Microsoft Partners With SpectraLink Wireless & Facebook to Provide Low-cost Wi-Fi to Students in Ghana



Microsoft has announced new TV white space partnerships and projects on four continents, including a deal with SpectraLink Wireless and Facebook to provide low-cost wireless connectivity to students and faculty at universities in Koforidua, Ghana.

According to Paul Garnett, Director in Microsoft’s Technology Policy Group, “TV white spaces 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.”

Garnet aded that the firm is 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.

The three will deploy wireless networks to cover the All Nations University College and Koforidua Polytechnic. The pilot is part of Microsoft’s 4Afrika Initiative to help improve the continent’s global competitiveness  via facilitating access to technology for the masses and to empower African students, entrepreneurs, developers, and others to become even more active global citizens.

The deal will see both students and faculty access internet,  several apps and Internet-enabled devices with networks running on TV white space-enabled radios and other wireless technologies to connect campus buildings, as well as off-campus hostels where students live, to ensure they have access to fast broadband. The project is operating under a TV white space pilot license granted by the Ghana National Communications Authority and is the only TV white space license currently issued in West Africa.

Facebook’s Connectivity Labs is working with the partners on a joint technology research to better understand how TV white space spectrum and equipment can support wireless Internet users today.  Facebook, Microsoft, and SpectraLink Wireless are also members of the Dynamic Spectrum Alliance — a global, cross-industry alliance focused on increasing dynamic access to unused radio frequencies.

“This project will provide substantial benefit to students and faculty at the universities,” said John Sarpong, Chief Executive Officer of SpectraLink Wireless. “Until now, students at these universities have not had consistent access to fast broadband, which is key to students’ ability to access information and learning resources online and compete in the 21st century economy. With SpectraLink Wireless’ Edutech-as-a-Service platform students and faculty will have access to the best productivity applications on the market and Internet access at true broadband speeds. All at a low cost per user per month. We look forward to rolling this out in Koforidua and the rest of the country.”

Africa is not the only region where the company’s white spaces pilots are flourishing. In Asia, Microsoft has helped to pioneer white spaces pilots in Singapore and the Philippines.Taiwan, Latin America and Glasgow.