Morai Solutions, one of three companies to be awarded temporary access to radio frequency spectrum to deploy television white-spaces (TVWS) networks during the Covid-19 pandemic, plans to build access infrastructure using the technology in the rural Eastern Cape.
Communications regulator Icasa surprised the industry on 17 April when it announced that, in addition to extra spectrum being awarded to the mobile operators, it would license three companies to provide TVWS-based networks.
TVWS is a technology that allows service providers to use the gaps between television broadcasts to provide access to end users and is seen as highly suitable for providing rural broadband at lower cost.
Icasa received applications from Mthinte Communications, Levin Global and Morai Solutions for the use of TVWS in the 470MHz to 694MHz band.
The authorisation for use of TVWS by these applicants was granted subject to various conditions, Icasa said. If there is any harmful interference with television broadcasters, the applicants must immediately terminate their services and notify the regulator.
Morai has now set out its plans for the TVWS spectrum. It plans deploy infrastructure in the Eastern Cape, starting with Mthatha and the surrounding rural communities in the King Sabata Dalindyebo local municipality of the OR Tambo district municipality.
“We are planning to deliver connectivity to these South African rural underserviced communities while expanding nationally,” said Morai CEO Tim Shete in a statement on Tuesday.
Morai will co-locate its infrastructure with other providers to offset the need to build new infrastructure during this period.
“In hilly regions, TVWS frequencies will typically cover two to six times that of the current Wi-Fi technologies, thus needing fewer base and customer premise units (up to 10 times fewer than current technologies) to cover these expansive areas,” Shete said. “The TVWS access points will serve larger rural areas, allowing them to be installed in areas up to several kilometres away from where backhaul will be located.”
Morai’s TVWS technology is driven by Carlson Wireless Technologies’ RuralConnect Gen3 TVWS broadband radios that operate in the 470MHz to 790MHz service bands.
Watch TechCentral’s recent interview with Indigo Broadband’s chief technology officer Keith Pitout on TVWS network deployments in South Africa:
To prevent interference with licensed users, the RuralConnect equipment will be managed by the CSIR’s Secondary Geolocation White Space Database.
Morai is being incubated by Altron Nexus as part of a year-long enterprise development programme and is one of the small enterprises involved in Altron’s Gauteng Broadband Network Project.
South Africa has run several pilot projects involving TVWS technology, including one in Cape Town backed by Google, and a second near Polokwane, backed by Microsoft. — (c) 2020 NewsCentral Media