Google Brings TV White Spaces To South African Schools
March 26, 2013

Google Brings TV White Spaces To South African Schools

Michael Harper for — Your Universe Online

Google has for years attempted to take control of “television white space” in spectrum for use in broadband and Wi-Fi applications. Earlier this month, the search giant was granted a trial run of being the company responsible for listing all the white spaces and making them available to the public.

Yesterday, Google announced that they plan to prove the viability of these white spaces by providing broadband services to ten schools in South Africa. This trial will be the first of its kind in South Africa and will deliver broadband to rural areas without such connections as well as increase the amount of connectivity available in densely populated areas.

Television white spaces (or TVWS) are the gaps or unused channels in the spectrum used for broadcast television. For more than five years, Google has been working to persuade the FCC and others to allow them to make use of this white space, thereby expanding the range of existing broadband coverage.

As these spaces are close to existing channels and frequencies, some have expressed concern that making use of white spaces could cause interference. Google has volunteered to run the US spectrum database to catalogue available white spaces and hopefully prevent any such interference.

Google will use a similar database in their South African roll-out. Teaming up with Carlson Wireless, Google plans to broadcast broadband on the lower frequencies to rural South Africa as well as boost the strength of the country´s urban networks.

“This is a small example of TVWS spectrum overcoming a need that exists all over the world“¦providing connectivity to underserved areas is more than an interest to us, it´s specifically what got us into the game,” explained Carlson´s president, Jim Carlson in a press statement. “We are overjoyed to participate in such a project, helping to provide schools with a fundamental service.”

Google has been using their philanthropic, “” side of the business to make use of TVWS. In their official blog, says the TVWS will broadcast from three stations located at Stellenbosch University´s Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences in Tygerberg, Cape Town.

Additionally, ten schools will also receive broadband by way of TVWS as a means to test the technology.

Google has said they plan to use this trial to prove the viability of using TVWS to strengthen existing broadband networks without interfering with other spectrum holders.

“We are pleased to be part of this exciting new development — the first of its kind in South Africa — and look forward to opening discussions with policy makers around a regulatory framework that will support the wider use of TVWS to deliver wireless broadband Internet across the country,” said Luke Mickland, Google´s South African Country Manager in the press statement.

Google´s TVWS database is currently being tested by the FCC and the general public. Until this trial ends on April 18, 2013, the public is asked to visit and test the database to ensure its accuracy and reliability.

Once the 45-day trial run is complete, the FCC will allow other applicants, such as Microsoft, to test their databases.