By Emmanuel Elebeke
The federal government says it approved the use of TV White Space, TVWS, as a new technology in a bid to extend broadband internet coverage, especially to rural communities and other far-flung communities.
The minister of Communications, Barr. Adebayo Shittu, stated this while delivering an address at the commencement of the 2019 Stakeholders Forum on rural connectivity using TV White Spaces & Global conference for rural communications in Africa (GCRCA-19).
He said federal government is eager for the use of TV White Space to increase broadband penetration in Nigeria, noting that the use of TV White space will drive spectrum efficiency in the country.
‘‘The use of TV White Space (TVWS) is now an emerging trend to further bridge the digital divide, to transmit data over long distances and reach underserved rural communities. This would drive up spectrum efficiency, and I hope other countries would learn from our move too.
‘‘Long before the adoption of the United Nation-MDGs in 2000, Nigeria understood the importance of solving this matter. And ever since, we have adopted a national broadband plan and worked relentlessly to attain our objectives.
‘‘Broadband is considered a central pillar in Nigeria’s ICT Roadmap. We have ambitious plan to fast-track deployment of the broadband infrastructure, increased national capacity building, awareness, as well as increased the opportunities for content development and innovations.’’
He however, pointed out that achieving effective coverage across rural areas is a matter that requires the right transmission technology.
‘‘Nigeria’s policy in the telecommunication field is development oriented, neutral and transparent. We welcome all technologies, and we support all corporations whether local or foreign, provided they comply with our laws, policies and regulations.
‘‘I look at the service due to disadvantaged people; to underserved or even unserved people, as a sacred duty and a noble goal. For a public official, lifting the poor from their poverty is more important than anything else.
‘‘Our country Nigeria is facing several challenges in terms of poverty-reduction goals. But at least, I am proud to announce today that the Ministry and its agencies as well as members of the NFMC are now very close to reversing the trend.
‘‘Soon, rural connectivity shall no more be a problem in our country. I have been informed that exploiting the TV white space in broadband penetration, is cost effective, would provide enormous benefit to Nigerians, while also creating the needed confidence for Internet Service providers (ISPs) and mobile operators.
‘‘One of the reasons the TV white space is good for Nigeria is because of the lower cost of the technology. It uses spectrum used for broadcast services. The fact is in Nigeria and many parts of Africa, the spectrum is underutilized.’’
He challenged the stakeholders to produce useful outcome which will assist the country in taking a leading position on this development, assuring that the ministry will articulate various submissions emanating from the forum and put them into use.
Earlier in his welcome address, the Executive Vice Chairman of NCC, Prof. Umar Danbatta, who was represented by the Commissioner for Spectrum management, Engr. Austine Nwaulunne said NCC takes the connectivity of every Nigerian, irrespective of where they reside very seriously and that the forum was to bring people together to advise and guide the Commission in drafting the regulatory framework to have TV White Spaces utilize in connecting the rural areas.
‘‘NCC takes the connectivity of every Nigerian, irrespective of where they reside very important. What we do is to look out for technologies that fit in to make this happen. TV White Spaces is one of such technologies because it is coming to utilize spectrum in the lower MHz band and some iGHz band,
‘‘As it is, the spectrum is very good for it because it propagates very far, so you need less number of base stations to deliver services. Rural communities are very challenging but because they are challenging does not mean that people there should not be connected. With the data base and sensing technology, interference will not be an issue.’’
TV White Space is an opportunistic technology, that takes advantage of the portion of the spectrum that the primary service is not using at a particular point in time.