Radio spectrum utilization in Zambia: establishing availability of white space, as enablers for ICT services network rollouts

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Chisumbe, Cornellius
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University of Zambia
Recently, the use of Television White Spaces (TVWS) for broadband communication has raised interest world over. TVWS refers to regions of radio spectrum in the Ultra High Frequency(UHF)bandthatarenotusedallthetimeinaspecificgeographicallocation.TVWS spectrum brings with advantageous propagation properties inherent to UHF spectrum and has been identified as an alternative for providing commercial wireless services other than broadcasting. This study focused on investigating the current utilization of the UHF band in Zambia to establish availability of TVWS, as well as its subsequent usage for transmission of alternativeICTservices.QualitativeandQualitativeapproachwasadoptedwithdatacollected using signal drive tests, structured questionnaires and interviews. The research population included the Zambia Information and Communication Technology Authority as a regulator, Information Communication Technology service providers, and Television/Radio broadcasters.TheaimwastoestablishwhetherZambiahasTVWSresourceandwhetherthere are secondary services currently deployed on the UHF band as opposed to Television broadcasting which is the primary service. The research established that only 10.2% of the UHF band in Zambia is being utilized and this is due to limited number of licensed signal distributors, and Television broadcasting companies in Zambia depend on the signal distributors for propagation of content via the air waves. The regulatory framework inZambia as guided by the Digital Migration Policy, limits the number of signal carriers to two thereby limitingaccesstoUHFfrequenciestoonlythetwosignaldistributors.Thestudyalsorevealed some of the potential ICT solutions and application that can be implemented over TVWS resource. Zambia has no standards of its own but rather reference to the available various ITU standards governing the broadcast of wireless services. The research, therefore, recommends sensitization on TVWS resource to be carried out to encourage planning and research by both the service providers and the regulator towards implementing technologies that will be able to handle the anticipated increased demand for ICT services and M2Mapplications.
Radio frequency allocation--Zambia , Telecommunication--International corporation--Zambia