Microsoft SA MD: “Cheaper broadband in SA will change lives.”

I got the opportunity to chat to Microsoft South Africa MD, Mteto Nyati about the company’s TV White Spaces project. The project rolled out affordable broadband to 5 schools in Limpopo as well as the province’s University.

Mteto says the TV White Spaces project had two objectives. The first was to demonstrate the technology and equipment that is available to provide high-speed broadband to South Africa at affordable rates. Secondly, this technology does not have to be limited to urban areas. Microsoft South Africa supplied high-speed and affordable broadband to 5 rural schools. Along with this they supplied the necessary tablets, PCs and training to the teachers. The results were astounding. The teachers changed the way they planned lessons, introducing new exciting elements to their classes. The schools recorded higher attendance numbers and enhanced interest from their pupils.

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Think about the opportunities if South Africans had access to affordable broadband? Google’s recent Made With Code website (which is free) would be accessible to a far larger number of young South African girls. While you and I would likely watch more funny YouTube videos, affordable broadband access for rural communities would be a game changer in the lives of so many young South Africans. As Mteto told us, “cheaper broadband in SA will change lives.”

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Microsoft South Africa are not in the business of providing connectivity, but hopefully, with the TV White Spaces project, will ignite a fire under IT & Telecommunication companies to prep new business models and take this to the various regulation bodies. Microsoft South Africa had to obtain a special license from Icasa for this particular project. It’s time we engage the necessary stakeholders to ensure these regulations change and technology like that used in the TV White Spaces can become available to the general public.

We vote cheaper broadband for all. Let’s hope Microsoft South Africa’s project inspires the change.

Please Note: In this piece we’re focusing on the social aspect, if you’re looking for a technology break down there is a piece on Tech Central that you should read.

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