The TV White Spaces (TVWS) project in South Africa has been proven to be commercially viable. As a result, the Wireless Access Providers’ Association (WAPA) plans to scale up the project in the future.
The above mentioned is according to Paul Colmer, the head of the TVWS project and a member of the WAPA Executive Management Committee.
The TVWS project has been delayed for years, and WAPA has repeatedly warned that further delays could result in funding loss.
Colmer stated that the first commercial TV white space trial in South Africa is nearing completion and that WAPA will soon publish the white paper and funding on its website.
In August 2019, Colmer signed a US$1 million agreement with the United States Trade and Development Agency to test the technology. The project is set to provide faster and broader broadband connectivity in South Africa’s remote regions.
The deployment of expensive broadband technologies such as fibre, LTE, and 5G is difficult to justify in impoverished areas, which account for a large proportion of the country’s population.
According to the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), solutions that enable widespread connectivity at a relatively low cost in low-income and isolated areas are needed.
CSIR principal researchers Luzango Mfupe and Albert Lysko are confident that TVWS is one of the technologies that could help overcome the challenge mentioned above.
The migration from analogue to digital terrestrial television is expected to benefit the TVWS project, as more network capacity in the 470-694MHz spectrum range is freed.
Colmer added, however, that because TVWS is new in South Africa, and therefore channel availability was not a significant issue.
The gaps seen as white noise or static between analogue channels on a TV can be used for data transfers with the proper equipment, just like the spectrum used for mobile and Wi-Fi connectivity in the 1GHz band and above.
Thanks to a geolocation spectrum database (GLSD) developed by the CSIR for the project, the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA) can manage spectrum distribution to TVWS service providers without interfering with TV broadcasting.