The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has released draft guidelines aimed at boosting the use of television white spaces (TVWS) to improve rural connectivity in the country.
The NCC defines TVWS as the “unassigned spectrum between broadcast television channels in the 470 to 694 MHz portion of the UHF frequency band possibly utilised to provide Internet access to the underserved and unserved regions of the country, mostly in rural service areas at broadband speeds”.
The technology is now a key tool in connecting remote areas around the world, with pilot projects showing successful results in Kenya, Malawi, Nigeria, South Africa and Tanzania. Inactive UHF spectrum intended for TV broadcast use can deliver broadband internet at a browsing speed of 4Mbps.
A key advantage of TVWS is its broadcast radius of up to 10km, which allows for very remote, off-the-grid villages in Africa to be connected. Indeed, much of the advancement of the technology has focused on its applications in rural areas, with Africa a major target market.
Writing in the Nigerian Journal of Technology, Ifeoluwa Opawoye observed that “if TVWS could be exploited to serve the rural areas because of its ability to travel far and reduce cost in communication, then there would be a tremendous increase on the individuals using the internet in Africa.”
The guidelines were developed together with the country’s broadcast regulator, the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC), and are aimed at providing greater regulatory framework for the technology.