The South Korean government last week handed over television white space (TVWS) gateway equipment to the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR).
This was undertaken through the Korea Trade-Investment Promotion Agency and Innonet, an equipment manufacturer based in South Korea.
The 24 devices are envisaged to enable local wireless internet service providers to deploy TVWS broadband networks in rural communities in South Africa.
TVWS uses idle broadcast spectrum on a secondary basis to enable broadband connectivity. This type of technology is considered a cost-effective solution to provide much-needed affordable internet connectivity to underserved communities.
Around the world, many TVWS projects for commercial applications are operational, delivering connectivity to those in areas that are difficult to reach.
In Africa, the commercial deployment of this technology has been a topic of much contention, with the continent often facing criticism from advocates of TVWS frequencies for under-utilising the technology that can improve internet access on the continent.
The CSIR is tasked to deploy the equipment for pilot initiatives in rural communities in collaboration with small, medium and micro enterprises (SMMEs) selected for training by Innonet.
Seven beneficiaries of local SMMEs from Limpopo, Mpumalanga, KwaZulu-Natal, Free State and Eastern Cape will be trained and equipped with the necessary skills to operate the devices.
The partnership stems from the signing of a memorandum of understanding between the organisations in September 2023.
The agreement outlined their joint efforts to assist ICT-focused beneficiary SMMEs in various areas, including the piloting of TVWS technology, applied research and technology development, localisation of TVWS equipment and software, and manufacturing of telecommunications equipment in South Africa.