Television White Spaces network operators can now use CSIR’s geolocation spectrum database

11th May 2020 By: Simone Liedtke - Writer

Television White Spaces network operators can now use CSIR’s geolocation spectrum database

In the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, and in line with the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa’s (Icasa’s) request, the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) has invited interested Television White Spaces (TVWS) network operators to use its Secondary Geo-Location Spectrum Database (S-GLSD) services free of charge.

The network operators need to be approved by Icasa.

The CSIR explained on May 11 that this is done in an effort to improve the national broadband Internet capacity and provide relevant and up-to-date information to the public in the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic.

CSIR impact area manager Dr Ntsibane Ntlatlapa says “this ushers in a new era of automated control of spectrum that will see the CSIR's S-GLSD used to determine the number and exact frequency of unused spectrum in the aforementioned range made available for use by appropriately licensed operators”.

Ntlatlapa explains that the CSIR's S-GLSD is “a crucial technology” for enabling Internet service providers to deploy TVWS broadband networks rapidly on a geolocation basis to hard-to-reach and underserved communities during the Covid-19 pandemic period.

Icasa has allowed several small, medium-sized and microenterprises (SMMEs) to deploy the TVWS networks for broadband Internet services to mitigate potential data service congestion by mobile network operators.  

This decision was taken alongside the temporary licensing of available International Mobile Telecommunications spectrum and the authorisation to use TVWS during the state of disaster.  

The authorisation of TVWS also came with the request, by Icasa, to the CSIR to make its S-GLSD platform available to the licensed operators. 

The Technology Innovation Agency has joined forces with the CSIR by providing the funding necessary to make the GLSD technologies freely available to SMMEs interested in providing broadband Internet services by deploying TVWS networks.

“It is expected that this intervention by the CSIR and TIA will support the provision of life-saving information and enable online learning for populations in previously disadvantaged and rural communities during the Covid-19 pandemic,” CSIR chief researcher Dr Fisseha Mekuria comments.