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Wednesday, 24 May 2023 06:50

Icasa releases more spectrum for WiFi services in the lower 6GHz band.

By Lehlohonolo Lehana.

The Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (Icasa) has opened up the lower 6 GHz, which is the radio frequency range of 5 925 MHz to 6 425 MHz spectrum band, for the provision of WiFi services.

This followed an Amendment to Annexure B of Radio Frequency Spectrum Regulations, 2015, in respect of Radio Frequency Spectrum Licence Exemptions, which consists of a list of radio apparatus, the use or possession of which does not require a radio frequency spectrum licence, which Icasa published on Tuesday.

Icasa explained the lower 6 GHz frequency band refers to the radio frequency range of 5925–6425 MHz, as allocated in the National Radio Frequency Plan.

It effected the release of the spectrum through an amendment to Annexure B of its Radio Frequency Spectrum Regulations, 2015, in respect of Radio Frequency Spectrum Licence Exemptions.

Annexure B of Radio Frequency Spectrum Regulations, 2015, consists of a list of radio apparatus, the use or possession of which does not require a radio frequency spectrum licence.

"This additional spectrum can support more simultaneous connections, offers reduced latency, delivers faster data speeds, and results in less interference, especially in potential congested high-density areas and campus environments," Icasa stated.

Icasa said the lower 6 GHz frequency band is rapidly emerging worldwide as a key component in broadband rollout and uptake, providing an essential local loop component to support fibre, fixed-wireless access, TV-Whitespace, and satellite backhaul.

Although the use of this spectrum doesn't require a licence, Icasa warned that other regulations still apply, such as devices requiring type approval.

"The Authority will work closely with industry stakeholders to ensure compliance with these regulations and to protect the interests of business and consumers," Icasa stated.

"The Electromagnetic Compatibility and Safety requirement for the relevant Application Type remains mandatory and must refer to the prescribed standards in the Authority’s Official List of Regulated Standards."

In addition to the lower 6 GHz frequency band, Icasa's amendment incorporated 122–246 GHz for non-specific short-range applications.

The move by Icasa to open a large portion of the 6GHz band comes after lobbying by industry players to open up the band for Wi-Fi in South Africa.