Ghana gets first commercial service network

•  High speed broadband offers students quick access to the internet.

• High speed broadband offers students quick access to the internet.

Spectra Wireless and Microsoft 4Afrika have 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.

This makes Spectra Wireless the first company in Africa to offer a consumer broadband internet access service leveraging TV white space technology.

“Research by the Wi-Fi Alliance in the United States has revealed that 90 per cent of students view access to Wi-Fi as critical to their success, “Frank McCosker, General Manager of Affordable Access and Smart Financing at Microsoft 4Afrika said.

“High speed broadband offers students a way to access knowledge from all over the world, equalising the divide between developed and developing nations,” he said.

He said while the initial pilot project in Ghana offered wireless broadband to universities, the new commercial service allowed 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, receive free access to relevant apps, including Microsoft Office 365 and the Microsoft Virtual Academy.

The students he said could apply for zero-interest loans in partnership with UT Bank to purchase select, internet-enabled Microsoft, Lenovo, Dell and HP devices.

“We are breaking away from the standard way of selling internet services in Africa,” Sam Darko, Country Leader of Spectra Wireless said.

He said: “Everyone wants and needs access to the internet, but there are very few, if any, reliable, unlimited and affordable solutions for the masses.”

The cheapest data package starts at just GH¢2 per day and provides 24 hours of access.

“Even in advance of launching the commercial service, we have over 3,500 different 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,” he added.

Prof. H Nwana, Executive Director of the Dynamic Spectrum Alliance, of which Microsoft and Spectra Wireless’ parent company are both members, said “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,” he said.

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