Durban, South Africa, August 5, 2019 – During a meeting of key stakeholders at a signing ceremony outside of Durban, the U.S. Trade and Development Agency (USTDA) today awarded a grant to support an Adaptrum led pilot project that will help improve internet access to rural areas of South Africa. The grant from USTDA, who’s mission is to facilitate export opportunities for U.S. companies in support of sustainable development projects globally, will fund several TV white spaces (TVWS) deployment with the goal of establishing a model that can be replicated across the country.
As the first country in Africa to publish a TVWS regulatory framework, South Africa has long seen the potential for the technology to bridge the nation’s digital divide. Encompassing an unreached population of over 20 million people in rural areas and hard to reach terrain, South Africa is an ideal location for using TVWS, which uses unused broadcast spectrum to deliver long-range wireless connectivity, for delivering affordable internet. The purpose of the pilot project is to demonstrate that TVWS is both a commercially and technically feasible solution for connecting rural South Africa.
“Since deploying the first TVWS system in Africa, Adaptrum has sought ways to use TV White to bring much needed connectivity across Africa,” said Haiyun Tang, CEO of Adaptrum. “Now that TVWS is allowed in South Africa, we are extremely pleased to have the support of USTDA for this project to ensure our technology can be deployed affordably and sustainably by our local South African partners.”
The project team, led by Adaptrum, is a consortium consisting of US and South African partners including Microsoft, International Data Corporation (IDC), Project Isizwe, and the Wireless Access Providers Association (WAPA). The consortium will collaborate to deploy three pilot TVWS network builds and develop a business plan to help ISPs and their investors understand and take advantage of commercial opportunities with TVWS.
“The support from USTDA today validates what we’ve seen in South Africa and many other locations – TVWS is a valuable and important technology for enabling affordable and reliable connectivity,” said Kevin Connolly, Director of Airband International at Microsoft. “Microsoft works with hardware partners like Adaptrum and investment partners like USTDA to accelerate bringing connectivity to millions of people around the globe who lack internet access, and we’re excited to bring this work to fruition in South Africa today.”
Following completion of the study, additional TVWS projects across South Africa and in other areas of Southern and Eastern Africa can be developed — bringing much needed connectivity investment to the continent by tackling issues such as the cost of infrastructure needed to reach the rural poor.