Google and partner organisations have been approved to explore using unused channels in South Africa by the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA).
HumanIPO reported last week that white space may hold the solution to connecting rural South Africa to the internet. However industry players were waiting for guidance from ICASA, according to the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR).
“What happens after digital migration in South Africa is very important. We are waiting for ICASA to give us guidance regarding what will happen,” said Karel Mathee, research group leader for trusted network infrastructure at CSIR Meraka Institute.
Now the authority has granted Google to make use of unused television channels, commonly known as white space, which serve to separate TV channels from each other.
White space is advantageous in that its low frequency channels can travel longer distances, which suits providing low cost connectivity to rural areas.
“We believe that TV white space could help to bridge the digital divide; transmitting internet data over long distances and opening up access to underserved communities and rural areas,” Business Day Live quoted Dr Ntsibane Ntlatlapa of the CSIR Meraka Institute as saying.
“The evidence gathered from the trial shows that TV white space can be used to deliver wireless internet services without causing interference to primary users of the spectrum.”
Google Africa announced yesterday the white space trial would begin with broadcasting from three base stations in Cape Town. Ten schools will then be testing the technology with wireless broadband provided by the search engine giant.