TV white spaces in South Africa can now be started

One of the last The major obstacles to the rapid commercial deployment of TVWS White Space (TVWS) Internet access technologies in South Africa have been overcome.

The communications authority Icasa released a notice this week calling on interested parties to take part in a qualification process to operate a secondary geolocation spectrum database (S-GLSD), an important function in preventing signal interference on television broadcasters.

So far, the CSIR has provided vital geolocation database services to the emerging industry, but plans are now to white-label its solution instead of offering it directly to operators, as TechCentral understands. The Icasa call for applications now opens the door for other commercial secondary database operators to enter the market.

TVWS technology takes advantage of the “spaces” gaps between terrestrial television broadcasts – the static gap that occurs when tuning an analog television

The primary geolocation database, which contains important information about which spectrum is used in which parts of the country, was also developed by the CSIR on behalf of Icasa. This database is now being handed over to the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority.

TVWS technology takes advantage of the “spaces” between terrestrial television broadcasts – the static electricity that occurs when tuning an analog television – to provide Internet services. Successful testing of the technology has focused on remote areas in Limpopo, KwaZulu-Natal and elsewhere to test the technology as a suitable means of providing Internet access at prices well below mobile data charges.

Investment warning

Icasa’s invitation to apply comes after industry players warned last year that delays in enforcing regulations could cost South Africa billions of rand in potential investments. In July 2020, the Black IT Forum even threatened to take Icasa to court if TVWS was not commercialized.

South Africa was an early pioneer in testing TVWS technology with successful pilots supported by companies such as Google and Microsoft. Icasa was also a pioneer in Africa in developing the regulations necessary to govern the industry.

Icasa’s TVWS policy will go into full effect on April 1st. Unlike many other commercial telecommunications operators, potential TVWS players do not need to apply for a license from Icasa, but must use Icasa type-approved hardware in their networks and comply with certification that the hardware works with the geolocation database provided by the successful S -GLSD applicant.

Icasa hit its critics last July, saying its annual performance plan only requires that the process of fully adopting TVWS technology and regulations must be completed by March 31, 2021.

“Icasa has proactively made this technology available, although the legal framework has not yet been finalized,” said Icasa spokesman Paseka Maleka at the time. He said Icasa sees TVWS as an important complementary technology for South Africa that has the potential to enable affordable broadband.

“Icasa previously stated and claimed that the regulatory framework for dynamic spectrum allocation and opportunistic spectrum management is in the best interests of South Africa’s digital future. The rules are essential to facilitate universal access to broadband, especially in rural and underserved areas.


“On June 5, 2020, the authority published a framework to qualify for the operation of the S-GLSD in order to provide a qualification framework for interested companies as S-GLSD service providers. The reason the regulations are not yet in effect is because the agency has not qualified any S-GLSD providers.

“Icasa is committed to providing a solid and determined TVWS legal framework for the expansion of broadband internet services in South Africa. It is therefore insincere to assume that Icasa is delaying the adoption of TVWS technologies without a better understanding of the regulatory environment. If anything, Icasa has actively pursued and promoted this technology. It is important to note that Icasa is required to operate within the applicable legal framework and has a fair and transparent process in place to quickly implement TVWS technology. “- © 2021 NewsCentral Media

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