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Connecting the unconnected in Africa – some new examples and techniques

In Namibia, “Citizen Connect,” a collaboration between the Microsoft 4Afrika Initiative, the MyDigitalBridge Foundation, and the Millennium Challenge Account Namibia, is delivering broadband Internet to 27 schools and 7 circuit offices of the Ministry of Education. The initiative connects secluded areas to ensure that schools can communicate with other schools, businesses and government. In Kenya a pilot project by Indigo Telecom/Microsoft and the government is delivering bandwidth speeds of up to 16 Mbit/s to 3 rural communities which lack electricity.
In September 2013, the Malawi Communications Regulatory Authority (MACRA) in partnership with the University of Malawi and the International Centre for Theoretical Physics (ICTP) in Italy, initiated a trial to provide a platform for the improvement of e-services (e-health, e-education, ecommerce) as well as increase access to mobility and service delivery. This project developed TV White Space broadband to connect a school, an airport, a research facility, and a hospital. Since then White spaces in telecommunications and TV are becoming popular to reach specific areas. There is a project in Cape Town, for example. White Space broadband can travel up to 10 kilometers through vegetation, buildings, and other obstacles. White Spaces are frequencies allocated to telecoms or broadcasting services but not used locally. TV White Space exploit unused TV channels between the active ones in the Very High Frequency (VHF) and the UltraHigh frequency (UHF) in the range between 300 MHZ and 3 GHz, also known as the decimetre band spectrum. These are typically referred to as the “buffer” channels. The technology is a spectrum of broadcast frequencies, typically used to transmit TV channels from one location to another, harnessed for wireless networks.

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Alastair Tempest

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