JAWUG, which aims to create the largest community run wireless network in the Johannesburg area, currently has close to 50 active nodes on their network.
The organization makes it clear that they do not sell Internet connectivity, and are using various types of IEEE 802.11b and 802.11g hardware for wireless data communication in the 2.4GHz band to achieve its goals and fall within the legal requirements of a wireless network.
Sharing networking knowledge
ICASA recently published their ‘Intension to make regulations in respect of license exemptions in respect of radio frequency spectrum, ECS and/or ECNS’. JAWUG took this opportunity to give feedback on the matter, and argues that it is ‘in an ideal position to assist South Africa in meeting the shortfall in IT networking skills.’
“Africa is experiencing a severe shortage of IT networking skills, as found by research firm IDC in a report commissioned by Cisco Systems. The shortfall in internet protocol, telephony, security and wireless skills is predicted to be 30% by 2009, which represents 69 700 people,” JAWUG states in their submission.
“JAWUG is in an ideal position to assist South Africa in meeting this shortfall in skills, by assisting individuals to learn about networking, security and wireless communications at almost no cost to themselves. The only cost is for the procurement of wireless equipment, which in many cases is partially sponsored by local vendors, or other JAWUG members.”
JAWUG has operated for a few years already and has indeed been a source of knowledge sharing and education to both its members and the wider IT community through its interaction in open forums and at conferences.
ICASA license exemption
As a non profit organization JAWUG is exempt from requiring an ECN license, but it noted that according to the recently released ICASA documentation it may still require a radio frequency spectrum and/or ECNS license for its activities. It however notes in its submission that it does not require a frequency license, as it operates solely in License Exempt Spectrums.
Depending on clarification from ICASA, JAWUG says that it wishes to either ‘Apply for a Class ECNS license and as a non-profit organisation, have the ECNS license fee waived, or be declared License Exempt regarding the ECNS requirements’.
On Thursday 11th of October, ICASA will have a discussion with all interested stakeholders regarding the license exempt category as part of its two week long Industry Briefing on the Licence Conversion Process.