Malawi Communications Regulatory Authority (Macra) has proposed rules that will help in operating television white spaces (TVWS).
White spaces are parts of the spectrum that are unused in a particular location and at a particular time. TVWS exist between airwaves primarily used for digital terrestrial TV broadcasting.
Speaking on Monday at the World Radio Communication Conference 2015 (WRC-15) preparatory meeting in Lilongwe, Macra director of telecommunications Lloyd Momba said the regulator has proposed the rules to allow unlicensed radio transmitters to operate in the broadcast television spectrum at locations where that spectrum is not being used by licensed services.
“This will allow for the efficient use of the spectrum by opening for use a significant amount of spectrum that has otherwise been lying fallow,” he said.
Momba said these technical rules will further resolve certain legal and technical issues to provide certainty concerning the rules for operation of unlicensed transmitting devices in the TV broadcasting bands (TVWDs).
The TVWS project is being implemented by Macra in collaboration with the University of Malawi’s (Unima) Chancellor College Physics Department to provide broadband connectivity to rural Malawi at an affordable cost using the identified gaps in the TV UHF band.
The project is in response to the call for strategic research in the ICT sector as part of Macra’s mandate to enhance the provision of affordable and accessible ICT services to Malawians especially those in the rural and under-served areas.
Momba said the regulator provides for the operation of TVWDs in the TVWS regulations of 2014.
“Under these rules, TVWDs are allowed to operate on frequencies shared with authorised services at relatively low power for example at output power levels of four watts or less.
“Operation under television white spaces regulations 2014 is subject to the condition that a device does not cause harmful interferences to authorised services,” he said.
All telecommunications operators and Internet service providers (ISP) shall be eligible for TVWS licensing subject to fair trade and any operator shall have devices that comply with Malawi type approval regulations.
The TVWS is being piloted in Zomba at St Mary’s Secondary School, Malawi Defence Force (MDF) Airwing, Pirimiti Rural Hospital and the Geological Survey Department.
Other countries that are also doing a similar pilot project include United States of America (USA), United Kingdom (UK), South Africa and Kenya.—Mana