Microsoft will be collaborating with the Tanzania Commission for Science and Technology (COSTECH) and UhuruOne, a Tanzanian ISP to provide affordable wireless broadband access to university students and faculty. The pilot deployment will mainly target the University of Dar es Salaam. “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 the COSTECH director general, Dr. Hassan Mshinda. The project will offer students and faculty low-cost wireless connectivity enabled by TV white spaces, along with Windows 8 device and service packages.
TV white spaces are unused portions of the television frequency band. They can be used to provide affordable broadband through dynamic spectrum access techniques. The technology has a wide range of potential applications, including better coverage within buildings, enhanced hotspot access, increased bandwidth for mobile traffic offload and wide area broadband access.
Prior to the Tanzanian project, Microsoft had launched a similar initiative in Mawingu, a Kenyan town. The project which was launched in February as part of Microsoft’s 4Afrika initiative. The Mawingu project brought together Kenya’s Ministry of Information and Communications, Indigo Telecom Ltd and Adaptrum to deliver low-cost wireless broadband access to rural locations through TV white spaces and solar-powered base stations.
Both of these pilots focus on the commercial feasibility of using white spaces and how it will affect the development of commerce, education, healthcare and delivery of government services. Paul Garnett, director at Microsoft’s Technology Policy Group says, “White spaces technology and efficient spectrum management have a huge potential for expanding affordable broadband access throughout the world. We hope all governments will follow the example of forward-looking countries like Kenya, Tanzania and many others that have taken steps to support deployment of white spaces technology.”
Telecomm regulators are increasingly recognizing the inherent potential of technologies like dynamic spectrum access. The U.S., the United Kingdom, Canada, Finland, and Singapore are some of the countries that have taken steps towards enabling license-exempt use of TV white spaces.