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Transnet CEO seconded to lead Eskom

Public Enterprises Minister Lynne Brown has seconded Transnet CEO Brian Molefe and appointed him as the acting Eskom CEO after Tshediso Matona was suspended in March.

Molefe has been in his role at Transnet since 2011 and was the Public Investment Corporation CEO from 2003 to 2010. Matona was suspended when Eskom announced it would start an independent inquiry into the state utility, which has been battling with maintenance and financial issues, resulting in load shedding.

Brown said there would be clarity on the so-called deep dive inquiry into Eskom’s financial troubles on Wednesday.A company skilled in accounting and forensic inquiry should be announced shortly to conduct the inquiry, said Brown.Brown, who acknowledged that Eskom is spending R1bn a month on emergency diesel supplies and that this has already gobbled up the R8bn profit it announced in its interim financials at the end of last year, is expecting the deep dive report within three months. – Fin24

 

Is this the end of the road for Altech Node?

Altech Node, which was seen by many commentators as ‘South Africa’s Netflix’, is finding it tough to compete against pay-TV operator MultiChoice and other video-on-demand (VoD) services.

The performance of the Altech Node, which is owned by Altron’s TMT division, has not quite gone as planned on the market.

Altron, JSE-listed telecoms group, announced on Thursday that the recently launched Altech Node has performed below expectations, with regard to retail customer take-up.

“Altron TMT is well advanced in terms of exploring alternative opportunities for this business,” Altron said late on Thursday without providing additional information.

One wonders whether Altron TMT is planning to shut-down Altech Node or is it planning to partner with other players in the market?

What makes the Node interesting is that it is also an instant e-commerce platform that allows users to buy data, airtime and pre-paid electricity, and pay for municipal and utility services such as Eskom or Telkom – all from the comfort of their home and without the use of a computer. In addition to the Node’s entertainment capabilities is its smart TV and smart home functionality that enables users to download Android apps, access the Internet and email, and control home appliances using Node branded Smart Plugs.

It is also defined by the company as an entertainment hub, a streaming server, a Wi-Fi hotspot, an e-commerce platform, a home automation service, a home surveillance system and a Voice over IP solution – all in one and completely integrated.

For more on the Node, watch the video below:

The Node was introduced last September as a set-top-box that turns your home into a Smart Home, your TV into a Smart TV and provides over 700 hours of on-demand entertainment. But it seems to have failed to take-off.

Finweek recently reported that even though South African subscription-based video-on-demand (SVoD) services have failed to attract the expected millions of subscribers, the technology is developing at an unbelievable speed with new players trying to attract subscribers.

Unlike the local mobile cellphone sector, which managed to attract millions of subscribers when it launched 20 years ago, SVoD, which is in its infancy, seems not to be doing that well.

The delivery of video content is shifting towards subscription-based SVoD and consumption habits are fast changing – a development that provides hope for revenue streams diversification for all players involved.

Already Vidi, an online streaming service owned by Times Media Group, is providing subscription-based SVoD services at R149 a month without extra costs for data. Times Media Group owns the Sunday Times newspaper.

The country’s biggest pay-TV operator MultiChoice also provides the same services to its premium clients through DStv BoxOffice. While Altech Node, owned by JSE-listed Altron, provides subscription at R299 a month for access to older movies and TV shows, and newer movies are available for rental at between R15 and R25.

Earlier this year Naspers, the owner of MultiChoice, revealed that its DStv BoxOffice rentals have reached a massive
600 000 movies a month, which could be delivering millions in revenues similar to those earned by US-based Netflix – a global provider of on-demand internet streaming media.

That said, both Vidi and Node are not making noise about the number of subscribers on their books, which may be a sign that things are not that rosy.

Romeo Kumalo leaves Vodacom

Romeo Kumalo,  Vodacom’s chief operating officer: International Business, is leaving the mobile phone operator .

Richard Boorman, Vodacom spokesperson confirmed the departure and CEO also sent out an internal memo to staff on Wednesday.

“It is with regret that I announce that Romeo Kumalo, Chief Operating Officer: International Business, will be leaving the company at the end of May to join his family business,” said Shameel Joosub, Vodacom CEO.

Joosub praised Kumalo. “I would like to thank Romeo for his contributions to Vodacom and wish him all the best for the future.”

Joosub added that the mobile phone operator will announce Romeo’s successor in due course.

Romeo joined Vodacom in August 2004 as Group Executive, Strategic Business Development. He then went on to become Managing Director of Vodacom Tanzania and was appointed Executive Director: Commercial for Vodacom South Africa in April 2007. After being appointed to the Vodacom Group Executive Committee in November 2010 he became Chief Operating Officer: International Business in June 2012.

 

BCX reports strong earnings growth, solid cash generation

Business Connexion (BCX), the JSE-listed technology group being bought by Telkom, on Thursday delivered strong earnings growth and solid cash generation, which will help it pursue more opportunities.

The company reported a 25.9c diluted headline EPS in the six months ended February 2015 versus 20.7 cents in the same period in 2014.

The South African-based third largest listed software and computer services group continued to generate strong cash flows of R282m in the period compared to R259m in the same time last year.

The company, which has been focusing on aggressive acquisitions strategy, said as industry dynamics continue to evolve in the coming years, underpinned by market consolidation, there will be a fundamental shift to the cloud and the “Internet of Things”.

“This, together with the requirement for analytics, mobility and security will present opportunities for the group,” it said.

BCX, the largest employer of IT professionals on the African continent, has enough capital to pursue more growth opportunities and its balance sheet is not overly geared. The company, which is valued at more than R2.4bn, reported cash on hand of R189m versus R205m in the same period in 2014.

The company added: “Business Connexion is well positioned, as a leading IT service provider with broad industry expertise, to continue playing a leading role in the “Internet of Things”, across industry verticals and diverse business domains.”

BCX reported a 16% rise in revenues to R3.6bn, attributed to organic revenue growth of 15,1% resulting from new client wins. The company is being acquired by Telkom and the deal is still awaiting regulatory approval from South Africa’s watchdogs.

The deal has already been given a nod by four regional watchdogs – the Namibian Competition Commission, Tanzania Fair Competition Commission, Competition Authority of Botswana, and the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa.

The transaction is still awaiting approval from South Africa’s regulators – Competition Authorities; the Independent Communication Authority of SA (ICASA) and the issue of a compliance certificate by the Takeover Regulation Panel.

Telkom is chasing BCX to bulk up its information and communications technology business in order to address the technology and communication needs of South African businesses nationally.

BCX has operations in Botswana, Kenya, Namibia, Nigeria, Mozambique, South Africa, Tanzania and Zambia.

It is a leading IT service provider in South Africa, provides strong presence in East Africa and has an established presence in West Africa, which it continues to grow through aggressive acquisitions.

BCX is also the largest employer of ICT skills in Africa with close to 7 000 employees, who have vast experience in delivering large projects on the continent.

Review: Huawei P8 and P8max

By Staff writer

Two years ago Huawei launched the P6, the first in a series of smart, beautiful devices; today the company unveiled its two latest P Series smartphones – the Huawei P8 and the Huawei P8max.

The Huawei P8max builds on the P8 design and features a larger 6.8-inch screen, longer battery life and a unique camera with light tracing for any environment.

It also inherits the ID design and light painting capabilities of the P series devices.

The large 4360 mAh battery features Huawei’s power saving technology and power consumption management technology that ensures outstanding battery life. With this battery, consumers can watch downloaded video for over 15 consecutive hours.

The front and rear cameras of Huawei P8max use a 5+13 mega pixel combination and the rear camera is equipped with a professional-grade Image Signal Processor (similar to the technology found in DSLR cameras) and dual-tone flash to bring out true color in night photos. Additionally, Light Painting and Director mode filming provide users with more creative instruments at their fingertips.

Bigger Screen, Bigger Battery and “Bigger” Dreams

The P8max is likely to compete with the top end smartphones – Samsung and iPhone.

The Huawei P8max uses a 6.8-inch high definition JDI screen that is the largest in-cell FHD screen in the world. The 16:9 screen enables the device to be slimmer, with a better feel and easier to carry. The smartphone supports landscape mode, which enables consumers to view and read on the phone, while color enhancement technology enables a better visual experience.

P8MAX

The Huawei P8max has a 6.8-inch large screen and is equipped with a 4360mAh large battery – all contained in a super slim 6.8 mm body. It is there for your long-time recreational needs, enabling over 10 hours of video streaming with Huawei’s power saving management technology.

Unique Photo-Taking Functions for More Creativity

The Huawei P8max uses a combination of 5+13 mega pixel front and rear cameras. The rear camera Image Signal Processor, with a 13 mega pixel Optical Image Stabilization provides better night view photo-taking. The Huawei P8max’s optical image stablization technology reduces the aperture time 2-3 grades, which ensures brighter and clearer pictures. Additionally, the dual-tone flash effectively brings back true color and creates vivid pictures in dark and dim lighting.

The Huawei P8max offers consumers with the best instrument for art through a light painting function and video filming function that reduces later editing. It also has face-enhancing, Selfie, Pano, and Lapse modes for photo-taking. The large screen of the Huawei P8max enables consumers to create and enjoy the freedom of creating art.

Unlike light painting functions on ordinary phones, the Huawei P8max provides real time preview display and hand controlled aperture of a picture. The device has an Optical Image Stabilization function on the rear camera, which enables great pictures even without a tripod, and the unique Director mode enables consumers to share what they have just filmed. The smartphone can also form a filming group with three other phones, and by switching different views, consumers can make a blockbuster without having to edit.

Watch Huawei P8 announcement live stream

Huawei lights up London with Huawei P8 Smartphone launch on 15th April 2015. Watch the highly anticipated…

Soweto wireless pushes for content to stay local

The Soweto Wireless User Group (SOWUG) says it will go live this month, and it is partly thanks to critical support received from Africa’s only vendor neutral data centre, Teraco. By Staff writer

SOWUG is a registered Non-Profit Organisation that provides free wireless to residents of Soweto.  It forms part of a number of development projects facilitated by The Foundation for Internet Development (FID), which was formed by ZACR (formerly UniForum SA), ISPA, WAPA and ISOC-ZA to provide a mechanism for ICT industry players to make a meaningful contribution in terms of Enterprise Development, but do not have the capacity, nor the platform to do so themselves.

SOWUG founder, Jabulani Vilakazi says that Teraco’s donation has played a significant role in the formation and launch of the SOWUG.

“Teraco’s Joburg data centre is where backhaul fibre and Internet breakout aggregate. Access to this kind of world-class infrastructure enables network peering with the likes of NAPAfrica, Africa’s largest Internet eXchange point. This is a fundamental element that reduces the cost of local bandwidth to users and makes what we are trying to do possible.”

The purpose of FID is to consolidate the Enterprise Development efforts of the ICT industry. Vilakazi says that Teraco took the initiative and supported FID by offering to host SOWUG as part of its Enterprise and Supplier Development Initiative.

Vilakazi added: “They provided cabinet space and power, connecting us to what is most definitely a global standard data centre. As an NGO we could never afford this high level infrastructure.”

He says that what is more significant is that SOWUG’s presence in Teraco will provide opportunities for local developers to produce content, which will be hosted locally, reducing international transit costs and stimulating local emerging online services.

“The locally hosted content can either be cached or stored in servers and because we have access to the last mile, we can deliver content closer to the end user, minimising the distance that video data travels over the general Internet, and ultimately deliver it more quickly and reliably.”

Lex van Wyk, CEO, Teraco says that the SOWUG concept is exactly what needs to be happening in and around South Africa: “Access to information is critical and keeping content local is even more significant.  We are privileged to be working with SOWUG and remain committed to help achieve its goal of providing access to information to all residents in and around Soweto.”

Vilakazi says that when visiting Teraco, the team was impressed by its world-class infrastructure.

“We were also excited to learn that the Netherlands (AMS-IX) and London (LINX) have partnered with Teraco. This together with its Internet exchange point, NAPAfrica, opens SOWUG to content from global content providers such as YouTube and Facebook. We are also hoping to learn more data centre skills, which will enhance Internet usage and improve the existing access infrastructure,” says Vilakazi.

Is downloading really stealing? The ethics of digital piracy

By Christian Barry

Many millions of people throughout the world will illegally download the fifth season of Game of Thrones, released today by HBO. Legally speaking, what they will be doing is a violation of intellectual property rights, or “piracy”. But will they be doing anything morally wrong?

It might seem obvious that what they will do is wrong. After all, it is illegal. But there are many things that have been illegal that people don’t think are morally wrong. Same-sex relationships, divorce and many other practices that are now widely accepted as morally acceptable were once outlawed and criminally sanctioned.

Few people think they were wrong just before they were legalised. Rather, they tend to think the laws governing these behaviours were unjust. So appeal only to the illegality of downloading doesn’t settle whether it is okay, morally speaking.

Opposing views

Two rival camps dominate public discussion around the ethics of illegal downloading. On the one hand, there are what might be called “fundamentalist libertarians”. These think that all ideas and artistic creation should be held in common and be freely accessible to all.

In their view, intellectual property, in the form of copyright and patents, unfairly restricts access to ideas and expression. They consider illegal downloading to be victimless crime, and do not think it imposes significant cost on anyone. In their view, the serious criminal sanctions that sometimes attach to illegal downloading are draconian and unjustified.

On the other hand, there are what might be called the “fundamentalist protectors”. This camp thinks that illegal downloading is equivalent to common theft.

This view is vividly expressed in the aggressive message that often precedes films in Australia:

You wouldn’t steal a car, you wouldn’t steal a handbag, you wouldn’t steal a television, you wouldn’t steal a movie. Downloading pirated films is stealing.

According to fundamentalist protectors, owners of intellectual property deserve just as much protection and means for redress as those who have had their handbags or televisions stolen, including civil and criminal sanction against those who have violated their intellectual property.

For them, the massive penalties that are sometimes attached to illegal downloading are important because they send a clear message that this practice should not be tolerated. This seems to be the view of much of the entertainment industry, as well as public officials and legislatures in countries that produce and export a lot of intellectual property.

In a recent speech, for example, US President Barak Obama claimed:

We’re going to aggressively protect our intellectual property […] Our single greatest asset is the innovation and the ingenuity and creativity of the American people […] It is essential to our prosperity. But it’s only a competitive advantage if our companies know that someone else can’t just steal that idea and duplicate it.

Excluding theft

Despite their currency, both of these positions are overdrawn and seem at odds with moral common sense. The fundamentalist protector position is problematic because there are clear and morally relevant differences between stealing someone’s handbag and illegally downloading a television series.

In common theft, the owner of property is entirely deprived of its use, as well as their ability to share it and dispose of it as they choose. Common theft is zero-sum: when I steal your handbag, my gain really is your loss.

The same is not true when I download a digital file of your copyrighted property. In downloading your film, I have not excluded you from its use, or your ability to benefit from it. I have simply circumvented your ability to exclude me from its use. To draw an analogy, this seems more like trespassing on your land than taking your land away from you.

Criminal sanctions seem warranted in thefts where one person’s gain is very clearly another person’s loss. But things are not so clear when the relationship between gain and loss are more complex.

And of course there are ways that owners of intellectual property can gain, overall, from infringements of their rights. The more accessible their products become, the more people may want to consume them. This certainly seems to be the case with products like Game of Thrones, a fact recognised by its producers.

Protecting public goods

On the other hand, the fundamentalist libertarian position is problematic because it treats all intellectual property infringement as a victimless crime. For one thing, intellectual property rights are an important means by which people gain profit from the effort that they put into the production of creative works.

That they can profit in this way provides an important incentive – aside from the intrinsic value of the productive activity itself – for them to engage in socially useful productive activity.

This is evident in other fields, such as research and development of medical treatments: firms have little reason to invest the time and resources in developing vaccines and other public goods if they cannot benefit from their distribution.

Thus, not protecting the rights of the producers in some meaningful way is bad for everyone. Infringing intellectual property rights can also increase cost to those do pay for the good, in the form of higher prices. Those who pay for intellectual property are effectively subsidising its use by those who do not pay for it. In most cases this seems unfair.

A different kind of theft

The question of the morality of illegal downloading is so difficult because it takes place in an environment in which the penalties attached to this behaviour ordinarily seem to be overkill, but where there are pretty clear social costs to engaging in it.

What, then, should be done? For starters, it seems important to stop treating intellectual property infringement as common theft, and to develop different legal remedies for its protection. Various kinds of property are different, and warrant different forms of protection. This is hardly a novel idea.

In his fascinating book, 13 Ways to Steal a Bicycle: Theft Law in the Information Age, the legal philosopher Stuart Green has pointed out that treating all infringement of property as theft subject to the same legal rubric is a relatively new development.

Prior to the 20th Century, theft law consisted of a sort of ad hoc collection of specific theft offences and specific kinds of property that were subject to theft. Different rules applied to different offences, and intangible forms of property, like intellectual property, were not included in theft law at all. We may need to return to rules that are well suited to protecting different forms of property.

In the meantime, it seems incumbent on consumers to try to respect intellectual property unless doing so imposes unreasonable cost on them. Refraining from accessing patented essential medicines that are inaccessible due to price does seem unduly costly. Refraining from watching the latest season of Game of Thrones, the ardour of its fans notwithstanding, does not.

At the same time, we should also strongly resist massive penalties levied on downloaders when they are caught. The practice of “speculative invoicing” – whereby people are sent threatening letters that offer the opportunity to pay a sum to prevent legal action seeking vast sums – is seriously objectionable. Even if what the downloaders have done is wrong, it is much worse to over-punish them.

 

MTN optimising its network

For immediate release

15 April 2015

 

MTN optimising its network

 

To improve the coverage and quality of its network, MTN announced a R10 billion investment in capital expenditure in March earmarked for 2015. This massive investment has been allocated for infrastructure upgrades across the country in order to optimise the network and provide better service and connectivity to our customers.

 

The network upgrades have already commenced at various regions across the country and entail, among others, the construction of new base stations, the refarming of existing voice spectrum for deployment of new generation technologies such as the Long Term Evolution (LTE) network.

 

Upgrades in KZN, Northern Province, Mpumalanga, Gauteng and Centurion outside of Pretoria have been successfully completed this week.

This optimisation exercise is aimed at ensuring that the network is of an acceptable standard and is capable of satisfying their needs of the customers.

 

We are currently upgrading our DPI connectivity and this might result in intermittent service disruption when streaming on certain website in the areas where upgrades have not taken place.

 

It must be noted that in the event of a power failure, MTN base station are powered by batteries or generators and part of our investment is to ensure that all base stations are capacitated with the necessary batteries and generators.

 

We wish to apologise profusely for any inconvenience caused. The upgrades are expected to be completed by the beginning of May.

 

ENDS

 

FOR MORE MEDIA INFORMATION, PLEASE CONTACT:

Bridget Bhengu: Senior Manager – PR and Communications, MTN SA

Cell: 083 212 1964 / E-mail: Bhengu_b@mtn.co.za

 

Mamello Raborifi: PR Specialist, MTN SA

Cell: 083 214 5681 / E-mail: mamello_r@mtn.co.za

 

 

ABOUT MTN GROUP
Launched in 1994, the MTN Group is a multinational telecommunications group, operating in 22 countries in Africa, Asia and the Middle East. The MTN Group is listed on the JSE Securities Exchange in South Africa under the share code: “MTN.” As of 31 December 2014, MTN recorded 223.0 million subscribers across its operations in Afghanistan, Benin, Botswana, Cameroon, Cote d’Ivoire, Cyprus, Ghana, Guinea Bissau, Guinea Republic, Iran, Liberia, Nigeria, Republic of Congo (Congo Brazzaville), Rwanda, South Africa, Sudan, Swaziland, Syria, Uganda, Yemen and Zambia. Visit us at www.mtn.com

 

SME survival guide for load shedding  

By Daryl Blundell, General Manager at Sage Pastel Accounting

Load shedding is here to stay, so every small business needs to take steps to protect its systems and data when the lights go out as well as from power surges when electricity is restored after an outage.

PCs are sensitive to power cuts, power dips and power surges, so take the necessary steps to protect them. When Eskom cuts the power, you could not only lose the latest changes to the files you’re working on, your open files could become so corrupted  or damaged that you will not be able to restore them.

Here are some suggestions about how you can manage this reality of daily South African life.

Regular backups

You should keep your latest data backed up so that you won’t lose hours of work or any important information when the power goes out. Regular data backups are a must, not only because of load shedding, they can also be a lifesaver if your hard drive crashes or your computers are stolen.

If possible, invest in an offsite backup system. For example, the Pastel Iron Tree online backup system lets you make backups to the cloud. Data backups are kept safe on secure servers and can be accessed wherever you have an Internet connection

2. Invest in Uninterruptible Power Supplies (UPS) for your PC’s as well as any network hubs or switches

In the event of a power failure or load shedding, a UPS will give users time to exit the applications they are working on and save their work before they safely shut down their PCs. Even if you have generators, they’ll take a few seconds to kick in after a power failure – a UPS will prevent them from losing power before you’ve saved your work.

A backup power inverter system is another option. For less than R10, 000 you can find one that will keep your routers, a couple of computers and some lights going for a few hours.

3. Switch off all PC’s not performing critical functions when not in use

Any data that is open on a PC is at risk of being damaged or corrupted in the event of a power failure. For that reason, you need to get into the habit of closing applications and shutting down desktop computers when you are not using them for a while.

4. Switch off PCs and unplug them when the lights go out

To reduce the risk of damage to hardware, switch off your PCs and unplug them from the main power source. Otherwise, power surges when electricity is restored may damage your hardware.

5.  Consider investing in a power bank

A power bank can be invaluable for managing your business when there’s load shedding. These portable chargers let you top up the battery of your USB-powered mobile devices so you can keep going when there’s a long power outage.

This is especially helpful if your PBX and landlines go down when there’s no power – at least, your mobile phone will be powered up and you’ll be reachable. Power banks are also helpful if you’re out and about for most of the day, and constantly finding yourself out of battery power for your smartphone.

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