Microsoft Teams With the Government of Kenya and Indigo Telecom to Deliver Low-Cost, Solar-Powered Broadband Access Using Cutting-Edge TV White Space Technology

Mon Feb 4, 2013 7:00pm EST

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Pilot is part of the Microsoft 4Afrika Initiative to help improve continent's
global competitiveness.
NAIROBI, Kenya,  Feb. 4, 2013  /PRNewswire/ -- Microsoft Corp., in collaboration
with the government of  Kenya's Ministry of Information and Communications and
Indigo Telecom Ltd., today announced the launch of a pilot project delivering
low-cost wireless broadband access to previously unserved locations near Nanyuki
and Kalema,  Kenya. The network utilizes TV white spaces and solar-powered base
stations to deliver broadband access and create new opportunities for commerce,
education, healthcare and delivery of government services.

(Logo:   http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20000822/MSFTLOGO)  

This pilot is part of Microsoft's broader 4Afrika Initiative (see  related
release), to help improve the continent's global competitiveness. A core goal of
the 4Afrika Initiative is to facilitate access to technology for the masses and
to empower African students, entrepreneurs, developers and others to become
active global citizens.

TV white spaces, the unused portions of wireless spectrum in the frequency bands
generally used for television, are particularly well-suited for delivering
low-cost broadband access to rural and other unserved communities. Radio signals
in the TV bands travel over longer distances and penetrate more obstacles than
other types of radio signals and, therefore, require fewer base stations to
provide ubiquitous coverage. Microsoft intends to use this pilot and other
similar initiatives to encourage African governments to make the needed legal
and regulatory changes that would allow this type of technology to be deployed
continentwide.

"Microsoft was built on the idea that technology should be accessible and
affordable to the masses, and to date, this promise has remained unfulfilled in 
Africa," said  Louis Otieno, Legal and Corporate Affairs director for  Africa 
initiatives at Microsoft. "This technology has the potential to deliver on the
promise of universal and affordable high-speed wireless broadband for  Africa,
and we are proud and humbled to be part of this important effort."  

The project is the first deployment of TV white space technology in  Africa 
targeted at communities without access to broadband or electricity and is a
result of a memorandum of understanding that presents a framework of cooperation
between Microsoft, the Kenyan Ministry of Information and Communications and
industry partner Indigo Telecom. To date, work in this space in  Africa  has
exclusively focused on demonstrating the technical feasibility of using TV white
space technology. This project takes an important next step forward by instead
focusing on assessing the commercial feasibility of delivering low-cost access
using TV white space technology.

The initial installation near Nanyuki includes five customer locations: the
Burguret Dispensary (healthcare clinic), Male Primary School, Male Secondary
School, Gakawa Secondary School and Laikipia District Community Library. The
installation in Kalema will begin with a base station that connects to a
government of  Kenya  agricultural extension office. Fourteen more locations on
the network will be added in the coming months. The network will also feature
white space radios manufactured by Adaptrum.  

Utilizing the latest Window 8 tablets, Windows 8 applications and Microsoft
Office 365, Indigo will provide computer labs and instruction to each school and
the library and work with community leaders and local companies to identify the
most beneficial services and applications for each location, including in the
agriculture and education spaces.

"Indigo is committed to finding and deploying the best solutions for our
customers' needs, which in this case means bringing broadband access to
previously unserved communities," said  Peter Henderson, chairman of Indigo
Telecom, the local Internet service provider partnering in the project. "Beyond
simply providing access, we have given the community a real stake in the pilot's
success by creating a cooperative to manage the project, an effort that included
hiring and training a local community member to serve as the lab technician."  

"TV white spaces and efficient spectrum management represent a creative, tested
and affordable way of extending broadband access to unserved communities," said 
Paul Garnett, director in Microsoft's Technology Policy Group. "Kenya  is one of
the countries leading the way in using this innovative solution, and we hope
regulators around the world take note and develop legal frameworks that support
broader commercial deployment of TV white space technology in their own
jurisdictions."

Founded in 1975, Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT) is the worldwide leader in software,
services and solutions that help people and businesses realize their full
potential.

SOURCE  Microsoft Corp.


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