Picture: ISTOCK
Picture: ISTOCK

SA is closer to making affordable broadband available after the Independent Communications Authority of SA (Icasa) published regulations on the use of television white space.

The white space refers to unused frequencies within the radio frequency band 470 MHz to 694 MHz, excluding the radio astronomy sub-band 606 MHz to 614 MHz. The frequencies can be used to boost internet access, especially in underserviced parts of the country.

SA’s stalled digital migration process has delayed the release of spectrum in the 800 MHz band, which cellphone network operators have said they need in order to roll out faster wireless infrastructure.

Icasa said the regulations would support the uptake of affordable broadband services and access by the underserved. The draft regulations introduce penalties for anyone operating in the television white-space spectrum without authorisation.

TV white-space technology provides an alternative but complementary ecosystem to LTE [long-term evolution] technologies for bridging the digital divide and inexpensively delivering broadband,
Kalpak Gude

The Dynamic Spectrum Alliance, an international body advocating for laws and regulations that will lead to more effective spectrum utilisation, said the regulations marked a "step forward for South Africa in enabling affordable broadband".

The alliance has over the years championed television white-space technology for its strength in providing connectivity over big geographical areas.

"TV white-space technology provides an alternative but complementary ecosystem to LTE [long-term evolution] technologies for bridging the digital divide and inexpensively delivering broadband," said Kalpak Gude, president of the alliance.

"We look forward to Icasa making its approval process operational and the television white-space database commercially available, as both are necessary steps for commercial deployments to move forward," said Gude.

phakathib@businesslive.co.za