Microsoft Corp. is using TV white spaces and solar-powered base stations in a project with the Kenyan government which aims to provide mobile telephony and Internet connectivity in Africa.
The program, called the Microsoft 4Afrika Initiative, will also be accompanied by the launch of a Huawei Technologies smartphone specifically for the African market.
Microsoft 4Afrika targets to bring 1 million small and medium sized businesses online, train 100,000 workers in computer skills and help 100,000 recent graduates develop skills that will boost their employability. Microsoft said it will help place in jobs, no less than 75 per cent of the new grads.
Canada closer to unlicenced ‘white space’ broadband
Kenya’s mass market yet to access affordable Internet
Microsoft will also be introducing the Huawei 4Afrika handsets in seven Aftican countries. The units are full-function Windows 8 smart phones which will come pre-loaded with applications designed for Africa.
Poor spectrum policies and lack of terrestrial data infrastructure to support mass market connections have been blamed to the lack of affordable Internet connections in many areas of Kenya.
The broadband project will cover locations near Nanjuki and Kalema Kenya. It will use TV white spaces, the unused portions of the wireless spectrum in the frequency bands typically allocated for television signals.
Radio signals travelling in TV bands are able to cover longer distances and penetrate more obstacles than other types of radio signals. They will require a fewer number of the solar-powered base stations that will be deployed for the project.
Microsoft said it will use dynamic spectrum access to allow smart phones to tap into the TV white spaces.
The initial installations in Najuki will provide broadband access to a healthcare clinic, a primary school, two secondary schools and a community centre.