Enhancing South Africa’s Internet Experience: ICASA Triples WiFi Spectrum

Cellphone with app open to check internet speed

The Internet Service Providers’ Association of SA (ISPA) says the Independent Communications Authority of SA (ICASA) making available an additional 500 Mhz of bandwidth has essentially tripled the spectrum available for in-vehicle and in-building WiFi connectivity, provided users upgrade their routers to the latest Wi-Fi 6E standard.

Towards the end of May, ICASA published an Amendment to Annexure B of the Radio Frequency Spectrum Regulations (2015) in respect of the Radio Frequency Spectrum Licence Exemptions. ICASA should be commended for this timely move as the lower 6GHz spectrum band has now been opened up for the provision of WiFi which is the connectivity option of choice for South African consumers and Government connectivity initiatives like SA Connect and the National Broadband Project.

“For home, SOHO (Small Office / Home Office) and SME users, in particular, the recent amendments to the radio regulations dramatically increase the spectrum available for use by WiFi applications,” says Dominic Cull, ISPA regulatory advisor.

Spectrum decreases contention thereby providing for a more stable environment for denser wireless networks.

“This latest ICASA move caters for many more connected devices on the home WiFi network, particularly in high-density and multi-level buildings,” he adds.

As high-speed fibre optic cable is rolled out across South Africa, home WiFi has traditionally been a bottleneck with fast connectivity, being limited by wireless home and SOHO set-ups. Too many competing devices, exceeding the range of the technology, or obstacles obstructing the radio signal can result in a mediocre transfer of browsing speeds.

Fortunately, the amendment to Annexure B of the Radio Frequency Spectrum Regulations (2015) coupled with the advent of the next generation upgrade that is WiFi 6/6E and 7, should see faster speeds experienced by supported devices in the home and SOHO environments.

In addition, W-Fi 6E is a new standard that can offer innovations and allow importers to introduce new cutting-edge WiFi products to South Africa.

“The world today is hyper-competitive, and no country can afford to rest on its technology laurels. ISPA, therefore, looks forward to ICASA opening the rest of the 6 Ghz band in a similar manner as its recent, very positive move,” concludes Cull.

//Staff Writer