Photo: Pixabay.

JOHANNESBURG - The United States Trade and Development Agency has awarded a grant to support a project that aims to help improve internet access to rural areas in South Africa.

Under the project led by wireless technology company Adaptrum, the USTDA will fund several TV White Space (TVWS) deployments with the goal of establishing models that can be replicated across the country.

Encompassing an unreached population of more than 20 million people in rural areas and difficult-to-reach terrain, South Africa is an ideal location for TVWS, which uses unused broadcast spectrum to deliver long-range wireless connectivity.

The project is intended to demonstrate that TVWS is a feasible business solution for economically and affordably connecting rural South Africa.

"Since deploying the first TVWS system in Africa, Adaptrum has sought ways to use TVWS to bring much needed connectivity across Africa," company CEO Haiyun Tang said in a statement.

"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 is a consortium of US and South African partners including Microsoft, International Data Corporation and Project Isizwe.

The consortium will collaborate with grant recipient, the Wireless Access Providers Association, to deploy three TVWS network builds and develop a business plan to help internet service providers 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.

Once a successful business model is established, additional TVWS projects across South Africa and in other areas of southern and East 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.

African News Agency (ANA)