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CSIR and TIA Join Forces to Support SMME’s to COVID-19

Pretoria, 2 May 2020

For over a decade, a discussion on broadband always included a quote from the World Bank “…an increase in 10% broadband penetration would increase GDP per capita by 1%”.

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

Most notable development in the local telecommunications sector is the temporary licensing of available IMT spectrum and the authorisation to use Television White Spaces (TVWS) during the state of disaster. The authorization 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 available its Secondary Geo-Location Spectrum Database (S-GLSD) platform 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,” 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 be used to determine the number and exact frequency of unused spectrum in the afore-mentioned range be made available for use by appropriately licensed operators.  CSIR S-GLSD is a crucial technology for enabling internet service providers to rapidly deploy TVWS broadband networks on geo-location basis to hard-to-reach and underserved communities during the COVID-19 pandemic period. ICASA has allowed several small micro and medium enterprises (SMMEs) to deploy the TVWS networks for broadband internet services in order to mitigate potential data service congestion by the 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 to provide broadband internet services by deploying TVWS networks.

“TIA has played a crucial role to fund the development of now crucial, GLSD technology, enabling South Africa to effectively innovate, develop and deploy TV White Space Technologies. Universal access to communication services is a human right and therefore this kind of technologies are crucial to ensure that no one is left behind. Especially during this COVID-19 pandemic. Morai Networks, a TIA funded technology, was also selected by ICASA to deploy TV White Space networks in rural communities in South Africa.” – TIA Head of ICT: Mr. Rudzani Mulaudzi

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

TIA Contact:

Phemelo Baholo

Portfolio Manager: ICT

Tel: 012 472 2994

E-mail: phemelo.baholo@tia.org.za