10Mbps TV white spaces trial network for SA

A pilot project in the Western Cape will use TV white spaces (TVWS) spectrum to build a network which will connect all schools in the area.

This project – which draws resources from WAPA, Google, TENET, e-Schools Network, and Meraka/CSIR – will see real-world network speeds of between 5Mbps and 10Mbps over a radius of up to 10km.

“The goal of the project is to establish the viability of TV White Spaces technology in South Africa through a pilot project connecting a number of schools in the Western Cape,” explained Steve Song who is involved in the project.

“This will hopefully provide sufficient evidence for ICASA to regulate the unlicensed use of TV White Spaces spectrum in South Africa.”

Steve Song
Steve Song

TV white spaces technology is seen as a way to cover wide areas quickly (like rural South Africa) with good quality broadband. This is the ultimate goal, and the pilot project will go a long way to prove the value of the technology.

Song explained that while speeds of up to 10Mbps may not sound remarkable, it should be noted that the TV white spaces technology does not require line of sight like Wi-Fi alternatives.

“There is much more spectrum available in the TV bands than there is in the ISM bands which means that interference with other service providers is far less likely,” explained Song. “Also, there is a central database for TVWS whose explicit purpose is to avoid interference among users of the TV spectrum.”

Song said that the project has already kicked off, and that while it is hard to say when the network rollout will start, he hopes to connect the first schools within six months.

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10Mbps TV white spaces trial network for SA