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Building a wireless network? Here is what you need to know

Whether you are installing new infrastructure for CCTV, expanding your private network, or plan on becoming a wireless ISP, it is important to consider Government Regulations, your choice of built-for-purpose hardware and a high-level plan that supports your network’s objective.

Network planning is key

‘Line-of-Sight’ is critical for long-distance wireless links and for networks operating within the regular unlicensed spectrum. There are free, online link-budget calculators from vendors such as Ubiquiti Networks and MikroTik to assist you with the initial planning.

These tools provide an excellent foundation to work and plan from, and offer much-needed insight when running link scenarios, without having to actually purchase any hardware. Though handy, it is wise to remember that these tools do not take into consideration big trees or man-made obstacles, such as buildings, that may interfere with your link’s ‘Line-of-Sight’.

Ultimately, a site survey will be required for the final ‘Line-of-Sight’ checks and interference detection before any estimation can be done on performance. In addition to physical limitations, network design topology (the physical layout of devices on a network) is key.

This is especially true when considering Point-to-Multi-Point deployments where ‘air time’ is shared amongst network users. The selection of the appropriate antennas for client coverage, and hardware with Time Division Multiple Access (TDMA) technology like Ubiquiti’s Airmax or MikroTik’s NV2 for prioritisation and performance, is an important step in the initial planning phase.


Hardware selection

Apart from the obvious budget considerations, it is recommended to select hardware that is functional and appropriate for your level of expertise with further consideration to physical size and aesthetics if applicable.

There are several more considerations when choosing a specific technology brand for your deployment, like product range, availability, warranty period, pricing and after-sales support.

Ubiquiti Networks has an impressive range of networking products which are user-friendly and designed with network integrators in mind. Their high-performance airPrism and airFiber ranges offer clever hardware design and additional interference-rejection. The brand also offers UNMS (Ubiquiti Network Management System), a free network management tool which greatly simplifies network operation management and even includes billing management with support ticketing system for end-users.

MikroTik is a brand renowned for its competitive price structure and their products are packed with functionality. This product range is extremely appealing to network integrators because of its flexibility and dynamic feature set. These products require a bit of networking experience and using this brand may demand a steeper learning curve depending on your level of experience.

Following government regulations

The Independent Communication Authority of South Africa (ICASA) is tasked with ensuring that all network operators using wireless communication, are licensed to provide services. Firstly you need to determine whether a license is required, and secondly, if required, which type of license.

Private networks may operate on a license-exempt basis, but require an application for approval by ICASA. If you are going to sell services over someone else’s network (third-party network infrastructure), like an existing fibre or ADSL network, you require an Electronic Communications License (ECS).

If however, you will be providing services by deploying your own network infrastructure, an Electronic Communications Network Service license (ECNS) is required in addition to the ECS.

These two types of licenses can be broken down into two additional sub-categories, depending on whether you will be servicing only small geographical areas or if you’re planning a national deployment.

It is the responsibility of the hardware distributor to ensure that all radio transmission products are Type-Approved for use in the public spectrum. For this reason, it is vital to purchase your equipment from a trusted networking equipment supplier who abides by the set regulations.

The integrator or installer is responsible for the proper installation of the equipment and ensuring that the power limitations outlined by ICASA are adhered to.

Risk-free purchasing 

Scoop Distribution, is a Master Distributor of both Ubiquiti and MikroTik brands in South Africa. They have a dedicated team of professionals who are able to assist with advice on the right solution for your network. They offer peace of mind that no grey-imports are sold and that all products have valid warranties.

Scoop complies with government regulations and provides real-time access to Type Approval certificates for the products that require ICASA Type Approval on our website. In addition, we offer vendor-certified training and provide relevant knowledge to up-skill the industry. – Timothy Symonds, CTO


Scoop welcomes all networking or telecommunication technicians, installers and Service Providers, and offer exclusive Dealer pricing to these professionals when purchasing equipment from their Cape Town, Midrand and Durban branches.

Source: MyBroadband

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