Microsoft announced its first white spaces project in Kenya earlier this year, as part of its 4Afrika initiative, and now the company has expanded its focus with a new program in South Africa to explore the potential to deliver broadband Internet at a lower cost.

‘White spaces’ is a term for using unused frequencies for television broadcasters to deliver wireless Internet services. Microsoft says it will use TV white spaces and solar-powered base stations in order to deliver low-cost wireless broadband services to five schools in South Africa’s Limpopo province.

Microsoft isn’t simply providing Web access, it says the schools will be kitted out with Windows-based tablets and projectors, while teachers will get laptops and training. Since access to power can be an issue, there will be solar panels for charging devices where mains electricity is not available.

The South Africa project is Microsoft’s third such initiative in Africa — alongside pilots in Kenya and Tanzania — and Mteto Nyati, managing director of Microsoft South Africa, outlined its importance in bringing the Internet to remote areas and new users.

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