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CSIR and TIA join forces to support SMMEs in the fight against COVID-19 using Television White Spaces Technology

Publication Date: 
Sunday, May 10, 2020

In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, there is an increased focus on the socio-economic benefits of broadband, including providing channels to distribute education services; enable e-governance services, including health data analytics; and provide entertainment during a period when at least a third of the world is under different levels of lockdown. 

The most notable development in the local telecommunications sector is the temporary licensing of available International Mobile Telecommunications (IMT) spectrum and the authorisation to use Television White Spaces (TVWS) during the state of disaster. The authorisation of TVWS also came with the request, by the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA), to the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) to make its Secondary Geo-Location Spectrum Database (S-GLSD) platform available to the licensed operators. 

Contact Person

David Mandaha

+27 (12) 841 3654/072 126 8910

dmandaha@csir.co.za

In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, there is an increased focus on the socio-economic benefits of broadband, including providing channels to distribute education services; enable e-governance services, including health data analytics; and provide entertainment during a period when at least a third of the world is under different levels of lockdown. 

The most notable development in the local telecommunications sector is the temporary licensing of available International Mobile Telecommunications (IMT) spectrum and the authorisation to use Television White Spaces (TVWS) during the state of disaster. The authorisation of TVWS also came with the request, by the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA), to the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) to make its Secondary Geo-Location Spectrum Database (S-GLSD) platform available to the licensed operators. 

“In line with ICASA’s request, the CSIR has invited interested TVWS network operators approved by ICASA to use its S-GLSD services free of charge. This is in an effort to improve the national broadband internet capacity and provide relevant and up-to-date information to the public in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic,” says Dr Ntsibane Ntlatlapa, CSIR Impact Area Manager.

This ushers in a new era of automated control of spectrum that would see the CSIR S-GLSD used to determine the number and exact frequency of unused spectrum in the aforementioned range made available for use by appropriately licensed operators. The CSIR S-GLSD is a crucial technology for enabling Internet service providers to deploy TVWS broadband networks rapidly on a geolocation basis to hard-to-reach and underserved communities during the COVID-19 pandemic period. ICASA has allowed several small, medium and micro enterprises (SMMEs) to deploy the TVWS networks for broadband Internet services, in order to mitigate potential data service congestion by mobile network operators. 

The Technology Innovation Agency (TIA) has joined forces with the CSIR by providing the funding necessary to make the GLSD technologies freely available to SMMEs interested in providing broadband Internet services by deploying TVWS networks.

“TIA has played a vital role in funding the development of now crucial GLSD technology, enabling South Africa to effectively innovate, develop and deploy TVWS technologies. Universal access to communication services is a human right. Therefore, these kinds of technologies are crucial to ensure that no one is left behind; especially during this COVID-19 pandemic. Morai Solutions, a TIA-funded technology, was also selected by ICASA to deploy TVWS networks in rural communities in South Africa,” says TIA Head of ICT, Mr. Rudzani Mulaudzi.

“It is expected that this intervention by the CSIR and TIA will support the provision of life-saving information and enable online learning for populations in previously disadvantaged and rural communities during the COVID-19 pandemic,” says Dr Fisseha Mekuria, CSIR chief researcher.

For all queries regarding obtaining access to the CSIR S-GLSD, please contact Dr Luzango Mfupe:  lmfupe@csir.co.za.

Issued by:

David Mandaha, CSIR Media Relations Manager
Tel: 012 841 3654
Mobile: 072 126 8910E-mail: dmandaha@csir.co.za

TIA Contact:

Sello Maugane, Acting Head: Marketing & Communications
Tel: 012 472 2995
E-mail: sello.maugane@tia.org.za

About the CSIR:

The CSIR is one of the leading scientific and technology research, development and implementation organisations in Africa. Constituted by an Act of Parliament in 1945 as a science council, the CSIR undertakes directed and multidisciplinary research, technological innovation, as well as industrial and scientific development to improve the quality of life of all South Africans. For more information, visit www.csir.co.za

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About TIA:

TIA is a national public entity that serves as the key institutional intervention to bridge the innovation chasm between research and development from higher education institutions, science councils, public entities, the private sector and commercialisation. The mandate of TIA is to promote the development and exploitation, in the public interest, of discoveries, inventions, innovations and improvements. Its core objective is to support the State in stimulating and intensifying technological innovation in order to improve economic growth and the quality of life of all South Africans by developing and exploiting technological innovations. For more information, visit www.tia.org.za.

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