Picture: 123RF/RAJESH RAJENDRAN NAIR
Picture: 123RF/RAJESH RAJENDRAN NAIR

Altron Nexus affiliate, Morai Solutions will use temporary spectrum assigned to it in television white spaces (TVWS) to provide affordable and reliable data access to rural communities during the Covid-19 crisis.

Morai, which is being incubated by Altron Nexus as part of a year-long enterprise development programme, has been assigned temporary radio frequency spectrum by, the Independent Communications Authority of SA (Icasa), as part of the government’s effort to tackle communication challenges related to the coronavirus pandemic

TVWS are “unused” spectrum located in the 470Mhz-790Mhz band, in which television broadcasters tend to operate. Icasa has allowed wireless access devices to transmit in these unoccupied channels as long as they do not interfere with licensed broadcasters.

Morai said it plans to commence its TVWS rollout in the Eastern Cape, starting with Mthatha and the surrounding rural communities in the King Sabata Dalindyebo local municipality.

Since TVWS frequencies can travel for long distances, Morai said it will take advantage of this benefit and locate its infrastructure alongside other providers to offset the need to build new infrastructure.

“In hilly regions, TVWS frequencies will typically cover two to six times that of the current Wi-Fi technologies, thus needing fewer base and customer premise units (up to 10 times fewer than current technologies) to cover these expansive areas. The TVWS access points will serve larger rural areas, allowing them to be installed in areas up to several kilometres away from where backhaul will be located,” Morai CEO, Tim Shete said in a statement.

To prevent interference with other licensed users, Morai’s signals will be managed by the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research’s (CSIR) secondary geolocation spectrum database.

“We are planning to deliver connectivity to these SA rural, underserviced communities while expanding nationally,” said Shete.

Morai is also one of the small to medium enterprises (SMEs) working on Altron’s Gauteng broadband network project.

Altron Nexus’s chief technology officer, Ehimare Aire, said, “We have worked closely with Morai in testing the technical and commercial viability of TVWS technology, and it has proven to be exactly the sort of professional, well-managed, black-owned SME that Altron Nexus is keen to support and help develop to greater heights.”

gavazam@businesslive.co.za