Ensuring Universal Availability of Broadband Services

Wed, 20/02/2019 - 07:55

In November last year, the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA) called for comments on the draft International Mobile Telephony (IMT) Roadmap. Taking up the case of its members in this landmark initiative, WAPA sent its input to ICASA. The IMT is an important process that seeks to ensure universal availability of broadband services, a vibrant and competitive telecommunications industry as well as promote investment in the country.

This is part of the broader regulatory intervention following a growing demand for mobile broadband in South Africa and there is a need for more mobile broadband bandwidth capacity.

“Licensees have indicated a need for more spectrum, while on the other hand, many rural communities do not have access to mobile bandwidth, and there is also an outcry to reduce the perceived high cost of data services. This, therefore, indicates a need for a more universal mobile broadband coverage, a need best served by deploying lower sub 1 GHz radio frequencies that propagate across a wider coverage area,” says ICASA Council’s Peter Zimri.

The IMT Roadmap provides for an analysis of the prospective IMT radio frequency bands in detail and outlines the alternative options for using the bands for consultation with all interested stakeholders. Depending on the outcomes of the consultation, the respective Radio Frequency Spectrum Assignment Plans will be developed to specify how the bands will be used, following which the assignment process can take place

Tim Genders, Chair of WAPA sent the following comments on behalf of WAPA’s 200-plus members to ICASA:

  • “WAPA believes that the EC Act of 2006 has given South Africa a dramatic improvement in the provision of Internet access across the country.
  • Key to this is the ability for small business to gain a license in district areas and provide directly Internet services to the end users. This has not only provided coverage from alternative providers but, through market forces and competition, brought down the cost of data.
  • Critical for reducing cost is that spectrum allocation of ISM bands is maximised and that these bands line up with other countries so that lower cost, mass produced radios can be effectively deployed in South Africa.”

To this end WAPA requests that ICASA protects and expands the ISM licensing in the following areas:



Common name

License type


470 -694 MHz Excluding 606-614 MHz

TV White space


Allocation by dynamic spectrum database.

2.4 GHz

Home Wi-Fi

ISM Licence exempt


3.5 GHz



Allocation by dynamic spectrum database. Not to be issued to mobile network operators

5 GHz

Outdoor Wi-Fi

ISM Licence exempt

Request increasing the available channels

17.6 to 17.8 GHz


ISM Licence exempt

Point to point registration

24 GHz

Air Fibre


Point to point registration

60 GHz

mm wave V-band

Licence exempt

Not to be issued to mobile network operators

80 GHz

mm wave E-band


Not to be issued to mobile network operators