Morai uses emergency spectrum for TV white space connectivity

Staff Writer
By Staff Writer
Johannesburg, 28 Apr 2020

Morai Solutions has been assigned temporary radio frequency spectrum by the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA) to assist in the provision of COVID-19 affordable and reliable data access to rural communities during this period of the Covid-19 pandemic.

This month, the regulator assigned temporary spectrum, announcing Vodacom, MTN, Telkom, Liquid Telecom and Rain among the recipients.

ICASA considered applications for temporary spectrum in the following bands: 700MHz, 800MHz, 2 300MHz, 2 600MHz and 3 500MHz, as well as the use of television whites paces (TVWS)

Morai says 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.

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

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

The company says 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. 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,” Shete says.

Morai’s TVWS technology is driven by Carlson Wireless RuralConnect Gen3 TVWS broadband radios that operate in the 470 MHz to 790 MHz service bands. In order to prevent interference with licensed users, the RuralConnect will be managed by the CSIR Secondary Geolocation White Space Database.

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,” says Altron Nexus CTO Ehimare Aire.