Communications Authority to Commercially Deploy TV White Spaces for Fixed Broadband


The Communications Authority of Kenya (CA) has a new proposal that it hopes to adopt for its plan to develop a framework for Dynamic Spectrum Access (DSA), which is one of the main agendas of its Strategic Plan (2018-2023).

The CA has always been tasked with the implementation of spectrum sharing because it is one of its purposes, and has to make space for the varying levels of spectrum demands that keep growing from time to time.

To this end, the CA says it is planning to authorize the commercial deployment of TV white spaces for fixed broadband services, which is in the 470-694 MHz UHF spectrum band.

The band is currently allocated to broadcasting as described in the National Table of Frequency Allocations.

This means that TV White Space Devices (WSDs) will be authorized to operate where specific channels are unused for digital terrestrial television broadcasting. The CA adds that there will be no changes in the manner terrestrial signals function because as a primary service, the signals are protected from interference.

We have seen some applications that have taken advantage of unused TV whitespaces to offer broadband services, but to a small scale. The main example here is Mawingu, the Microsoft-affiliated internet program that sells broadband to Nanyuki residents, and its environs around Meru and Nyeri.

The ICT regulator further says that it plans to inspect every mode of the WSD to ensure it meets the Type Approval requirements before installation.  Their operations will be managed by geolocation databases approved by the CA.

The proposal is based on previous consultations with ICT stakeholders conducted from 2014 to 2019 on the applications of white spaces.

At the moment, the CA is conducting a validation exercise with some researchers from Strathmore University to ascertain the viability of the framework prior to its implementation in April 2020.

The lengthy proposal, which can be read here, defines, among many other features, spectrum sharing opportunities for TV white spaces applications, details the framework of the white spaces – which include primary reference standards and device parameters, and trial processes.