Tag: Africa

Google using TV white space to provide broadband in remote South Africa

Article – From the horse’s mouth


Google Europe Blog: Improving Internet access in Africa with ‘White Spaces’

My Comments

What is “white space”?

A term that we will hear a fair bit of with Internet services is “white space”. This is UHF or VHF radio spectrum that has been newly created as the result of a nation or region switching from an analogue TV service to a digital TV service, which is typically more spectrum-efficient.

How is this relevant

The use of “white space” is becoming very appealing for Internet in rural and remote areas due to the fact that the VHF and UHF frequencies have relatively longer wavelengths than the frequencies used for most wireless-broadband applications. This allows for a longer distance between the base station and remote stations which suits this kind of deployment.

Such setups will be established on the concept of the fixed-wireless broadband setup where the customer-premises equipment will be connected to a fixed antenna (aerial), typically a rooftop aerial.

A lot of the talk about these services relates to whether these setups should be worked on licensed spectrum or the newly-free spectrum be declared in a manner to allow unlicensed use for this application, in a similar vein to Wi-Fi wireless.

In a test that was undertaken in some parts of rural USA by Google, it was proven that white space could be used as a wireless last-mile backhaul without interfering with existing TV stations and other spectrum users. This was through the use of a database which identifies channels that are used that is indexed by GPS-driven geographic parameters. The base station equipment are equipped with a GPS receiver to determine their geographic location and this comes in to play during the commissioning stage in order to determine the useable channels. Of course, the customer-premises equipment would seek for the frequencies associated with services that exist in a similar vein to a cable modem.

The African deployment

After Google had their success with the Kansas City fibre-driven next-generation-broadband rollout when it came to establishing an Internet-service, they put forward the idea of setting up a trial “white-space” fixed-wireless setup in some of the remote parts of South Africa. The idea is to establish access to Internet for the schools that are in this area.

It was organised in partnership with the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa, equivalent to the US’s FCC or UK’s Ofcom communications authorities and is assisted by broadcasters and the industry.

What I would see of this is a chance for African nations to observe this trial and see how it can allow for decent broadband service in to their remote areas. This will include assessing what kind of power is needed at the customer’s end so as to determine whether this could work on a solar power setup that serves one building.  Similarly, this could be assessed for establishing cellular-data backhauls for extending or improving access to Internet service via cost-effective wireless-broadband equipment in these areas.

Mayotte to benefit from real broadband at last

Article – French language

Le haut débit s’étend à Mayotte – DegroupNews.com

My Comments

Mayotte is a “département outre-mer of France located in the Mozambique Channel on the east coast of Africa near Madagascar and has two main islands. It achieved this status in 2011 and is intending to become the outermost region of the European Union in 2014 although there is some of the Islamic culture still existing in that area.

Just lately, France Télécom – Orange have rebuilt the main exchange to integrate ADSL support in the telephone system. This is in conjunction with the connection of the country to the LION 2 submarine telecommunications cable that is integrating the eastern African islands to the LION connection that is servicing the east cost of Africa.

This would allow the islands in this DOM to benefit from an increased amount of bandwidth where there is a goal to make sure that 90% of the households and businesses in this DOM have access to the real broadband service. Initially the households located at the south of the DOM in Kani-Kéli, Chirongui, Poroani or Tsimkoura would receive the service.

Personally I would see this as a chance for areas neighbouring Africa to be in a position to show that continent that the Internet can enable people in this area to benefit as far as cost-effective communications is concerned.

Ivory Coast to bring next-generation broadband to Africa

Article – French language

La fibre optique se déploie en Côte d’Ivoire – DegroupNews.com

My Comments

Most of us would think that it’s a noble effort to help the “poor starving Africans” out, usually by working alongside a charity or church mission that works in various African countries providing health, education and welfare to these communities. This is although most of these communities work in an agricultural economy.

But in the Cote D’Ivoire (Ivory Coast), there are steps to distribute real next-generation broadband to this country using fibre-optic technology. The main drivers for this effort include education and telemedicine to the various communities.

The main infrastructure would be built around a 1400km fibre-optic backbone between San Pedro, Tabou, Man, Odienné, Korhogo and Ferkessedougou;  and another 549km backbone between Abidjan, Bondoukou and Bouna. There will be a network covering the Cote D’Ivoire which uses 6700km of fibre optic cabling and touching the various medical and educational precincts. It will achieve a 100Mbps bandwidth and support digital television and increased-capacity telephony for the telecommunications providers there.

This will be co-ordinated by the Minister of Posts and Telecommunications of that country, Bruno Koné as part of a nationwide “rural telecommunications project” known as the “Projet National de Téléphonie Rurale (PNTR)”.

Issues that can be raised is whether this could allow the creation of a data axis through Africa and whether efforts could be underway to provide competitive telecommunications through this continent. In some cases, this could allow Cote D’Ivoire to become more than an agricultural country by opening up research and commerce in to that area and neigbouring African countries. Of course, the real issue is to have the government work efforts to enrich the nation for all and yield prosperity and health using this technology.