The Nigerian government, in a tweet shared by its vice president on Monday, announced that it is partnering with the tech giant, Microsoft, to deploy Internet connectivity in unserved and underserved areas in the country through the Microsoft Airband Initiative.
The Initiative aims to close the digital divide and bring high-speed internet connectivity to unconnected communities around the world through the use of TV white space (TVWS) — the unused broadcasting frequencies between television channels which are cheaper and faster to deploy compared to traditional fiber, and it can travel long distances and transmit through forested terrain.
Speaking on the development and the rationale behind the project, Brad Smith, Microsoft President says: “We believe in the future of Nigeria, and we are excited as a company to add to our investments.”
Continuing, Brad says he believes that: “Together, we have an enormous opportunity to put technology to work, create jobs, to foster the technology ecosystem across Nigeria, and to use technology to preserve the best of the past and take us into the future.”
The partnership represents another avenue the government is tackling the low internet penetration in the country which, according to the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) presently stands at 45%, but some industry experts have argued is much higher.
The much-needed airband technology is a low-cost alternative to laying fiber cables through these communities which can get prohibitively expensive. The TVWS technology can travel longer distances than traditional WiFi signals, and across forests and walls.
When fully implemented, the initiative should ideally make the Internet better for half of Nigeria’s almost 200 million population.