Nominet and Microsoft join forces to get the African continent online with TV white space

25th November 2016

Nominet and Microsoft announced today that they will use Nominet’s dynamic spectrum management technology to deliver broadband in the African continent. The partnership will use Nominet’s TV white space database along with Microsoft’s Azure to enable the deployment of low-cost terrestrial wireless broadband internet to communities across the continent.

TV white space is unassigned or unused UHF and VHF broadcast frequencies in the radio spectrum. The available set of TVWS frequencies varies, so the database that Nominet has developed tells devices which frequencies they can use in that area, at what power and for how long.

Radio spectrum supports the majority of internet connections but it is a finite resource and, with the growth of wireless broadband services and the Internet of Things, managing it well will be even more critical in future. Nominet’s geo-location database allows wireless devices to access TVWS and was the first to be approved by Ofcom for use in the UK.

Nominet’s dynamic spectrum management technology enables two-way communications at relatively high data-rates over long distances and delivers connectivity to large open areas where it would be difficult to deploy fixed infrastructure. This technology works where others cannot and it is already helping consumers and businesses in remote areas of Britain to get online.

Russell Haworth, CEO of Nominet said: “The digital economy underpins many strong national economies but the African continent lags behind much of the rest of the world when it comes to broadband connectivity. It’s a problem that we are tackling successfully for poorly-connected parts of the UK and it’s fantastic to be bringing proven new technologies, like dynamic spectrum management, to connect communities and businesses across the continent.”

Adam Leach, Director of Research and Development at Nominet said: “Spectrum is a scarce and valuable resource and demand can outstrip supply. Dynamic spectrum sharing allows the available spectrum to be used more efficiently than any existing static techniques. Maximising the efficiency of the spectrum usage lowers the barriers to access, enabling more users and devices to get connected.”

Paul Garnett, Director of Affordable Access Initiatives, Microsoft said: “Microsoft was founded on the idea of democratizing access to technology.  Microsoft’s current mission is to empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more.  For that reason, Microsoft is working with public and private sector partners around the world to develop technologies and business models that will make it easier for billions more people to affordably get online.  In furtherance of these goals, Microsoft is excited to be working with Nominet on developing Microsoft Azure cloud-based TV white space databases that will enable Internet access providers across Africa to leverage unused broadcast frequencies and deliver low-cost broadband Internet access.”

Microsoft is currently supporting broadband connectivity programmes in Kenya, Botswana, Malawi, Ghana and right across Africa through its Affordable Access Initiatives.

About Microsoft’s Affordable Access Initiative

More than half of the world’s population lacks access to affordable Internet and the opportunities it makes possible. Through Affordable Access Initiative partnerships with local entrepreneurs and innovators around the world, Microsoft is working to close the digital divide and empower people to do more.