tv white space
Rural broadband. Image source: Axios

Communities in the Eastern Cape such as Mthatha will now have broadband access through Television White Spaces (TVWS).

The country’s communication watchdog, ICASA, has assigned temporary radio frequency spectrum to assist in the provision of COVID-19 affordable and reliable data access to rural communities during this period of the pandemic.

Using the temporary radio frequency spectrum, Morai Solutions plans to build access infrastructure using TVWS by Eastern Cape.

Morai Solutions plans to start its TVWS rollout, starting with Mthatha and the surrounding rural communities of King Sabata Dalindyebo, the local municipality of the OR Tambo District Municipality.

“We are planning to deliver connectivity to these South African rural, underserviced communities while expanding nationally,” said Morai CEO, Tim Shete, who himself originally hails from Mthatha.

TVWS are “unused” spectrum located in the 470Mhz-790Mhz band, and ICASA has allowed wireless access devices to transmit in these unoccupied channels as long as they do not interfere with licenced broadcasters. It is seen as a solution to deliver cost-effective rural broadband.

Since TVWS frequencies can travel for kilometres, Morai will take advantage of this benefit and co-locate their infrastructure with other providers in order to offset the need to build new infrastructure during this period.

“In hilly regions, TVWS frequencies will typically cover two to six times that of the current WiFi technologies thus needing fewer base and customer premise units (up to 10 times fewer than current technologies) to cover these expansive areas,” Shete explained.

“The TVWS access points will serve larger rural areas, allowing them to be installed in areas up to several kilometres away from where backhaul will be located.”

Morai is being incubated by Altron Nexus as part of a year-long enterprise development programme and is one of the SMMEs on Altron’s Gauteng Broadband Network Project.

“We have worked closely with Morai in testing the technical and commercial viability of TVWS technology, and they have proven to be exactly the sort of professional, well-managed, black-owned SMME that Altron Nexus is keen to support and help develop to greater heights,” said Altron Nexus CTO Ehimare Aire.

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