The TV White Space partnership —an innovative collaboration between the Philippine Department of Agriculture through the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources, the US Embassy Manila’s United States Agency for International Development (USAID), and Microsoft Philippines—won this year’s Public-Private Partnership (P3) Impact Award in New York.
The TV White Space Partnership improves the lives of fisherfolk and coastal fisheries management in the Philippines by extending Internet access to remote and underserved coastal communities.
The partnership deploys Microsoft’s TV White Space technology, which generates long range wireless internet connectivity by utilizing empty television UHF and VHF broadcast channels. Together, USAID, Microsoft and the government of the Philippines connect schools and community centers in six remote municipalities to the Internet, benefiting more than 250,000 people. This is the first time this technology has been piloted in the Philippines.
“Leveraging public-private partnerships is a critical pillar of how USAID operates,” remarked Dr. Susan Brems, USAID Philippines’ Mission Director. “Our work with Microsoft and the Philippine Government demonstrates how innovative partnerships can provide targeted assistance, in this case, to the environment and fisheries sector, as we pursue our shared vision of inclusive and sustainable growth for Filipinos.”
The TV White Space partnership also supports a new mobile online system to register fisherfolk in hundreds of rural communities. This system enables the government to better understand where fishing is taking place thus, helping officials better manage precious and threatened fish stocks.
The institutional development impacts extend far beyond the fisheries sector. This is why the Philippine government has incorporated TV White Space as a key element of its universal broadband access strategy.
TV White Space hubs also help in saving lives. When a 7.2 magnitude earthquake struck Bohol Province in October 2013, TV White Space was the only means of communication when mobile phone service went down, helping relief workers coordinate their work and survivors to contact loved ones.
The partnership was forged out of USAID’s five-year Ecosystems Improved for Sustainable Fisheries (ECOFISH) project. Launched in 2012, USAID’s ECOFISH project protects biological diversity and boosts livelihoods in eight key marine biodiversity areas throughout the Philippines, including Lingayen Gulf, Verde Island Passage, Calamianes Island Group, Ticao-San Bernardino-Lagonoy Gulf, Danajon Reef, South Negros Island, Surigaodel Sur and del Norte, and Sulu Archipelago.
The P3 Award was announced at the Concordia Summit in New York City on October 2. Vice President Joe Biden and Secretary of State John Kerry attended the summit.