The Information and Communications Technology (ICT) Office of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST), as it formed partnerships with players from the private sector, to address the rural connectivity deficit in the provinces in the Philippines, announced that the ongoing TV White Space (TVWS) pilot testing in the country is the most extensive in the Asian region. Other TVWS deployments around the world include those in Africa, the US, the UK and Singapore.
TV White Space refers to the vacant frequencies located between broadcast TV channels in the UHF and VHF range between 54 MHz and 806 MHz. White spaces existed naturally between used channels, since assigning nearby transmissions to immediately adjacent channels will cause destructive interference. The technology can be used in various applications such as to connect local government units (LGUs) and national agencies, hospitals and health centres, educational facilities and healthcare centers.
Pilot testing of TVWS is currently ongoing in the province of Bohol and Leyte. TVWS is considered an ideal wireless data delivery medium for the Philippines, because of its long distance propagation features and the ability of its signals to travel over water and through thick foliage.
Undersecretary Louis Casambre of the DOST ICT Office said the agency and private company Nityo Infotech are currently testing the technology to prove the viability of TVWS for commercial purposes. The currently available TVWS equipment can deliver up to 6 megabits per second of data throughput at a maximum range of 10 kilometers.
Casambre said the plan is to deploy the TVWS technology in 100 sites in Bohol by end of February this year . “The plan initially is to use TVWS as a public service allowing for connectivity for Education, eHealth, eGovernment services, environmental sensor networks such as those used by PAGASA and DOST’s Project NOAH as well as Internet Access in public places such as barangays halls and town plazas. We’re actually rolling this out slowly. It’s a new technology and there are some policies that need to be addressed specific to this because we’re using the frequency spectrum originally allocated for TV broadcasters. We plan to ensure that the policy framework is in place before this technology is used commercially,” Casambre said.
Nityo Infotech managing director Roy Del Rosario said the TVWS project is a showcase of the company’s willingness to invest and expand the national broadband connectivity of the country. “This is a manifestation of our cooperation and support to the Philippine government to put in reality a national connectivity project that will boost the country’s competitiveness.”
Nityo Infotech is funding the rollout and deployment of the TVWS technology in Bohol with an investments of about $5 million (PhP225 million), which will be used in setting up the 100 sites and other technical requirements of the pilot project.
“We hope to be online with more a hundred pilot sites within the month in Bohol and Leyte and we plan to launch USAID’s ecofish project that allows fisherfolk to monitor fishing areas online using this particular technology.” said Ms. Bettina Quimson, Deputy Executive Director of the DOST-ICT Office.
Increasing demand for wireless data traffic and growing pressure to network capacity has spurred an interest to utilize these unallocated portions of the radio spectrum. Currently available TVWS’ long range means that less base stations are required to provide coverage for a given area compared to existing wireless technologies.Thus, TVWS is considered an extremely cost effective means for Internet/data delivery and quick deployment of such.
Pilot testing of the technology after the Bohol earthquake and Yolanda destruction in Visayas provided critical communications for relief and disaster efforts. This also helped both local and foreign governments and NGO’s perform the necessary services. The testing of the technology was expanded to the Leyte-Samar areas after typhoon Yolanda.