Microsoft White Space Project Cuts Wireless Costs By 80 Percent

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Written by Tom Simonite | From MIT Technology Review

The cost of getting online for students at Koforidua Polytechnic, a college in Ghana, was cut by 80 percent two weeks ago thanks to a technology that could be used around the world to slash the price of Internet access.

Microsoft worked with Spectra Wireless, a company headquartered in Mauritius, to add broadband connections to the Koforidua Polytechnic campus using equipment that transmits over unused “white spaces” in radio-frequency bands used by TV broadcasters. By encouraging users of that network to try out Microsoft software, the project is also intended to bring the company fresh customers.

White-space radio links provide an alternative to cable or cellular infrastructure. Data signals sent over TV spectrum can cover large distances—up to 13 kilometers, in the case of the equipment used by Spectra. And unlike established technologies such as cellular networks, which require exclusive access to certain frequencies, white-space technology allows multiple services to share the same radio bands by hopping between frequencies (see “The Coming Wireless Revolution”).

Regulators and companies in many countries are investigating white-space networking, but relatively few networks based on the technology have been deployed to date. Microsoft has worked on the technology for over a decade, and over the past two years the company has set up a series of experimental white-space networks across Africa, hoping to help local partners turn them into commercial offerings.

Read more at MIT Technology Review