Friday, November 14, 2008

ECONET to increase subscriber base by 2.5million

SOUTH African based network services provider Econet Wireless International is targeting a subscriber base of 2,5 million mobile subscribers in 2009, starting with 1,2 million in February.

The company, founded by Zimbabwean-born businessman Strive Masiyiwa is confident of meeting its target.

“Econet is targeting a subscriber base of 1,2m by February 2009 and at least 2,5 million thereafter. Econet is definitely set to beat expectations in the case of an economic turnaround given the large market share that they command as well as its positive growth orientation,” said the company.

“Despite the dismal financial performance, the company exhibits very strong recovery and growth potential. Management is bullish about company prospects.”

The company said it will also focus more on innovation and move towards 3rd Generation (3G) services.

The company recently released its half year result where revenue was down significantly by 30,2 percent to US$7,0m in Zimbabwe, where it has its largest base, as a result of sub-economic tariffs.

Mutual and Federal

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Partner with Google, don’t compete- Gartner

Mutual and Federal
Google’s influence and market power with key telecommunications industry stakeholders is having a significant impact on the industry, according to Gartner, Inc.

“The communications industry ‘ecosystem’ ‹ encompassing regulators, Internet service providers, advertising, and media customers and service providers ‹ finds itself in Google’s crosshairs, not because Google necessarily wants to compete with telecom service providers or content developers, but because it finds their business process to be an impediment to innovation and change,” said Alex Winogradoff, research vice president at Gartner.

Mr Winogradoff said Google will continue to be a market disruptor and disintermediator, especially in the communications market. “Carriers should selectively partner with Google rather than trying to compete, especially in areas where they don’t have differentiated and core assets,” he said.
“However, carriers should also find common ground with Google (for example, on network neutrality) and, if necessary, look for creative ways to oppose Google on issues critical to their survival.”

Gartner said that coming late to the operating-system and mobile markets has not been a problem for Google and that its Android and Open Handset Alliance (OHA) activities have already had a profound effect on the mobile industry. In addition to disrupting the traditional telecom ecosystem, Google’s
actions are diluting the market potential and the service providers’ ability to profitably monetise their investments in new markets (such as entertainment and software as a service (SaaS) applications).

Gartner has highlighted six critical actions by Google that have already had, or will have, the greatest impact on the telecom industry. These include:

700MHz Auctions ‹ Google pressured the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to set aside the “C” Block (22MHz to 11MHz in the uplink and 11MHz in the downlink within the U.S. 700MHz spectrum auctions) as an open-access spectrum. All winning “C” Block bidders would be required to provide open
access to applications (which cannot be blocked) and devices (which cannot be locked). Google’s primary motivation was to encourage the development of open broadband network platforms to ensure they will be able to deliver bandwidth-intense over-the-air services and applications.

Formation of OHA and the Android Open Mobile-Device Platform ‹ On 5 November 2007, several technology and wireless companies jointly announced the formation of the OHA and the development of Android, a new software platform for mobile devices that includes an operating system (OS), middleware and key applications based on the Linux OS and open-source principles. This was
quickly followed on 12 November 2007 with a preliminary release of the Android SDK, as part of Google’s $10 million developer challenge.
This will help ensure that application and access openness is maintained on the mobile Internet as effectively as on the wired network to enable Google’s ad model to spread as successfully as it has on the wired Internet; to open up the “closed” mobile industry ecosystem to Google’s applications; and to enable Google to exert a strong influence over the development of the next-generation mobile OS.

Fuelling the Network Neutrality Debate ‹ Since the US regulator (FCC) adopted four network neutrality principles designed “to encourage broadband deployment and preserve and promote the open and interconnected nature of the public internet,” Google and other web-centric companies have been
lobbying the US Congress to codify these rules in favour of something called nondiscrimination in network design between the public and private internet.
In short, Google wants regulation to ensure that the public internet remains free from potential discrimination and content blocking but also wants equality between the public and private internet at no cost to customers or web companies (in essence, no quality of service).

Looking to Own Both Static and Dynamic Location Information ‹ Google has been investing heavily to develop the world’s most complete storehouse of geographic and mapping data supported by innovative applications that can detect mobile devices. Google wants to be “the most-trusted source” and the best at matching up unique geographic location-based data so it can take
advantage of just-in-time advertising opportunities derived from location-aware applications and bypass device manufacturers and carriers as the gatekeepers of location data.

Promoting “White Space” Spectrum Development ‹ Known as “white space” in the US and “interleaved spectrum” in the UK, this is the underutilised 800MHz spectrum that can be used to broadcast TV through the airwaves but also has highly favourable propagation characteristics for wireless broadband. A powerful industry lobby backed by Google, Microsoft, Philips, Dell, HP,
Skype and others (known as the Wireless Innovation Alliance) has been urging the FCC to develop rules to unlock the potential of TV white spaces.
Google’s interest in white spaces is another effort to ensure that there are viable broadband options available for their services. The spectrum, which will likely be released as an open spectrum in 2010, would become another means for bypassing the carrier access network.

Engaging in Business via Google’s “Cloud” and SaaS Offerings ‹ Google is looking to engage organisations by getting them hooked on using Google’s applications and cloud computing infrastructure. Making it easy for users to download Google applications and giving them free space on Google’s cloud infrastructure will give Google great marketing insight to help it develop a
presence within the small-and- midsize business (SMB) market initially, with eventual migration to larger organisations where organisations will come to Google for all their back-office SaaS needs. The impact on carriers looking to generate revenue from the SaaS business model within the SMB market will require carriers to clearly differentiate their applications from Google or partner with it.

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MTN partners with for corporate news

Hollard Pay-As-You-Drive, Africa’s leading ICT news and information website, is proud to announce the imminent launch of MTN’s new home online.

MTN’s press office on will carry news from all of its operations throughout Africa and the Middle East, making it one of the most comprehensive sources of news and information about the telecom giant.

The new virtual press office will contain MTN news, group contacts, multimedia and regular competitions.

Samuel Mungadze, online editor of, said interest in Africa’s most comprehensive news portal by global brands like RIM (producer of the Blackberry), Dell and MTN Group, is growing and is a very positive development. “Our online platform continues to be seen as a credible source for African ICT news. This status allows us to provide our clients with unrivaled exposure to a quality African audience.”

The Virtual Press office is expected to go live in mid November 2008 on

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Vodacom launches multi-million data centre

VODACOM has launched a new R100-million data centre, which has the capacity to host about 20 000 dedicated client servers or 650 000 virtual machines.

The Johannesburg-based 1000 square metre centre will allow companies to do away with their own costly data centres.

According to Wally Beelders, the Executive Director of Vodacom Business, the company has developed a world-class hosting facility that will allow its clients to focus on their core business.

“IT operations are a crucial aspect of any company’s operations. One of the main concerns is business continuity; companies rely on their information systems to run their operations,” said Beelders.

“If a system becomes unavailable, company operations may be impaired or stopped completely. Our new data centre will ensure that a company can continue to run without having to worry about their IT infrastructure,” added the company executive.

Beelders added that all companies will be able to benefit from the range of hosting services now available due to the new data centre, regardless of their size.

“The Vodacom Business Data Centre caters for large corporates with vast IT infrastructure needs, to small businesses, including Small Medium Micro Enterprises (SMME) and Small Office Home Office (SoHo) businesses which need cost-effective hosting services.”

The cost of setting up and running your own data centre infrastructure with back-up generators, UPS, air cooling, building management systems and the associated services is prohibitive.

“By making use of our data centre, clients will benefit from a safe and cost-effective data centre environment including back-up services that ensure the highest level of availability and network performance.”

Vodacom Business says its data centre will operate at any time of the day, seven days a week.
Mxolisi Ncube , Johannesburg

Hollard Pay-As-You-Drive

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Thursday, November 13, 2008

Undersea cable connection to link up Africa with World

ALTHOUGH cable connections across many African countries are in a poor state of repair or non-existent, the continent is slowly being connected to the global community through five undersea cable projects, three of which are due for completion in 2009.

The African cell-phone sector is the fastest growing in the world, with subscription growth between 2007 and 2008 at 41% annually. Cell phones currently account for 90% of telephone subscribers in Africa. At the beginning of 2008, there were 300 million mobile subscribers on the continent.

Mobile subscribers in Africa are also now more evenly distributed. In 2000, South Africa accounted for more than half of all Africa’s mobile subscribers. By 2007, however, almost 85 per cent were in other countries.
“One of the reasons for the high growth rate of mobile subscribers is the lack of an affordable, efficient fixed line infrastructure. Wireless is thus the solution of choice and is making fixed line upgrade projects largely redundant. “Mobile network operators have stepped in, providing not only voice communication but, with the launch of third generation (3G) services in a number of mobile phone markets, playing a considerable role in internet service provision,” said Brian Paxton of Mbendi Information services.
While a number of satellite based services are already in operation above the continent, in September 2008 Google announced the successful launch of its new satellite, which can capture images from 423 miles above the Earth and travel at about 4.5 miles per second. Also in 2008, Google and a number of partners announced a Linux-based open development software platform for mobile phones which they expect will pry the telecom industry open and merge it with the Internet.
Broadband penetration has traditionally been low across the continent, with access being limited to urban areas. Access is, however, becoming more widely available, with the number of fixed broadband subscriptions passing the 2 million mark in early 2008.
“On the regulatory front, governments still own monopoly fixed line operators in most countries. However, for the most part there is
competition in the cell-phone sector, mostly with international network operators in partnership with local investors and entrepreneurs.
International players with major investment on the African continent include MTN, Vodacom, MTC (Zain), Vodafone, Orascom, France Telecom, MIC, Etisalat and Portugal Telecom,” Paxton said.

Hollard Pay-As-You-Drive

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South Africa: Information, computer industry loses 25% skilled personnel

Mutual and Federal
Analysts project that the Information and Computer Technology industry may suffer in 2009 due to a skills shortage, which is predicted to be as large as 25 percent.

The forecast setback is attributed in part to the fact that domestic supply is far below demand while deep skills are even scarcer than entry level skills. Players in the industry are thus taking measures to resist the problem.

Leading ICT company AdaptIT Holdings said it had taken steps to ensure that staff are highly valued, attracting the best in the industry to its fold and keeping them.
“The company values its staff and strives to ensure that each employee has a strong sense of purpose, identity and belonging in shaping our success as a company of the future,” chief executive officer Sbu Shabalala said.

Particularly in South Africa, 2008 has been a difficult year for most industries and the ICT industry has not been spared. “We needed to look inwards at our operational efficiency and internal alignment. Also, the effects of what is now a diversified service offering has come to our aid as far as coping under the difficult economic climate is concerned.

“Our strategy will always be to maintain relationships with our existing clients and this is definitely reflected in our results,” Shabalala said.

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Mobile marketing & Broadcasting ahead of 2010 World Cup

THE importance of mobile marketing and broadcasting ahead of the 2010 FIFA World Cup will feature prominently in the upcoming Soccerex 2008 that South Africa will host later this month.

FIFA and Soccerex have assembled a panel of industry leaders to highlight the importance of this during a panel entitled ‘Mobile Communications in Africa and Beyond: The Key to Reaching Fans at the 2010 FIFA World Cup’.

This will feature senior figures from FIFA, mobile phone giant Ericsson and Perform.

Heading up this panel will be Niclas Ericson (Director, TV Division, FIFA), who will outline the importance of fan communication via this media platform and the opportunities this poses ahead of 2010.

The next FIFA World Cup is expected to push forward interaction via many different communication technologies, including full match broadcasts on mobiles.

As a relatively new broadcasting medium, Niclas Ericson will reveal the world governing body of football’s stance on the activation of event mobile broadcasting rights.

Robin Berglund (Business Development Manager, Ericsson) will reveal how companies such as Ericsson remain innovative in this highly competitive market and where he feels mobile services and handsets can take fan interaction to new levels.

With Ericsson currently operating in over 1,000 networks in more than 140 countries, Berglund is highly knowledgeable on mobile global deployments in markets such as Africa.

He will divulge where he feels mobile services and handsets can provide the greatest influence on media and sports consumption and the related mobile marketing strategy.

Completing this panel of communication experts is Andrew Croker (Executive Chairman, Perform). Perform is a world leader in monetising sport and entertainment rights in digital media, they provide content to clients such as Orange, Nokia, Vodafone and T-Mobile. Recently, Perform were also awarded internet rights for over 500 2010 FIFA World Cup Qualifier Matches.

This conference panel will provide Soccerex delegates an expert consultation session on mobile marketing strategies, focusing on South Africa’s rapidly developing telecommunications market.

The three-day Soccerex, the world’s biggest football exhibition kicks off in Johannesburg on November 23.

Hollard Pay-As-You-Drive

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Tuesday, November 11, 2008

419 Scammers target Facebook users

Save Your Business
Facebook has been infiltrated by scammers who use compromised accounts to con users out of cash.

Now that even non-tech savvy internet users know not to respond to, or click on links in, emails from strangers, online thieves have turned to social networks and are finding it is easier to trick people when posing as their friends.

On Friday, Sydneysider Karina Wells received a Facebook message from one of her friends, Adrian, saying he was stranded in Lagos, Nigeria, and needed her to lend him $500 for a ticket home.

Adrian used relatively good English but, after chatting further, words such as “cell” instead of “mobile phone” tipped Wells off that she was not talking to her friend but someone who had taken over his account.

Using sites such as Facebook allows scammers to research and target victims more effectively and avoid having their messages blocked by spam filters, said Paul Ducklin, head of technology at Sophos Asia Pacific.

It is likely the scammer obtained Adrian’s Facebook login details after he was infected with a virus delivered by email or in an infected web page.

There are a number of viruses which, once installed on a computer, send back to the hacker a detailed log of everything entered using the keyboard, including online banking details and passwords for services such as Facebook.

Wells played along with the scammer, who asked her to transfer the money into a Western Union account.

“Naturally I was concerned as, to all intents and purposes, this seemed to be legitimate,” she said.

The True Crush Meter

“I pretended that I would help, obtained all the details of where he was and forwarded them to both Facebook and the relevant authorities.”

But while the Nigerian scammer used the compromised Facebook account coupled with social engineering tactics to try to convince Wells to hand over money, many are using compromised accounts to spread malware.

Typically, the victim receives a Facebook message from a friend with a subject such as “LOL. You’ve been catched on hidden cam, yo” or “Nice dancing! Shouldn’t you be ashamed?”

The body of the message contains a video clip link that appears to go to a legitimate site such as Facebook or YouTube but, when clicked on, it takes the user to a bogus web page.

Before the users can play the video they are told they need to download a video player upgrade, which is in fact a password-stealing virus.

The next time the victim logs into Facebook the malware-laden message is sent to all of their friends and the infected link is automatically added in comments on friends’ pages.

Other less sophisticated attacks on Facebook members use spam emails, some appearing to come from Facebook itself, to spread viruses.

In September security firm WebSense reported on spam emails, purportedly sent from an address, that tell the victim they have received an invitation from Facebook to add a friend.

“The spammers included a zip attachment that purports to contain a picture in order to entice the recipient to double-click on it. The attached file is actually a Trojan horse,” WebSense said.
Vox ADSL Phone
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Vodafone job cuts may impact negatively on South Africa

British firm, ­Vodafone, which last week announced that it was purchasing an additional 15 percent of South Africa’s Vodacom, is expected to announce job cuts that are aimed at saving its operational costs.

The company, which now controls 65 per cent of South Africa’s leading cellular network, seeks to implement various cost cuts, as it bids to generate savings of £1 billion (R16billion) a year.

While fears abound that the new measure could lead to substantial job cuts in Vodafone’s European workforce, it is still not clear how the South Africa subsidiary will fit into the announcement.

Sales for the company have apparently been very low for the communications company in the UK and Spanish markets, leading to the new plan.

On Tuesday (11 November 2008) the company is expected to post a half-year operating profit of £5.7 billion on sales of £19.8 billion.

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DSL subscriptions dropping drastically

WORLD DSL (Digital Subscriber Line) subscriptions are dropping, while speeds lines are simultaneously increasing, giving subscribers value for their money, a market research survey revealed last week.

With a drop rate of 20 per cent during the first three quarters of this year, DSL has the largest average worldwide price drop.

Broadband users are said to have paid $66.75 on average for a subscription during the first quarter and $53.32 during the third.

In comparison the average subscription prices for cable Internet was down ja little over 12 percent and for different versions of fiber access to the home, usually dubbed FTTx, was down by 6.5 percent.

Point Topic CEO, Oliver Johnsons, attributed the drop to to competitive pressure, and the current world economic climate.

Middle East and African subscribers are said to be paying paying over $46 per megabit for DSL access, compared to Western Europe where subscribers are paying only $6.23 per megabit.

The average price per megabit using DSL in the North America and Asia Pacific is $16.10 and $3.80, respectively.

Fiber is by far the cheapest access technology if prices per megabit are compared, it was four times cheaper than cable and ten times cheaper than DSL in the third quarter. When average monthly subscription prices are compared cable Internet is the cheapest option.
The future of broadband will increasingly be about fiber.

When fiber has been put in place it becomes the dominant broadband access technology in four to five years, at the cost of cable and DSL.

“DSL is going to have a really hard time, and we will see a gradual erosion of its market share,” said Johnson

Mutual and Federal
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Friday, November 7, 2008

Vodafone buys stake in Vodacom

Vodafone has finally released details of its anticipated plan to acquire an additional 15 per cent stake in South Africa’s Vodacom from Telkom SA, in a plan which was first announced last month.

The deal, which is estimated at R22.5 billion (US$2.47 billion), is set to increase Vodafone’s shareholding in Vodacom Group from the current 50 to 65 per cent.

The deal will also see Vodacom, South Africa’s largest cellular network, being registered in the Johannesburg Stock Exchange, while the remaining 35 per cent will be demerged by Telkom to its shareholders.

The Government of South Africa has also agreed that it will retain a minimum shareholding of 10 per cent in Vodacom Group for a period of 12 months after the listing on the JSE.

Vodafone has also committed to maintain the Vodacom brand-name and that Vodacom will be the exclusive investment vehicle through which it will make acquisitions in sub-Saharan Africa (excluding Ghana and Kenya where Vodafone is already present) - which will ensure that the South African government can benefit from any gains.
The transaction will be financed through existing cash resources and committed debt facilities.

The acquisition is subject to, among other conditions, approval by 75% of Telkom’s shareholders and is conditional upon Vodacom Group being listed on the JSE and Telkom demerging the remaining 35% of Vodacom Group to Telkom’s shareholders.

Telkom’s two largest shareholders, the Government of South Africa and the Public Investment Corporation Limited, owning a combined 58%, have irrevocably committed to vote in favour of the transaction and will become significant shareholders in Vodacom Group following the completion of the transaction.

Intdev Online SMS services

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Thursday, November 6, 2008

Econet Wireless Zimbabwe Discontinues The Post-paid package.

Intdev Online SMS services
Econet Wireless Zimbabwe says it will next week discontinue all contract lines (post-paid packages), in yet another sign of Zimbabwe’s economic freefall.

"Econet Wireless would like to advise its valued Business Partna subscribers that the current postpaid billing system has long gone past its life span and the implementation of a new billing system has not be possible due to foreign currency constraints.

"To avoid shutting down, we regret to advise that Business Partna customers will be migrated to the prepaid platform with effect from Monday 10th November 2008," said Econet in a statement to its contract customers.

Officials who spoke to RadioVOP on condition of anonymity, said the discontinuation of contract lines is only a temporary measure aimed at cushioning the company from the harsh economic climate.

"Once a new billing system is in place, due notice will be given to our valued customers. The prepaid system is however, characterized by congestion," said Econet.

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Who Killed the VoIP Revolution?

Private Property

“VoIP is dead,” Skype General Manager of Voice and Video Jonathan Christensen declared at an industry conference a few weeks ago. He spoke figuratively, of course, but he may well have been right. While Voice-Over-Internet Protocol proponents had long promised a decade of creative destruction, they themselves appear to have become the victims.

The full potential of a technology is not always realized once it converges with market forces. In this case, the gravitational pull of the incumbent local exchange carriers (ILECs) has always proven difficult to resist. Most of the VoIP industry, while loudly proclaiming the SIP era as the beginning of the end for monopoly communications, secretly courted the incumbents in hopes of profiting from replacing their long-amortized investments in the fixed-line business. By tying their fortunes to the whimsy of the ILECs, many of the upstarts suffered, destroying billions of dollars in shareholder value in the process.

Recently PulverMedia, which spurred the VoIP crowd and rode its financial crest, shut its doors amid a swirl of controversy. As of this writing, Sonus Networks, once a high flier at $95 per share in 2000, trades at about $2.29. Even Cisco has thrown in the towel, discontinuing its BTS series of softswitches (which provide the routing logic for VoIP networks). These dismal stories perfectly mirror the ride of the VoIP industry in general.

The outlook was once a lot better. In 1999, with the ratification of the SIP protocol specification by the IETF, advocates who wanted to tear apart the monopolies that dominated telecom started to beat their war drums. Following conventional wisdom that the Internet democratizes and deleverages any market into which it enters, it was easy to convince investors to pour billions into VoIP products and companies. Regulators seemed to support that theory, too, sealing the deal with the FCC’s so-called “Pulver Order,” which defended the VoIP industry from over-reaching regulation and tarifing.

The anticipated period of “creative destruction” came, all right. It began in 2001 with the smiting of the competitive local exchange carriers (CLECs) and long-distance competitors, who had not yet even had time to embrace VoIP, by predatory pricing from the incumbents. It continued with the shift from fixed voice lines to wireless phones, as evidenced by the drop in landlines . More recently, the guns have been turned toward the VoIP equipment vendors that begat the revolution in the first place.

So what happened? What clipped the wings of so many VoIP hopefuls can be boiled down to five things:

Death by Deliberation: The incumbents and cablecos were identified as early targets for the equipment vendors, however their engineers quibbled about curbside protocols and QOS and fiddled with VoIP in the labs, delaying launches by years — far outside of the fundraising cycle of most of the VoIP startups.
Competition Attrition: The implosion and autopsy of WorldCom signaled to most of the industry that being a competitor in telecom is not a healthy business. Those high prices were largely arbitrary, and as soon as the market pressured incumbents to reduce them, they did.
Evolution vs. Revolution: Companies like Nortel, Siemens and Ericsson rank among the top VoIP equipment vendors today, not startups. Technologists completely underestimated the sway and leverage that the traditional vendors held over their customers.
SIP in a Box: SIP might be an open protocol, but networks were built proprietarily and have not been bridged together. Most telecom services still communicate with each other via public switching, meaning that the wonderful possibilities that SIP might enable are limited by the capabilities of the plain old telephone system.
Landline Decline: Even as networks were evolving, the number of landlines around the globe was shrinking. People found more convenient ways to communicate via wireless, SMS, instant messaging or pervasive email.
VoIP technology has clearly been successful in making inroads into traditional telecom networks, but in doing so, the revolution that SIP in particular, and VoIP in general, enables has been largely cast aside and the entire industry has coalesced in a race to the bottom. With this revolution went the volume of equipment and software sales that could have revitalized the supplier business and stimulated more innovation.

Of course, while the telecom industry was eating itself alive, a plucky little company from Luxembourg called Skype delivered on VoIP’s promise by almost completely ignoring the Public Switched Telephone Network, not to mention the pundits and experts that cling desperately to SIP’s potential. The point of Christensen’s superpoke at what’s left of the telecom business is that Skype has been successful because it threw away the playbook, ignoring the obsessions of so-called telecom experts and focusing instead on solving the practical needs of everyday users.

Tens of millions of people use Skype’s network today for text messaging, file-sharing, videoconferencing — and, yes, voice calling. All of these services are made decidedly more convenient because of presence — you can see who’s there before you contact them and use that information to choose what the most appropriate means of communication should be. And with less than a $40 million investment (prior to eBay’s rather more substantial buy-in), Skype’s user growth has outpaced the entire rest of the consumer VoIP business combined.

The bottleneck for innovation appears to have been Alexander Graham Bell’s (no relation) PTSN — the plain old telephone system. By going after low-hanging fruit and forcing their innovations to be defined within the walls of the PSTN, the vast majority of VoIP companies voluntarily muzzled their own revolution and ultimately cost their investors billions.

By Ian Andrew Bell
Ian Andrew Bell is a reformed telecom executive, and creator of the team management service

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'Dial-up is dead'

iBurst is again aggressively targeting the dial-up market; this time with a competition aimed at convincing South Africans to build an advertising campaign.

The company is asking South Africans to build an original television, radio or print advert with the central theme of dial-up being passé. “The idea is to delve into the minds of South Africans and find out how they think about broadband versus dial-up,” says Callia Doucas, iBurst's marketing head.

“The adverts should focus on the advantages of iBurst broadband over dial-up connectivity,” she says.

Participants must register and submit their entries on the iBurst competition Web site,, by 31 December.

According to Doucas, the best adverts will be selected according to the number of views and ratings on the Web site. The winning ads may be broadcast nationally in March 2009. Winners will also receive a Macbook Pro, valued at R50 000, and iBurst connectivity for two years.

“This is an opportunity for all South Africans with creative flair to get their ideas seen nationally. The adverts need not be professionally created. Just a quick video taken on a cellphone, or a sketched print advert would suffice,” adds Doucas.

Target market

iBurst has been targeting the dial-up user directly over the last few months. The company's latest campaign offers to replace dial-up modems for R200. The company also disposes of the dial-up technology.

World Wide Worx strategy MD Steven Ambrose says dial-up is definitely a dying connectivity option. By December 2007, Internet service providers reported there were 908 000 dial-up users in the country.

“We predict that by the end of December 2008, there will be 800 000,” adds Ambrose.

World Wide Worx is completing this year's research on connectivity and will soon release more recent figures.

iBurst has a subscriber base of around 50 000 users, making the dial-up fraternity a lucrative opportunity for the company. “iBurst is targeting the dial-up market and the company's offering does make sense for them,” adds Ambrose.

He says the objective consensus is that broadband is cheaper than dial-up, even if users are only online for an hour a week. “It doesn't mean that broadband is cheap, it just means that dial-up isn't cheaper.”

Ambrose notes that broadband has been fraught with confusing contract options and upfront costs, whereas dial-up is a more controlled connectivity option. “While it is a dying option, dial-up does have utility. Especially for those who just check mail and do Internet banking. This is a good marketing space for iBurst.”

Vox ADSL Phone

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Fifa happy with 2010 broadcast plan

Television viewers of the 2010 Soccer World Cup are expected to outnumber physical spectators by a ratio of 1:10 000, but tournament organiser Fifa is confident the broadcasting infrastructure will be in place.

Scheduled for July 2010, the country is expecting three million visitors during the four weeks of the World Cup. While there are still concerns over transport infrastructure and accommodation, Fifa says the broadcasting system is all but sown up.

Niclas Ericson, director of Fifa's TV division, says Fifa, along with the Local Organising Committee, Telkom and the Department of Communications, meet regularly on the telecommunications committee to discuss progress.

“We bring our experts, and they bring theirs and there is a good working relationship between all parties.”

Ericson says the upgrade of Telkom's core infrastructure, to meet the broadcasting requirements, would be finished by March next year. He also believes increasing the capacity of the Telkom SAT-3 undersea cable would enhance international connectivity for transmitting the signal out of the country.

Crucial capacity

The international capacity will be crucial during the scheduled three kick-off times of 1.30pm, 4pm and 8.30pm daily.

“We are also pleased to see there is progress in the completion of other undersea cable projects and that the second [Sentech] satellite station will also be completed,” he says.

The requirements for fibre-optic lines with a 20GBps capacity from the 10 stadiums where the matches will be played to the international broadcasting centre, in Johannesburg, will also be in place once the venues are completed.

“All the venues are on track for completion within the required time period,” he notes.

Each venue will have a minimum of 24 high-definition TV cameras and a number of extra cameras, such as “spider cameras”, and 3D tracking, all of which makes for demanding editing requirements, Ericson says.


Speaking during an event hosted by communications equipment group Ericsson, in Cape Town yesterday, Ericson said Fifa was ahead of schedule in tying up its free-to-air contracts, with the last country, Nigeria, expected to sign a contract shortly.

Fifa wants a minimum of 22 of the 64 matches to be free-to-air. Pay-TV packages will include pre-match interviews and real-time information statistics, such as how many kilometres a player has run on the field.

“We need the pay-TV broadcasters' participation, because free-to-air stations don't necessarily have the capacity to devote as much time to match interviews,” Ericson says.

Fifa also plans to make as much use as possible of non-linear broadcasting – broadcasting media outside of traditional radio and TV. This will include extensive use of the Internet and digital video broadcast – handheld – the receiving of images on a mobile phone.

Ericson says Fifa has held discussions with the African Union of Broadcasters that will result in this coming World Cup being used as a training event to improve the standard of sports journalism.


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Virgin comes out swinging

Private Property

Consumers can expect to see a new telecommunications battle from Virgin Mobile, which will be spearheaded by the company's new CEO, Steve Bailey.

Bailey, a 50% shareholder of the company, takes over as Virgin Mobile SA's CEO from Peter Boyd, who led the company since December 2006.

In an interview with ITWeb this morning, Boyd explained the company will become more visible over the next few months as it prepares to fight the incumbent interconnect fees, which he said keeps Virgin Mobile's prices higher than it would like.

“This month we launched the 99c Virgin to Virgin call. It really speaks to the unfair interconnect regime we face as a virtual provider in this country,” he said. Boyd added that the company plans to lobby the Independent Communications Authority of SA on the matter.

Virgin Mobile has been relatively quiet over the last few months. Boyd says the company has “not held everything in front of the house”, but has been preparing to take up the interconnect trouble.

He says Virgin has already made its case to the Competition Commission and will follow through with other regulatory aspects, as well as the 99c campaign.

Boyd says the company also hopes to see a flood of new entrants in the market that will encourage more virtual operators and drop costs for consumers. “What we really need in this market now is some good competition. This will happen soon.”

Taking the reins

Boyd is convinced incoming CEO Steve Bailey will follow through with his vision for the company. “He brings seven years of experience in the industry from Cell C, which will only strengthen Virgin's ties with the third mobile operator.”

Virgin's chairman and Cell C CEO, Jeffery Hedberg, says Bailey played a large role in Cell C's turnaround.

Hedberg thanked Boyd for his contribution to Virgin SA over the past two years, saying: “Boyd has championed many of the initiatives that have helped change the South African mobile market, such as real per-second billing; clarity on the true cost of handsets; giving customers unlimited SMSes; and recently launching the lowest all day rate in SA with 99c Virgin 2 Virgin calling."

Boyd will take up a position in the UK with Virgin Mobile to develop the company in new markets. “The train is starting to move, and it will be a very exciting time for Virgin SA.”

Bailey was not available for comment.


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Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Technology brings in effective business solutions to South Africa

Private Property

2Cana Solutions’ long and excellent reputation for providing high quality and cost-effective business solutions to customers worldwide has been honored with the Computer Society of South Africa (CSSA) 2008 KwaZulu-Natal ICT Company of the Year Award.

“As a Proudly South African company, 2Cana is thrilled to receive this award, which clearly recognizes our achievements in the industry and in the community this is made possible by the passion, enthusiasm and commitment and especially the hard-work of our people.

“While we have much to be proud and happy about at 2Cana, the CSSA’s KZN ICT Company of the
Year Award is a wonderful feather in our cap,” said the company’s Financial Director, Shirley Singh.

The Kwazulu-Natal company’s solutions are based on Oracle and Microsoft technologies and the company has achieved Oracle Advantage Partner and Microsoft Gold statuses, the highest accreditation levels with both these partners.

2Cana have an impressive client portfolio, which includes: Mr Price, MiWay, Momentum, Medscheme, Toyota, Ethekwini Municipality, Sappi, Smith & Nephew among other.

Singh said that 2Cana has a number of quality solution offerings, including TIA, an insurance industry solution that is customer-centric, function rich, and supports multiple on-line sales channels with 24/7/365 processing availability, providing unprecedented flexibility and scalability.

“As a TIA implementation partner that specialises in accelerated implementations, integration, maintenance and support, 2Cana Solutions is ideally positioned to leverage its position as KZN ICT Company of the Year
to deliver this solution to our country’s strong insurance sector,” she said.

Singh also stated that the company, which received an ‘AA’ rating from EmpowerDEX as a Level 3 contributor this year, believed in redressing the social and economic disparities through Black Economic Empowerment (BEE).

“Our focus takes in all aspects of BEE, including shareholding, recruitment and procurement policies, as well as skills development and training,” she explains.

2Cana has partnered with the Ethekwini Municipality and Phumulela NGO in running a shelter in Cato Manor, providing feeding schemes and material support.

“In addition to addressing the immediate primary needs, we also run programmes like skills development and counselling, which are aimed at uplifting people. The objective is to provide people with food, tools and hope to make them self sustainable and able to take control of their own destiny,” she said

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South Africa’s first Mobile Carbon Footprint calculator launched

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LEADING worldwide conservation organisation and South African firm, BulkSms have launched a first for South Africa-MyCO2Print, the country’s first Mobile Carbon Footprint calculator.

According to WWF communications official, Carolyn Cramer, among the unique aspects of this ‘awareness’ tool is its environmental friendliness and user friendliness.

“MyCO2Print is primarily an awareness tool. It is far simpler than the carbon footprint calculators available on the web and this is intentional.

We wanted a tool which would enable South Africans to measure their carbon footprint in terms of travel and energy use and to try to improve it on a monthly basis,” she said.

MyCO2Print provides users with an approximate rand value of the carbon emissions that they are producing. This calculation is based on figures derived from the Stern Report, a 700-page report released on October 30,
2006 by economist Lord Stern of Brentford for the British government.

The report discusses the effect of climate change and global warming on the world economy. In addition, the mobile carbon footprint calculator records users’ data and allows for a comparison of results on a monthly

The young generation is WFF’s and’s target market for their latest product, Cramer said.

“While the MyCO2Print will be useful to everyone, we are particularly hoping that it will be relevant to the younger generation. We envisage school teachers using it as an innovative tool in the classroom to educate
on climate change and the environment,” she said.

Available across all networks in South Africa, the mobile carbon footprint calculator can be tried out by SMSing “CO2? to 34017 using a wap-enabled phone, with SMSs charged at R2.00

Mthulisi Sibanda

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Chris Scoble takes the reins at Nashua Mobile

Chris Scoble, the former managing director of Nashua Office Automation, has been appointed as the managing director of Nashua Mobile. He replaces Mark Taylor, who resigned to join Vodacom.

Scoble has been with Nashua for more than 23 years and has sat on Nashua Mobile’s board since its inception. He played a central role in the merger of NedTel Cellular and Nashua Cellular, which created Nashua Mobile in 2000.

Says Chris Scoble: “I am excited to join Nashua Mobile as its managing director. I have been involved in this company from the very beginning, so this business is very close to my heart. My aim will be to grow the Nashua Mobile business by focusing on the customer service experience and to consolidate the company’s position as one of the country’s leading independent communications services provider.”

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Monday, November 3, 2008

The U.S. election may be decided by the power of the web

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The 2008 US election promises freshness and change. It’s the first time in more than 50 years that neither candidate has already been president or vice president. And, when the votes are counted next week, either the first African-American will be elected president or the first woman will be elected vice-president. But will it also be the first election decided on the strength of a candidate’s online campaign?

It’s possible. Both candidates are putting serious effort into reaching out to internet users via social networks, YouTube and Second Life. The smear campaigns have, predictably, found a supportive habitat online, but there are some more surprising election-related initiatives. Go to John McCain’s website and you can play Pork Invaders, a version of Space Invaders with a message about wasteful government spending. Alternatively, play Guitar Hero 3 or The Incredible Hulk online and you’ll see in-game ads for Barack Obama.

Whether all this will have any bearing on the eventual result is debatable. After all, as Julie Barko Germany, deputy director of the Institute for Politics, Democracy and the Internet at George Washington University, says: “All the gadgets, widgets, web pages, and videos in the world really don’t matter if you can’t turn out voters.”

Both parties are trying to harness the internet for one purpose - to attract and influence new and floating voters. In the most expensive presidential battle in US history, much has been made of candidates raising money via the internet. But the cash raised online is simply reinvested in the quest to win votes, quite often using traditional media.

“Campaigns seem most interested in using new tools to do old tactics faster, more efficiently, and for less money,” says Germany. “A lot of us hope that the internet will open up the political process, make it more accessible for ordinary people to run for office. But this election has shown almost the opposite. It’s shown that campaigns can use the guise of openness and tech-savviness to raise insane amounts of money that they re-invest in television advertising.”

Democratic campaign advertisements ridicule the 72-year-old McCain’s admission that he is just learning to go online and has no idea how to email. But, historically, it’s the people who can identify with this that actually vote.

The crude truth is that the people who are most likely to vote appear the least likely to use the internet and vice versa. The social networking generation who have almost grown up online are, as Dutton says, “notoriously poor in turning out for elections”.

But this is a close election and there is a feeling that the edge a successful online campaign can provide - however slight - could bre vital, even if it doesn’t mobilise whole armies of new voters. Early indications are promising. Young voter turnout tripled in the Iowa caucus, says Andrew Chadwick, a professor at the University of London.

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If this is the case and a successful online campaign tips the balance in a close election, then which party is proving most effective online? The popular perception is that it’s the Democrats, with Barack Obama a more natural poster boy for the digital generation. Armed with his own social network (, Obama has the endorsement of Google’s chief executive Eric Schmidt; is advised by Craig Newmark, the founder of Craigslist; and has hired a co-founder of Facebook, Chris Hughes, as his campaign’s online co-ordinator. On average, Obama’s website attracts three times as many visitors as McCain’s.

“This time around the Democrats do seem more effective,” suggests Chadwick. “They have been much more innovative in making use of the social networking tools of web 2.0, online video and mobile content.”

If the election was won on how many Facebook friends you have, then Obama (with more than two million to just over 600,000 for McCain) would have it by a landslide. But the election isn’t simply a social networking popularity poll.

“Both parties have the same tricks up their sleeves,” says Germany. “The Democrats get points for style and flash, but the Republicans get points for …?using the internet to enhance their [campaign message].”

And, while McCain is laughed at for his supposed technological illiteracy, MySpace political director Lee Brenner points out that “McCain was the first and only major Republican candidate to participate in our series of Presidential Dialogues before the primaries began”, arguing that he realises the importance of reaching “independent-minded voters that spend so much of their time online”.

But in what ways are these independent-minded voters being influenced? If you look at where the election and internet intersect, it’s viral videos that attract the most attention. Paris Hilton’s tongue-in-cheek response to a McCain campaign advert that featured the celebrity heiress has received more than seven million views on YouTube, while Gina Gershon’s parody of Palin has a million and counting. Impressive audience figures, but it’s worth thinking about whether those watching are eligible to vote. A lot of the audience is international. The more relevant battle may be going on behind the scenes.

“What most people don’t see are the complex backend systems that both campaigns have been using to collect information about supporters, likely supporters, and undecided voters,” says Germany. This sort of behavioural targeted advertising, which both parties are employing, proved significant in the last election.

“Bush’s team did innovate,” says Chadwick. “They focused on a highly targeted, top-down mobilisation approach based on software called Voter Vault which made extensive use of tailored databases, some of which were extremely sensitive to local electoral dynamics.”

Whether this will have an actual effect on the final result is still unclear. What is clear is that the internet is now an unquestionable part of the election process, involved at every level.

“The internet is now firmly embedded in the US electoral process and it isn’t going to go away,” says Chadwick.

“Any politician who thinks they can win an election without effective use of the internet is sorely mistaken.”

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Vodacom SA intensifies mobile preparations ahead of 2010 World Cup

Mutual and Federal

DESPITE South Africa boasting of exceptional infrastructure in the region, huge concerns have been raised over its capacity to meet the technological advances on mobile communications, especially with the country hosting the 2010 FIFA World Cup.

However, Vodacom South Africa, the largest mobile network operator in the country, is convinced that it can live to the expectation, saying several measures have been put in place to match international standards and the anticipated influx of foreigners for the soccer extravaganza.

Vodacom chief communications officer, Dot Field, said 2010 visitors would be able to use the Vodacom network to access the internet via 3G and HSDPA from their cellphones or laptops.

“Visitors top the 2010 World Cup will be able to use the Vodacom network to access the internet via 3G and HSDPA from their cellphones or laptops, as well as upload content that includes pictures with Vodacom’s HSUPA service,” said Field.

He said Vodacom, especially with its partnership with Vodafone, now offers the latest voice and data communications technologies to customers in South Africa.

Vodacom is working closely with various parties to ensure that the required communication infrastructure is in place, nationally, including at stadiums.

Thanks to Vodacom’s partnership with Vodafone, customers and visitors are also part of the Vodafone World of predictable and transparent international roaming costs and seamless roaming.

Previous World Cup hosts, which are mainly developed countries like Japan, Italy, and France, have lived to the expectations as they boast of sophisticated mobile phones and networks in the world.

Nevertheless, the South African mobile market has shown exceptional growth since inception and is the fourth fastest growing GSM market in the world.

There are currently three mobile communication network operators in SA, namely Vodacom SA, MTN and Cell C.

Vodacom has approximately 55 percent market share, while MTN has about 34 percent and Cell C 11 percent.

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Africa’s biggest mobile cellular company records US$1. 887 billion profit

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ZAIN Group, a leading mobile telecommunications operator doing business in 22 African countries and the Middle East, has recorded a 25 percent growth in revenue in the third quarter of 2008, compared to the same period last year.
The Group realised consolidated revenues of US$1.887 billion in the quarter under review.

The company’s consolidated EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization) increased by 20 percent for the same period to reach U$763.6 million.
ZAIN’S consolidated net profits reached US$326.6 million, an increase of 7 percent on the 2007 comparable period profits. Year-on-year customer growth across the two continents where the Group operates, was 54 percent.

ZAIN was serving 56.3 million managed active customers as at 30 September this year. Commenting on the period under review and financial results, ZAIN chief executive officer, Saad Al-Barrak, said: “This quarter has been both the most challenging and most rewarding in ZAIN’S corporate history since the launch of our profitable expansion strategy in 2003, laying the foundation for our 2011 targets of being a top-ten global telecommunications company,” he said.
The ZAIN brand has been warmly received across the African continent since its launch on August 1, 2008, Al-Barrak added. “Our Nigerian operation is witnessing exponential customer growth based on the heavy investment in network upgrades and expansion. We are extremely excited by the future potential in all facets of this operation.

“In East Africa, our Madagascar, Tanzania and Uganda operations focus on customer acquisition is paying off, all three recording impressive results. “We expect our revamped Kenyan operation to follow suit as the new management team is now totally geared for the challenges ahead with concerted ZAIN Group support on all fronts. Our Ghana operation will commence mobile services by the end of 2008,” he said.

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Kenya positions itself as Africa’s outsourcing hub

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Kenya is positioning itself as the business processing and outsourcing hub in readiness for the merger of Africa’s regional trading blocs.

Businesses in Kenya are preparing for an expanded market of more than 600 million people in 26 countries when Africa’s largest trading bloc— the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (Comesa) merges with the Southern Africa Development Community (Sadc) and the East African Community (EAC).

Leaders of the 26 countries met in Kampala two weeks ago and approved plans to integrate the blocs to offer the continent an expanded free trade area and customs union.

According to President Mwai Kibaki, the ongoing laying of the fibre optic cable and the improvement and expansion of major roads will open Kenya as a centre for business processing and outsourcing (BPO) when the regional trading blocs open up the continent for trade.

Offshore businesses have turned to BPO—contracting out production processes to manufacturers in other regions— in a move aimed at cutting costs.
American firms such as Adidas and Nike produce their sports goods in China where labour costs are considered low.

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Safaricom nominated for inaugural AfriCom awards

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Mobile telephony Safaricom has been nominated for three awards at the inaugural AfricaCom Awards 2008, to be held on November 18, 2008 at the Cape Town International Convention Centre in South Africa.

The company’s money transfer M-PESA has been entered for two awards; Rural Services Award and Changing Lives Award while its exhilarating Kwachua Milioni Promotion has been nominated for Best Marketing Campaign Award.

The inaugural AfricaCom Awards 2008 is a unique celebration of the outstanding achievements of the African telecommunications market.

The Awards aim at recognizing the achievements and successes within the African communications market during the last 12 months and will be independently judged by a panel of Global Industry-wide experts.

“It is great to be nominated for the esteemed AfricaCom Awards 2008. We are proud to be nominated for three different awards,” Safaricom Chief Executive Officer Mr Michael Joseph said.

Joseph attributed the nomination to the firm’s innovative products and services, positive contribution to the society, role in transforming perceptions of Africa in global markets and displaying high standards of good corporate citizenship.

M-PESA was launched nationwide in March 2007, in partnership with Vodafone.

The value of person to person transfer of funds in the month of August 2008 exceeded Kshs 8 billion. The service currently has over 4,000 agents countrywide.

In July this year, Safaricom was nominated for the prestigious CBC-African Business Awards 2008 in association with the Commonwealth Business Council (CBC).

Other Awards won by Safaricom include PWC Most Respected Company - East Africa’s Most Respected Company 2007 and Global Mobile Awards 2008 - Winner in the Best Broadcast Commercial Category for The M-PESA ‘Send Money Home’ TVC.

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