9 Reasons Why WISPs Keep Renewing Their WAPA Memberships

Tue, 23/03/2021 - 10:27

“We’ve got a long history of working flat out for the industry. Probably the biggest benefit for most of the new WISPs is the training we offer, the regulatory advice from our specialist lawyers, and the forum for technical advice because it helps them get their businesses up and running quickly and effectively,” says Karel Venter, deputy chair of WAPA and volunteer at the non-profit.

“The larger WISPs and the older members also see the benefits of our other activities. Those are around how we engage all the people and organisations in the country who have a bearing on the industry and their businesses, which helps to shape the commercial future of the industry.”

These are the 9 ways that WAPA help WISPs:

  1. Providing a community for technical support and other interactions through a knowledge-sharing platform

  2. Providing training content for WISPs, such as how to set up a WISP

  3. Offering regulatory advice from a specialist law firm that specifically deals with the wireless industry

  4. Lobbying government through various interactions, including presentations and submissions, for efficient and progressive spectrum management, focusing on TV white space spectrum. It’s the first dynamic, unlicensed, non-line of sight spectrum to go live in SA (1 April 2021)

  5. Hosting regional events and an annual, national event

  6. Educating consumers on how to use WISPs and providing them with a tool to find WISPs in their area

  7. By being the interface between government, industry and consumers

  8. Offering a collective voice for the wireless industry and promoting best practice

  9. Facilitating self-regulation of outdoor, fixed wireless and indoor nomadic wireless

“We have tirelessly engaged all the role-players in the country since 2003,” says Venter. “Throughout our history, we have proactively engaged the various key people and organisations, including the minister, ICASA, parliament and others. We have progressively participated with courts and regulators to find common ground for the wireless service providers so they can provide valuable connectivity and related services to South African organisations and communities.”

WAPA has been recognised as the self-regulating body for the industry since 2006 and has engaged with the minister and the minister’s office since February 2005, and ICASA since 2007. Membership has grown steadily, bolstered by activities like its Spectrum Analyser Workshops, cooperation with the ISPA (Internet Service Provider’s Association), and the high court that ruled in 2008 (backdated to 2005) that value-added network (VAN) service providers have the right to self-provide network infrastructure.

WAPA hosts two different types of events for WISPs. WAPALOZA is the annual event there are also regional events for each province. Two events were successfully hosted in 2020, the first in Durban in February, prior to lockdown. The second was hosted in East London in November with strict adherence to health and safety protocols. WAPALOZA, last held in 2019 due to COVID-19-related restrictions, is a three-day training and networking event for members and industry delegates. It helped members understand the impacts of TV White Space, the fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR), and 5G. The focus was on helping entrepreneurs start their own WISP. Members unanimously agree that one of the main highlights of the annual WAPALOZA events is always the informal networking opportunity.

“It’s a platform that helps members interact with one another directly,” says Venter. “And they can interact with people from the industry who are important in shaping how the industry maintains service delivery and profitability. It’s also their platform to get ahead of the curve by understanding what’s on the industry’s radar and the radar of all the significant role-players in the country.”

Entrepreneurs that want to start their own WISP or existing WISPs can find more information on how to become WAPA members at https://wapa.org.za/members or access additional information at https://wapa.org.za/resources .