Indonesia Rural Broadband TV White Space Pilot
In partnership with Microsoft, Hitachi, Jogja Medianet, and the Government of Indonesia, Integra implemented a year-long field trial of a new and very promising broadband technology in a rural area near Yogyakarta. The final report is available here.
TV White Space (TVWS) devices offer the ability to establish wireless broadband links over a range of up to 30 km. They can do this because they use a section of the radio frequency spectrum that other types of radios cannot access. They broadcast over empty TV channels, or via the buffer spaces between active TV channels, deploying a technology called cognitive radio.
By deploying working TVWS broadband links in rural Indonesia, the Integra pilot showed that the technology is well suited to a developing world context. In fact, one link is capable of providing a rural village with 130 always-on internet connections at broadband speeds.
However, the pilot did not limit itself to assessing the technological feasibility of the devices. It also showed that TVWS connectivity offers valuable social benefits to rural communities and that private Internet Service Providers (ISPs) can operate profitable rural TVWS links.
The small business we provided with connectivity increased monthly revenues by 15% and invested in further production space. Integra partnered with a local, private ISP, which operated the links, and we shared with them cost and revenue information. In certain architectures, revenues were more than double costs. Finally, we laid the groundwork for scaling up the use of TVWS devices. Because we aligned the pilot with metrics and goals outlined in the 2014-2019 Indonesia Broadband Plan, there is scope to work with licensed “Universal Service Operators.” These are private ISPs that have won, through competition, the rights to a government subsidy for the provision of internet connectivity in rural areas. Just eleven of these companies cover all of Indonesia, and one of them was a partner in the pilot. If the government approves the use of TVWS devices on a permanent basis and authorizes USO funds for their use, we could see a massive scaling up of this technology in a few years.
Integra was a subcontractor to NetHope, Inc. on this activity.