Wapa’s Paul Colmer on why Icasa should open up 6GHz for Wi-Fi


Paul Colmer

The Wireless Access Providers Association (Wapa) recently called for government to free up vast tracts of radio frequency spectrum in the 6GHz band, claiming that doing so could drive a wave of economic growth.

Wapa executive Paul Colmer joins the TechCentral podcast (listen below) to unpack why the association has made this call, and why it believes opening up the 6GHz band to unlicensed telecommunications providers could generate huge benefits for the country.

Specifically, the spectrum could be used for Wi-Fi 6E, an evolution of Wi-Fi 6 (technically, 802.11ax) that exploits the 6GHz band.

Wapa, which represents many of South Africa’s wireless Internet service providers, said its own calculations suggest that more than R560-billion in increased GDP could be derived from freeing up 1.2GHz of spectrum around 6GHz.

Two parts

The Wi-Fi 6E band is broken up into two main portions: a lower band from 5 925MHz to 6 425MHz and an upper band from 6 425MHz to 7 125MHz. The Dynamic Spectrum Alliance has urged governments to provide unlicensed access to 700MHz of the upper band.

But why should the band be made available on an unlicensed basis for Wi-Fi, rather than being allocated to mobile operators as so-called IMT spectrum for mobile broadband instead? What about existing users in the band? And if the band is made available on an unlicensed basis, how should it be done?

In the podcast, Colmer looks at what other countries are doing with the band, and why he thinks the time is right for communications regulator Icasa to consider how it plans to make the band available for communications services.

Don’t miss the discussion.

Listen to the interview

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