The Independent Communication Authority of South Africa (ICASA) has officially made a large tranche of additional 6E spectrum available to South African users, with immediate effect.
By publishing its Amended Radio Frequency Spectrum Regulations 2023 [Annexure B], ICASA has confirmed that lower-band 6E – that is, spectrum in the 5.925GHz – 6.425GHz band range – can now be used for wireless communication, with one catch: that use of this bandwidth is currently limited for low-power transmission only.
Paul Colmer, EXCO member at Wireless Access Provider’s Association (WAPA), says that the release of this new spectrum is the first step in the much-anticipated release of additional spectrum for both indoor and outdoor use.
“While the current regulations only permit the use of lower-band 6E spectrum for indoor use, that’s still going to open up a massive window of opportunity for Wireless Internet Service Providers (WISPs) to maximise the potential of their broadband internet services,” says Colmer.
“Using any number of already-certified 6E devices, like routers, handsets and even home entertainment appliances like TVs and other smart devices, users will enjoy a supercharged internet experience, with much higher throughput and speeds, and much lower interference,” he says.
“Until now, you’d need to be on a wired Cat6 cable network to get 1-gigabit-plus internet and LAN speeds in your home or business, but with 6E devices, these speeds will soon be available wirelessly. Moreover, since very few currently use the 6GHz band, there’s going to be much less channel interference, unlike existing and already-congested 2.4GHz and 5.8GHz bands.”
Colmer says the next step is to enable the use of 6E bandwidth over standard power (outdoor) transmission devices, so that WISPs can increase the speed and bandwidth of their broadcast services.
“Enabling 6E outdoors will require the creation of Automatic Frequency Coordination (AFC) databases, which are used to automatically prevent interference between long-range broadcast equipment for new and existing users, which in the 6E band are primarily satellite services at this time,” he says.
“To date the US, Canada and Brazil has started commercial AFC trials in the 6E band. Hopefully now that South Africa has caught up with the rest of the world in opening up lower-band 6E spectrum, we can also move rapidly to allow for outdoor 6E use and, beyond that, look at opening up upper-band 6E spectrum as well.”
Advantages of 6E spectrum:
Reduced WiFi congestion
Wider channels, with 80MHz and 160MHz bandwidth
Wireless speeds of over 1Gbps
Extremely low (<1ms) latency
No overlapping channels
Next-gen experience for advanced tech like AR and VR
Device availability: handsets, routers and other smart devices from Samsung, Apple, Motorola and Asus, among others, already certified for 6E.
WAPA, established in 2006, is a non-profit trade association acting as a collective voice for the wireless industry. WAPA’s primary objective is to promote the growth of the wireless industry by facilitating self-regulation, promoting best practices, and educating both members and the market about new wireless technologies and business models. WAPA offers its members regulatory advice, technical training, a code of conduct, a forum for knowledge-sharing and business-enablement opportunities.
WAPA is positioned to be an interface between the government regulator (ICASA), network operators, service providers, and consumers. WAPA regularly makes submissions and presentations to the government on regulations affecting the wireless industry. WAPA is tirelessly lobbying for more progressive and efficient spectrum management in South Africa and is focusing on the possibilities of dynamic unlicensed spectrum for interference-free access.
Media enquiries: Lesley Colmer, WAPA
Contact details: 083-408-0151, [email protected]
Issued by: Michelle Oelschig, Scarlet Letter
Contact details: 083-636-1766, [email protected]