WISP Licensing Requirements

June 6, 2012

Interested in operating as a wireless service provider?

  • You need a Class ECNS to build a wireless network in your area.
  • You need a Class ECS to sell data or voice services over your network.

WAPA offers a service to new members helping them with the licensing process. Once signed up, WAPA will assist you with the application and follow up on your behalf until the licences are issued. Go here to sign up.


The Electronic Communications Act provides for two types of telecommunications licence:

  • Electronic Communications Services (ECS) licence
  • Electronic Communication Network Services (ECNS) licence

The ECNS licence gives a service provider the right to roll out and operate physical telecommunications infrastructure such as telephone lines or cellular masts and antennas. Effectively, this means that an ECNS licence holder has the same right to ‘self-provide’ its own network infrastructure as the incumbent operators such as MTN, Vodacom, and Telkom have always had.

The ECS licence gives a service provider the right to provide services over its own or another company’s telecom infrastructure.

Take an ADSL line as an example. To lay down the physical copper from the service provider’s premises, across public property and into the customer’s business or residence, one would need to have an ECNS. To provide the related Internet service provider services such as Web access, one would need to have an ECS.

ECS and ECNS licence types are further defined as Class or Individual.

A class ECS licence authorises the holder to provide electronic communications services on a national basis and to enter into commercial agreements with network operators to use their networks to carry its services to its customers. An individual ECS licence entitles the holder to access telephone numbers from the national numbering plan.

A class ECNS licence authorises the holder to self-provide its own network in an area no larger than a district municipality. An individual ECNS entitles the holder to roll out a national or provincial network.

ICASA issues only class licences at present, and individual licences only become available when sold by existing licence holders. WAPA can also advise as to the availability of these. However, there is also the option to apply for multiple class ECNS licences, as the area of operation spreads over municipal district boundaries.

Contact WAPA to get licenced.