Microsoft to connect schools in South African white-spaces project

The pilot will show unused TV bands delivering wireless broadband to rural schools

By , IDG News Service |  Mobile & Wireless

In the South African project, Microsoft will work with the University of Limpopo, government agencies and a local network builder called Multisource. The project will set up a central white-spaces radio at the university and one at each of the five schools.

At the schools, the project will give laptops to teachers and make tablets available in a classroom for students. Those clients will talk to special Wi-Fi access points that connect on the back end to the local white-spaces radio. Each school's radio will in turn connect to the Internet through the main white-spaces radio at the university, which has a fiber network.

Though each school's white-spaces radio will have a range of about 10 kilometers, initially they are intended only for use in the schools.

The project will also provide projectors, training and educational content, as well as solar panels where electricity is unavailable or unreliable, Garnett said.

The Limpopo project is part of a broader Microsoft initiative called 4Afrika, which has also included a white-spaces effort in Kenya.

Stephen Lawson covers mobile, storage and networking technologies for The IDG News Service. Follow Stephen on Twitter at @sdlawsonmedia. Stephen's e-mail address is stephen_lawson@idg.com

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