Kenya’s Communications Authority is Developing a Draft Framework for TV White Spaces

Mercy Wanjau CA

Mercy Wanjau CA

Yesterday, the Communications Authority of Kenya (CA), Strathmore University, and other ICT policymakers and friends of the industry had an interesting discussion about TV white spaces in a workshop held in Nairobi. White spaces, which are basically portions of spectrum left unused by broadcasting, is one of the alternative modes of spectrum utilization that has been growing in the Kenyan ICT space and other parts of the world. Also known as the interleaved spectrum, TV white spaces have been lauded for their epic propagation features and have since been an attractive venture for organizations such as Microsoft that uses them to give internet access to people in remote areas, as we discussed in the past.

“I am happy to report that Authority has continued to support the deployment of a vast array of technologies and solutions, where possible, through the allocation of the requisite frequency spectrum and through other regulatory interventions,” said CA Interim Director General Mercy Wanjau.

According to the CA, Kenya is yet to formulate regulations for robust use of white spaces. This misstep is, however, about to change as the CA is currently developing a draft framework for the same and is reportedly taking consideration of the best practices. Once the structure is concluded, it will be presented to stakeholders for further consultations, and may also be subject to public participation.

It is also worth noting that these discussions are being explored right now because there is a growing uptake of data hogging applications and rapid absorption of mobile products. In the presence of bandwidth issues, potential regulatory choices by the CA for addressing such bottlenecks would be positioned to meet maximum spectrum efficiency by exploring forms of dynamic spectrum access. To this end, the CA has signed an MoU for spectrum management research on dynamic spectrum access techniques.

“I am happy to mention that the Authority, in recognition of Dynamic Spectrum Access as a promising technology to alleviate the spectrum scarcity problem and increase spectrum utilization, signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with STRATHMORE University for spectrum management research on Dynamic Spectrum Access (DSA) techniques such as TV white spaces. The partnership will enable CA to conduct research and develop policies and implementation model of the use of White Spaces and Dynamic Spectrum Access techniques,” reported the DG.

The use of TV white spaces has been undertaken for more than five years on a trial basis after the CA received an application for deployment back in 2012.