The Wireless Access Providers’ Association (WAPA) wants the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA) to follow in the footsteps of other countries and implement lite-licensing.
They claim if ICASA, together with the Department of Communication, employ WAPA as advisor they could begin lite-licensing and export its wireless access framework to other African countries.
Lite-licensing refers to a central database keeping track of all current users while monitoring interference readings at each site. The various international trials underway range from the United Kingdom to Singapore and include a trial in South Africa in which WAPA is participating.
Implementing a lite-licensing regime in the local wireless access market is something WAPA believes will “improve spectrum efficiency, provide opportunities for new entrants to the market, as well as provide structure and management in the open spectrum space.”
“A lite-licensing regime would provide sustainable frequency sharing model in South Africa that could help raise spectrum efficiency and provide opportunities for new entrants, thereby driving the economy by creating jobs and facilitating broadband access,” said Christopher Geerdts, WAPA’s Chairperson.
At present many South African wireless access providers use license exempt frequencies in accordance with ICASA’s Frequency License Exemption Regulations of 2008. The current “winner-takes-all” approach leads to a few large industry players dominating the market, which is why lite-licensing is a better option, argues WAPA.
This leads to 90 percent of spectrum not being used as well as stifling innovation and competition.
Geerdts added: “Lite-licensing schemes provide the registration, coordination and interference protection benefits that a wireless license guarantees, but at a cost and application time significantly lower than traditional wireless licensing.
WAPA emphasised it is willing to work with the regulator and government and said it believes it is “uniquely positioned” to facilitate the management.
“WAPA urges the Department of Communication to recognise the value of lite-licensing in meeting its policy objectives and for and for ICASA to implement it as part of the frequency management mix,” said Dominic Cull, WAPA’s regulatory advisor.
Cull said the industry is growing considerably and as such it must meet the large demand for cost-effective, quality broadband across the country – “from high-density suburbs to remote rural communities.”
Lite-licensing refers to a central database keeping track of all current users while monitoring interference readings at each site.