How WhatsApp is killing calls in SA

A recent article by MyBroadband explored how the popularity of VoIP services like WhatsApp has impacted voice income for South African major mobile networks: Vodacom, MTN, Telkom and Cell C.

  • Vodacom has experienced a “slight decrease in the consumption of traditional voice minutes”, but said the advantages of traditional GSM calls still make it a good option for consumers.
  • MTN told MyBroadband that it has “experienced a decrease in traditional calls and an increase in VoIP usage to match”.
  • Cell C admitted they had noticed a decrease in the amount of traditional call minutes being used, but said that it had stabilised.
  • Telkom told MyBroadband that it had “not seen a decrease in the average minutes of use per user for both on and off-network calling”.

However, according to We are Social, “WhatsApp is the biggest messaging app … in South Africa. We have 38-million unique mobile users, which grew by two million between 2017 and 2018. ”

The high costs of data in South Africa prevent many users from using WhatsApp’s full capabilities.

ACSA to spend R1.2bn digitising SA airports

Airports Company South Africa (ACSA) has set aside R1.2 billion to digitise the country’s airports, according to a recent article in ITWeb.

The announcement was made as the company released its financial results to 31 March.

Highlights include:

  • Profit fell by 58%, largely due to a 50% increase in security costs
  • R287-million was spent on data centre and network upgrades in 2018/19
  • The organisation says it has embarked on a five-year IT upgrade programme
  • The board has set aside R1.2-billion in capital expenditure to spend on IT infrastructure
  • Upgrades will focus on digitising local airports
  • R301-million will be spent on IT network optimisation
  • R142-million will go towards IT backup and storage solutions
  • R240-million will be spent on improving and upgrading the company’s physical IT infrastructure
  • Legacy equipment will be replaced
  • Paperless travel will require it to tightly integrate its passenger processing systems with databases residing with the Department of Home Affairs and Department of Transport, as well as with other airlines
  • Faster passenger processing will allow the retail component of the airport to generate more non-aeronautical revenue
  • A new mobile application will allow customers and passengers to interact with airports remotely

Image credit: ACSA

Why WeWork doesn’t work

Source: The Economist

With its stylish shared workspaces and chic occupants, lubricated by fruit-infused water and nitro coffee on tap, WeWork, a firm that rents out temporary offices, had seemed to be riding the wave of a new trend in managing desk-jockey life. But the nine-year-old private company has suffered a setback, announcing on September 16th that it would postpone an initial public offering (IPO) that had been expected to raise $3bn-4bn. Investors, it seems, cannot decide what the firm is worth.

They have four main worries. The first, and most glaring, is WeWork’s lack of profits. The firm argues that this is explained by the huge investments needed to secure economies of scale. It says that mature locations are profitable—revenues doubled during the first half of 2019 over the same period in 2018, to $1.5bn. But its net losses also rose, if more modestly, to $905m. A second concern is how the company would fare in a recession. It has taken on $47bn in lease payments but has only $4bn in committed future revenues from customers. A third bugbear is corporate governance. WeWork will issue multiple classes of shares that give its flamboyant founder, Adam Neumann, control with a minority stake.

The final concern is the company’s valuation. When it raised money in January, with funding led by Japan’s SoftBank, the firm was valued at a heady $47bn. Critics point to IWG, which offers shared offices under the Regus and Spaces brands worldwide, and has a market capitalisation of just $4.5bn (see chart). Already WeWork seemed willing to accept a much lower price tag for its flotation, seeking a relatively modest valuation of $15bn or less from its IPO. Even that seems out of reach and the company has, for now, dropped the attempt.

Mr Neumann’s claim that his firm will “elevate the world’s consciousness” is plainly silly. Even so, it is not fair to equate WeWork with the more conventional Regus. CBRE, a property-management firm, estimates that the flexible-work niche experienced “meteoric growth” of 25% in America’s top ten markets in 2018, with similar figures in big cities worldwide. WeWork’s innovations in work-place facilities have dramatically enlarged the size of the market for temporary offices. But investors need more certainty that it knows how to make money from it.

They will also be all too well aware that the shares of some stars of the new economy have disappointed of late.Uber, a ride-hailing firm, listed its shares at $45 in May on the New York Stock Exchange. Today they were trading at about $34.50. In March its rival, Lyft, had sold its shares on the Nasdaq exchange at $72; today they are worth about $48. Slack, a corporate-messaging service whose shares started trading on the NYSE in June at an opening price of $38.50, is now valued at about $26 a share. Unicorns are going a little cheaper these days.

SAPS launches free app to fight crime

Published by Kirsten Jacobs for Cape Town Etc

An app for citizens to use in the fight against crime has been launched by the South African Police Service (SAPS). Called My SAPS, the app was developed by Vodacom and will be available on both Apple and Android devices.

The app is described on the App Store as a way of “enabling everyone to contribute towards building a more crime free society”.

“My SAPS is a free application available for iPhones and other smartphones, provided by the South African Police Services,” it says on the App Store. “My SAPS will allow you to submit crime tip-offs (anonymously) to the Crime Stop Centre and send updates.”

The app allows users to submit anonymous tip-offs and call crime stop.

“It also allows you easy access to all SAPS Stations information using the SAPS Station finder, as well as all SAPS Social Media platforms.”

Users can find their closest police station using the app.

Download it for Android: https://tinyurl.com/y5s8z3u9

Download it for iOS: https://tinyurl.com/y5orqtou

ISP Cool Ideas hit in DDoS attack

Internet service provider Cool Ideas yesterday suffered a distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack, which affected all customers on their network.

The attack lasted almost four hours. Customers experienced intermittent connectivity loss and degraded performance during this time.

In a statement issued last night, the company did not have an exact time to resolution. By this morning, however, the issue affecting the Cool Ideas network has been mitigated.

What is a DDoS attack?
Accoding to CloudFlare, a DDoS attack is defined in the following way:

“A distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack is a malicious attempt to disrupt normal traffic of a targeted server, service or network by overwhelming the target or its surrounding infrastructure with a flood of Internet traffic. DDoS attacks achieve effectiveness by utilizing multiple compromised computer systems as sources of attack traffic. Exploited machines can include computers and other networked resources such as IoT devices. From a high level, a DDoS attack is like a traffic jam clogging up with highway, preventing regular traffic from arriving at its desired destination.”

 

Naspers just created Europe’s largest tech company

By Elizabeth Schulze for CNBC

Prosus, a spinoff of South African consumer Internet group Naspers valued at $100 billion, listed on the Amsterdam Euronext exchange Wednesday.

The group’s best-known investment is a 31% stake in Chinese tech giant Tencent.

The addition of Prosus to the Amsterdam exchange shakes up Europe’s tech landscape, with the company instantly becoming the continent’s second-biggest tech company.

Prosus, a global consumer internet group and one of the largest technology investors in the world, starts trading through a primary listing on Euronext Amsterdam.

Europe has lamented its lack of big internet technology companies capable of competing with U.S. and Chinese giants like Google, Facebook, Alibaba and Tencent.

Overnight, the continent’s fortunes changed in the form of a $100 billion consumer internet company that listed publicly Wednesday in Amsterdam.

The company is called Prosus, and it’s a spinoff of South African consumer internet conglomerate Naspers. Prosus said its market capitalization on its first day of trading is roughly $100 billion, making it one of the 10 biggest consumer internet groups in the world.

“The listing of Prosus is an exciting step forwards for the group, giving global technology investors direct access to our unique and attractive portfolio of international consumer internet businesses,” Naspers and Prosus Group CEO Bob van Dijk said in a press release Wednesday.

Prosus is not a consumer internet business itself, meaning it doesn’t offer digital services under its own brand like Facebook or Alibaba, for example. Instead, it invests in a portfolio of global internet firms in sectors ranging from payments and fintech (financial technology) to food delivery.

The group’s best-known investment is a 31% stake in Chinese tech giant Tencent, a gaming titan and owner of the hugely popular messaging app WeChat. Naspers made a $32 million investment in Tencent in 2001, a bet now worth $130 billion.

Under the new structure, Prosus will hold Nasper’s Tencent stake, as well as positions in other firms like Russian social media company Mail.ru Group and German food delivery service Delivery Hero. Naspers will remain a majority owner of the new company.

Europe playing catch-up
The addition of Prosus to the Amsterdam exchange shakes up Europe’s tech landscape, with the company instantly becoming one of the biggest tech entities in the region. According to data compiled by Reuters, it is only outmatched in size by German software firm SAP, which is valued at roughly $135 billion.

Europe has lagged behind the U.S. and China as a home for big tech companies. Of the 20 biggest internet companies by value in 2018, none were headquartered in Europe, according to data from the World Economic Forum. Last month, reports emerged that the EU had drafted a plan for a sovereign wealth fund to invest in “high-potential European companies” that could compete with U.S. and Chinese big tech firms.

“Naspers believes that the choice of Euronext Amsterdam is, and will be, beneficial to the company as Euronext markets are some of the largest, most integrated and proven capital markets in Europe,” the company said in its prospectus.

MTN fined R5m for hiking WhatApp bundle prices

By Kgomotso Modise for EWN 

The network has been slapped with a R5-million fine for failing to notify authorities in time before hiking the price of its 1GB monthly WhatsApp bundle.

MTN says it believes its penalty from Icasa in the 1GB monthly WhatsApp bundle case should be proportional to its transgression.

The network has been slapped with a R5 million fine for failing to notify authorities in time before hiking the price of its 1 gigabyte monthly WhatsApp bundle. At least R2 million of the fine is suspended for 3 years.

In a statement, MTN spokesperson Jacqui O’Sullivan details multiple instances where the network notified Icasa of its intentions to increase the price of its 1GB monthly WhatsApp bundle.

She said they also wrote to Icasa shortly before the price hike but there was no response and it went ahead with the adjustment.

MTN said it respected the role of the authority and insisted that, at the time, the company believed that increasing the price of the bundle was the only way to ensure the continued functionality of MTN SA’s 3G network.

The network said it was very aware of the required Icasa timing, which was why it applied for leniency.

MTN will be taking the decision on review to the High Court.

How to watch the Rugby without DStv

The SABC has failed to reach an agreement with SuperSport to broadcast the Rugby World Cup, taking place in Japan later this month.

However, there are alternative ways to watch the World Cup, according to MyBroadband:

  • Use an international streaming service, such as Rugbypass and iTV, to watch the 2019 Rugby World Cup
  • Watch the games in a social setting like at a friend’s house, a pub or a restaurant
  • DStv themselves are offering a special on DStv Premium. The company has reduced the price on the package from R904pm to R750pm

 

By Arnold Zafra for Reclaim The Net

Affidavits and other documents of former State Security Agency Director-General Arthur Fraser reveal that the South African government has been conducting mass surveillance on all communications in the country. This was filed in 2017 during the court case on the South African nonprofit investigative journalism organization, the amaBhungane Centre for Investigative Journalism.

Interestingly, the mass surveillance has been happening since 2008. In the said affidavit, South Africa’s State Security Agency said that the Signal Intelligence collection process is formed by the National Intelligence Priorities and this includes imminent and anticipated threats. The surveillance was supposedly designed to cover information about organized crime and acts of terrorism. It even involves surveillance on food security, water security, and even illegal financial flows.

The report also revealed that the South African government has done bulk interception of Internet traffic by way of tapping into fiber-optic cables under the sea. What is not clear though is whether the surveillance covers all Internet traffic or limited only to some of the fiber cables.

The SSA said that the automated collection of data was specifically geared for foreign communications that pose threats to state security only. However, even the SSA admits to the fact that it will require human intervention to determine whether any communications that pass through the fiber cables are foreign or not. Hence, it would be difficult to distinguish between foreign and local communications.

Given that information, it is clear that the SSA has been collecting data and communications of South Africans without permission. This is considered an unconstitutional and illegal activity in the country. Unfortunately, the SSA is not worried about it and even commented that such surveillance is a common practice internationally.

While this is maybe quite alarming, it seems that the SSA is not bothered at all since it has been accused of widespread and indiscriminate surveillance back in 2017. amaBhungane even started legal proceedings after they’ve found out their editor’s communications were being recorded for six months. This resulted in the widespread revelations about widespread indiscriminate surveillance conducted by the SSA in South Africa.

Cape Town named Africa’s leading digital city

By Lorine Towett for Wee Tracker

It is no doubt that Cape Town has continued to cement itself as Africa’s tech hub. The city boasts being home to a majority of South African startup firms with new companies opening shops almost on a monthly basis.

The South African city has been named Africa’s leading digital city and contributes the most to the Western Cape’s GDP.

The 2018 State of Cape Town Central City Report compiled by the Central City Improvement District (CCID), has highlighted the hard work of the City and its partners.

The report also shows that 50 percent of the country’s emerging tech companies are based in the Western Cape, a majority of which are in Cape Town. Owed to the fact that most tech firms are based in the South African capital, the city employs more people in the sector than anywhere else on the African continent.

Cape Town has earned approximately ZAR 5 Bn in foreign direct investment from the many international firms that have set shops within the city. The city’s economic activities contribute nearly three-quarters of the Western Cape’s GDP.

“The city and the CBD has geared itself to accommodate an emerging digitally savvy population that requires a business environment that offers good broadband connectivity, co-working spaces, accessibility and quality of lifestyle. The City Centre has all of these, and as a recognised digital city, the Cape Town CBD is well placed to support this vibrant new way of working,’ said CCID chairperson, Rob Kane.

In a bid to boost innovations in the thriving tech hub, the city has invested ZAR 1 Bn which will go into developing a telecommunication network which will provide data connection to various buildings and locations.

The broadband project is expected to be completed by 2020 and so far, 300 City-owned buildings have been connected.

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