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TechCentral has established from various parties that preliminary talks are already underway. Convergence Partners, which is already an investor in the undersea Seacom cable system, appears to have initiated talks with a number of parties, including Didata and Cell C, about creating a consortium to build a national backhaul telecoms network on “open access” principles. If the talks come to fruition, they could shake up the country’s telecoms landscape. Convergence Partners is believed to be flush with cash from its recent sale of its stake in Telkom. And Didata is in the process of being acquired by Japanese telecoms giant Nippon Telegraph and Telephone (NTT) Corp. NTT is one of the world’s largest telecoms carriers. Convergence Partners is understood to be toying with the idea of building fibre infrastructure to take on incumbent Telkom’s national backhaul network and similar networks being built by Vodacom, MTN and Neotel. Most of the parties involved in the talks are not prepared to comment, and TechCentral understands the discussions are still very much at a preliminary stage. Derek Wilcocks, MD of Didata division Internet Solutions, confirms that Convergence Partners has initiated talks “to see how it can reduce the cost of national bandwidth”. “Convergence Partners has sent a letter to a number of potential big purchasers of bandwidth,” he says. “Internet Solutions is very interested in any initiative that can deliver a lot more bandwidth at a lower price [but] we haven’t committed to anything as yet.” Ngcaba didn’t return messages left with his personal assistant; Didata SA CEO Allan Cawood declines to comment; and all Cell C CEO Lars Reichelt will say is the mobile operator will be able to provide details only once negotiations have progressed further. Cell C, which is building a third-generation (3G) mobile network at a cost of about R5bn, is keen to get access to fibre infrastructure to provide backhaul connectivity to its base stations. Reichelt first alluded to talks at a media conference last week where he said Cell C was involved in discussions with a consortium of companies about building a national fibre network to provide backhaul connectivity to its base stations. “We have secured sufficient fibre to roll out our network in the interim, but that capacity will be very expensive and we will run out of capacity in 18 months,” he said. Cell C is building a national 3G mobile network as it tries to improve its position in a market that is dominated by incumbents Vodacom and MTN. (Source: Techcentral) Internet News - In Brief * South African telco Neotel has launched pre-paid broadband services on its network, it has reported. Branded ‘NeoConnect Lite Pre-paid’, the service incorporates voice telephony, SMS and basic internet connectivity. The service will be delivered over Neotel’s fixed-wireless service. Utilising a NeoConnect Lite desktop phone, which doubles up as an internet access device, NeoConnect Lite Pre-paid supports peak data speeds of 156kbps, although Neotel have clarified that realistic speeds will be between 50kbps and 70kbps. The company confirmed that it is currently developing pre-paid services for its NeoConnect Prime and NeoFlex products. * Zain Tanzania has slashed its internet tariffs by more than 50 per cent for its customers who wish to access the internet anywhere in the country. * Rumours have begun circulating that Cell C, Dimension Data and Convergence Partners are in talks about building a national fibre-optic telecommunications network in South Africa, according to a report in Tech Central. * The Angolan airline, TAAG, is now providing an online check-in service to all destinations of the company, One of its managers told ANGOP. See: www.taag.com * Lagos — The Federal Government on Monday in Abuja said a total of 4.42Tbits (terabit per second) of broadband capacity would come on stream this year. Minister of Information and Communications, Prof. Dora Akunyili noted that in spite of the challenges of infrastructure, Africa deserved one of the lowest tariffs and that sharing of infrastructure could definitely reduce operational cost and drive down tariff. "There is no way we can be talking about new inter-continental fibre optic cables without a reduction in the cost of broadband access. There is no reason why the new board (of NCC) should not be gearing up with excitement for increased activities in the broadband segment of the market. COMPUTER NEWS (3) *Intel to Introduce Ghanaian Farmers to ICT Computer micro-processor manufacturing giant Intel Corporation has announced a number of initiatives to further develop ICT in Ghana. The company, which has already established a local presence, is pledging to assist the country with the needed expertise and technology to grow it into an IT hub in the region. Corporate Affairs Manager of Group Intel, Olubunmi Ekundare explained to Joy Business some of the projects. "We have been able to help programmes that make it possible for teachers to have access to PC's to buy their own PC. We are looking within the next one year to bring ICTs to the fore front in terms of education and small businesses," he said. He added farmers will also be introduced to the use of ICT to inform them on which pesticides and other things to use in order to boost their production. Intel worldwide has been operating in Ghana since 2006. It is already working in partnership with both the Ministry of Education and Communication to offer awareness and training in ICT.