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'Mark' re-imagines business

The new magazine of digital business, Mark, is about the changing nature of both people and the business environment. Its blog, Marklives.com, extends the content into the social media space. Founder and editor of the magazine and Internet veteran HERMAN MANSON reveals the thinking behind the venture.

People are changing. Business environments are changing. Building business organisations (and profits) are no longer simply about building brand equity and loyalty – it’s about building customer equity. This is the premise for the launch of new digital business magazine Mark and its associated blog MarkLives.com.

Mark magazine and MarkLives.com covers a world-wide trend towards the re-engagement between real people as opposed to people and technology. Technology is simply a facilitator in this process. People are looking for real engagement, a real interest in their causes and needs. They are no longer sold on traditional advertising. The way business engages with people, both customers and staff, is being redefined, and we all need to be aware of how this trend affects us if we are going to manage this process.



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Posted in the category: Insight, Strategy, Trends

Dark Fibre Africa lights up

Just how much connectivity is being put in the ground in South African cities? There is much speculation, but little information. One of the key players in the physical roll-out of fibre-optic networks used by major telcos, Dark Fibre Africa, lifts the veil, courtesy of director RiICHARD CAME.

South Africa is experiencing major changes in its telecommunications market, following Altech’s court victory and the landing of the Seacom cable, two concrete signs that market liberalisation is becoming a reality.


Richard Came

Dark Fibre Africa (DFA) is keeping pace with these changes, and has already made rapid progress in creating a carrier-neutral dark fibre network in major metropolitan areas, with 350km of fibre cable laid in Johannesburg. Progress has been made with infrastructure in Pretoria, Durban and Cape Town. DFA owns, builds, maintains, secures and monitors the dark fibre network infrastructure, which is then leased to telecommunications operators.

The company is working with a number of network operators, large and small, who recognise the value in shared network infrastructure, and is looking to conclude agreements with more users following the Altech ruling.



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Posted in the category: Strategy, Technology, Trends

The mapping pioneers of Africa

Field data experts are the modern day pioneers of Africa, and the means they use to provide real world verification of maps and collect road names and points of interest holds key messages for understanding your working environment, writes ETIENNE JONKER, Field Data Capture Manager for TeleAtlas Africa

When you switch on your navigation device to help get yourself from point A to point B and you reach your destination with ease, take a minute to think about how the mapping information was gathered before being displayed on your device.

With the road network changing by up to 40% annually of its coverage in terms of both new names and changed roads, one of the key challenges facing map builders is keeping data accurate and up to date. The first step in building and maintaining an accurate map involves collecting geographic information. Field teams play an essential role in providing real world verification of maps being built and in collecting attribute information such as road names, land use and points of interest.



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Posted in the category: Insight, Strategy, Technology

Time to free up SA’s telecoms market

South Africa will need to become Internet savvy in order to compete globally, argues ADRIAAN GIE, CEO of Plusto.com, a business-to-business e-trading platform launched to the SA, Indian and Chinese markets last month.

It is time for Communications Minister Ivy Matsepe-Casaburri to change her stance on South Africa’s telecoms legislation.

While South Africa may be a leader in internet connectivity across Africa, the country lags behind countries such as Morocco, Egypt and Nigeria in terms of market competitiveness.

A severely controlled and conservative telecoms legislation that repels competition leads to other service providers being shut out of the market while Telkom holds South Africans at ransom by charging exorbitant connectivity fees.

For too long the Minister has stifled economic growth in South Africa by refusing private companies entry to the market. If government’s focus is on increasing trade and commerce between South Africa and the rest of the world, then this is not the way to go about it. In addition, the price of broadband in South Africa is exorbitant compared with international standards:



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Posted in the category: Economy, Technology, Trends

Ericsson on evolution

Telecommunications giant Ericsson will offer live demonstrations of its offerings for the next generation in wireless broadband technology, Long Term Evolution (LTE) , at AfricaCom 2008 in Cape Town next week.

A wide selection of Ericsson’s solutions will be on show at AfricaCom 2008 in Cape Town on 18 and 19 November 2008., including its ‘Full Service Broadband’, Managed Services and Multimedia Solutions, together with live demonstrations of its HSPA, Long Term Evolution (LTE) and Convergent Charging options.

“The LTE demonstration is likely to generate quite a large amount of interest this year, in particular,” observes Aingharan Kanagaratnam, senior manager: Radio Access Sales Support, market unit sub-Saharan Africa, “since it will show what people will be using this technology for and the exciting possibilities that exist when bandwidth is no longer a limitation.”



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Posted in the category: News, Technology, Trends

Telkom confirms sale of Vodacom

Telkom today confirmed the key terms of the sale of a 15% stake in Vodacom, South Africa’s leading mobile phone operator, to UK-based Vodafone Group and the intended listing of Vodacom on the JSE.

Telkom formally confirmed today that a 15% stake in Vodacom will be sold to Vodafone for R22.5bn in cash, less Vodacom’s attributable net debt of R1.55bn. Telkom will distribute 50% of the after tax proceeds from the sale transaction to Telkom shareholders by way of a special dividend. The dividend will be paid upon closing of the transaction, which is expected to take place in the first half of 2009.

The transaction is subject to approval by 75% of Telkom shareholders, the competition authorities and the Independent Communication Authority of SA (ICASA). Irrevocable undertakings in support of the transaction have already been received from Telkom’s largest shareholders, the South African Government and the Public Investment Corporation (PIC).



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Posted in the category: Economy, News, Technology

New era in global ICT standards

The World Telecommunication Standardization Assembly closed in Johannesburg last week with decisions on a wide range of issues that will change the future direction of the information and communication technology (ICT) industry .
The role of information and communication technology (ICT) in climate change stands out among a range of key issues that the global telecommunications industry body has agreed to tackle in the coming years.

Members of the International Telecommunications Union, spanning the global ICT industry and administrations from across the world, asked for increased emphasis on key areas such as ICTs and climate change, the deployment of IPv6, accessibility to ICTs for persons with disabilities, conformance and interoperability testing, and encouraging academic participation in the ITU’s work.

Malcolm Johnson, Director of ITU’s Telecommunication Standardization Sector (ITU-T) said in his closing speech: “We have received a strong message from our members that ITU is, and will remain the world’s pre-eminent global telecommunication and ICT standards body. And we also hear very clearly that ITU should continue on its mission to connect the world, and that bridging the standardization gap – by increasing developing country participation in our work – is an essential prerequisite to achieve this goal.”



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Posted in the category: News, Technology, Trends

AfricaCom Awards finalists named

The organisers of AfricaCom Awards 2008 have announced the finalists for the inaugural African telecommunications awards taking place on 18 November 2008 at the International Convention Centre, Cape Town.

South Africa’s new second Network operator, Neotel, has been nominated as a finalist in the New Entrant of the Year category for the AfricaCom Awards 2008. It joins several dozen other African telecommunications operators and suppliers who are vying for recognition.

The awards recognise the achievements and success within the African communications market during the last twelve months.

According to the organisers, the quality and quantity of entries was exceptional and sets the standard for the African telecommunications industry going into 2009.

The finalists are:



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Posted in the category: Economy, News, Technology

Telco Jabberwock is dead!

In a decision that may change the shape of South African telecommunications, a High Court ruling was made on 29 August 2008 by Justice Norman Davis that Value Added Network Service licence holders, which include all Internet Service Providers, must be allowed by the regulator to provide their own network infrastructure. ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK assesses the implications.

Today may have seen the beginning of the end of the dreaded monster lurking in the tangled forests of South African telecommunications law. When Judge Norman Davis ruled in the High Court this morning that Value Added Network Services (VANS) must be allowed to provide their own networks – and that the regulator is obliged to grant the appropriate license to any network that chooses to do so –  he heralded the beginning of a truly competitive environment in telecommunications.

The court case was brought by Altech Autopage against the telecoms regulator, ICASA, essentially to force ICASA to issue a new category of telecoms licences to anyone who applied, rather than cherry-picking a select handful that ICASA decided were worthy.

The Electronic Communications Act envisages that these ECNS (Electronic Communications Network Services) or I-ECNS (Individual ECNS) licences would eventually allow their holders to provide any communications service, from Internet to phone to broadcasting, as the technology underpinning these services is all moving to a common platform, namely the Internet Protocol). Little wonder everyone would like a slice of that pie.



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Posted in the category: News

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

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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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