Live Events

New ICASA regulation could negatively impact wireless communications at events

Thu, 06 Jul 2017 14:46

The Southern African Communications Industries Association

Seamless, wireless communications at events of any size are vital for success, but a new regulation proposed by the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA) could prevent AV and tech professionals in the event industry from doing this. ICASA regulates the distribution and licensing of frequencies for wireless communications, including radio microphones, events, in-ear monitoring and wireless communications devices.

The majority of radio microphones, until now, were required to work within the legal band of 800MHz range. This is the frequency band that ICASA wants to allocate to cell phone networks for broadband. For the event industry, this means:

• Smaller bandwidth size to operate on, which results in increased interference

• Replacing 800MHz radio microphones with those suitable for another frequency band

“If the industry has a smaller bandwidth for its wireless comms to operate, we will find ourselves battling with interference, and having to invest in new equipment that operates in the frequency decided by ICASA,” advises Gary Billson, head of technical services at Magnetic Storm. “This could mean the event experience is not as polished as one would expect.”

The biggest battle will be in the larger cities of South Africa and the international conference centres running ten events a day with multiple wireless microphones and communication devices. "What we dub ‘clean air' will become a luxury to operate on, and we will have to get creative in how we overcome this obstacle," adds Billson.

The Southern African Communications Industries Association (SACIA), has created a task force to lobby against the change in frequency allocation due to the impact on the event industry. In a statement, SACIA said: "the AV industry needs to engage in a formal conversation with ICASA and ensure that they are better informed about the requirements of the industry sector.”

“Places of worship, Universities and schools will also have to replace their radio microphones," adds Billson. "And it's these non-profit organisations who will face financial challenges; they cannot afford to replace equipment. “

Magnetic Storm is one company supporting the dialogue that needs to happen, to educate, inform and preserve the space dedicated to low-powered communication devices, and maintain event industry standards.

To find out more, you can watch the SACIA presentation to ICASA here: .