Namibia’s MyDigitalBridge Foundation in partnership with Microsoft and Adaptrum, with support from the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) and Millennium Challenge Account (MCA)-Namibia, has successfully trialed the Namibian TV White Spaces (TVWS) pilot project in a move to provide a blueprint of broadband internet connectivity countrywide.
Dubbed ‘Citizen Connect’, the pilot consists of a network deployed over a 62km x 152km (9,424 km²) area covering three regional councils: Oshana, Ohangwena and Omusati, and connecting 28 schools in northern Namibia, the biggest TVWS project of its kind in terms of area coverage.
According to the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) country profiles, only 13.9% of the Namibian population is using the internet, this project aims to see more online.
“Our mission is to facilitate appropriate private-public sector (PPP) initiatives to ensure the underserved and un-served communities in Namibia are included in the technology landscape,” says Dr. Hylton Villet, Chairman of MyDigitalBridge Foundation, which architected and deployed the network with support of Microsoft and Adaptrum.
According to Hon. Dr. Moses Amweelo, the Chairman of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on ICT, the pilot project answers to the challenges of internet access, or the lack thereof, to all our citizens,which is a basic human right and is important in transforming and modernising the Namibian economy.
The deployment of TVWS technology in Africa falls under Microsoft’s 4Afrika Initiative, which launched in February 2013 to actively enable African economic development using relevant, affordable and accessible technology. “Internet access is a fundamental pillar in Africa’s leap forward towards a sustainable knowledge economy. We are seeing first-hand the direct impact of TVWS delivering affordable access to communities and business. 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.” Says Fernando de Sousa, Microsoft’s General Manager for Africa Initiatives.
Microsoft 4Afrika has similar projects in Kenya, Tanzania, South Africa and Ghana with various partners and is advocating for laws and regulations that promote more efficient and effective spectrum utilisation as a member of the Dynamic Spectrum Alliance.
The Namibian trial connected three regional offices, 28 schools and seven education circuit offices, all with a link distance of 8km to 10km (with two links at 12km) to internet speeds of 5Mbps to 10Mbps with the help of the Adaptrum ARCS 2.0 TVWS radios.
“Adaptrum is thrilled to be piloting our latest generation TVWS wireless broadband system in Northern Namibia. By covering such a large geographic area, this project is showcasing this technology’s ability to enable low-cost high-speed broadband access in rural areas, helping to close the digital divide,” said Haiyun Tang, Chief Executive Office of Adaptrum.
The pilot project aims to afford all Namibians the right of internet access for purposes of education, health and government services. The next steps are to enhance the network’s operational efficiency and to trial video teaching, e-content distribution and peering between the connected sites.