The first such pilot kicked off in Kenya earlier this year as part of the 4Afrika initiative, but the company has already expanded it to Tanzania, and now to South Africa.The program is aimed at finding new means to provide broadband Internet connectivity at a lower cost to people in this region. White spaces refers to unused frequencies for television broadcasters, which can be harvested to deliver such services to users.
As ZDnet notes, Microsoft has already unveiled plans to make use of such white spaces and solar-based stations so as to offer cheap wireless services to five schools in the Limpopo province in South Africa.
Furthermore, the company is said to plan more than simply offering such services, and that it will also bring Windows-based tablets and projectors to these schools, while offering laptops and training to teachers there. Solar panels to offer power sources for charging devices will also be available.
?Technology holds enormous potential for many aspects of development, but it is particularly key to areas such as education and healthcare,? Mteto Nyati, managing director of Microsoft South Africa, said.
?Reducing the cost of broadband access means millions more South Africans will get online. This will create new opportunities for education, healthcare, commerce and the delivery of government services across the country.?
The project is aimed at offering wireless services for as low as $2-$5 (?1.5 ? ?3.75) per month, for 4Mbps of uncapped usage. At the moment, ISPs charge for around $35 (?26) per month for 1Mbps ADSL services.
Nyati also confirmed plans to make similar white space broadband available for users in other areas, through a partnership with an established ISP provider.
?We see ourselves as an enabler, not a provider. We are not in the telecoms space. I don't think you'll see us becoming a network provider,? he concluded.