WAPA GM @ iWeek a Great Success

September 28, 2011

The WAPA General Meeting was held last week on Wednesday, 21 September 2011, from 14:30 to 17:30, in Centurion, at the iWeek 2011 conference.

With 45 attendees representing 32 members and affiliates in attendance, the meeting was an opportunity for new members to meet the executive committee and long-standing members to catch up with their peers.

The meeting commenced with a regulatory workshop presented by Sumaiyah Makda from Ellipsis, and covered the compliance obligations of licensees, including the submission of required reports to ICASA, and a submissions calendar.

Our Gold sponsor, Easyweb Wireless, and Silver sponsors, True Technologies and Azotel, had the chance to present.

An informal discussion around interference followed, wherein which WAPA tried to determine the extent of the issue and find out from members how to best manage cases thereof.

The WAPA GM was closed to members only and consisted of a welcome by Chairperson Henk Kleynhans, a Treasurer’s report by Eugene van der Merwe, Working group updates from Nicola Smith (Business Enabling), Christopher Geerdts (Regulatory; Training) and Henk Kleynhans (Spectrum; Marketing).

The revised Constitution, Code of Conduct and Complaints Procedure was adopted at the GM.

WAPA would like to thank the sponsors, committee and of course members, for making this event possible, as well as ISPA and UniForum for letting WAPA participate in iWeek2011. Please go here for our Chairperson’s letter of thanks.

Licence Compliance enforced by ICASA

July 25, 2011

ICASA are now implementing enforcement for all licensees, in respect of both reporting requirements and other ad hoc requirements such as notifications of change of shareholders or contacts.

WAPA’s regulatory advisor, Dominic Cull from Ellipsis Regulatory Solutions, recently met with the new head of the compliance division at ICASA, Godfree Maulana, to discuss some of the challenges facing licensees in compliance matters.

ICASA feels that current levels of compliance are lacking and are intent on cleaning up the licence database. WAPA is calling on its members to comply with the reporting requirements or the ad hoc requirements and will send out advisories in this regard.

There will be a workshop on Licence Compliance presented at the WAPA General Meeting to be held at iWeek 2011. Ellipsis will run members through the Compliance Manual Regulations and the various annual reporting requirements set out therein, including the financial reports and payment of fees, compliance with the End-User and Subscriber Service Charter, and confirmation under the Standard Terms and Conditions.

If you are a WAPA member, sign up here to register for the WAPA General Meeting, to be held on Wed, 21 September, 14:30 – 16:00 in Centurion.

WAPA calls on ICASA to deal with Unlicenced Providers

August 23, 2010

The Wireless Access Providers’ Association (WAPA) is calling upon the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA) to take urgent steps to address the high numbers of unlicensed providers of Internet and other electronic communications services in South Africa. WAPA estimates that there are more than 500 such operators in South Africa.

“It is a relatively straightforward and inexpensive process for a provider to obtain the necessary licensing which will permit it to provide services lawfully in South Africa” says Sumaiyah Makda of Ellipsis Regulatory Solutions, regulatory advisors to WAPA.

Attempts to work with regional offices of ICASA have met with mixed results. “In some cases the response has been that the unlicensed provider will be given 12 months within which to apply for licences and in most others no action has been taken at all”, says Makda.

“This seems to ignore the fact that providing electronic communications services or network services without valid licences issued by ICASA is a criminal offence under the Electronic Communications Act of 2005. ICASA is also entitled to confiscate or seal equipment which is being used for illegal service provision.”

WAPA currently has 94 members, all of whom are licensed providers of wireless access services to consumers in South Africa. Members are bound by a Code of Conduct which governs their interaction with their subscribers and other providers as well as requiring them to be compliant with ICASA regulation.

WAPA wishes to urge ICASA to beef up its efforts to curtail illegal service provision and points out that unlicensed providers are competing unfairly in that they are not paying annual licence fees or contributions to the Universal Service and Access Fund as required by ICASA. Nor are such providers observing the consumer protection regulations which ICASA has put in place.

WAPA offers assistance to unlicensed providers who wish to legitimise their operations.
Further information is available here.

WAPA encourages cooperation and transparency in spectrum management

July 9, 2009

The Wireless Access Providers’ Association (WAPA), sent out an advisory to its membership today, advising members to stop using 5600 – 5650 MHz spectrum because of interference with C-band weather radar systems.

This advisory follows an investigation by the Open Spectrum Alliance (OSA) into spectrum which may be feasible to demonstrate an industry self-regulation model through lite-licensing spectrum for terrestrial point-to-point wireless links in the 5.9 – 6.1Ghz range.

In discussions with the South African Weather Service, OSA found that wireless access providers are currently causing interference with C-band weather radar systems.

C-band weather radar is used for measuring rainfall, flood prediction, aviation safety, storm tracking / prediction, civil and industrial disaster mitigation as well agricultural and environmental management.

WAPA and the OSA would like to encourage more transparency in the use of frequency spectrum in South Africa. Spectrum is a national resource and it is in the interest of all citizens that spectrum be used as efficiently as possible. There is a need for greater public awareness and education around spectrum resources in South Africa.

Spectrum has gone “from coal to gold” in the last few years. With 300 new ECNS licensees, many of whom will be providing fixed wireless access services, national spectrum resources will be under added pressure. Positive dialog, cooperation and a new approach to spectrum management is needed.

Open Spectrum Alliance partners currently include the ISPA, WAPA, The Shuttleworth Foundation and 24.com. Simply stated OSA is a grouping of parties with an interest in seeing more bits moving: wider network coverage, more connected citizens and more online transactions.

WAPA Operations Manager

May 4, 2009

WAPA is looking to employ or contract somebody who can help with technical and wireless operations management. This person must be neutral (not affiliated to a network operator) and independent. At the moment it’s a part-time position and focused on the Western Cape area.

Position: Operations Manager, part-time
Office location: Cape Town
Reporting to: WAPA Exco
Permanent / Contract: Negotiable, 5 days a week, half-day, 8:00 to 12:00
Required Start Date: ASAP
Renumeration: In the range of R5 000 per month, depending on experience
WAPA will also provide a mobile phone and petrol allowance

Summary of position: As WAPA’s Ops Manager you will be involved in all technical areas of running a non-profit industry representative body. You will need to coordinate and cooperate with members and partners. Candidates should have a strong wireless networking background and should be passionate and pro-active about improving the state of wireless networking in South Africa.

Responsible for:
* Highsite management policies
* Enforcement process
* Code of conduct
* Certification and training
* National coverage map

Must:
* Be Independent (neutral)
* Have own car and driver’s licence

Skills and knowledge required:
* Interference mitigation
* Wireless equipment, antennas, RF planning
* Internet, email and PC skills
* Technical writing skills

Personal Attributes:
* Good listener
* Integrity, Energy, Intelligence
* Excellent communication and writing skills
* High attention to detail
* Self motivated quick learner
* Proactive, problem solver

Bonus Attributes and skills:
* Interest in the telecommunications regulatory environment
* General interest in technology and internet services
* Training background

Please contact WAPA if you are interested in the position. We’ll respond and ask for your CV. Only short-listed candidates will be contacted.

WAPA industry survey results 2008

April 17, 2009

WAPA is proud to announce the results of the third annual WAPA industry survey. The first survey was conducted in November 2006 with the formation of WAPA and has been done annually in November since then.

WAPA as a collective represents the second biggest provider of fixed service telecommunication infrastructure in South Africa today as well as the second largest group of telecommunications licensees. Note that the figures below are only a snapshot of industry data collected from WAPA members.

WAPA estimates that there are over 700 wireless providers operating in South Africa, the majority of which are not yet WAPA members. WAPA estimates the total number of fixed wireless subscribers to be in the order of 60,000.

Summary of results:

  • Date: November 2008
  • Respondents: 23 WAPA members
  • Total WAPA members: 44, 33% growth
  • Fixed Wireless Subscribers: 12 841, 57% growth, estimated split: 62% consumer market, 38% business market
  • Annual Revenue: R55m, 4% growth
  • High Sites: 860, 10% growth
  • Staff Employed: 375, 40% growth
  • Schools and social responsibility projects: 329, 71% growth
  • HDI/BEE status average: 44%, 76% growth

General observations:

The 2008 survey for the first time included Wifi Hotspot subscribers, estimated at 20 000+.

Total revenue grew conservatively even though total subscriber numbers grew by 57%. The majority of subscribers in this year’s survey is residential. This reflects a trend towards more cost effective access for consumers.

Coverage areas expanded with a steady growth in the number of high sites and there was impressive sustained growth in employment and social responsibility projects.

The WAPA membership made very good progress in meeting and exceeding ICASA’s HDI/BEE ownership guidelines.

The majority of WAPA members indicated that licenced or lite-licenced (shared) spectrum should be a strong focus area for WAPA in the next year. The membership also expressed strong interest in building a collective national coverage map.

The full survey results are available to WAPA members.

VANS may Self-Provide Infrastructure

August 29, 2008

The Wireless Access Providers’ Association (WAPA) welcomes the judgement of the High Court of South Africa delivered this morning to the effect that VANS may indeed self-provide. The judgement vindicates WAPA’s own actions in taking the Minister and ICASA to court regarding the rights of VANS and will hopefully usher in a new age of telecommunications competition in South Africa.

WAPA urges ICASA and the Minister to accept the judgement and to work together with the VANS sector to plot a practical way forward which will serve the interests of SA consumers and put an end to the artificial restrictions placed on the provision of networks in South Africa.

Make sure your WISP is a WAPA Member

May 15, 2008

WAPA offers consumers a complaints process for matters that can not be resolved between them and their provider directly. When WAPA receives complaints about WISPs providing a bad service, WAPA will investigate, try to resolve the problem and give consumers advice in dealing with the matter.

However, WAPA only has power over WAPA members, as they have agreed to our Code of Conduct. It is very important for consumers to check that their Outdoor Fixed Wireless provider is a WAPA member. The best way to verify this is to look at the list of members on the WAPA website and check that providers have the WAPA logo on the front page of their website.

Read more…

WAPA turns to High Court for clarity on VANS rights

April 7, 2008

The Wireless Access Providers Association (WAPA) today launched proceedings in the High Court of South Africa aimed at bringing much-needed clarity to the Value Added Network Service (VANS) industry and the rights of holders of VANS licenses.

WAPA is requesting the High Court to make a declaratory order regarding the rights of such VANS licensees to “self-provide”, i.e. to roll out their own networks without the need to lease infrastructure or electronic communications facilities from Telkom or other major licensees. WAPA believes that VANS have held this right since 1 February 2005 after the Minister of Communications published a policy direction to this effect in November 2006, notwithstanding a press release issued on 30 January 2005 in which the Minister attempted to clarify her earlier policy direction.

Read more…

WAPA seeks clarity on VANS Self Provisioning

Press Release by the Wireless Access Providers’ Association,
Monday 7 April, Cape Town

The Wireless Access Providers’ Association (WAPA) has launched legal action, seeking a high court declaratory order to clarify the rights of Value Added Network Service Provider (VANS) licensees.

May VANS license holders build their own network infrastructure?

This has been a topic of debate for a while and is probably the most important question in the introduction of competition in South Africa’s historically monopolistic telecommunications market.

Read more…

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