Uruguay exploring "white space" connectivity options with Microsoft

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT) will work with the Uruguayan government's connectivity for schools initiative Plan Ceibal to explore the use of white space, or unused portions of wireless spectrum, according to a Microsoft statement.

Microsoft is collaborating on pilots on four continents - Africa (Ghana), Asia (Singapore, the Philippines and Taiwan), Europe (Glasgow in the UK) and South America (Uruguay), the company announced Tuesday at the global summit of the Dynamic Spectrum Alliance, a cross-industry alliance focused on increasing access to unused radio frequencies.

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Microsoft also revealed it is partnering with SpectraLink Wireless and Facebook (Nasdaq: FB) to provide low-cost wireless connectivity to students and faculty at universities in Koforidua, Ghana.

White space is unused portions of wireless spectrum in the frequency bands generally set aside for television transmissions.

The frequency can be used for providing low-cost connectivity, connecting rural areas to broadband, improving in-building wireless networks, creating hotspots for internet access and offloading mobile traffic. It can also be used between radio bands or channels to avoid interference.

In Uruguay, Microsoft is providing technical support to the state connectivity for schools initiative Plan Ceibal, which will use TV white space technology provided by 6Harmonics to provide broadband access to 10 rural schools.

Uruguay has been a pioneer in Latin America in providing computing devices to children. Inspired by the One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) project, originally conceived by MIT scholar Nicholas Negroponte, Uruguay's Plan Ceibal kicked off in 2007 and has delivered laptops to 100% of primary school children, with the same now being done in high schools.


Through the partnerships with SpectraLink Wireless and Facebook, Microsoft will deploy wireless networks covering entire campuses at All Nations University College and Koforidua Polytechnic in Ghana. This pilot is part of Microsoft's 4Afrika Initiative to help improve the continent's global competitiveness.

Facebook's efforts will be led by its Connectivity Lab team, which is working on new technologies to support Internet.org's mission to make internet access available to the two-thirds of the world not yet connected.

Internet.org is a partnership between Facebook and six mobile technology companies: Samsung, Ericsson, MediaTek, Nokia, Opera Software and Qualcomm.

During a keynote in February at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said the first Internet.org trials in Latin America were carried out in Paraguay.

Facebook's head of strategic mobile partnerships Laura González-Estéfani said Facebook is in talks with operators and other players in the digital ecosystem to expand Internet.org across Latin America.