Internet access to double in next 5 years

Arthur Goldstuck, MD World Wide Worx, researcherJOHANNESBURG, 24 March 2009:- South Africa’s Internet population is expected to grow as much in the next five years as it has in the 15 years since the Internet became commercially available in South Africa.

This is among the startling conclusions contained in the Internet Access in South Africa 2008 report, released today by World Wide Worx. The report shows that the number of Internet users in South Africa grew by 12.5% to 4,6-million in 2008 – the first time since 2001 it has grown by more than 8%. The increased growth rate is expected to continue for the next five years, taking the Internet user population to the 9-million mark by 2014.

“Four major factors will drive this growth,” says Arthur Goldstuck, managing director of World Wide Worx.

“The first and most obvious development is the arrival of a new undersea telecommunications cable at the end of June. It will increase South Africa’s maximum international bandwidth fivefold, and the actual capacity that was available until the end of last year will increase 30-fold. It will gradually bring down the cost and increase the capacity available to consumers and business – but not overnight.”

The second factor is the granting of telecommunications licences to all Internet service providers who wish to upgrade existing licences, allowing them to build their own networks.

“While we won’t see even a tenth of the 600 existing ISPs setting up networks, enough of them will emerge from under the radar to give consumers and business a new world of choice,” says Goldstuck.

These networks will be able to take advantage of the new undersea cable, which will allow service providers to buy bandwidth capacity at wholesale prices and repackage and resell it as they wish. This means that the new generation of service providers will be able to introduce business models that were never possible before.

The third factor is the rapid rate at which small and medium enterprises (SMEs) are migrating from slow dial-up connections to faster ADSL lines.

“The impact of these lines goes much further than merely the number of small businesses that connect,” says Goldstuck. “Our research shows that every SME using ADSL is connecting anywhere between one and 20 additional individuals to the Internet. This means that SMEs have taken over from large businesses as the biggest driver of Internet access in South Africa.”

The fourth factor is the growth of Internet access via cell phones. However, warns the report, this is not yet as big a factor as media hype suggests.

“The cell phone right now is a very crude device for accessing the Internet,” says Goldstuck. “We will need to see great improvements in both usability and people’s ability to use advanced features on their cell phones, and that will take another few years.”

The report also covers the prospects for as many as seven new undersea cables planned for the next three years, new trends in connecting schools and universities, the dramatic evolution of wireless broadband technology, and the extent to which other African countries have overtaken South Africa.

* For more information, email Arthur Goldstuck on Tel: +27 11 782 7003

 

How to deal with increased abuse of MXit or Facebook

Recent media reports indicate another spike in MXit related incidents ranging from teen abductions to children spreading pornography. On the business side MXit is entering online payments and mobile banking arena and will probably continue it’s relationship with MNET Idols reality TV show facilitating voting for the contestants. Families, schools and communities have always been up in arms over the last three years. In my public talks to schools and church groups I have tried my best to explain both the pro’s and the con’s to my audiences.

When children get access to technology like cellphones or the Internet at an early age, they often do so without any guidelines. So it becomes very important for parents to understand what those guidelines are and to adopt them from an early age. If not they run the risk of these online incidents that take place on MXit or Facebook for that matter to spill over into their daily lives. The incidents appear to be on the increase because MXit user base has continued to grow and now has over 11 million registered users. The number of international users are also on the increase, which wides the possibilities for abuse from people in other countries with your children in South Africa.

Unlike computers there is no software available to block or track what people do on cellphones. Each make of a cellphone practically runs a different operating system, which makes it difficult for software developers to create these software so freely available on the Internet for PC users. Both Vodacom and MTN have some limited mechanism for parental control. In all cases I encourage parents to install those options where avaialable. Please remember it will not block or control what children can do on MXit. The MXit platform exists outside of these parent control measures. So it sounds like you’re back to square one.

What parents can do is focus on open and regular dialogue with your children. All I’m saying is the basics of parenting. One specific thing I encourage parents to do is to begin using MXit themselves. In the first place it begins to demystify the technology for the parents themselves and it also shows the kids that parents are willing or able to learn and understand.  In many cases I believe children are very open to showing their family members how to benefit from these fun technologies. In most cases the approach from the parents is one of control because of a lack of understanding.

Anyway here’s some basic guidelines to follow from MSNBC slightly adapted.

Teach your children to:
# Think before they click: With whom are they chatting (MXit) or e-mailing (Facebook), what are they saying and how are they saying it? Will the person on the other end know they are joking?
# Walk away from the computer or put the cellphone down and “Take 5” before responding to something that upsets them online
# Avoid spreading rumours, assisting in cyberbullying or sharing private communications online.
# Follow the golden rule of cyberspace: Don’t do anything online that you wouldn’t do in real life!

Follow responsible safety practices yourself on your computer:
# Install spyware and adware blocking software on your computer
# Make sure you have a working firewall on your computer
# Install anti-virus software and update it regularly
# Take advantage of spam-blocking tools offered by your Internet provider or e-mail software

 

The Economy Survey ChangeThis.com

Ever since ChangeThis.com launched I have enjoyed the short ebooks the produce and make available at no cost. Often it was a summary or first chapter from books by best selling author’s like Seth Godin, Timothy Ferris, Chris Anderson or Guy Kawasaki.

Anyway here’s a recent email from them with something that really hits home in these turbulent economic times globally and in South Africa…

In November of last year, we sent out a survey to gauge the mood of ChangeThis readers and see if they could help provide some solutions and encouragement for ourselves and eachother. After many months of immense change, both in the country as a whole and within our small company, we have finally finished sifting through those responses.

We made the following three inquiries: “In one word, sum up how you feel right now;” “How is this affecting you?” and; “What are you choosing to do about it?” The 1400 replies we received to this survey are further proof, beyond the intuitive, that work is life and that the personal is the professional. Some people used creative metaphors to express their situations. Others used humour. Some enumerated their action plan. Some ranted. Some marvelled. Some refused to accept a doom and gloom outlook and endeavoured to see the possibilities that come with change. There are some trends, of course, and there were ample frustrations–with capitalism and ageism, with excess and politics.

The cover of the manifesto is a word cloud of the most common responses to that first inquiry, “How do you feel right now?” and each paragraph thereafter is a different individual’s response to the third question, “What are you choosing to do about it?”

Click here to download the survey results to commiserate, to raise your spirits, to hope, to cry, to worry some more and unburden yourself with other ChangeThis readers.