Google made headlines a few months ago when they unveiled Project Loon, an initiative to bring internet to the masses by way of wi-fi carrying balloons. While widespread implimentation of Loon remains a long-term objective, the search giant and swiss army knife of technology is experimenting with an innovative new technology to bring internet to rural areas of Africa.
By teaming up with the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA), Google aims to take advantage of “white space” — a spectrum of unused TV and radio frequencies — to bring broadband internet to communites in Africa. In order to leverage the movement and gather enough white space to make a useful difference, the South African think tank is lobbying to push the implementation of digital broadcasting in television, which offeres more usable white space than the analogue equivalent. Despite investments of nearly $17 billion across Africa, the spectrum currently allocated to mobile services remains the lowest in the world.
As a result, a sluggish technical infrastructure is forcing South African firms to look into broadband and wi-fi over traditional DSL. Africa continues to have record breaking rates of smartphone growth, which Google intends to take advantage of.