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Namibia hosts world’s ‘biggest TV white spaces pilot’

Namibia hosts world’s ‘biggest TV white spaces pilot’.

A northern Namibian area spanning 62km x 152km (9,424 km²) has become home to the world's biggest television white spaces (TVWS) broadband pilot project, says Microsoft.

TVWS taps unused portions of spectrum in frequency bands to provide wireless broadband services. Advantages of TVWS include the wide areas it covers as well as potentially low costs for internet access.

The technology has been rolled out by Microsoft and other partners in countries such as Kenya, Tanzania, Ghana and South Africa.

In June this year, Microsoft's technology policy group director Paul Garnett told ITWeb Africa that Namibia and Botswana were next on the company's list regarding TVWS pilots.

And on Wednesday, Microsoft released a press statement outlining how it, together with the MyDigitalBridge Foundation and Adaptrum, has successfully tested the Namibian TVWS pilot project in three regional councils: Oshana, Ohangwena and Omusati in northern Namibia.

Microsoft also says that 28 schools were connected in the pilot while the project has been supported by the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) and Millennium Challenge Account (MCA)-Namibia.

"We are seeing first-hand the direct impact of TVWS delivering affordable access to communities and business," says Fernando de Sousa, Microsoft's general manager for Africa Initiatives, in a press statement.

"The unlimited potential of broadband is enabling large scale development of human capital, the establishment of e-commerce services in the small and medium business ecosystem and the delivery of government services such as education and health care to the community," adds de Sousa.

Microsoft's involvement with TVWS trials forms part of its '4Afrika' initiative, which was launched in February 2013 to help boost African economic development using technology.

"This pilot project came at the right time for us to answer to the challenges of internet access, or the lack thereof, to all our citizens," stated Dr. Moses Amweelo, the chairman of Namibia's parliamentary standing committee on ICT.

Statistics from the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) country profile claim that 13.9% of Namibia's 2.2 million population is using the internet.

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