Better Wi-Fi for South Africa

The Independent Communications Authority of South Africa’s (Icasa) decision to make 500MHz of bandwidth available for Wi-Fi has tripled the capacity available for in-vehicle and in-building wireless networks.

This is according to the Internet Service Providers’ Association of South Africa (Ispa), which also said the improved connectivity would only be realized if users upgrade to equipment that supports Wi-Fi 6e.

Wi-Fi 6e is the latest wireless standard and leverages the 6GHz band, which helps improve the efficiency and data throughput of wireless networks while reducing latency.

“This is fantastic news for consumers,” said Ispa.

In late May 2023, Icasa amended the Radio Frequency Spectrum Regulations regarding radio frequency spectrum licence exemptions, effectively making 500MHz of additional bandwidth available.

Ispa commended Icasa’s timely decision to increase the spectrum available for Wi-Fi applications.

Ispa regulatory advisor Dominic Cull says households, small offices, and small and medium-sized enterprises would benefit from the change.

“For home, Soho (Small Office / Home Office) and SME users, in particular, the recent amendments to the radio regulations dramatically increase the spectrum available for use by Wi-Fi applications,” says Cull.

“This latest Icasa move caters for many more connected devices on the home Wi-Fi network, particularly in high-density and multi-level buildings,” he adds.

The additional spectrum will reduce contention, allowing a more stable environment for denser Wi-Fi networks.

Ispa hopes to see Icasa open up more of the 6GHz band to improve Wi-Fi connectivity in the country.

“The world today is hyper-competitive and no country can afford to rest on its technology laurels. Ispa, therefore, looks forward to Icasa opening up the rest of the 6 Ghz band in a similar manner as its recent, very positive move,” says Cull.

The lower 6GHz band that Icasa released for Wi-Fi refers to the radio frequency range of 5925–6425 MHz, as allocated in the National Radio Frequency Plan.

“This additional spectrum can support more simultaneous connections, offers reduced latency, delivers faster data speeds, and results in less interference, especially in potentially congested high-density areas and campus environments,” Icasa said at the time.

“The Authority will work closely with industry stakeholders to ensure compliance with these regulations and to protect the interests of business and consumers.”

Now read: Icasa to appoint consultant for 4G and 5G spectrum auction

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Better Wi-Fi for South Africa