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Is Neotel for sale?

The telecoms industry has been abuzz with rumours for months that Neotel was on the market, but the nature of such sales is mostly speculation. The questions are usually: Is it really for sale? Who can afford to buy it Who should buy it (for the sake of competition and consumers)? How much meddling will the clueless department of mis-communications do? The suitors are big cellphone networks Vodaco...[Read More]

Signs of life at Telkom?

As bleak as the most recent financial announcements were – Telkom is writing down its infrastructure by R12bn for “legacy assets” – at least it isn’t in cloud cuckoo land anymore. Telkom has been a monopolistic alcoholic. It doesn’t know how to compete against real competition, having lived on legislation-protected liquid lunches for so long. The first step in d...[Read More]

Loonie tune for Africa broadband?

“All they wanted to do was sit around in hotel rooms and talk,” a senior Kenyan official told me about South African officials tasked with building undersea cables. So Kenya went on their own, building its own connections to the great communication network that now powers the world’s economy. In no small part, Kenya now has a bustling start-up culture, is being heralded as Africa...[Read More]

Hard to digest

Apple needs to make a range of improvements to modernise the operating system that reinvented the smartphone and revolutionised the computer world. In the past six years, the iPhone has played a pivotal role in kickstarting the smartphone revolution and the associated apps economy. Even if Apple still commands extraordinary profit per unit – the iPhone has extravagant margins and contributes...[Read More]

Jordaan ‘likely to be missed on Twitter’

WHILE Michael Jordaan will be missed when he leaves First National Bank (FNB) at the end of the year after nearly a decade as CEO, it is on Twitter that the departure of the verbally adroit and witty CEO will be most keenly felt. Mr Jordaan, who took to the 140-character message service as the public face of the bank in the past few years, has utilised this medium with a verve and humour that few ...[Read More]

Shapshak’s First Rule of Dropped Calls: the caller calls back.

Dear People of Twitter, Please listen carefully: it’s not interesting, neither is it funny, when you read out the little witticisms that you’ve just tweeted. Or that someone has tweeted to you. Or SMSed, for that matter. It doesn’t translate from text to speech. It’s just not as funny. Really, it isn’t. This is the key sentiment of Shapshak’s First Theorem on Us...[Read More]

Goodbye 8ta, heita Telkom Mobile

What’s in a name? Everything as Telkom has discovered after wasting tens of millions of Rands in launching the 8ta network which has merely created an additional, illogical brand which Telkom itself – albeit despised by the majority of its own trapped landline users – has been forced to admit with this week’s rebranding to Telkom Mobile. Launched with great fanfare three years ago, 8ta...[Read More]

Vodacom unlimited

After numerous failed attempts to kickstart the great cellular price war have fizzled out into mere skirmishes, there might finally be a significant shift. We might actually have a price war on our hands. Vodacom, which has often been accused of having unnecessarily complex pricing plans, has unveiled a new pricing structure that is vastly simplified. Crucially, it even offers unlimited calling ac...[Read More]

Five years in which the world changed

“Our job as columnists is to throw bricks through windows,” that veritable old man of letters Chris Moerdyk told me when I first started writing this column nearly six years ago. Moerdyk, and the then Times editor Ray Hartley, urged me to say the provocative things that needed to be said. Chris never had to suffer the grey hairs I gave Ray, and Phylicia Oppelt later on. This is, unfort...[Read More]

Knott-Craig in shining armour

“What are you going to do with [faster data on] LTE? You can’t speak any faster,” Alan Knott-Craig, the combative CEO of Cell C, told the AfricaCom conference in Cape Town last week, arguing for cheaper data costs. “We need to be talking not 5c a meg but 5c a gig,” he said, to applause. Though megabytes were once the most apt measurement of data usage, Knott-Craig arg...[Read More]

Teen dynamos reshape Africa

Standing on top of the windmill tower he built, holding onto the recycled bicycle parts, William Kamkwamba is one of greatest inventors in Africa. He shot to prominence in 2006 when he built a windmill in his home town of Masitala, in Malawi. Unable to finish school in 2002 because his family couldn’t afford the fees, Kamkwamba, then 15, discovered a book in his local library on electricity....[Read More]

Sinking with the Titanic Telkom

The most damage done to South Africa’s telecoms landscape was caused, it is generally agreed, by the protectionist policies of Ivy Matsepe-Casaburri, whose nickname, “Poison Ivy”, was most apt. Until this week that is, when her successor as communications minister, Dina Pule, behaved with such inexplicable weirdness that it takes government meddling to a new nadir. At the Telkom ...[Read More]

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