By Etuka Sunday
Federal Government yesterday disclosed that the planned deployment of Television White Space (TVws) spectrum for broadband in unserved and underserved areas was key to the attainment of digital economy.
The Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr. Isa Ibrahim Pantami made this disclosure at the Presentation of Draft Guidelines on the use of Television White Space in Nigeria, held at NCC Headquarters, Abuja.
NCC said, the “TV white space also know as “Super WiFi” refers to unused TV channels in any given area.
It said, “with a Rural Connect radio, these vacant channels can be converted into wireless broadband internet.”
This innovation technology, according to NCC, has the ability to connect the world’s unconnected people.
However, the Minister said, “the whole world is about digital Economy ; it is because of this we discovered that you cannot promote digital Economy without broadband and if you look at our unserved and underserved areas, the earlier we reach out to them by providing broadband the better for the digital Economy and that is why both parastatals, NCC and NBC are working together to ensure we can use TV white space spectrum for broadband in unserved and underserved areas. So this is key to digital Economy. Firstly they are working on regulations (developmental regulations), secondly: solid infrastructure and that is all about broadband.”
He said, NCC has a mandate of Broadband penetration in Nigeria and TV White Space being used today is broadband, particularly to penetrate unserved and the underserved areas.
“So it is because of this that the National Frequency Management Council (NFMC) charged both of them to work together to come up with a guide line for the TVWS in order to provide broadband to unserved and underserved areas. I think this is key to the digital Economy,” Pantami said.
He said, the way digital Technology is elvoving, the regulator has no time to sleep, saying technology comes with new challenges, therefore, the regulator must sit up or up and doing.
Meanwhile, the Governor of Kaduna State, Mallam Nasir Ahmad el-Rufai who was also at the event said, the state was working on strategic partnership with Private Sector to improve broadband access to government schools, hospitals and private investments.
Represented by the Special Adviser on Inter-Government Affairs, Hadiza Usman Mu’az, the governor said, “Kaduna State is activity looking for partnerships. We are looking for strategic partnership with the Federal Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy to see how we can improve on that to leverage on the potentials in the agencies under the ministry and the opportunities that might present to Kaduna state.”
Earlier, the Executive Vice-Chairman, NCC, Prof. Umar Garba Danbatta said, the gathering was convened by the Commission in collaboration with the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) for stakeholders to brainstorm at finalising the draft Guidelines on the deployment of the TVws technology in Nigeria.
Prof. Danbatta said, “the Commission has remained resolute in efforts towards bridging the digital divide between strata of our society. To this end, it has over the years, evolved initiatives not only aimed at increasing broadband penetration, but also promoting connectivity to the rural areas.
“One of such initiatives is this collaboration with NBC to explore the use of TVWS in the sub 1 GHz band for rural broadband connectivity while also exploring the possibility of licensing of the TVWS Spectrum,” he said.
The NCC boss said, “you will recall that in March, 2019, we convened similar event of relevant stakeholders to brainstorm and generate inputs towards developinga draft Regulatory framework for use of this technology designed at bridging the digital divide between the haves and have nots in our communities.
“Today,the Commission is the pleased to inform you that a draft of the Regulatory framework has been concluded and consultation to you.
“The man aim of this gathering is to further listen to and collect comments and feedbacks on the draft document towards its eventually finalization and operationalization,” he said.