WAPA assists new Wireless Networks with Licencing

Wireless networks are popping up all over South Africa, with an estimate of 500-800 unlicensed networks out there at present.

WAPA understands that many of the wireless service providers are small and it could be argued that getting licenced is a costly operation for a small business but the new licensing framework is very clear about the need for an ECNS license to operate network infrastructure.

The Wireless Access Providers’ Association (WAPA) believes that it is in the industry interest that all service providers are properly licensed and can assist with this process by applying to ICASA on their behalf for the required licensing needed to provide wireless access services.

WAPA currently has 69 members, of which 5 are NPO’s. 2009 saw a 75% growth in membership, with 29 new members being signed up, some of whom were already licenced. WAPA has so far assisted with 22 licence applications, with 8 submissions completed, 11 still in process, and 3 on hold.

Once WAPA receives the new membership application, the licence application is submitted to ICASA within a few days of receiving all the necessary information and documents. According to regulation, ICASA has a total of 60 working days to consider the licence application, following which the applicant is deemed to have been registered. WAPA is concerned that ICASA is taking longer than the ECA stipulates and have communicated this to ICASA.

WAPA’s current fee of R2 500 (excluding VAT) for a class ECS and ECNS application for new members is set to increase to R3 500 (excluding VAT) as of 1 March 2010. The increase is attributed to delays in the awarding of licenses by ICASA, resulting in a substantial increase in the administration process.

WAPA advises that unlicensed wireless access providers make use of the window period before the 1 March 2010 increase in fees. Enquiries can be directed to info@wapa.org.za or 082 458 1656.