The Web giant Google has launched a test program that will tap the TV White Spaces to provide wireless broadband to schools in South Africa to prove to local broadcasters that TV White Space Internet technology does not interfere with television channels.
Google partnered with the Tertiary Education and Research Network of South Africa (TENET), CSIR Meraka, e-Schools Network, the Wireless Access Provider’s Association of South Africa and Comsol Wireless Solutions.
“White space has the advantage that low frequency signals can travel longer distances,” Fortune Mgwili-Sibanda, the public policy manager for Google South Africa, explained in a company blog post. “The technology is well suited to provide low cost connectivity to rural communities with poor telecommunications infrastructure, and for expanding coverage of wireless broadband in densely populated urban areas.”
The trial involves broadcasting wireless services from three base stations located on top of Stellenbosch University Medical School to ten schools in the Cape Town region. The aim of the trial is to demonstrate that broadband can be offered over white spaces without interfering with licensed spectrum holders. The network will use Google’s spectrum database to determine TVWS availability, with CSIR monitoring for interference and reporting results to ICASA and local broadcasters. WAPA has sourced local vendors to deploy the network and WAPA member Comsol Wireless Solutions is responsible for the installation, configuration and maintenance of the project.
Luke Mckend, Google South Africa Country Manager, says: “We are pleased to be part of this exciting new development – the first of its kind in South Africa – and look forward to opening discussions with policy makers around a regulatory framework that will support the wider use of TVWS to deliver wireless broadband Internet across the country.”
WAPA’s participation in this trial marks the results of several years of lobbying for more progressive and efficient spectrum management in South Africa, and WAPA Chairperson Christopher Geerdts states that “WAPA’s 150 member organisations are at the forefront of delivering broadband access to rural communities across South Africa, and the TVWS initiative vastly increases the scope of what we can achieve”.