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South Africa regulator opens up 6 GHz Wi-Fi spectrum

By , ITWeb
South Africa , 24 May 2023
The regulator opening up the lower 6 GHz spectrum band for the provision of Wi-Fi services.
The regulator opening up the lower 6 GHz spectrum band for the provision of Wi-Fi services.

South Africa’s telecoms regulator, the Independent Communications Authority of SA (ICASA), has released more spectrum for Wi-Fi services, in the lower 6 GHz band.

The lower 6GHz frequency band refers to the radio frequency range of 5925 – 6425 MHz, as allocated in South Africa’s national radio frequency plan.

This frequency band offers several benefits and a much-needed boost for the uptake of Wi-Fi services.

The introduction of the lower 6 GHz frequency band for Wi-Fi services, the regulator says, will support the growth of the digital economy and help bridge the digital divide.

ICASA councillor Peter Zimri says: “The Authority is further committed to ensure that the country stays in the forefront of innovation in wireless technologies and believes that the release of the lower 6 GHz band, and other short-range device frequency bands, will assist it in reaching this goal.”

For ICASA, the additional spectrum offers reduced latency, delivers faster data speeds, and results in less interference, especially in potential congested high-density areas and campus environments.

Overall, it says, the implementation of the lower 6 GHz frequency band is expected to provide reliable wireless communications, and an enhanced user experience for both consumers and businesses throughout the country.

Yesterday, ICASA published an amendment to annexure B of radio frequency spectrum regulations 2015, in respect of licence exemptions, effectively opening up the spectrum band for the provision of Wi-Fi services.

Annexure B consists of a list of radio apparatus, the use or possession of which does not require a radio frequency spectrum licence, says a statement from the regulator.

ICASA says it has now incorporated the key ‘lower 6 GHz frequency band (from 5 925 to 6 425 MHz) for radio local access networks (RLAN / Wi-Fi) applications, and the frequency band 122 - 246 GHz for non-specific short-range applications’, through the amendment to Annexure B of the regulations.

In addition, the regulator advises that, while a radio frequency spectrum licence is not required for the possession and use of radio apparatus listed in Annexure B, relevant regulatory requirements, such as the radio apparatus type-approval by ICASA in accordance with Section 35 of the Electronic Communications Act, will continue to apply.

“The Authority will work closely with industry stakeholders to ensure compliance with these regulations and to protect the interests of business and consumers,” says ICASA.

Adding: “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.”

According to the regulator, Annexure B is an important component of implementing the provisions of the national radio frequency band plan in a responsive way.

It says: “The Authority continues to work to ensure that the list of apparatus exempt from radio frequency spectrum licensing remains dynamic, and constantly evolves to reflect technology changes in the radio communications environment.”

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