CIO East Africa (Nairobi)

14 May 2014

Ghana: Microsoft to Provide Low-Cost Wireless Connectivity to Varsities in Ghana

Micosoft has partnered with Facebook , Spectralink Wireless and two other companies to provide low-cost wireless connectivity to students and faculty at universities in Koforidua, Ghana through the use of TV whitespace. '

This was announced during the Dynamic Spectrum Alliance Global Summit in Accra, and marks Ghana as the tenth country globally to benefit from the unused portions of wireless spectrum in the frequency bands generally set aside for television transmissions.

"TV whitespaces technology when combined with other low-cost wireless technologies, such as Wi-Fi, offers a substantial opportunity for businesses, consumers and governments around the world to improve the economics of broadband network deployment and service delivery," said Paul Garnett, Director in Microsoft'sTechnology Policy Group. "Through these projects worldwide, we are working with local private and public sector partners to enable new consumer experiences,while encouraging governments to make needed legal and regulatory changes to allow this technology to be deployed more broadly."

TV white spaces, can be utilized for a range of applications including,Providing low-cost connectivity, Connecting rural areas to broadband, Improving in-building wireless networks, Creating hotspots for Internet access as well as offloading mobile traffic.

Microsoft's commercial partnership with SpectraLink Wireless and research partnership with Facebook will deploy wireless networks covering entire campuses at All Nations University College and Koforidua Polytechnic. This pilot is part of Microsoft's 4Afrika Initiative to help improve the continent's global competitiveness. A core goal of the 4Afrika Initiative is to facilitate access to technology for the masses and to empower African students, entrepreneurs,developers, and others to become even more active global citizens.

For students and faculty at the universities, access to the network will be coupled withproductivity and communications applications as well as Internet-enabled devices. The networks will use TV white space-enabled radios and other wirelesstechnologies to connect campus buildings, as well as off-campus hostels wherestudents live, to ensure they have access to fast broadband. The project isoperating under a TV white space pilot license granted by the Ghana NationalCommunications Authority and is the only TV white space license currentlyissued in West Africa.

Facebook's main involvement in the project will be to collaborate withMicrosoft and SpectraLink Wireless on joint technology research to betterunderstand how TV white space spectrum and equipment can support wirelessInternet users today. These efforts will be led by Facebook's Connectivity Labteam who are working on new technologies to support Internet.org's mission tomake internet access available to the two thirds of the world not yetconnected.

Facebook, Microsoft, and SpectraLink Wireless have a like-minded view thata more abundant supply and flexible use of spectrum are important aspects toaffordably connect more people to the Internet, and the companies plan tocollaborate on the policy front. All three companies involved in this pilotproject are also members of the DynamicSpectrum Alliance -- a global, cross-industry alliance focused on increasing dynamic access to unused radio frequencies.

"This project will provide substantial benefitto students and faculty at the universities," said John Sarpong, ChiefExecutive Officer of SpectraLink Wireless. "Until now, students at theseuniversities have not had consistent access to fast broadband, which is key tostudents' ability to access information and learning resources online andcompete in the 21st century economy. With SpectraLink Wireless'Edutech-as-a-Service platform students and faculty will have access to the bestproductivity applications on the market and Internet access at true broadbandspeeds. All at a low cost per user per month. We look forward to rolling thisout in Koforidua and the rest of the country."

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