to 10Mbps with the help of Adaptrum’s ARCS 2.0 TVWS radios, and provided users access to a wide range of voice, video, and data applications. The demo also included high-resolution Skype video-conferencing from three locations, each connected to the internet.

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. The foundation says it envisions the video streaming of maths classes using one qualified teacher to reach 20 to 30 schools.

The deployment of TVWS technology in Africa falls under Microsoft’s 4Afrika initiative. This was launched in February 2013 to actively enable African economic development using relevant, affordable and accessible technology.

In collaboration with local public and private sector partners, Microsoft is currently piloting TVWS projects in Kenya, Limpopo, Tanzania, South Africa and Ghana.

Source: Connecting Africa 16 October 2014