Broadlink/iBurst denies illegal spectrum usage

The need for bandwidth is increasing all the time in South Africa, and Broadlink saw the opportunity to provide businesses, service providers and operators with reliable, high speed wireless connections.

Using licensed microwave technology, Broadlink provides MetroNet connections – a “fixed-wireless point-to-point data solution boasting high throughput and quality service.”

“MetroNet is scalable and it is used for both primary and secondary links in order to fulfill certain redundancy requirements,” Broadlink says.

Illegal spectrum usage allegations

Broadlink has been very successful in growing their network and signing up new customers, and according to Broadlink MD Mike Brown the company recently established an additional 18 fibre nodes to strengthen its existing wireless and fibre networks.

However, Rumors started to emerge recently that Broadlink – through the iBurst parent company Wireless Business Solutions (WBS) which provides the licensed spectrum used to take MetroNet to the market – has been using spectrum illegally and not declaring all of their operational links to ICASA.

According to one source, Broadlink/iBurst/WBS has been using spectrum not assigned to it in the 5.9 GHz band, and furthermore did not declare all of its wireless links to the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA) which saved the company millions of Rands per year in spectrum license fees.

MyBroadband received information that a series of complaints were laid at ICASA against Broadlink for unlicensed connections which were allegedly uncovered as a result of licensed operators in the 5.9GHz spectrum experiencing frequency interference.

One source said that ICASA found almost 300 illegal Broadlink wireless connections, and that ICASA has agreed to issue a blanket fine to resolve this issue without causing too much of a stir.

It is utter nonsense, says Broadlink

Building illegal wireless can obviously put any network operator at serious risk, not only because these links can be taken down by ICASA but also because they may face a significant fine and even backdated license fees which can cripple a business.

Broadlink MD Mike Brown however dismissed the allegations as absolute nonsense, saying that they have received no communication from ICASA about any illegal spectrum usage or anything related to this issue.

Brown added that they have a very good relationship with the operator, and apart from one spectrum interference issue last week which was resolved speedily, they have had no problem with the regulator.

Brown explained that they declare all their wireless links and spectrum usage on a quarterly basis, and that they ensure that their records are up to date with ICASA.  Brown further said that they have definitely not been fined by the regulator as alleged by the source.

ICASA gives feedback

ICASA said it could not comment on the number of licensed links from Broadlink, but did say that it “is busy investigating all reported interferences in terms of the ECA”.

“In circumstances whereby the interference is caused because of non-cooperation between the licensees – something which the Authority suspects might be the case with the complaint against Broadlink – ICASA will address this matter in terms of Section 33 of the ECA, which provides for frequency coordination between radio frequency spectrum licensees,” said ICASA spokesperson Paseka Maleka.

Maleka added that ICASA did not issue Broadlink/WBS with a fine. 

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Broadlink/iBurst denies illegal spectrum usage