Regulations around LoRa in South Africa

Let’s discuss the regulations regarding the use of LoRa equipment in South Africa in this topic. A good place to start is the ISM band radio regulations.

Radio-Frequency-Spectrum-Regulations-2015—GG-38641—30th-March-2015 (1).PDF (4.0 MB) - see pages 70-72.


Thanks for starting up the forum properly JP.

I spoke to ICASA and they say that anything being used “has to” be ICASA certified. Even if someone has already got it certified, you need to certify again for each importer. Obviously this is bunk; because how do they know if OTTO wireless has certified a module but then you buy it from Banggood… who would know where it comes from. But I digress…

Those Raspberry Pi based gateways in my mind are encroaching on being being a bit illegal. That’s my guy feel on it - i.e. there is no certification of the concentrator board or whether it is keeping to power and duty cycle limits; unless someone is checking how you use that board and testing you aren’t breaking limits, then they could be abused and fill up the spectrum; which is the point of ICASA really, protecting the spectrum.

The Laird gateway you mentioned looks very useful. It’s only a bit more costly than importing from the EU (4587ZAR = c. 280EUR vs. around 220 for a ufi or other cheap one) but still if it’s been ICASA approved then saves A LOT of hassle. I’ve emailed them and asked!

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Howsit guys,
Interesting discussion.
Im based in Cape Town, radio hobbyist starting to learn about Lora.
I am building a single channel gateway for testing etc.
I have had a look around and think that Im going to go for 434 MHz, its cheap ans easy to do.
I would be keen to get to know locals working in the same field.
Perhaps we can submit a 434 MHz band proposal to the Things Network?
Anyway Im starting out with 434.250 SF12BW125 100% duty cycle/100mW.
This frequency avoids the remotes, gate controllers, 70 CM ham repeaters etc.
Let me know if you are interested in doing some development experiments in Cape Town.

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This is the recomendation from LoRa Alliance

I recommend using EU868, nobody is using 434MHz for LoRaWAN or for other modern networks
Sigfox also using RC1 = 868MHz

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I have to agree with @nestorayuso here. Nobody is using 433MHz for LoRa. If you however do feel that you want to go that way, it defeats the point of using TTN, and you can just as well run your own private network.

868MHz equipment is just as available, if not more available, than 433MHz equipment. Also the antenna size on 868MHz is nicer for small sensors.

I however do not rule out 433MHz at all. It is something that is still on my want-to-do list. The trick is getting a global frequency plan set up that has at least one channel overlap in all regions. Then one can add extra channels per region, which can be dynamically configured into a device at join.

Anyway Im starting out with 434.250 SF12BW125 100% duty cycle/100mW.

That’s not nice of you.
868MHz specifies a 1% duty cycle per device to prevent over-use by a single user. Remember it is a shared resource. SF12 is also overkill. SF7 is normally good enough for most uses. SF12 hardcoded into a device is also not allowed by the LoRaWAN standard. One should start at SF7 and slowly go up until the network tells you you are in reach (Adaptive Data Rate).

Please don’t let me stop you from hobbying around :wink:
But sometimes it is just easier keeping to the standards.


Has anyone been through the ICASA process with any of their TTN nodes? Especially if you plan on selling the stuff. Going through the whole process with something like sigfox at an accredited lab in Gauteng runs close to R20 000… Is it the same with Lorawan nodes?

We’ve done it with a GSM device before. In short there’s two different things:

  1. RF compliance - I’d seriously recommend using modules that are already CE/FCC approved so that you don’t have to do the RF testing (we have never had to do that, it’s expensive)
  2. Safety/EMC testing - this is required regardless, it seems… i.e. unless you are just importing an existing product (i.e. if you are connecting a module to your own pcb and mcu etc… then you’ll need to do this) - that comes to around R20,000 we’ve seen in the past.

The other other legal way is to buy a completely tested product… which arguably if you change the PSU, the antenna, anything you would have

BTW - are you on the slack channel #southafrica - you might get some more knowledgeable responses there!

Hi, looking at the new regulation document released in 2018, it seems that 868.1MHz cannot be used for LoRA in SA. Check page 106-107. Do you think it would technically be illegal in SA to use LoRa equipment in the 868 MHz range?

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Nice find. And I’m assuming you mean PDF document page 108 and 109. This table and other content seems to be copied from the ITU radio regulations, where I also find the corresponding RR codes.

5.317A: South Africa is Region 1 (PDF page 231).
5.322: South Africa, Lesotho etc. are exempt (PDF page 231).
Band not listed in table for terrestrial IMT Bands (beginning on PDF page 206).

But since I don’t know how to read and interpret these documents correctly, let me ask this way: Where was the surprising part and what were you expecting instead?

Luckily it hasn’t changed much since 2013 wrt. 868 MHZ, and it wasn’t an ISM band then, either.

Dear Forumites,
I am keenly following the topic and discussion. I am interrested in localised LoRa deployments to replace Wifi and LAN, in environments where minimal to no capital exists, yet the demand to share information is huge. Maybe, this note belongs in another thread (please advise): Can you please assist to innovate with me a solution as follows, and even advise different approaches;

  • For medical facilities (public) [SA and Africa], I would like to have prescriptions captured and shared between practitioner and pharmacy. (i) Can LoRa be economically deployed as a LAN alternative and what would be the limitations? (ii) Can Lora be economically deployed as a gateway into a local Receipt printer to allow devices to transmit a QR code that a patient can ‘carry’ to a near pharmacy where the code is decoded?
  • Are here gurus that can share some knowledge and advice?
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Hi Wolley,

Are you still looking for solutions? I am looking at similar things in SA.

The Things Network is designed for collecting small amounts of data from remote sensors.

Your application sounds more like a relativly high bandwidth LAN type system, for which TTN is not suited.


Hi, I believe it would be illegal since they have stated which band we must use. On a few SAn online stores that I use, anything that uses 868 MHz is no longer being sold.

2 posts were merged into an existing topic: Distributors of LoRa equipment in South Africa

Hi I am in Cape Town and would be interested in bouncing an idea off you with regards to a LoRA network. Thanks