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Online partners hail SA’s TV White Spaces trial success

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Google, WAPA, and partners today announced the outcomes of a successful TVWS trial with ten schools in the Cape Town area that began in March this year. TV White Spaces are unused channels in the broadcast TV spectrum that offer the potential to improve Internet connectivity where it is most needed – in underserved areas where telecoms infrastructure is lacking.

Google and fellow online partners have announced the success of a TV White Spaces trial in South Africa. (Image source:
Google and fellow online partners have announced the success of a TV White Spaces trial in South Africa. (Image source:

The trial demonstrated both positive feedback and increased internet usage by participating schools, which enjoyed broadband internet connections for the first time, and confirmed that there was no interference with television broadcasts or other telecommunications systems during the six-month trial.

According to Dr. Ntsibane Ntlatlapa, Manager of Networks and Media Competency Area at CSIR Meraka Institute, “The thorough measurements gathered during the trial show that TV White Spaces can be used to deliver wireless Internet service without causing interference to primary users. The outcomes highlight the potential of TVWS to help bridge the digital divide and open up access to underserved and rural areas.”

ICASA has noted that it intends to use the trial outcomes as inputs into the TVWS regulatory process. WAPA Chairperson, Mohammad Patel, notes that “Regulatory approval of more spectrum as licence-exempt, such as those in the TVWS, will enable WAPA members and the entire wireless industry to serve the market even more effectively.”

The trial partners, including Google, WAPA, CSIR Meraka, TENET, e-Schools Network and Carlson Wireless hope that the success of this trial will encourage policymakers to work towards creating a regulatory framework that will support the wider use of TVWS to deliver wireless broadband Internet across the country and help as many citizens as possible to access the Internet.

Jens Langenhorst, WAPA’s Executive Committee member for Spectrum, said “WAPA members are very excited about the TVWS technology and have expressed their desire to introduce new products and services with the additional shared spectrum. WAPA members play a crucial role in our economy, where they have the agility to provide connectivity to their clients sometimes within hours and are often the only real alternative in underserved areas.”

The majority of WAPA members currently make use of licence-exempt frequencies in accordance with the ICASA Frequency Licence Exemption Regulations 2008. It is however recognised that this is not a sustainable solution because so many providers are providing services in these bands.

WAPA strongly supports the development of a sustainable frequency-sharing model in South Africa and believes that such a model will benefit the industry both through more efficient use of existing spectrum and opening up the market to competition from new entrants.

To read more about the trial background and results, please visit the WAPA Website.

* Image via Shutterstock

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