Updated 2:12 PM EST, Wed, Jan 29, 2020

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Microsoft Tests TV White Spaces for Affordable Internet Access in Africa

(Photo: Microsoft's 4Afrika Initiative

Microsoft aims to develop an Internet network in Namibia that covers 9,424 square kilometers in collaboration with MyDigitalBridge Foundation and white spaces device maker Adaptrum.

The project is called Citizen Connect, and is supported by local organizations Millennium Challenge Corporation and Millennium Challenge Account.

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It aims to use TV white spaces to expand network coverage in underserved areas including Africa. Microsoft claims to have tested the largest network in the world using this unlicensed technology alongside its partners.

TV white spaces are unused airwaves that lie between TV channels. UK's Neul, Ltd. developed the world's first city wide network using the technology.

It's also used to enable machine to machine communication which is integral to the "Internet of Things."

The network connects 28 schools and three regional councils in Namibia: Oshana, Ohangwena and Omusati.

According to the International Telecommunication Union, only 14 percent of Namibia's population uses the Internet.

MyDigitalBridge Foundation said it aims to provide more Internet access and "facilitate appropriate private-public sector initiatives to ensure the underserved and unserved communities in Namibia are included in the technology landscape."

The project is part of Microsoft's 4Afrika Initiative which it launched in 2013. Microsoft implemented similar projects in the African countries of Kenya, Tanzania, South Africa and Ghana.

"Internet access is a fundamental pillar in Africa's leap forward towards a sustainable knowledge economy," said Fernando de Sousa, general manager of 4Afrika Initiatives.

In Kenya, the tech giant deployed a pilot project with the Kenyan Ministry of Information and Communications and local Internet Service Provider to deliver high-speed wireless broadband connectivity.

It's the first with TV white spaces to be powered by solar-based stations together.

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