Issue no 322

top story

  • This week sees the simmering spectrum conflicts that have existed in Africa boil over as the Global VSAT Forum launches a global campaign to protect the wavelengths used by C-Band operators. However this is simply the most public of a number of conflicts that Africa’s operators and regulators have before them. It is often said without challenge that spectrum is a scarce resource. But all the while Government agencies hog its use (particularly the military) and regulators allow people to buy licensed spectrum without using it for long periods. One operator told us that he had bought spectrum in one country as a commercially pre-emptive action. Russell Southwood looks at how the GVF’s campaign highlights some of these issues.

    In a letter to its members this week, the GVF wrote:”The purpose of this letter is to make you aware of a significant technical threat to your business.” The issue for the GVF is that the “extended” C-band frequencies (3.4 to 3.7 GHz) have already been identified by several national administrations for use by new services like Broadband Wireless Access (BWA) and WiMax.

    If that were not difficult enough for satellite operators, other administrations are looking to deploy these new terrestrial services in the “standard” C-band frequencies (3.7 to 4.2 GHz). As the GVF’s Martin Jarrold told us:”In countries where WiMax services have been introduced, there have been significant in-band and out-of-band interference issues and services interruptions for satellite ground stations and their related services. We are aware of interruptions which have occurred throughout Africa as well as elsewhere in the world.”

    In a precedent-setting decision, Hong Kong’s regulator OFTA concluded that without the implementation of technical constraints (principally geographic separation and the use of LNB filters) -- which would be costly for both BWA operators and FSS users - the deployment of BWA services in the 3.5 GHz band would lead to interference problems in the entire C-band (3.4 – 4.2 GHz), making a wide and cost-effective deployment of BWA systems in a small place like Hong Kong difficult. In the conclusions to the Report, OFTA also noted that these interference problems have been increasingly reported in places outside of Hong Kong.

    In addition the GVF is concerned that the ITU-R Working Party 8F has included the 3.4-4.2 GHz frequency range as a potential candidate band for terrestrial mobile services. According to the GVF BWA and IMT services are similar in that they are both characterized by a large number of ubiquitously deployed base stations and user terminals. FSS satellite systems deliver extremely weak signals which are highly sensitive in both the standard and extended C-band frequencies.

    The most effective solution to avoid interference from these services is to separate the systems by implementing exclusion zones around existing FSS earth stations. The need for exclusion zones has been recognized by the ITU-R (including WP 8F) and several ITU studies within Working Parties 4A and 8F. However, exclusion zones are impractical in the case of ubiquitously deployed C-band antennas (as such zones cannot be defined) and for C-band antennas at known locations the width of such zones may go up several hundreds of km, preventing therefore the deployment of terrestrial IMT in large areas.

    The implementation of exclusions zones would affect both existing service operators and the roll-out of new services. The GVF recommends that operators register their receive-only and transmitting earth stations that operate in the extended and standard C-band frequencies with their local telecom regulatory authority wherever possible, “so that they can be afforded the proper protection against interference”. It is also recommending members present the case against re-assigning C-Band frequencies to BWA and Wi-MAX.

    Other spectrum conflicts are also putting in question the roll-out of cheaper, new technologies. For example, Neotel is trying to get spectrum to offer CDMA fixed wireless operation but is being prevented by an existing broadcaster that is arguing that interference will occur.

    Africa’s regulators now have the delicate task of sorting out their available spectrum so that it can be used effectively to deliver new technologies but does not disadvantage existing operators. This must put pressure on Government agencies and non-operators of licensed spectrum to justify what they are doing with these resources.

    These issues will be discussed at:

    2nd West Africa Satellite Communications Summit

    31 October to 2 November 2006

    Abuja, Nigeria

    Website: www.gvf-events.org

    Contacts for further information: martin.jarrold@gvf.org & paul.stahl@uk-emp.co.uk

    How to register for the event: paul.stahl@uk-emp.co.uk

Telecoms, Rates, Offers and Coverage

  • - Mobile telecommunications NetOne is set to release at least 100,000 new lines onto the market in a move to expand its subscriber base in Zimbabwe.

    - Renatelsat, Congo CDR national satellite communications company has announced plans to expand progressively its coverage to whole country. Service will be soon rolled out to Lodja, Shabunda, Bagata, Gemena and Lisala.

    - Mobile operator MTN Nigieria announces a two percentage drop in its market share in the last financial year from 47 per cent in 2004 to 45 per cent in 2005. The loss in market share is due to growing competition in the industry. MTN Nigeria however recorded 15 per cent increase in its subscribers base to hit a total of 9,636,000.

    - The Botswana Telecommunications Corporation (BTC) has announced a tariff rebalancing sometime next month. The tariff rebalancing is meant to align the tariff of a service with its underlying costs, according to BTC's Chief Executive Officer. Under the revised tariffs, international rates will go down while local rates will go up.

    - Nigeria's third largest telecommunications network Vmobile has officially changed its name to Celtel.

    - Celtel Malawi has relaunched its public wireless payphone service to target the rural population with no access to either mobile or fixed line phones. The phones may be purchased for MWK27,500 (USD209) or leased from Celtel,

    - MTN in South Africa has announced that it will spend R700 million to expand telecommunications to under-serviced rural areas over eight years.

telecoms

  • Rwanda’s Terracom will soon have a new 200km link from Kigali to Kagitumba in the Northeast tip of Rwanda. According to a release issued September 4, the fiber optic cable that will span much of the Eastern Province connecting Rwamagana, Kayonza, Gatsibo, Kagitumba, and Nyagatare to Kigali and the world. Already the Terracom fiber network covers over 350km within Rwanda and the whole project is expected to cost US$3 million. "Fiber is a key part of ensuring Rwanda has a world class infrastructure" according to Greg Wyler, CEO of Terracom.

    He added: 'We have a world class Rwandan fiber team and this latest heavy investment shows our continued commitment to ensuring Rwanda has the tools necessary for continued economic growth'.

    He said that the fiber connection will allow for the sharing and distribution of computing and educational resources. 'For instance, a data center at one school can offer processing power to the computers at another school. By having such a high speed backbone resource sharing, distance learning and advanced computer architectures are possible' the release states in part.

    According to Eastern Province Governor Theoneste Mutsindashyaka the project will enhance development and also create job opportunities in the area. "The new fiber network stretching throughout the Eastern Province will bring communications, education, video and telemedicine to our people," he said and added: "I watched Terracom provide hundreds of jobs in Kigali while I was Mayor, and look forward to the thousands of new jobs which will be created with this project. I can say from experience that the Terracom team was very professional and diligent in the way they laid fiber through the streets of Kigali."

    This fibre will connect for instance Umutara Polytechnic University to other institutions of high learning (Rwednet) such as UNR, KIST, KIE and SFB. It will further be used to connect health centers, district offices and businesses along the way' the release states.

    The New Times

  • Telecom Egypt has announced a project with Zhone Technologies to deploy the supplier’s MALC broadband loop carrier technology which will provide VoIP and data services for various parts of its network.

    The project combines Zhone’s MALC with Nortel’s CS2K softswitch and ATM network technology allowing circuit switched voice to move onto the pure packet network transparently to end users in terms of service availability, call quality and billing. Zhone's MALC also provides a proven roadmap for the delivery of new voice, video and data services such as ADSL2+, VDSL2, PON, Ethernet and IP Video.

    Dawlat El Badawy, Telecom Egypt’s vice chairman for project planning, said, “The Scope of this Project is to install a Nortel CS2K Softswitch along with the Zhone MALC as access concentrators in the TE network. This will allow TE to provide its customers with voice services including both POTS and VoIP Services.”

    Telecom Egypt is the region’s largest fixed line operator with a subscriber base of over 10 million.

    ITP

  • Fixed telephone operator TelOne is currently looking for foreign strategic partners to turn around the fortunes of the parastatal. "We are looking mainly at foreigners for the alliances as they will bring in foreign currency through equity investments which we need for our equipment and other day-to-day running of TelOne," said the company's chief executive officer, Wellington Makamure.

    The parastatal is currently working on the new equipment it procured from outside the country to create additional capacity. "We are installing CDMA which will enhance our service delivery throughout the country," said TelOne.

    Asked to comment on a story published this week suggesting TelOne was pleading with the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe for foreign currency, Makamure declined to elaborate except to say the central bank has always come to parastatals' assistance in their time of need and hoped this good working relationship would continue.

    The equipment for the Code Division Multiple Access would cost at least US$15 million, for which the parastatal has already paid a deposit. Last month TelOne unveiled $46 million for its network expansion in Beitbridge in line with developments currently taking place in the border town. TelOne said $22 million of the money would be spent on civil works while $24 million would be used to purchase copper cables.

    Surveys for the copper cable network expansion for Beitbridge town and surrounding suburbs have been completed and a tender for civil works is being prepared. The project is expected to be complete by year end.

    The Herald

  • The Consumer Protection Council CPC has lamented the charges imposed by Telecommunications Operators on Customer Care Lines.

    The CPC in a submission made to the Nigerian Communications Commission NCC stated that the customer care line should be made toll- free. It added that all care services are an integral part of after sales support service that must be encouraged in a highly unenlightened society as prevalent in Nigeria.

    The CPC stated that all problems encountered by subscribers such as System/Network failure which means product failure ranging from inability to make or receive calls, inability to recharge, drop calls, non access to figures on scratch cards, queried deductions etc. cannot be the fault of the consumer hence the consumer should not be charged for calling the Networks concerned to complain about these failures because the consumer is not responsible for the failures.

    The CPC stated that "these failures cannot be said to be the consumer's fault, yet he feels the pain, and has basis for complaint since he has no solution to it. Must he again bear the cost of finding solution for an already paid service.In as much as all the mentioned failures are not the consumer's fault, he must not bear the cost of making this complaint and to make for ready access, the customer care line should be tool free. The consumer must not be over inconvenienced, since he might not even have the time and space, to visit the care centre.". According to the CPC, one weapon of competition is rendering convenience of service to the consumer which is highly enhanced by toll-free concept. If 'toll-free' becomes general, dominance factor that hinders competition would be curtailed, it added.

    The CPC reiterated that the spirit of customer care relationship gives rise to customer "CARE" line. In the submission, the CPC further gave the definition of care as meaning to like or love, to be able to look after something or somebody well. It added that to Care as an operator entails a producer of a product making things easier to the consumers of the product. This Care according to the CPC includes after sales services, warranty, discounts etc to make things easier for the consumers.

    The CPC stressed that it was unacceptable that consumers should be made to pay for Goods and service purchased when it fails to meet the purpose for which they are bought. The global practice is that when a product fails to meet the purpose for which it is bought, for any reason whatsoever, exclusive of mishandling the consumer's complaint arising as a result of the failed product should be heard at no extra cost. The CPC reiterated that "Consumers of telecom in Nigeria have paid so much to the industry in value and in pains to deserve much more than toll free.

    This Day

  • Get ready for a new inconvenience on your cellphone, and get ready for a new word in your lexicon: smishing. Smishing is an unwelcome cross between SMS and phishing, the scam that tries to trick users into handing over confidential details online. Which means that phishing could soon make its debut on your small screen. The antivirus specialist McAfee has warned of the new mobile threat after receiving a sample of a computer virus that instigates a smishing attack.

    The virus targeted two major cellphone operators in Spain, sending messages that attempted to trick their subscribers into downloading free antivirus software for their phone, supposedly from their service provider. The message specifically targets Nokia Series 60 phones. Users who download and install the software from the link provided in the SMS will find their phones infected.

    Evidence suggests that the threat was created using existing codes from a variety of sources on the internet. By targeting a network operator's SMS gateway, the messages can be sent for free, and details of how to hack those gateways are freely available over the internet.

    "While this is clearly a proof-of-concept threat, there are some important warning signs for the mobile industry," said Jan Volzke, McAfee's senior marketing manager for mobile security. SMS scams had been around for years, but this was the first time a threat had jumped so easily from PCs to cellphones using a network operator's SMS system, he said. "If the code to create such threats is so easy available on the internet, it's only a matter of time before we see more dangerous smishing attacks."

    Business Day

  • Gabon’s Council of Ministers last Tuesday approved what has been described as “a drastic action plan” to put the company on an even keel prior to privatisation. It included a list of the first 338 employees to be made redundant.

    One of the most telling things approved was the creation of a new post, “contrôleur de gestion” (management controller), a post designed to be independent of the existing management and one designed by Denis Ndjimbi as being capable of acting as the “cop” with oversight of the plan.

    In a round of harsh measures, the Government has forbidden further recruitment recruitment and frozen salary increases. A plan has been produced to re-organise services and in the plan’s words:”to avoid dangerously compromising the future of this company which has enormous, unexploited potential and (unless action is taken) will lead inexorably to bankruptcy.”

    (SOURCE : Gabonews)

  • - Tanzania Communication Regulatory Authority (TCRA) has given new licences to four national service providers. This type of license will give room to the licensee to provide to end users a range of electronic communication services including, among others, payphone services, Internet, video conference, voice, data, Voip, multi-media and calling cards to end users. The four companies are Clear line Communications Tanzania Limited, Hotspot Business Solutions (T) Limited, Wavetek Communication Tanzania Limited and Benson Informatics Limited

    - According to local newspaper, Mmegi, the Botswana Telecommunications Corporation's (BTC) is preparing a redundancy plan as part of its privatisation process. BTC has in excess of 1,000 employees and some employees may end up unemployed when the corporation finds a strategic partner. In 2003, when the company was coming out of the restructuring exercise, about 600 employees lost their jobs after recommendations by consultancy firm, Irish Development Agency (IDI).

    - Every South African company licensed to provide telecommunications or broadcasting services has just 30 days to apply to convert its licence to the new format introduced by the Electronic Communications Act. The act has restructured the licences held by companies ranging from giants such as Telkom and the SABC right down to internet service providers and the tiny telecoms operators in rural areas.

    - Etisalat aims to take a 30% share in the huge Egyptian telecoms market within five years, CEO Mohammad Hassan Omran told Gulf News. The company plans to use new technology, better tariffs and new services to tap the country's potentially lucrative mobile phone market, which currently has a penetration rate of only 20%.

internet

  • Kenya has said it will seek funding to finance its own undersea internet cable after an African joint venture was delayed by disagreements. The fibre optic cable, expected to cost $110m, would run from Mombasa to Fujairah in the Gulf of Oman. The president's office said the cable would also serve other countries in East Africa and the Horn of Africa.

    Officials said Kenya was keen to market itself as a centre for business outsourcing, as India has done. Correspondents say the project is expected to cut Internet costs and boost investment in Africa.

    The announcement comes weeks after Kenya refused to sign up to a 23-nation plan to build an undersea telecommunications cable, East African Submarine Cable System (Eassy), after disagreeing with South Africa about the cost and management of the project.

    "The cable network that will connect East Africa to the rest of the world will also serve Tanzania, Uganda, Sudan, Rwanda, Burundi, Ethiopia and Somalia," said the statement, which gave no timetable for the project Eassy was originally expected to be operational at the beginning of 2008.

    BBC

  • Telkom South Africa might abandon its planned investment in a $300m undersea telecommunications cable designed to boost Africa's bandwidth if the return on its spending was insufficient, Telkom CEO Papi Molotsane said.

    Telkom is one of the main backers of the 9900km East Africa Submarine System (EASSy) cable. But regulatory issues and governmental pressure to make the cable's bandwidth affordable may prevent it from making enough profit to justify an investment, Molotsane said.

    In an interview, he said EASSy was essential to increase the bandwidth available to 24 countries around eastern Africa, but Telkom's participation was not guaranteed.

    Telkom would sell its capacity on the cable to smaller companies that provided voice and data services, including internet service providers.

    "The overriding issue that we have to evaluate is the impact EASSy will have, the investment it will require, and the return we will get. If it doesn't make sense for our shareholders we will have no reservations in pulling out," he said. "If it doesn't meet our investment criteria and there are no returns, it doesn't make sense to invest."

    About 30 operators are in the consortium that will finance and own the cable. As Telkom is one of the largest, its input could be well above $10m. However, the project is a Nepad initiative, allowing governments to call the shots on how much the members charge other operators to access the bandwidth.

    Telkom is negotiating with Nepad officials to work out how much profit margin it could charge. "We are in discussions right now with all the players and putting the numbers together, and a decision is imminent," Molotsane said.

    "We support Nepad, but we have to do things that really make sense for our shareholders, who expect returns on their investment. We have indicated to the (communications) minister that if it doesn't make sense we will not go forward. At this stage it is difficult to say whether we will stay or pull out."

    As well as concern over the profit margin, Telkom has another worry. "Some of the partners may be able to sell capacity to our country but we may have challenges selling capacity to their countries because their legislation doesn't allow that," said Molotsane.

    Telkom may decide the benefits of more bandwidth for Africa justify its investment in spite of its reservations, particularly with the 2010 World Cup demanding enormous capacity in and out of SA. "We are concerned by some of the regulatory issues, but that could be overcome by the benefits that EASSy will bring to the African landscape, so we could sacrifice some things to have the increased bandwidth," he said.

    Telkom has warned its investment in EASSy may be jeopardised if government interferes in fees it charges for access to another cable, Sat-3, around the west coast and connecting Africa to Europe. The communications department has debated forcing down the price Telkom charges cellular networks and internet service providers.

    The department has not intervened so far, and Molotsane believes the Sat-3 members will be able to continue setting their own fees even after their exclusivity to the bandwidth expires next June.

    Business Day

  • The Postal Corporation of Kenya has been blamed for its failure to link up with Safaricom when it became evident an Israeli company would switch off its satellite link, disrupting data and Internet services.

    Its parent ministry, Information and Communications, had given the go-ahead to the corporation's board and management to run a parallel service using the mobile service provider's network as early as July 17 when Universal Satspace gave a notice to terminate the service. The disconnection of satellite communication services by Satspace last week has adversely affected services in over 300 post offices across the country.

    Queries have also been raised why PCK could not use Telkom's Internet dial-up system to offer services in the rural areas as they await connection to the Safaricom network.Last week, Information permanent secretary Bitange Ndemo said minister Mutahi Kagwe, for the ministry, "was furious when he learnt the board and the management of PCK did not implement the decision".

    "Investigations have been launched by the ministry targeting the management and the board to establish who failed to implement the decision," said Dr Ndemo.

    "At present, the ministry suspects that a section of the board sabotaged the directive so that the Government will be blamed for the current crisis," he said.

    But the acting PCK chief executive Ken Oluoch said they acted on the directive promptly, but were tied down by public procurement bureaucracy that demands they must advertise and invite tenders from service providers.

    Oluoch said he immediately convened a meeting of the corporation's tender committee, which endorsed the proposal. They also got the nod from the main board and went ahead to advertise the tender, he said. But immediately it was advertised, Satspace went to court and obtained orders that barred PCK from opening the tenders. They were later heard and allowed to open, but not to award the tenders, said Oluoch. By this time, the link had been disconnected after PCK got a notice of only 18 hours last Friday, he added.

    He said: "The management and the board actually set the process in motion immediately we got a letter from the PS on August 17. We were only tied down by public procurement bureaucracy and a court case such that we could not move with speed before we were switched off."

    Former chief executives of the State firm have also been blamed for committing it to an agreement with Satspace.

    But when contacted, a former PCK chief executive, Dan Ameyo, said the project was in the process of being implemented when he joined the corporation in 2003. Since he left the corporation, he did not know what was happening regarding the project, he said. He added: "The project was negotiated before I joined in 2003 and all I did was to ensure it was implemented and was working."

    Last week, it emerged the Kenya Anti-Corruption Commission (KACC) had been involved in the whole saga since July and was likely to take action. According to an article published earlier this week by the local newspaper The Nation, Universal Satspace filed a suit in a London court seeking to compel Kenya to pay US$12,366,816 (Sh903 million) as the outstanding balance. The total contract sum was for US$28.11 million (Sh2.2 billion).

    The Government has been paying the company US$1,124,256 (Sh82 million) every quarter since August 2002, until May 2005. By the time it stopped making the payments, Satspace had received more than Sh1 billion at the exchange rate of Sh75 for one US dollar.

    The firm is also seeking payment of interest of US $538,074 continuing to increase at the rate of US $3,569 per day.

    The Satspace project is among the 17 contracts that the Government stopped at the height of the Anglo Leasing and Finance scandal. The contract for the provision of bandwidth communication for PCK was signed on July 11, 2002 between the Treasury, Ministry of Transport and Communications and Universal Satspace.

    The firm in its suit papers filed at the High Court of Justice said it entered into the agreement with the Government to provide services for post offices countrywide. The services included network management control and spectrum management.

    The firm said it provided the corporation with satellite technology to help it achieve its universal obligations, enhancing its revenue and expanding the use of Internet in rural areas.

    The Government, according to the agreement, was to pay on various dates between August 1, 2002 and February 1, 2008. The Government, the firm said, failed to pay five instalments - US$1,124,256 due on dates between August 1, 2005 and August 1, 2006 - for the service which PCK launched by postmaster-general Dan Ameyo on January 29, 2004.

    The Nation

  • Staff defections from Internet Solutions to Verizon appear to lie behind a dramatic search-and-seize operation carried out at Verizon SA's headquarters last week.

    Internet Solutions won an Anton Piller court order allowing investigators to stop anyone from moving in and out of Verizon's Gallo Manor offices while its records and computers were analysed. Internet Solutions CEO Angus MacRobert has refused to comment on the action, but an external source said the company believed its sales had declined because staff who defected to its rival were poaching clients they previously served through Internet Solutions.

    Documents and records taken from Verizon's premises are understood to be those that contain any references to Internet Solutions. The source also said that Verizon planned to countersue for the loss of revenue caused by the disruption to its business and to its reputation.

    Angela Gahagan, the head of Verizon SA, said she could make very little comment as the issue was in the hands of lawyers. Verizon's network had remained fully operational throughout the incident, she said, so there had been no disruption to the communications systems being run for its customers.

    Earlier, Verizon confirmed that it had received a request to hand over some of its documents after a civil complaint lodged by a competitor.

    Verizon was co-operating fully with the request, it said.

    Even though nobody could leave or enter the building, Verizon's statement said the company had been able to operate as normal. "Verizon Business believes that the allegation by its competitor is unfounded.

    "Moreover, ethical behaviour and compliance with laws are fundamental to everything that Verizon Business does," the company said.

    An Anton Piller order allows police to arrive unannounced and conduct a search to prevent evidence from being destroyed.

    Business Day

  • Kenya is in advanced stages to assemble a cyber-crime laboratory for police in Eastern Africa States to arrest Internet crime. The Kenyan police boss told journalists in Kampala on September 6 that the facility would be used by Member States of the Eastern Africa Police Chiefs Cooperation Organization (EAPCCO).

    Maj. Gen. Hussein Ali Muhammad said the innovation is to detect cyber-crime including internet-based fraud, pornography, hate crime and illegal money transfer. "We are developing this laboratory because the Information and Communication Technology industry is so advanced that police has failed to catch up with the progress. Every other day there is progress in crime," Muhammad said in an interview soon after the launching of the eighth EAPCCO general meeting.

    EAPCCO, presently has a membership of 10 States including Uganda, Sudan, Rwanda, Kenya, Tanzania, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Djibouti and Comoros. Inspectors General of Police, Maj. Gen. Kale Kayihura of Uganda (pictured), Andrew Rwigamba of Rwanda, and Maj. Gen. Muhammad of Kenya attended the meeting, which is rotational amongst the members.

    Muhammad, also the outgoing chairman, had earlier told the delegates that: "An analysis of international trends of crime point to increase in organized crimes that are invariably trans-national in nature. Prominent amongst these threats are terrorism, the use and trafficking of narcotics, money laundering and cyber-crime." Muhammad handed over the chair to Kayihura.

    "The ease and frequency of air travel coupled with the expanding expertise in information technology have found expression and utility in crime. Combating trans-national crimes will require an investment in both the technology and expertise to identify, investigate and prosecute such crimes," he added.

    Muhammad further stressed that the essence of EAPCCO is for regional law enforcement agencies to share criminal intelligence in the trends of trans-national crimes.

    Under EAPPCO, Tanzania, Uganda, Kenya between mid April and early May, recovered several stolen vehicles imported into the countries. However, the Kenyan Police Chief urged EAPCCO member states in future to execute such operations simultaneously.

    "It is gratifying to note that you the police chiefs in the region, eight years ago, realized the need for cross-border co-operation; perhaps after noticing the ease with which criminals traversed our common borders, causing mayhem to innocent citizens with almost total impunity. Criminals had graduated from petty crime to the more lucrative organized trans-national crime. We can only tackle those crimes through trans-national efforts," the chief guest, the Ugandan Premier, Apollo Nsibambi, also reiterated in his speech read by Minister for General Duties in the Prime Minister's Office, Adolf Mwesigye.

    Meanwhile, Muhammad said South America has invited EAPPCO members for an information sharing mission. He said EAPPCO, the police body which widely coordinates with Interpol is the first of its kind in the world.

    The New Times

  • - The Moroccan telecommunications regulator, the ANRT has been reassigned the management of the .ma domain by ICANN. This decision will put an end to a situation which has until now proved problematic. The domain .ma was first administered by the Mohammedia Engineering School which delegated the task to the National Post and Telecommunications Office (ONPT) in 1995. Although the national incumbent had been privatised in the meantime, Maroc Telecom carried on controlling Morocco domains assignations until now.

    - Egypt's government has announced plans to deploy a trial 3G network that will be used to provide fixed wireless internet access to Egypt's schools. Lucent will work with its partner TeleTech to deliver a CDMA2000 1xEV-DO and WiFi trial network. The trial network complements Telecom Egypt's CDMA2000 1X network in the El Max area and provides a solution that meets the challenges associated with deploying a wireline-based broadband network in Egypt.

    - Online journalists in Ivory Coast have created their own association, known as the Réseau des professionnels de la presse en ligne de Côte d'Ivoire (REPPRELCI). The association organised its founding general assembly last week, and appointed FratMat.net Internet journalist Barthélémy Kouamé as president, with a three-year mandate.

computing

  • With Software Freedom Day just over a week away on September 16, organisations across the continent are putting the final touches to their plans for the day.

    At the OpenCafe in Potchefstroom the day is expected to have a broad range of events including everything from Creative Commons, to the Geek Freedom League, to an evening of music.

    Anna Dani says the event will be "BarCampish" and the programme will include a number of presentations throughout the day at the Cafe. Among these will be a talk on sotware patents by Bob Jolliffe, a founder of Freedom to Innovate South Africa. Ftisa is currently attempting to have Microsoft relinquish a patent it holds in South Africa on documents stored in an XML format.

    Also on the Potchefstroom programme with be an introduction to the Geek Freedom League, a community of open source fans that try to convert users to free and open source software. OpenCafe's Eugene Coetzee will also be doing a presentation on installing Ubuntu Linux on the day.

    In the afternoon there will be presentations on Creative Commons and an introduction to the CC open licences.

    East of Johannesburg, the East Rand Linux Users Group We will be holding an event at the Atlas Mall in Boksburg. Starting around 9am the group plan to hand out leaflets and free open source software CDs as well as helping visitors install Linux. Anyone who wants to install Linux should bring along their machine on the day. (details).

    Meanwhile in Pretoria there will be another Software Freedom Day event at the department of science and technology offices at the CSIR campus. The event promises to be huge, with representatives fom government, community user groups and NGOs taking part.

    Further north, free software fans in Uganda will be gathering at the East African Centre for Open Source Software.

    Tectonic

  • Two of the biggest educational institutions have formed an academic alliance in Ghana to offer Computing degree programmes. The Open University's widely acclaimed degree programme, BSc. (Hons) Computing and its practice and the NIIT have formed the alliance. With this alliance/partnership, students in Ghana would have the chance to obtain an international degree in IT without leaving the country.

    This Open University degree programme builds upon the study that students would have completed with NIIT. Deputy Minister of Communication, Dr. Benjamin Aggrey Ntim on Thursday, in the presence of dignitaries from The Open University and the management of NIIT, GHANA, launched the alliance.

    Speaking on the occasion, the Guest of Honour, Deputy Minister of Communication, Dr. Ntim, welcomed this initiative of the partners - NIIT and The Open University, UK, in coming together to offer B.Sc. (Hons) Computing & its Practice in Ghana. This relationship in computer education, he said, would go a long way in further improving IT expertise in the country. He hoped the success of this venture would pave the way for other initiatives in Information Technology.

    Speaking about NIIT's plans in Ghana, Kapil Gupta, Managing Director of NIIT Ghana, said, "This alliance further builds on the academic validation of NIIT Programmes with nearly 20 Universities worldwide and brings Open University's globally accepted qualifications to NIIT students, in their own country."

    "The alliance would give an opportunity to address the growing need for trained IT professionals from many more countries. The unique combination of NIIT's global experience and delivery model with the Open University's distinctive competencies in supported open learning worldwide gives the alliance great potential to make a difference in the world of higher education."

    This relationship brings together the Open University's strengths in offering comprehensive programmes over the last 35 years with NIIT's core competence in instructional design, development and delivery.

    Manish Jain, The Head of Academic Alliance from NIIT's Head office further added "There is growing demand for computer professionals trained in the latest computer technologies. NIIT with its 20 years of experience of training over three and a half million learners of all age groups, is well equipped to nurture these aspiring students into world-class computer professionals."

    "NIIT has developed strong synergy between its two equally balanced businesses - Software Solutions and Learning Solutions. Software projects open a window into the real world of software solutions to practice what it teaches, experiment with it, and to abstract practical knowledge. The transfer of that knowledge back into the classroom builds an invigorating connection with real-life applications," he added further.

    Furthermore, students at The Open University were more impressed with the quality of their courses than those at any other university, based on the findings of the 2005 National Student Survey.

    The programme will be conducted by NIIT faculty specially trained on the Open University's curriculum. The students will be examined and certified directly by the Open University's Examination and Assessment Board.

    "This alliance will bring the Open University's rigorous curriculum to the students in their own country, thus making it a cost efficient way of acquiring an internationally accepted qualification." said Chris Dobbyn, Head-Africa of the Open University, UK.

    NIIT will offer this degree to the Ghanaians based, along with its revolutionary curriculum 'Mastermind Series (MMS)' that incorporates the latest technologies. The students would have a chance to acquire Dual Qualifications by registering for this programme.

    It is a 360-credit points degree programme. 240 credit points will be achieved by completing DNIIT (Hons) programme at NIIT that comprises of first 10 quarters of MMS.

    Duration of the Top-up Degree Programme would be one year and will lead to an award of the balance 120 credit points. B.Sc. (Hons) Computing and its Practice Degree would be awarded by The Open University, UK.

    Set up in 1981, with a mission of "Bringing People & Computers Together Successfully", NIIT pioneered IT Education & Training in India. NIIT is, today, USD325 million diversified global information technology cooperation. NIIT is a name, recognized in over 44 countries with over 4500 centers, and its education footprint now covers more than 80% of the humanity.

    Founded in 1969, The Open University (www.open.ac.uk) is the world's leading distance teaching university, the only university in UK dedicated to distance learning, currently having more than 200,000 undergraduate and postgraduate students. More than 160,000 students across UK and over 40,000 from outside of UK are studying at the Open University.

    Its students were most impressed with the quality of their courses than those at any other University, based on the findings of the 2005 National Student Survey.

    NIIT Ghana (www.niitghana.com) has an enviable record in IT education and training in the country having trained more than 12,500 students and 1,100 professionals in various streams like software engineering, hardware and networking engineering, multimedia, short term programmes among others.

    Ghanaian Chronicle

  • South African companies that want to succeed in the offshore market for software integration and development services should focus on offering scarce, niche skills, and a high quality of service, rather than trying to compete solely on the basis of cost.

    John Ziniades, CEO at self-service specialist, Consology, says that Consology’s experience has shown that companies in the US, and particularly in Europe, are keen to tap into SA’s skills base because of the quality of its IT professionals, despite the fact that the country’s IT professionals are more expensive than those from India and other parts of Asia.

    “Most developing countries are eager to move aggressively into First World markets for offshore IT development and integration services. Considering the competition that SA faces, local companies need to think carefully about what their unique selling points are,” says Ziniades.

    India still leads the pack, although countries such as Poland, Russia, China, the Czech Republic, and Mexico are also all trying to grab a big slice of the revenue that the offshore outsourcing market generates each year. SA skills are expensive compared to those from India and other parts of Asia, so local IT companies should not be trying to compete in the low-value software development market, says Ziniades.

    Ziniades points out that companies in Europe and the US looking to outsource strategic development work to offshore suppliers look at many factors besides cost when choosing a supplier. Risk is perhaps the most important factor: whether they feel that the offshore company’s culture, skills and environment will enable it to deliver on complex requirements on time and within budget while delivering a quality solution.

    “This is where SA scores highly: we have a stable economy and political environment, solid infrastructure, excellent English language skills, a sound legal system that respects privacy and intellectual property rights, and a business culture similar to First World countries,” says Ziniades. “In addition, we have people skilled in complex and high-value niches of the IT industry, such as high-end integration and consulting.”

    SA IT professionals understand the client’s business requirements and have the ability to communicate effectively in terms of the First World's business language – elements that are both critical for success when they will be doing development work in a country thousands of kilometres away from the client.

    Indian companies often have to shield their developers from clients because of the language barrier, but SA IT companies tend to have integrated technical and account management teams where all members have strong enough business communications skills to deal with the client and get their technical briefs directly, says Ziniades.

    Says Ziniades: “Our offshore clients like our compatibility with their working environments and cultures, and the fact that we are able to deliver on complex integration and development projects at a relatively low cost. Our people can easily fit in with the client’s team, whether they are working from SA or on-site in another country.

    “We have focused most of our energy on the European market, because we have found that sharing a time-zone with Europe also gives us an edge against competitors from India.”

    Many SA end-user organisations are on the cutting-edge of technology, which means that local IT professionals can offer companies in Europe and the US real-world experience in the latest tools and technologies, says Ziniades. For example, Consology has worked on advanced self-service deployments at customers such as MTN, which is recognised as one of the most advanced self-service deployments in the world, he adds.

    SA customers benefit from the exposure that employees of outsourcers have to the latest international best practices and technologies. International exposure offers unique life experience for ambitious people who are hungry for growth and development, notes Ziniades.

    ICT World

  • Business Connexion says that its strategy to meet client needs has seen it invest R85m in upgrading its next generation network (NGN). This infrastructure is intended to position the company to provide network services that include voice, data, video and broadcasting to the market.

    According to Julian Liebenberg, business executive at Business Connexion Communications, the convergence of ICT has required managed services providers to deliver combined offerings to market.

    “As the concept of convergence reaches maturity, companies are deploying solutions that encompass the 'triple play' of voice, data and video,” he says. “The primary promise of convergence has always been big cost savings through a single infrastructure that replaces previously separate networks.”

    Liebenberg states, although this is not a new concept, that the growing maturity of convergence as well as increased confidence in the reliability of convergence technology, have resulted in growing market demand for solution providers capable of delivering on the triple play. “Demand is also being driven by replacement cycles and lower prices as economies of scale are realised,” he adds.

    The next generation network gives Business Connexion the ability to deploy bandwidth on a massive scale. “In the near future it should be possible to deliver links in excess of 5Mbps at under a thousand rand,” says Liebenberg. “That may sound like a lot given that the fastest ADSL presently available is 1MBps and costs considerably more. However, this will become more likely as economies of scale are achieved.”

    He adds that the appetite for bandwidth will continue to increase, particularly as triple play applications continue to emerge.

    Within this environment, the distinction between communication – be it voice or data – and applications and infrastructure as components of the corporate ICT needs are disappearing. “The effective managed services provider has to deliver a unified solution set, which delivers economies of scale, convenience, reliability and availability across the ICT board,” Liebenberg concludes.

    ICT World

  • - A brand new ICT Skills Development Centre for people who are blind or partially sighted opens its doors in Pretoria. Neville Clarence Technologies (Pty) Ltd, a business established some eighteen years ago to serve the special PC technology needs of the visually impaired of sub-Saharan Africa, are to begin offering classroom-style skills development courses with syllabi specifically targeted at the visually impaired and those who employ or educate such people.

    - In Nigeria, The Director-General of the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) said that the Federal Government has approved a proposal to compel all government agencies both at federal and state level to patronise made-in-Nigeria software. The D-G said the new policy which was endorsed last week by the Federal Executive Council only allows the establishments to shop for foreign-made software where our local producers cannot produce it.

    - KnowledgeTree, an open source document management system developed in South Africa by Jam Warehouse has been downloaded over more than 200,000 times from SourceForge.Net.

Digital Content

  • A new website, Iwant2gohome.org, has been launched by First People of the Kalahari, an NGO. Its aim is to draw attention to Botswana's San/Basarwa people's struggle to regain entry to their ancestral home. "[The website] is the way we want to campaign our cause globally," said a spokesperson for the NGO.

    "I want to go back to my motherland where I grew up. I want to be like other Batswana who stay in their own land," writes Xuduama, a Bushman of Botswana's Central Kalahari Game Reserve (CKGR).

    Xuduama's message is one of hundreds featured on the new website Iwant2gohome.org, set up this week by First People of the Kalahari (FPK), an NGO. Its aim is to draw attention to Botswana's San/Basarwa people's struggle to regain entry to their ancestral home.

    "[The website] is the way we want to campaign our cause globally," said Jumanda Gakelebone, a spokesperson for FPK, who is among the many featured on the site. "We want to show the world our people, where they are and what their names are."

    The Basarwa are hunter-gatherers, believed to be among the oldest inhabitants of Southern Africa. They have a turbulent history of conflict with Botswana's government, which by 1997, after 12 years of preparation, started evicting them from their lands. The region spans an area of about 52 000 square kilometres, according to Gakelebone.

    Some vacated the area voluntarily, but most were forcibly removed, according to Survival International, a public-funded organisation that works globally for the rights of tribal people.

    The Basarwa are "among the most persecuted [Bushmen]", Survival International says on its website, suffering "torture, drastic restrictions in their hunting rights, and routine harassment" from the government, tactics that eventually forced them out of the area.

    The government's official website on the Basarwa states that a decision was made to remove them from the area because a "conflict of land use had developed between wildlife conservation and emerging human settlements inside the game reserve".

    Because the Basarwa were "no longer either able or willing to live by what had been considered their traditional means", the website states, "these lifestyle shifts were already having an adverse impact on the environment".

    Since 2004, some of the Basarwa have been engaged in a legal battle with the state, at Botswana's High Court, the final arguments of which were heard on Friday. "We have constitutional rights to our land," Gakelebone told the Mail & Guardian Online.

    "The right of the Basarwa to continue to occupy the land in the CKGR is now protected by several provisions of the Constitution of Botswana," Survival International states on its website. "In particular, section 14 gives the Basarwa a right to reside in the CKGR that the government of the day cannot take from them."

    Gakelebone said there are currently more than 400 people featured on the FPK site, but including children, there are about 1 000 who wish to return home.

    "We did have good arguments [in the court case] and we are expecting a 50/50 chance of winning," he said regarding the judgement that will be made by December this year. "If we lose, we will still carry on fighting until we get our land rights, but if there is justice, we will win." –

    Africast

  • Ambassador Aubrey Hooks has officially launch the largest American embassy web site in the world, found at http://abidjan.usembassy.gov, during a press conference at the U.S. Embassy. The web site took over a year and a half to develop and includes many new features, among which is a vast online library with thousands of resources on the United States and Cote d’Ivoire. The Embassy said this bold new initiative comes in response to the growing importance of the internet as a means of communication and diplomacy.

    “What we’ve done with this technology has put our embassy here in Cote d’Ivoire on the forefront of our global efforts to engage in transformational diplomacy in the 21st century,” said U.S. Embassy Spokesman Brett Bruen. “Embassies around the globe have begun to consult and model their pages after ours. This site will be a tremendous resource for Americans and Ivoirians alike.”

    The site offers an online news center, a virtual tour of the Consular Section, and interactive features that allow visitors to communicate with the Ambassador and pose questions about AIDS.

Mergers, Acquisitions and Financial Results

  • The Dialogue Group will be the country's first outsourced call centre operation to list on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange when it makes its debut on Tuesday, next week.

    Dialogue chairman Jason Drew says the group expects to continue the explosive growth it has seen since it started three years ago, as it continues to scale up its operations and more international businesses look at outsourcing their call centres to this country.

    The group plans to raise about R51 million through its listing on the JSE's AltX, which is designed to help entrepreneurial companies list without the expense and rigorous requirements of the main board. The listing will commence with the placement of 39 999 300 ordinary shares at 100c each, minus listing expenses of about R2 million.

    Luke Mills, executive director of Western Cape government-sponsored call centre body Calling The Cape, says: “This listing will definitely raise the profile of the industry in the Western Cape and the country as a whole. The Dialogue Group has been a great success story as they started just three years ago with 30 people and now have 1 500 in their employ. They are certainly showing the route others would like to follow.”

    Dialogue says in its prospectus that revenue for the year ended December 2004 grew by 391.1%, to R43.408 million, compared to the 10 months before. Then it jumped by 80.3%, to R78.225 million, in the next year and surged by 38%, to R44.432 million, for the six months to June 2006. Gross profit margins were between 36.7% and 41.8% over those periods. Drew says while the profit margins look spectacular, he expects them to increase further.

    “At the moment, our earnings before depreciation, interest, taxes and amortisation is between 8% and 12%, while our international peer group, which has been in the business for much longer, is standing at about 20%. So there is still plenty of room for us to grow.”

    Drew says that apart from the classic reasons for outsourcing call centres to SA, such as a common time zone with Europe, cultural affinity and highly developed infrastructure, many international companies are impressed with the country's financial services regulatory regime.

    “Telecommunications costs have also come down dramatically, especially on voice. However, data costs, which have come down by between 40% and 60% over the past couple of years, need to fall by about the same amount again,” he says.

    Dialogue's local clients include MTN and Absa, and international clients include Barclays Bank and British American Tobacco.

    http://www.itweb.co.za

  • A multi-million naira fraud has been recorded by the Nigerian subsidiary of South Africa-based telecommunications firm MTN, the private Punch newspaper reported Wednesday. The paper put the fraud at Nigeria`s foremost mobile phone provider at a minimum of 600 million naira (US$4.9m).

    The fraud was said to have been perpetrated by three staffers in the company`s engineering department, who allegedly colluded with some contractors building the base stations for the company to inflate contract prices.

    It said the three staffers involved had been sacked, and that 200 million naira was traced to the bank accounts of one of the sacked Engineers. Punch alleged that the company was trying to keep the fraud secret. MTN spokesperson Funmi Omogbenigun was however quoted as saying: "No member of staff has been dismissed with regard to any recent fraud case."

    Angop

  • Small businesses in this country are struggling to get to grips with advanced new mobile technologies, despite the advantages they offer, according to the latest findings of the Mobility 2006 research project. This was among the key conclusions of a study conducted by World Wide Worx as part of its Mobility 2006 project, backed by FNB, Virgin Mobile and Verizon Business.

    In the first phase of the project, entitled: “The impact of mobile technology on SMEs in SA 2006”, 1 152 SMEs were interviewed on their deployment and usage of mobile technologies. The findings reveal that SMEs are at a great disadvantage to large corporates in their ability to make new mobile technologies work for them.

    More than half of SMEs, or 53% of respondents, felt they were advanced in their usage of common mobile technologies, like laptops and cellular phones. However, less than a fifth – only 17% of respondents – believed they were advanced in their usage of more complex technologies, like wireless networking and mobile broadband technology.

    “We have only seen the start of the adoption of cellphone banking services by SMEs. The challenge will be for banks to design and offer services to SMEs that will give them access to the same services and functionality that big corporates currently have, but at an affordable cost,” says Len Pienaar, CEO of FNB Mobile and Transact Solutions.

    Underlining the findings of the SME phase of the research, it was found that only 17% of SMEs who use mobile technologies were using wireless broadband services like 3G and MyWireless, and most respondents did not intend to change their connectivity habits in the next year.

    “This emphasises a phenomenon we have come across in related research, which shows that SMEs are resistant to change and require a strong educational approach in any effort to sell new technology to them,” says World Wide Worx MD, Arthur Goldstuck.

    It is expected that the next phase of the study, on corporate use of mobile technologies, will show that large organisations are dramatically more advanced in their use of mobile technologies. Preliminary data suggests that they are able to leverage these technologies to give themselves a competitive advantage over those who are at only a basic level of use.

    These findings will be further explored at the Mobility 2006 conference in Johannesburg on September 14, which will also see the release of research into consumer usage of mobile technologies in SA, he adds.

    “Corporate SA is embracing mobile and wireless technologies at a rapidly increasing pace, but small business is being left behind as the options become too complex and the choice too bewildering,” says Goldstuck, who will present the core findings of the SME and corporate phases of Mobility 2006. “We will address the key question of how the technology can be leveraged to ensure the benefit flows through to all.”

    “As we have seen with consumers, whatever mobile service is offered to SMEs, it has to be easy to register for and simple to use,” concludes Pienaar.

    ICT World

  • Issue 318: No fibre link to Zimbabwe

    Just to correct you on your top story pertaining to Zimbabwe with regards to the comment "the transition has gone backwards: Telkom SA financed a fibre link to the country but TelOne failed to meet the payments so is now sending its traffic via satellite". Telkom SA never financed a fibre link to Zimbabwe! I have been wanting to correct you for a very long time but let you continue having fun telling lies knowing that those who know the correct story will always have the last laugh at your stories!

    Hampton Mhlanga,

    TeleOne

    The editor writes: In the interests of clarity, Telkom SA did finance the link. It was not a fibre link and use of it did stop because of TeleOne’s widely reported repayment difficulties. Apologies for the error.

    Issue 299: African mobile roaming charges: What about high cost of roaming SMS?

    I’d been meaning to give you feedback on this topic for some while but it kept on slipping my mind. Hope it is still of interest. The problem with roaming charges is not just restricted to the high cost of making and receiving calls while abroad.

    I recently spent a month in Sweden – beginning of 2006 – and had a local SIM card as well as my Vodacom Tanzania SIM card in two different phones. I primarily used the prepaid local SIM card, but several times a day I used the Vodacom Tz SIM card to send / receive SMSs to and from East Africa. This was primarily to not confuse some correspondents who had no need to record a new and possibly confusing number. I felt comfortable with this arrangement as the local card was extremely cheap for all types of communication, and I thought SMS charges would be a simple % surcharge over and above the local charge, or Tzs 50 or less than US$ 0.045 at the time.

    On my return I found my Vodacom Tz bill for part of the month I was away was over $200 in roaming charges. Further investigation revealed this was mostly SMSs. Each SMS to East Africa was charged at well over US$ 0.60!

    I paid my bill, but was shocked that SMS could be so dramatically more expensive in Sweden while roaming. In fact had I kept my communications to single phone calls every few days on my roaming SIM card, it would have been more useful in terms of communication, and probably have cost the same total amount.

    Simbo Ntiro

    Tanzania

More

  • * Prime Minister Meles Zenawi of Ethiopia has appointed David Ruach Tang as State Minister of Transport and Communications.

    * The South African Parliament's communications committee has selected the eight candidates whom it wants to be councillors at the country's ICT regulator, the Independent Communications Authority of SA (ICASA). They are:

    - Robert Nkuna, a former Department of Communications spokes person

    - Kedibane Annah Serero-Chiloane, head of the projects services division at the Universal Services Agency;

    - Andrew Barendse, an assistant professor of regulatory affairs in Holland

    - Kobus van Rooyen, chairman of the Broadcasting Complaints Commission of SA.

    - Marcia Socikwa, a regulatory affairs academic at Unisa,

    - Mamodupi Mohlala, who is seeking a second term as an ICASA councilor

    - Brenda Ntombela, Department of Communications chief director;

    - Mashila Matlala, a Department of Communications senior manager for telecommunications policy.

    * The Council of Ministres in Benin has announced a change at the head of Benin Telecoms. Goundé Désiré Adadja has been appointed as the new General Director and Patrick Benon as the Assistant Director of the national incumbent.

    * Areeba, Ghana's mobile phone company has appointed Brett Goschen as its new CEO. He is an accomplished Chartered Accountant with rich and varied senior level executive experience garnered over the years.

  • - DIGITAL WORLD CONFERENCE 2006

    12-13 September 2006, Transcorp Hilton Hotel, Abuja, Nigeria

    The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), in collaboration with the Growing Businesses Foundation (GBF) and the TT30 Club of Rome will hosting the Digital World Conference 2006. The theme of the forthcoming conference is "ICTs for Education and Development.

    For further information visit www.ncc.gov.ng

    - AFRICAN BILLING & TELECOMS REVENUE ASSURANCE FORUM

    11th - 15th September 2006m, Southern Sun, Cape Town, South Africa

    Five focused days of conference and seminar sessions addressing the specific Revenue Management challenges currently being faced by African Telecoms Operators and Service Providers. This forum presents an invaluable opportunity to hear real-world experiences in a series of cutting-edge case studies and workshops led by African, European and American Operators. For more information, please visit the website at http://www.iir-events.com/IIR-Conf/page.aspx?id=2246

    - REGIONAL SEMINAR ON BROADBAND WIRELESS ACCESS FOR RURAL AND REMOTE AREAS IN AFRICA

    18th-21st September 2006, Yaoundé, Cameroon

    The seminar will examine the technological, economic and regulatory factors that influence the availability and deployment of wireless broadband services. The event will provide an opportunity for wireless broadband business, technology and regulatory experts to share their knowledge, experience and views on the future of the industry with ITU and hosting administration attendees.

    For further information visit http://itu.int/ITU-D/imt-2000/BDTActivities.html

    - WORKSHOP ON BROADBAND OVER POWERLINE

    3-4 October 2006, Dakar, Senegal

    The African Telecommunications Union (ATU) is holding a workshop on Powerline Communications (PLC), the alternative last mile platform utilizing the electricity network. The workshop will address keyissues such as technology, invest and business case, standardisation, hybrid platforms (Satellite, Wireless, Fibre & PLC) and others.

    For further information visit the ATU website at www.atu-uat.org.

    - 2ND INFRASTRUCTURE PARTNERSHIPS FOR AFRICAN DEVELOPMENT (IPAD) CENTRAL AFRICA

    3rd-5th October 2006, Grand Hotel, Kinshasa, Congo Democratic Republic 2nd Infrastructure Partnerships for African Development (iPAD) Central Africa will take place from the 3rd-5th October 2006 at the Grand Hotel, Kinshasa.

    For further information visit www.ipad-africa.com

    WEST AFRICAN SATELLITE COMMUNICATIONS SUMMIT

    31 October - 2 November 2006, Le Meridien Hotel, Abuja, Nigeria

    The summit is dedicated to the deployment of satellite and satellite hybrid-based communications solutions across the region of West Africa and will provide an unparalleled networking opportunity for global and regional satellite communications providers to meet with ever-expanding communities of vertical market communications end-users.

    For further information visit http://www.gvf.org/gvf/events/index.cfm

    * GSM-3G WORLD SERIES - NORTH AFRICA

    8-9 November 2006, Sheraton Tunis Hotel, Tunis, Tunisia

    "What are the market impacts of additional competition and 3G licensing in North Africa? How can you attract new users to drive forward penetration? And more importantly what plans do your suppliers, clients and competitors have for this region? The 5th GSM>3G North Africa is the one forum in the region vital to manufacturers, application developers, operators and regulators who are active, or seeking to be active, in the North African market.

    For further information visit www.gsm-3gworldseries.com/northafrica"

    - 1ST INTERNATIONAL ICT INVESTMENT CONFERENCE FOR AFRICA

    14th – 15th November 2006, Tunis, Tunisia.

    Under the auspices of Secretary General United Nations Conference on Trade & Development (UNCTAD) Regarding sponsorship or delegate attendance, please contact Dan Morrissy in London on +44 207 2871326 or at dmorrissy@i-ep.com

  • - CALL FOR PROPOSALS (CFP) FOR CONNECTIVITY OF THE EAST AFRICAN INTERNET EXCHANGE POINTS (EAIXP)

    Latest news: Deadline extended to 15th September 2006

    This project aims to keep the East African internet traffic local to the region through the creation a meshed network that would facilitate the exchange of regional internet traffic within the region without having to involve exchange points outside the region. By interconnecting the Internet exchange points (IXPs) in Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania, traffic destined to a location within East Africa will be delivered as a local traffic instead of it traveling all the way to an overseas exchange point only for it to be rerouted back to East Africa. This invitation is open to any firm interested in providing interconnection or to act as a carrier between the three IXPs. Duly completed tender documents should be mailed to or deposited in the respective regulator’stender boxes on or before 15th September 2006 at 2.30p.m.

    For further information contact the CCK, UCC or TCRA

  • * AXE INSTALLATION ENGINEER – SUDAN

    The company is looking for a skilled AXE installer for a short project in Sudan, Africa. You need to have knowledge of Ericsson products and you have preferably also experience from working in an international environment. You will be working with Core Network installation, testing and integration. Egyptian, Syrian and Libyan citizens extra welcome to apply (due to visa processes).

    advertising@balancingact-africa.com

    * ERICSSON ELS GPRS ENGINEER – MOZAMBIQUE

    The company is looking for an experienced Ericsson ELS GPRS Engineer. Must have at least 3 years experience on Ericsson equipment. The ideal candidate will have previous CSR handling experience therefore must be skilled in using SMS, PRIMUS and SCS. You must have proven previous experience in 1st Line Support of Ericsson GPRS, MPBN, MIEP, MMS and ADC. Good RSG knowledge would be considered an advantage. The consultant will be responsible for CSR handling (SMS SAP and SMS Web + Primus) and GSN 4.0, GSN 6.0 support (configuring new E1s, creating customized documents for customers)

    advertising@balancingact-africa.com

    * ACCESS TO LEARNING AWARD

    www.inasp.info/ldp/awards

    * GSM ACADEMY - BSS O&M TRAINING FOR AFRICAN PROFESSIONALS

    http://www.topbusinessag.com/e/news/07-04-2006_gsmacademy.php

  • * SAFARICOM AND VIRTUAL CITY – KENYA

    Mobile phone service provider Safaricom and online business applications company Virtual City have signed an agreement to offer faster communication by companies. The partnership will expand the supply of Mobile Office product by Safaricom via its, EDGE technology platform.

    * ETHEKWINI MUNICIPALITY AND FLEET – SOUTH AFRICA

    Fleet management technology group DigiCore hadswon a 4500 C-track fleet management system contract from the eThekwini municipality.The C-track system will enable the municipality, which includes Durban, to track the movement of its fleet on a 24-hour basis.

    * VODACOM AND CAMBRIDGE BROADBAND –TANZANIA

    Vodacom Tanzania awards backhaul contract to Cambridge Broadband Mobile operator Vodacom Tanzania has awarded Cambridge Broadband a radio transmission equipment contract to backhaul traffic from both mobile and data networks, including GSM, 3G and WiMAX sites.

    If our correspondent is "off the mark" or you have factual amendments, mail them to us and we will include them in subsequent News Updates. If you'd like to contribute, write and let us know.

    If you need information about a particular place or issue, just send your questions in. We are always happy to follow up on readers concerns.



    News Update is a free e-letter produced by Balancing Act that covers African internet content and infrastructure developments, It goes out to government, the private sector, education and NGOs. To subscribe, send a message saying "I want to subscribe" to info@balancingact-africa.com

Web and Mobile Data_old

  • Telkom has grand plans to push the boundaries of its business beyond telephony and into television. The monopoly operator has applied for a pay-television licence to deliver television to homes using the cables that carry its voice calls and high-speed Internet services. In areas without lines it will beam television to homes via satellite.

    A newly formed offshoot, Telkom Media, will offer seven locally produced channels of entertainment, education, movies, shopping, music and round-the-clock news. Telkom still needs to refine its plans, so how much it will invest, how many customers it aims to win, and when the idea could turn into reality are among the unknowns.

    CEO Papi Molotsane presumably hopes to emulate the success of Hong Kong's largest telecoms operator PCCW and BT of the UK, both of which have revitalised their businesses with a new generation of services.

    Judging by the way Molotsane was avidly watching presentations by BT and PCCW at Telkom's annual technology talkshop in Stellenbosch this week, he yearns to follow their lead.

    Gradual liberalisation of the telecoms industry and evolving technologies are undermining Telkom's stronghold as new competitors enter the space. But the beauty of liberalisation is that Telkom can enter new fields itself, says Molotsane. "We can get into areas like broadcasting and content and it opens up opportunities with voice, video, mobility and data. We are looking at pay television to provide the market with entertaining, innovating cost-effective solutions. "We'd provide the basic telecoms infrastructure and get partners to help us with local and global content."

    The move is not a complete change of focus, as Telkom sees pay television as complementary to its fixed-line services, and customers will pay for both on one bill. The number of fixed lines being installed could also increase from its moribund state once those cables can deliver television too. "Fixed-line phone penetration is very low at just 10% of the population, so we could use this offering to increase telephone penetration," Molotsane says.

    Pay television has been available since 1986, yet the take-up is low. Telkom's chief sales and marketing officer Wally Beelders says countless people who could afford it and are interested in it are not being served by the existing supplier, MultiChoice. Beelders says there is no lack of demand, and blames low take-up on MultiChoice weaknesses.

    That is a position Telkom understands intimately, being another monopolistic player that has failed to meet demand for the right packages at the right price.

    Telkom's failure in the telecommunications sector may help it get the television side right.

    At the telecoms conference this week, Molotsane was leaning forward in his seat as PCCW's vice-president of business development, Lindsay Servian, enthused about the success of its Now Pay-TV offerings. It launched a little more than two years ago and has 550,000 customers out of 2,1-million households in Hong Kong. Its decade-old rival Hong Kong Cable has 600000 customers, so the entry of PCCW has almost doubled the market.

    "Now TV has been fantastic for us," Servian said. Its 125 channels are delivered over broadband telecoms cables and by satellite, just as Telkom plans to do. PCCW designed a low-cost set-top box to decode the signals.

    About 70% of its customers have subscribed to its television service, doubling the crucial monthly average revenue per user. PCCW's share of the telecoms market has risen and customer churn to other networks has halved, as people now have a compelling reason to stay loyal.

    "We tried to imagine what people sitting in an armchair actually wanted," said Servian. It designed a service that lets people subscribe to as few or as many channels as they wish.

    Its first interactive offerings include live traffic updates for specific locations, gaming channels, and the ability to make donations to charity or buy cinema tickets via the television.

    More money is trickling in as people subscribe to real-time stock quotes and as absolute addicts pay extra for a library of video-on-demand. The next step is to expand into food ordering and delivery, and a click-to-buy service for items such as holidays, where watching a video can clinch a sale.

    PCCW is way ahead of Britain's BT, although BT is far from standing still. "Survival isn't mandatory, but BT sees the need to transform quickly to get into next generation network services," said its director of operations Paul Excell.

    "Traditional telecoms players must reinvent themselves completely to stay relevant." To do that it is building a 21st century network for £10bn.

    For the year to March 31, BT's revenue of £19,5m was up 6% from the previous year. Tellingly, the revenue from its traditional businesses fell by 3%, while "new wave revenue" jumped 38% to contribute £6,2m, or a third of the total. That new-wave revenue includes broadband internet access and mobility.

    BT will begin broadcasting television over its fixed line and wireless technologies later this year. Telkom may not be too far behind

    Business Day

  • Morocco’s Maroc Telecom has selected Huawei Technologies Co., Ltd. (“Huawei”), as the exclusive supplier for the second phase of its Internet Protocol Television (IPTV) project to expand the existing capacity of its IPTV infrastructure to cater to strong market demand.

    Maroc Telecom registered more than 10,000 subscribers for its IPTV service in just three months. Huawei’s highly scalable end-to-end solution was again chosen for the second phase on account of its wide range of services, stable system operation, and excellent user experiences. The first phase of the IPTV project covered the capital city Rabat, and Casablanca, and the service focused on Broadband TV (BTV) and Video on Demand (VOD).

    “We will construct a highly reliable H.264-based, expandable IPTV commercial office for Maroc Telecom which will be one of the largest of its type in the world,” said Zhang Guoxin, director of Huawei’s digital media entertainment product line. “The end-to-end solution will further strengthen the competitiveness of the company in the broadband area.”

    According to the phase two contract, Huawei will add video value added service for Maroc Telecom, and provide uniform management and backup of the network-wide equipment; effective, and reliable content protection mechanism; and the Electronic Programme Guide (EPG) interface customisation to reflect the local Moroccon characteristics. User channels will be expanded from the 50 channels implemented in phase I to 100 channels in phase II, and coverage extended from Rabat and Casablanca to the entire country.

    Al- Bawaba

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