In a boon to wireless internet service providers, communications regulator Icasa has officially opened a big portion of the 6GHz band to Wi-Fi applications.
The move, which comes after Icasa introduced draft amendments to regulations at the end of last year, will help wireless ISPs that use unregulated spectrum to offer internet services into businesses and homes, while home users should benefit from improved throughput over their home networks – provided they have a router that supports frequencies in the band.
Icasa said on Tuesday that it has published an amendment to anexure B of the radio frequency spectrum regulations of 2015, opening the “lower” part of the 6GHz band for Wi-Fi. The frequencies in question range from 5.925GHz to 6.425GHz.
“The authority has now incorporated the key lower 6GHz frequency band for radio local access networks … and the frequency band 122–246GHz for non-specific short-range applications,” it said.
“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,” it added.
“Overall, the implementation of the lower 6GHz frequency band is expected to provide significant improvements, more robust and reliable wireless communications, and an enhanced user experience for both the consumers and businesses throughout the country.”
Icasa explained that the lower 6GHz band is “rapidly emerging worldwide as a key component in broadband roll-out and its uptake, providing an essential local-loop component to support fibre, fixed-wireless access, television white spaces and satellite backhaul”.
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. The Wireless Access Providers Association (Wapa) has been at the forefront of this, with its executive, Paul Colmer, telling TechCentral in a podcast interview in May 2022 that making the 6GHz band available for Wi-Fi could generate huge benefits for the South African economy.
Specifically, the spectrum could be used for Wi-Fi 6E, an evolution of Wi-Fi 6 that exploits the 6GHz band.
Icasa said that although the band is unlicensed, meaning anyone can use it without first applying to the regulator for a licence, several rules still exist to govern its use.
“While a radio frequency spectrum licence is not required for the possession and use of radio apparatus listed in annexure B of the radio frequency spectrum regulations, relevant regulatory requirements such as the radio apparatus type-approval by the authority, 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.” — © 2023 NewsCentral Media