Thursday, November 30, 2006
“The delay means that South African VANS providers planning to invest in infrastructure to help make the 2010 Soccer World Cup a success, will only be able to start implementing their plans 18 months before the event kicks off,” said Ant Brooks, general manager of ISPA.
Already suffering from an unfortunate lack of resources and funding, the Regulator of an industry key to South Africa’s Soccer World Cup plans has attributed this specific delay to delays in finalising some regulatory provisions relating to the new Electronic Communications Act (EC Act), and to an unwillingness to create confusion between licences issued under the old Telecommunications Act of 1996 and the EC Act.
While the move to the new Electronic Communications Act has been lauded by industry, there is no tie-over regulatory process that can keep the cogs of commerce turning in the meantime. “VANS service providers with pending VANS licence applications will be unable to enter into interconnection and facilities leasing agreements with Telkom until they are issued licences,” said Mr Brooks.
Telkom ultimately provides a right of passage to legitimate interconnection and facilities leasing services. Without an agreement with Telkom, service providers cannot offer the benefits of premium and reliable electronic communication services to their customers.
They will also not be able to apply for numbers from ICASA, which will further prevent them from offering VoIP services.
The EC Act seems clear as to the preservation of existing regulations, such as VANS regulations, passed under the former Telecommunications Act. Section 95 (2) of the EC Act holds that ICASA may repeal or amend specific regulations and that these remain in force until they are amended or repealed in terms of the new Act.
“To the best of our knowledge, the regulations relevant to VANS licence applications and the terms and conditions applicable to VANS licences have not been repealed or amended and accordingly, remain in full force and effect,” said Mr Brooks.
ICASA’s current hold on processing VANS licences arises from the confusion caused by section 92 (7) of the EC Act. The clause states that licence application submissions that coincide with the EC Act coming into effect must be considered in accordance with the new Act. ISPA has called on ICASA to resolve this conflict in favour of the preservation of existing regulations set out in section 95 (2) of the EC Act.
Mr Brooks said, “ISPA is concerned that new licence categories and procedures determined by the EC Act may take up to 18 to 24 months to be finalised. If the current hold on processing licence applications continues, no new licences will be issued to potential industry players for this entire period.”
ISPA has noted the same difficulties with regard to applications for Private Telecommunication Network (PTN) licences. ISPA has appealed to ICASA to consider that industry received no prior warning that the EC Act would come into effect on 19 July 2006 and that it would subsequently put an indefinite hold on the issuing of VANS licences.
Monday, November 27, 2006
The Broadband Conference, sponsored by Vodacom and DataPro, attracted over 120 delegates from industry and the broadband fraternity and has become a key date on the yearly broadband calendar.
With speakers from all the broadband providers, except Telkom, the event proved to be a hit with attendees. Speakers from Vodacom, DataPro, iBurst, Sentech, Neotel, MTN, Neology and ITSI (Institute of Technology, Strategy and Innovation) shed some light on what users can expect in the broadband and Internet arena in future.
The MyADSL People's Awards attracted nearly 1 000 responses from broadband consumers and since the awards are based entirely on consumers' votes it fills a vital gap in the yearly ICT awards space.
iBurst was crowned the broadband provider of the year, edging out Vodacom by a small margin. The company's aggressive rollout of services and increased investment in customer service has clearly paid off.
In the Journalist of the Year category, Duncan McLeod was a comfortable overall winner cementing his place as one of the premier journalists working in the ICT field today.
Lloyd Gedye won the Newspaper Journalist of the Year award with Dave Glazier taking the honors in the Online Journalist section.
Web Africa was voted the best ADSL ISP of the year beating the newcomer, OpenWeb, by a small margin. Web Africa has become renowned for their excellent customer service and this result confirms consumers' trust in the company.
The most hotly contended category was the '33.6 Kbps Modem Award' for the organization or individual who was the biggest hindrance to development in the broadband arena over the last year.
ICASA, its chairman Paris Mashile and the Minister of Communications Ivy Matsepe-Casaburri all notched up a fair share of votes, but it was Telkom who reigned supreme in this category.
Friday, November 24, 2006
The SPI bus is an advanced I/O bus that makes the support of system BIOS simpler and more cost effective through an onboard BIOS programming module. The innovative implementation of SPI on VIA-based boards will enable even easier updating, debugging and reprogramming of BIOS, and at even lower cost, by attaching a flash programming module, such as those from leading provider DediProg, to the easy-to-use onboard connector, even when the computing device is powered down.
VIA will integrate SPI bus support into new VIA chipset product releases to support all leading processor platforms, commencing with the upcoming VIA VT8237S chipset South Bridge, which is sampling now, and will provide manufacturers with greater flexibility in product design and support.
“We are excited to work with VIA to introduce the SPI bus into the feature set of the new VIA chipset products,” commented Chong Tsao, Sales Executive, DediProg Technology Co. Ltd. “Increasingly, vendors and manufacturers need innovative technology to manage and introduce new features easily into the BIOS, and the SPI bus enables them to easily do this.”
“VIA chipsets have a strong tradition of integrating advanced key technologies that reflect our commitment to end-users and mainboard manufacturers alike,” commented Chewei Lin, Vice President of Product Marketing, VIA Technologies, Inc. “By supporting the SPI bus, VIA is providing our motherboard customers with greater flexibility in BIOS management and better cost structure.”
Then you read about the Xbox Live option. Yay, you thought. I will be able to play games against real people all over the world. in fact, the game you bought has a multiplayer option. It costs extra because of it. You KNOW that the game would cost less without the multiplayer option, it makes sense, less code, cheaper game.
But NOOOOOOO. We low lifes here in South Africa are not good enough for the XBox Live option. According to Microsoft, out broadband isn't broad enough. Yet we pay the same price as these people in the US and A who can now download movies and TV programmes to the VERY SAME Xbox 360 that you bought. Doesn't that make you a little angry?
If I had spent R4000 on an XBox 360, I sure would be!!!
But maybe it's a good thing, read this story from The Enquirer about how the downloading of programmes and movies just doesn't work!
Friday, November 17, 2006
According to Chumpstyle, it's a site that will order products from the USA for us lowly South Africans. I am sure that they will add a little margin and then I am sure that we are going to have to pay taxes anyway, so the product could cost a little more than it should, but we should now, at last, get our products the same time as those Americans.
Let me know how the system works.
Hailed as the most-anticipated video game launch of 2006 and punctuated by incredible demand from gamers, ‘Gears of War’ hits South African retail outlets from end November. Microsoft Corp. forecasts that ‘Gears of War,’ an exclusive title for the Xbox 360™ video game and entertainment system, is expected to sell more than one million copies worldwide this Christmas, setting a new mark for the fastest-selling original game for Xbox 360™.
‘Gears of War,’ developed by Epic Games Inc. and published by Microsoft Game Studios, made its debut to great fanfare at the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) in 2005 and has captured the imagination of industry watchers and fans ever since.
The intense, genre-defining game thrusts players into humankind’s epic battle for survival against a nightmarish race of creatures known as the Locust Horde. With its combination of cinematic, visceral gameplay, dramatic storytelling and intense action, ‘Gears of War’ is a seminal title for Xbox 360, providing one of the best next-generation interactive entertainment experiences.
“‘Gears of War’ is a title we know will deliver on all of its promises, and we expect the game to reach one million copies globally faster than any new titles for Xbox,” said Cindy White, Xbox Group Marketing Manager.
“This holiday is an extremely important one for the entire industry, and Xbox 360 will offer the world unparalleled experiences available only on this console. We’ve put an enormous emphasis on bringing new and exciting titles to market, and ‘Gears of War’ is a key example of Microsoft’s commitment to developing original and immersive titles for gamers everywhere.”
‘Gears of War’ has received several highly coveted awards, including the Game Critics Awards’ Best Console Game and Best Action Game of E3 2006, and has already garnered praise in early reviews, earning a 9 out of 10 score from Official Xbox Magazine in the UK and a 19/20 from Console+ in France.
“The reception that ‘Gears of War’ has received has been tremendous,” said Cliff Bleszinski, lead designer for ‘Gears of War’ at Epic Games.
“Designing ‘Gears of War’ has been a labour of love, and we’ve poured everything we have into the title. We expect this game to be huge, and it’s exhilarating to see that people are as excited about ‘Gears of War’ as we are.”
‘Gears of War’ from Epic Games and Microsoft Game Studios is a third-person tactical action/horror game available exclusively on Xbox 360. Available from end November for an estimated retail price of R549 for a special Limited Collector’s Edition, which will include a collectible embossed metal box, the ‘Destroyed Beauty’ hardbound art book, and a bonus DVD that features the making of ‘Gears of War,’ the ‘Art of Gears of War’ trailer, and the MTV programme ‘Gears of War: The Race to E3.’
Thursday, November 16, 2006
The main page of the Chinese-language version of Wikipedia (zh.wikipedia.org) could be displayed and searches for apolitical terms turned up results, but searches for subjects taboo to China's Communist leadership, such as "June 4," remained blocked.
June 4, 1989, was the date that China's military crushed a student-led movement for political change centered on Beijing's Tiananmen Square, killing hundreds and possibly thousands. The incident remains among the most sensitive subjects for the country's state-controlled media.
China routinely blocks access to Web sites it deems subversive and filters Internet pages for sensitive words.
It was unclear why Wikipedia, blocked since October 2005, was again accessible.
A Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman said she had not heard of reports regarding Wikipedia, but added that China supports the development of the Internet and now has 123 million users, making it the world's second-largest Internet market.
"We manage the Internet according to our laws and regulations. This is the usual practice for all the countries in the world," spokeswoman Jiang Yu told a news conference.
Rights groups have accused Western Internet companies of compromising their principles by censoring searches and blog titles in order to do business in China.
But Reporters Without Borders said the example of Wikipedia, whose founder Jimmy Wales has preached a strategy of patience in dealing with Chinese authorities, showed that if a foreign company stood firm, Beijing would eventually yield.
"The Chinese government is pragmatic and does not want to do without foreign businesses in the Internet sector," the Paris-based group said in a statement. "There is therefore obviously room for negotiation for the U.S. companies."
Despite the ban on Wikipedia, which anyone can edit, a small community of Chinese users had used proxy servers and other tricks to gain access to the site.
Analysts have said it was not only the encyclopedia's content that worried the Chinese government, but Wikipedia's open editorial process, which they say has a community-building effect among armchair editors who can quickly mobilize to create content.
Monday, November 13, 2006
"The following is a paid review:"
It seems to good to be true and it might also throw the world of advertising into complete confusion. OK, it’s been happening before but just not as obviously. New website, ReviewMe, is out to try something that has been hidden under the table for way too long. You, as a blogger, will get paid to write reviews on products, services, websites, just about anything out there.
Advertisers flock to the website and browse through blog, just like this one, and decide to place a product review on that site. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not a product placement, just a request for a review. Kind of like you see on this site. Once a review of the product is up, you earn cash, in Dollars, for that review.
Does the review have to be positive? I am still not sure, but I think that human nature will tend for that review to be positive. It’s a win-win for all. Advertisers get a huge viral campaign going and the Blogger gets paid for doing something that he has been doing anyway.
Are there any advertisers out there who want to make use of this service? Again, I am not sure. I know that there are plenty of Blogs willing to try the service and earn some good cash. Figures of $40 are thrown around willy nilly and I have seen some blogs earning $250 per review.
It’s worth a try. What have you got to lose?
Friday, November 10, 2006
The Independent Communications Authority of SA (ICASA) is cracking down on those wireless ISPs who do not hold an Electronic Communications Service license and are using the public 2.4 GHz frequency band for commercial purposes.
This frequency band cannot be used to build and sell services on because it is limited for use in Local Area Networks (LANS) such as office parks or homes.
“Consumers who didn’t carefully choose wireless ISPs with solid regulatory track records now face disconnection as ICASA cracks down on illegal operators. Many offending wireless ISPs are not even aware that they need a Value Added Network Service (VANS) license to provide commercial Internet access services,” said Antony McKechnie iBurst’s Head of Product Development.
Adding to consumers’ connectivity concerns is the mistaken belief among some ISPs that VANS license holders can build their own infrastructure. According to Mr McKechnie: “An Electronic Communications Service license (previously a VANS license) does not extend to the self-provision of infrastructure such as fixed-lines and networks. This is where many wireless ISPs are found to be held in breach of the law. Only certain operators such as iBurst are licensed to build their own public communications networks."
While wireless technologies have been revolutionary in bridging the digital divide in underserved communities and particularly rural areas of South Africa, illegal operators have hampered the roll-out process of legitimate and regulated services. ICASA has taken a hard line with non-compliant wireless ISPs by either shutting down their operations or confiscating equipment.
The telecommunications frequency spectrum is a limited resource and its use must be carefully managed and controlled. Illegal operators put the frequency spectrum at risk of becoming cluttered and this could result in a flood of interruptions on other frequency bands.
“License conditions stipulate certain minimum service standards and make operators liable for contraventions. Consumers are therefore at risk of paying unlicensed operators for a sub-standard service,” concluded Mr McKechnie.
Consumers unsure of whether or not a certain ISP is operating legally should call ICASA’s Licensing, Enforcement and Numbering (LENA) Department on 011 321 8200.
Xbox 360, the new generation entertainment and gaming system from Microsoft, has announced that it will be sponsoring the Go! Summer Tour this December.
The month long Summer holiday circuit, features the best music talent South Africa has to offer and will visit most of the holiday destinations between Durban and Cape Town from the 15th to 31st December.
Nine bands will be on tour with three separate legs. The bands include the Parlatones, Prime Circle, Wonderboom, The Finkelstiens, Scarlet Box, Evolver, Fevertree, Bloodmoney and Driverlane. This tour also marks the return of the legendary South African band, The Springbok N*de Girls.
Cindy White, Xbox Group Marketing Manager said that Xbox will be joining the SA music tour and will add to the entertainment experience by providing concert goers with the Xbox 360 high definition gaming experience.
“We will be placing gaming kiosks at all the tour venues and will have a chill area where concert goers can play their favourite Xbox games. With more than 100 titles on offer by Christmas, gamers will have a wide variety of titles to choose from. The most popular gaming titles include Project Gotham Racing 3, Kameo and Perfect Dark Zero. Gears of War and Viva Pinata will be launched in November and December respectively and Crackdown and Forza 2 will be available early in the New Year.”
“We are really excited to be sponsoring the best music talent that South Africa has to offer. It is an extension of our global Xbox marketing strategy to support local music talent and we are currently also investigating international opportunities for young upcoming music talent,” she explained.
The Xbox 360 is available at all major retailers including CNA, BT games, Reggies, Toys R Us, Makro, Look and Listen and Incredible Connection at an estimated retail price of between R2 699 and R3 699. The games range in price from R199 to R550.
Thursday, November 02, 2006
Ramon Thomas, online behaviour expert at NETucation (the leading Black Empowered Online Research company in Johannesburg & Cape Town) produced this guide after a spate of negative publicity and shocking incident, since being interviewed about this topic on Cape Talk/702 in early September 2006.
"This guide explains MXit in plain and simple English for parents and teachers," says Thomas. "Once you understand MXit it very important to note the impact on your relationship with your child, the possibility and probability of addiction and abuse."
MXit Lifestyle (Pty) Ltd, the company who created the MXit application, states the current growth is about 10,000 new users per day. Latest stats indicate 385,000 users between 12-17 and 462,000 users between 18-25. After being released in late 2005, MXit has broken through the 2 million subscriber base in record time. And is the fastest growing cellphone application in South African history. As we approach the festive season when SMS volumes normally spike, MXit usage, and subscribers should continue to increase as rapid pace.
"Parents should realise this phenomenon is unstoppable and education is the key.." says Dr Helgo Schomer, University of Cape Town academic and registered psychologist who runs the Institute of Behavioural Health in Cape Town. He further explains that in virtual environments like MXit, people have no responsibility to adhere to acceptable social etiquette. Rumours can be spread, people can create fake identities, and there is no retribution or consequences to face up to.
The most important aspects covered in the guide is this:
1.How MXit impacts on Relationships
2.Coping with MXit Addiction / Dealing with Abuse 3.Installing MXit on your phone 4.Navigating the "MXit universe"
5.How to report Abuse or Threats
Patrick Hoare, founder of Kids Online, says, "Parents should not take away their children's cellphones because it may give rise to cellphones being used in secret." Parents normally teach us not to talk to strangers, yet we do that online. Do not accept invitations to chat privately from strangers on MXit.
To request your copy of the "Parents Guide to MXit" simply go to www.onlinesafety.org.za or SMS your name and email to 076-191-0405. The author, Ramon Thomas, is available for public talks at schools, churches or non-profit organisations - please call 011 4331034 for bookings.
Wednesday, November 01, 2006
Announced on 28 September 2006, the acquisition will strengthen HP’s gaming market portfolio by bringing together the high-end gaming expertise of VoodooPC with HP’s research and development and global distribution capabilities.
Effective 1 November 2006, VoodooPC co-owner Rahul Sood will be the chief technologist for HP’s newly formed gaming PC business unit, and co-owner Ravi Sood will be the unit’s director of strategy and marketing. Both executives will report to Phil McKinney, general manager of HP’s gaming business unit and vice president and chief technology officer of HP’s Personal Systems Group.
“HP is delighted to welcome VoodooPC into our new gaming business unit,” said Todd Bradley, executive vice president, Personal Systems Group, HP. “Combining VoodooPC’s passion and expertise of the gaming world with HP’s R&D and marketing infrastructure positions HP to play a leadership role in all aspects of gaming.”
HP plans to maintain VoodooPC’s current distribution model and brand name along with its marketing, sales, support and development operations. Voodoo PCs will continue to be available for purchase on line at www.voodoopc.com.