Remember TV White Spaces? The Microsoft initiative to bring internet to the masses? Well, It’s on, ladies and gentlemen.
Microsoft has been touting the beauty of this technology in ‘Empowering Kenya and the world with high-speed, low-cost Internet‘ in their website. Along with Mawingu WiFi, a Kenyan startup propped by Microsoft especially for this initiative, Microsoft says th3 30,000-ish residents of Nanyuki are the first to savour this treat. A subscription is said to go for Ksh 300 monthly or Ksh 100 weekly. I’ll let you ponder that, oh ye Safaricom faithfuls.
“The Internet is the great leveler. Particularly as you connect people who thought they’d never get it,” says Malcom Brew, founder and chief technology officer of Mawingu Networks. “The Internet changes how you can run yourself as a community. If you’re not connected, you’re on the wrong side of the digital divide.”
The TVWS (TV White Space) signal is said to cover a span of up to 10 kilometres, compared to WiFi’s measly limited range. For those late to the party, TVWS takes advantage of unused bandwidth meant for TV broadcasting to enable data transmission over long distances. Adding sweetness to this honey, TVWS isn’t bothered by most obstacles cumbering WiFi.
So far, 8,000 people have been connected. Another 200,000 is projected for the next three years according to IT Minister of Nanyuki John Vasco Akali. Microsoft also chipped in in with Azure Cloud to power the whole thing.
In a recently published video, Microsoft and Mawingu talk about their achievements in Kenya, the potential of the technology and just a trumphet hoot about how awesome this new tech is. Mawingu Networks has also received a $4.1 million loan from the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC), a U.S. Government’s development finance institution to expand their low-cost internet program to more locations in Kenya.
The use of TV White Spaces is also in use in 15 other countries in 5 continents, all powered by Microsoft.