Indigo Broadband Brings Carlson Wireless’ Network Technology to Africa

Indigo Broadband appointed Southern African distributor for network equipment from Carlson Wireless Technologies – the only ETSI-approved and Geo-Location Database verified TV White Space (TVWS) systems in the region.

Indigo Broadband has been appointed the authorised sub-Saharan distributor of TVWS network systems developed by Carlson Wireless of Eureka, California. Carlson Wireless is at the forefront of this new wave of wireless broadband, both in terms of performance and local regulatory compliance. Broadband networks that operate in the “Television White Spaces” allow cost-effective connectivity for communities not serviced by the current market offerings that are either not available or unaffordable to them.

Carlson Wireless Technologies achieved the coveted CE Mark certification in April 2019, indicating that the Carlson Generation 3 RuralConnect® base stations and customer premises equipment (CPEs) meets European Union standards for telecommunications systems certified by ETSI, the European Telecommunications Standards Institute. Carlson Wireless Gen3 RuralConnect products are already FCC-certified in the US.

Typical Rural Broadband network
Typical Rural Broadband network

This CE Mark and regulatory approval by ETSI means that Carlson Wireless’ TVWS systems meet the type-approval requirements of South African regulatory authority, ICASA. In another major first, Indigo Broadband worked extensively with local experts from the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) to ensure these systems also meet ICASA requirements for interaction with the required reference Geo-Location Database (the GLDB or GDB).

“Indigo has been working very hard over the past years to bring Carlson Wireless Technologies products to this region – in the right way. Meeting both the required ETSI certification and the technical interfaces to regulator-mandated systems were followed, together with establishing the service and support resources to ensure this technology can be rolled out for commercial broadband services,” said Keith Pitout, CTO of Indigo Broadband South Africa.

The product range includes the Carlson Wireless Gen3 and Gen3 Mini RuralConnect products. The big brother in the range is a three-radio/three-sector base station, providing an aggregate capacity of up to 96Mbps. This could provide up to  60 separate households or small businesses with 3Mbps connections. Carlson RuralConnect systems can reach over 15km if there is a clear line of sight or 5-10km near-line-of-sight where there are obstructions such as hills or trees. Carlson is soon bringing to market an entry-level “Mini” version equipped with one radio that can be easily set up in a public building, office or home location with access to a traditional telecoms network connection, linking to it up to 20 end-user sites with a return on investment of less than one year.

The long-range capabilities under difficult terrain make the TVWS systems from Carlson ideally suited to rural or underserviced areas. Other radio technologies have limited or no range in a “near-line-of-sight application”, making their deployment cost-prohibitive in many applications.  

“We have been working with Indigo Broadband very closely because TVWS technology has the power to radically improve access to Internet connectivity for many communities. However, regulatory requirements are necessarily strict. Introduction into new markets must be done methodically and in full co-operation with local authorities,” says James Carlson, CEO of Carlson Wireless. “Indigo Broadband is a great partner for us in Southern Africa, with a rigorous technical process and years of hard-won expertise in deploying new connectivity technologies.”

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