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Thread: Broadband penetration is critical

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    Site Caretaker Dave A's Avatar
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    Broadband penetration is critical

    Here is quite a critical look at how South Africa is lagging behind in the internet revolution and how ineffective we've been in moving forward.
    If the United States needs a chief technology officer (CTO) to drive broadband penetration, why don't we?

    Earlier this year South Africa broke the one-million broadband consumers mark, which gives us a broadband penetration rate of about 2%.

    Denmark, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Korea, Norway and Iceland are leading the way with more than 29%. The US is just behind with 23%, which goes to show how far behind South Africa really is.

    As the US national elections are heating up, Democrat candidate Barrack Obama has made the appointment of a cabinet-level CTO one of his key policies.

    Obama is convinced that the US is not doing enough to create jobs through technology and sees greater broadband penetration as an enormous economic driver.

    Sound familiar? Yes, the information communication technology (ICT) sector was singled out in government's accelerated share growth initiative for South Africa (Asgisa) as a key driver of jobs by lowering the cost of doing business.

    But, however honorable the intentions of the Asgisa policy are, the fact of the matter is that on the ground any ICT reform is being driven by Communications Minister Ivy Matsepe-Casaburri, whose general reign over the sector has been incompetent, to put it mildly.
    full story from M&G here
    I'm not sure the criticism is entirely fair, although some of Ivy's moves are difficult to fathom.
    Last edited by Dave A; 30-Oct-08 at 08:17 AM.
    The trouble with opportunity is it normally comes dressed up as work.

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    Site Caretaker Dave A's Avatar
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    Well, Ivy's attempt to stifle competition seems to have failed.
    ICT firm Altech Autopage Cellular has successfully opposed the government's High Court appeal against a judgement that the company and about 300 other value added network services (VANS) can build their own telecommunications networks, Altech said on Friday.

    Acting Judge N Davis heard the application for leave to appeal arguments from Ivy Matsepe-Casaburri, the Minister Of Communications, and the opposing arguments from Altech on Thursday, and on Friday delivered his decision that the minister's application for leave to appeal would be refused on all points, with costs.

    This follows a landmark High Court ruling in August which found that VANS were entitled to individual electronic communications network service (I-ECNS) licences. The licences would allow VANS to develop and operate their own networks, as do Cell C, MTN, Telkom and Vodacom.

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

    “This is a powerful affirmation of our original court victory, and indicates that there is little prospect of any other court coming to a different conclusion. This brings Altech, the industry and the consumer within touching distance of a level playing field and fair market competition," said Craig Venter, Altech's chief executive officer.
    full story from M&G here
    Why was Ivy opposed to this in the first place? On the face of it more operators is a good thing. Or is it just about control?
    The trouble with opportunity is it normally comes dressed up as work.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dave A View Post
    Here is quite a critical look at how South Africa is lagging behind in the internet revolution and how ineffective we've been in moving forward.

    I'm not sure the criticism is entirely fair, although some of Ivy's moves are difficult to fathom.
    Why do you believe the critisism is not entirely fair? She nad her department have singlehandedly stifled competition in the telecommunications sector since she took the reigns. Granted, she is led by party decsions, but the reality is that she is the de facto responsible person for heading the DoC, and that department has deliberately slowed the flow of competition in the sector due to their policy of 'Managed Liberlisation'

    Quote Originally Posted by Dave A View Post
    Well, Ivy's attempt to stifle competition seems to have failed.

    Why was Ivy opposed to this in the first place? On the face of it more operators is a good thing. Or is it just about control?
    In 2005 she stated that VANS were to be avle to self provide (i.e, provide their own infrastructure directly to the consumer - a domain controlled by Telkom). She then backtracked on this and said that her statements were taken out of context, she had been misquoted etc etc.

    The VANS did not take this lightly and took her to court and subsequently won against all odds. Her reason for retracting the DoC's stance was apparently in line with their Managed Liberalisation stance and they believed taht by allowing VANS to self provide, consumers would be disappointed by non-delivery of those VANS with licenses due to the cost of putting in such infrastructure. That is just one of the many reasons rolled out by the DoC and ICASA. All poppy cock.

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    Site Caretaker Dave A's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BonaFide View Post
    Why do you believe the critisism is not entirely fair?
    I think we've got socio-economic problems that contribute to the broadband penetration stats. It's not just a roll-out problem, it's also about uptake. What percentage of the population has access to broadband, but despite this haven't connected?

    Ivy can be held responsible for the quality of our broadband infrastructure, but not the social condition that stops so many from using what we've got.
    The trouble with opportunity is it normally comes dressed up as work.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dave A View Post
    I think we've got socio-economic problems that contribute to the broadband penetration stats. It's not just a roll-out problem, it's also about uptake. What percentage of the population has access to broadband, but despite this haven't connected?

    Ivy can be held responsible for the quality of our broadband infrastructure, but not the social condition that stops so many from using what we've got.
    Granted socio-economic conditions have played a part in the extremely slow uptake of broadband in our country, but to large part, stifling of competition (where the blame can rest solely at the door of Poison Ivy and her department) and exorbitant prices (again largely attributible to the chocking of the industry) has played a more significant role.

    Granted, some one living on the breadline has little need for any form of connectivity, but if one looks at all the opportunities lost due to the inefficient handling of the reform of the ICT arena, where if it was liberalised more effectively and with vigour, we could have attracted a lot more investment leading to a stronger growth in the economy as opposed to the paltry growth that we experienced. Hence the socio-economic status could have been vastly different to what it is today.

    Granted, one cannot lay the blame solely due to mismanaged liberalisation, but to a large degree it has prevented many people from accessing a very important portal to growth strategies that could have been at their finger tips.

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    Site Caretaker Dave A's Avatar
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    You know what would give a clue to the cause of the penetration issue - how many households have a computer that cannot connect to the internet via broadband because broadband access isn't available?

    If we were talking about the extent that broadband users actually use the facility, I'd be joining in on the "blame it all on Poison Ivy" game. Our pricing per gig is berserk.

    But you've got to have a PC and have a small modicum of computer literacy before the issue of broadband access can even come up as an issue. For a large chunk of our population, owning a PC is a long way behind getting a cellphone, fancy TV, sound system and wheels.
    The trouble with opportunity is it normally comes dressed up as work.

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    I agree with the point on owning a PC. My thoughts on the matter would question whether high internet prices would affect the uptake of PCs. if someone wants to connect to the internet, but they're going to be charged an arm and a leg for it, hear the horror stories of trying to get connected and even the pricing of computers, surely that would also factor in. if I can get a watered down version of a website on my R1000 cellphone, why should I bother getting a PC?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dave A View Post
    You know what would give a clue to the cause of the penetration issue - how many households have a computer that cannot connect to the internet via broadband because broadband access isn't available?

    If we were talking about the extent that broadband users actually use the facility, I'd be joining in on the "blame it all on Poison Ivy" game. Our pricing per gig is berserk.

    But you've got to have a PC and have a small modicum of computer literacy before the issue of broadband access can even come up as an issue. For a large chunk of our population, owning a PC is a long way behind getting a cellphone, fancy TV, sound system and wheels.
    How many people in this country have a cellphone? Virtually everyone. So theoretically they will have some form of access to the internet, but data and call costs are so prohibitive, that is is virtually untenable for them to use this technology.

    And lets be quite honest, the cost of PC's have reduced dramatically over the years bringing more people into the affordability bracket. We will never have a perfect society where every household has a PC (and the same can be said for the rest of the world as there are people all over who cannot afford the bare necessities, let alone luxuries such as a PC).

    However, the cost of bandwidth in this country plays a huge part in the slow uptake, especially when one start looking at converged technologies. We cannot as a country afford NOT to have affordable broadband and that includes the ridiculous caps that we are subjected to.

    Another point to bear in mind is that schools, libraries, welfare organizations etc are also subjected to these exorbitant costs and they really should be the ones who are able to promote access to information, but cannot due the prohibitive costs.

    Quote Originally Posted by twinscythe12332 View Post
    I agree with the point on owning a PC. My thoughts on the matter would question whether high internet prices would affect the uptake of PCs. if someone wants to connect to the internet, but they're going to be charged an arm and a leg for it, hear the horror stories of trying to get connected and even the pricing of computers, surely that would also factor in. if I can get a watered down version of a website on my R1000 cellphone, why should I bother getting a PC?
    To na extent it would affect the uptake, but you are correct, devices are getting smaller and people want portable data devices. But lets again look at the reality: we need more and more people to get connected as a mode to do business - portable devices will suffice, but for a learner or student, they will definitely need access to a PC of sorts.

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