University students will now get fast, affordable Internet bundles and receive zero-interest financing when purchasing a new device.
VENTURES AFRICA – Spectra Wireless and Microsoft 4Afrika launched Africa’s first commercial service network utilising TV white spaces in Ghana, which will allow students to buy affordable, high speed internet bundles and devices. The commercial service builds on the success of the initial TV white spaces pilot launched in May 2014. Spectra Wireless is the first company in Africa to offer a consumer broadband Internet access service leveraging TV white space technology.
Access to Wi-fi critical to success?
“Research by the Wi-Fi Alliance in the United States has revealed that 90 percent of students view access to Wi-Fi as critical to their success,” says Fernando de Sousa, General Manager Africa Initiatives at Microsoft. “High speed broadband offers students and teachers a way to access learning resources from all over the world, equalising the divide between developed and developing nations. While the initial pilot project in Ghana offered wireless broadband to universities, this new commercial service allows students to have their own internet bundles, determine their own usage and purchase an internet-enabled device for anytime, anywhere access and enhanced productivity.”
As part of the commercial pilot service, university students will be able to purchase high speed internet bundles; use relevant apps, including Microsoft Office 365 and The Microsoft Virtual Academy; and also apply for zero-interest loans in partnership with UT Bank to purchase select, internet-enabled Microsoft, Lenovo, Dell and HP devices.
Affordable internet now accessible
“We are breaking away from the standard way of selling Internet services in Africa,” says Sam Darko, Country Leader of Spectra Wireless. “Everyone wants and needs access to the Internet, but there are very few, if any, reliable, unlimited and affordable solutions for the masses. Our complete djungleEd service for the tertiary education sector provides just that, and together with the application bundles and affordable devices we offer a complete technology upgrade to participating institutions. This service will transform education in Africa.”
The cheapest data package starts at just two Ghana cedi per day and provides 24 hours of access.
“Even in advance of launching the commercial service, we have over 5,800 unique client devices registered on our network, out of a student population in Koforidua of 8,500, so the interest level already has been high. We look forward to educating more students and offering them affordable devices,” adds Sam.
TV bands to boost bandwdith efficiency
According to ITU’s ICT Facts, Africa led in Mobile-broadband growth with penetration in the continent reaching close to 20 percent in 2014, up from 2 percent in 2010.
Prof. H Nwana, Executive Director of the Dynamic Spectrum Alliance, of which Microsoft and Spectra Wireless’ parent company are both members, says: “Having overseen TV white spaces (TVWS) trials in the UK at Ofcom, I am truly delighted to see Spectra Wireless and Microsoft’s move to make TVWS-based broadband a commercial reality in Ghana, a first in Africa. I applaud the Ghanaian regulator, NCA, in granting a commercial license, which allows use of TV frequencies on a secondary basis as long as TV is not interfered with. This would drive up spectrum efficiency of TV bands in Ghana, and I hope other countries learn from NCA’s decision.”