White Space Initiative to Boost Kenya's Broadband Subscribers 11-fold This Year [Global Data Point]
(Global Data Point Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) Microsoft's 4Afrika initiative is aiming to increase broadband penetration in both developing and developed countries, the first of which will be in Kenya where white space network deployments will increase broadband subscribers by more than a factor of 11 this year, according to an IHS report.
Microsoft's developments in the white space segment are, in part, focused on helping urban and rural areas in developing nations expand their broadband provision. Through its 4Afrika initiative, Microsoft's white space deployments in Kenya, specifically, will increase the current broadband penetration during the next few months to 68,000 subscribers, up from 6,000 individuals.
The deployment in Kenya will be the first wide scale use of white space radio technology. IHS defines white space as the radio spectrum that has been left unused following the transition from analog to digital television -- i.e., the UHF and VHF bands. The transition from analog to digital has streamlined spectrum usage, leaving behind white space frequency bands, which are unlicensed and can effectively be used for any application.
"White space technology can offer a suitable means of rural broadband provision, particularly where traditional technologies such as cable or fiber cannot reach due to challenging terrain, or are not economically viable to implement," said Lisa Arrowsmith, associate director for connectivity at IHS. "Already, there have been some notable trials using white space radio spectrum to enable broadband provision in parts of America, Asia and Africa."
Increasing the penetration of rural broadband services is a key concern within both developed and developing countries. Rural broadband services are also a major feature of many of the television white space (TVWS) trials deployed around the world to date. IHS believes that deployment plans for rural broadband expansion are in place, and future announcements for further deployments will soon happen in countries in both Asia-Pacific and Africa.
"The UHF white spaces, freed up by the transition from analog to digital television transmission, offer great propagation characteristics, such as long range and good penetration," said Elizabeth Mead, connectivity analyst at IHS. "Therefore, white space technologies, like 802.22 or 802.11af, can offer a suitable alternative to current technologies across a broad range of applications."
Microsoft's 4Afrika initiative along with other rural broadband plans will help to proliferate what are deemed "Smart City" networks. These types of networks include a wide range of applications, from public safety, to smart grid, to transportation monitoring infrastructure, to connected cars, to telehealth and much more. Given the fact that such networks require high latency, bandwidth and quality of service, it can be challenging to serve these requirements by a single technology. Using white space radio technology may be a way to improve these services in developing countries.
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