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MWEB sale a signal of change

The announcement last week that Naspers has put MWEB up for auction created a stir of surprise, but not shock. Arthur Goldstuck looks at the implications

 

Is the decision by Naspers to sell MWEB a vote of no confidence in the Internet? Hardly. If anything, it declares the opposite: a recognition that the Internet has become so pervasive, its best businesses will be built on what people do on the network, rather than on how people connect to it.

While it may not be a good thing for MWEB, it is probably a necessary thing as MWEB evolves from an ISP into a telecommunications company. MWEB is entering a new era in South African telecommunications and has little choice but to become an infrastructure owner – once the regulatory environment allows it. Naspers is traditionally in the content space, and has avoided owning the plumbing that makes it all work. It will be a painful divorce, but good for the kids.




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Posted in the category: News, Technology, Trends

East African operators must get basics right

Competition in one of Africa’s most dynamic markets will allow operators to enjoy East Africa’s growth opportunities if they get the basics right, said participants at East Africa Com in Tanzania.

The mood was upbeat in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, last week, where over 450 telecommunications executives gathered for East Africa Com, their annual event in the region. The conference and exhibition brought together the leaders of the region’s stakeholders to discuss the commercial and technology strategies to maximise growth and improve services for users. From the debates that took place over the two days, it was clear that East Africa is one of the continent’s most dynamic markets.

East Africa ComThe message from some of the region’s major operators and investors at a plenary that opened the conference was that growth opportunities can be great in East Africa, for those who know how to grab them.

Most markets in the region experience high GDP growth, and favourable market and regulatory conditions. Host country Tanzania was presented as one of the most attractive of them, with 7% GDP growth, stable political conditions, dynamic operators and a low penetration levelwhich leaves room for growth.



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Posted in the category: News, Strategy, Technology

Neotel unveils broadband phone

Neotel’s broadband phone

Our sister web site, Gadget, today lifts the lid on the first consumer device that will be rolled out by Neotel, South Africa’s second network operator. Alluded to as a “converged device” in briefings earlier this week, it has emerged that it will be a phone with a high-speed Internet connection, providing “carrier grade” voice, as well as broadband data, to consumers in urban areas. Read more about it on the Gadget web site.

 



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Posted in the category: News, Technology

Arthur C Clarke remembered

Science fiction writer and visionary Sir Arthur C. Clarke died on 19 March 2008 in Colombo, Sri Lanka, at the age of 90. He was born on 16 December 1917 in Minehead, Somerset in the United Kingdom and moved to Sri Lanka; then called Ceylon, in 1956.

The international telecommunication community will remember Sir Arthur for making popular the concept of using the geostationary orbit for communications. In October 1945, Clarke published in the British magazine Wireless World a technical paper entitled “Extra-terrestrial Relays — Can Rocket Stations Give World-wide Radio Coverage?” The paper established the feasibility of artificial satellites as relay stations for Earth-based communications. Arthur C Clarke

Arthur C Clarke in 1984 at work on the film sequel to 2001: A Space Odyssey, 2010: The Year We Make Contact. Photograph: Rex Features/MGM

Clarke predicted that one day communications around the world would be possible via a network of three geostationary satellites spaced at equal intervals around the Earth’s equator.



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Posted in the category: News

Africa on the move

The Africa 2008 telecommunications conference, to be held in Cairo from 12 to 15 May 2008, will welcome leading names in the ICT industry, and more than 5000 visitors. It comes at a time when increased liberalisation of markets is leading to a boom in telecommunications on the continent.

Organized by the International Telecommunications Union, ITU Telecom Africa 2008 is intended to promote the ICT industry both regionally and internationally. Five to six thousand visitors are expected to attend the event and explore the region’s ICT and telecommunication market.

The event promises a concentration of government, regulatory and private sector players, together with leading thinkers to negotiate and debate the industry’s most innovative technologies and its most significant issues.

Dr Hamadoun I. Touré“The investment climate in Africa is particularly inviting right now,” said Dr Hamadoun I. Touré, ITU Secretary-General. “Liberalised markets forge forward and demand continues at a remarkable speed.”

Referring to the successful Connect Africa Summit, Dr Touré added, “We’re certain to see further momentum on the investment commitments generated in the last six months.”

AFRICA 2008 boasts an extensive international Exhibition – a key component of ITU Telecom since its inception in 1971. Leading players from the region as well from major international companies come together with a huge display of ICT products and services at the Cairo International Conference and Exhibition Centre.



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Posted in the category: News, Technology, Trends

WiMAX delays dampen impact in SA

Limited roll-out of WiMAX has resulted in dampening of its potential impact, according to a new research report from World Wide Worx.

Delays in the award of licenses for providing the new WiMAX high-speed wireless broadband service to businesses and consumers and the limited roll-out of services that have been licensed has resulted in dampening of its potential impact.

WiMAX in SA 2008This is the core conclusion of the first study on the impact of the technology in South Africa, conducted by World Wide Worx. The report, “WiMAX in SA 2008: Year Zero”, released yesterday, shows that only those companies that have already deployed WiMAX have appreciated its impact.

These companies are all using Telkom’s scaled down version of WiMAX, which is provided only where its ADSL fixed line service is not available, and only at ADSL-type speeds. WiMAX can theoretically offer speeds of up to 70Mbps, as opposed to ADSL’s fastest option in South Africa of 4Mbps. Even at far lower speeds, however, the potential offered by WiMAX is not yet on the horizon, since no serious competition exists to spur its roll-out.



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Posted in the category: News, Technology, Trends

Altech Netstar wins TT100 Award

In an awards ceremony in Johannesburg last week, Altech Netstar was awarded the 2007 Technology Top 100 (TT100) Minister’s Award for Overall Excellence. “This celebration of excellence is also a celebration of truly South African innovation,” said the Minister of Science and Technology, Mosibudi Mangena, of the overall awards.

Mosibudi MangenaAltech Netstar is the overall winner in the 2007 Technology Top 100 (TT100) awards.

According to Professor Roy Marcus, Chairman of the Technology Top 100 and The Da Vinci Institute for Technology Management, the honour was a result of the company’s ingenuity and success in the systemic management of technology, innovation and people.

The winners were announced during an innovative musical awards ceremony held on 21 February 2008, where 81 enterprises qualified to carry the 2007 TT100 brand, signifying that they use technology to outperform their peers and achieve success.

“The Technology Top 100 Awards are recognised as the premier business excellence awards in South Africa,” said the Minister of Science and Technology, Mosibudi Mangena. “This celebration of excellence is also a celebration of truly South African innovation.”


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Posted in the category: News, Technology

The Next Big Wallet, courtesy of SA software developer

Fundamo, the South African-based mobile banking software developer, has been chosen to partner Accenture in the world wide rollout of mobile wallets to 700 mobile network operators.

Fundamo, a provider of mobile banking and payment software solutions, has signed a partnership agreement with Accenture, the global management consulting and technology services company, to accelerate the worldwide adoption of mobile wallets.

Aletha LingAccenture will lead the promotion of mobile wallets worldwide in 2008, which will allow Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) to deploy, operate and fine tune a Mobile Wallet service, learning how to streamline registration, optimise price points and test partnering relationships with a bank, prior to full scale mobile wallet service deployment. The Accenture Mobile Wallet platform will be presented to 700 Mobile Network Operators early in 2008.

“This partnership combines Accenture’s ability to define and deliver new business opportunities globally, bringing together both communications and financial services markets, with Fundamo’s deep experience and technology development in the mobile payments market,” says Aletha Ling, Head of Business Development at Fundamo. Keep reading →

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Posted in the category: Economy, News, Technology

How hi-tech is changing the world Part 1: The digital hearth

In this wrap-up from last week’s Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, The Big Change summarises some of the hi-tech breakthroughs, launches and visions that are already changing or about to change the way we work and live.

Just more than 40 years after it was first staged by the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA), the International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas saw one of the greatest explosions of cutting-edge technologies in its history last week.

Gary Shapiro, CEA president and CEOMore than 2,700 exhibitors, a record 1.85 million square feet of exhibit space across a number of venues, and the industry’s leading executives unveiling their visions, were all symptoms of a bigger trend that is playing itself out across the world.

According to CEA President and CEO Gary Shapiro, in his “State of the Industry” address, consumer electronics industry sales will jump to $171 billion in 2008, a 6.1 percent increase over 2007. He cautioned that, although the industry would continue to outpace projected sales in other industries, continued growth is threatened by protectionist policies. Keep reading →

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How hi-tech is changing the world Part 2: Content and cars

New content and entertainment platforms and electronic advances in the automotive market were two of the hot topics of the 2008 International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas last week. Leaders from Comcast and General Motors delivered keynote addresses illustrating consumer technology’s growing relationship with both the content and automotive industries.

GM’s hydrogen car designed for Jay LenoBrian Roberts, chairman and CEO of Comcast Corp., the largest cable TV services in the USA, became the first chief executive from the cable industry to deliver a CES keynote. He said today’s convergence of media has ushered in a new era for Comcast, which he referred to as Comcast 3.0. He identified innovation, technology, choice and customer service as the four major elements at the center of Comcast 3.0.

Roberts announced the end of an era for set-top boxes, and proclaimed a new generation for two-way platforms with the introduction of an OpenCable platform called tru2way. Panasonic president Toshihiro Sakamoto joined Roberts on stage to announce their co-creation of AnyPlay, the first portable DVR and DVD combination with tru2way capability. Roberts also announced that more than 1,000 HD choices will be available for the portable device in 2008. Keep reading →

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The Big Change is a business strategy blog and newsletter published by Arthur Goldstuck, managing director of World Wide Worx, a leading technology research organisation based in Johannesburg, South Africa.

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