Using MOOC to upgrade Education in Rural Areas

online courses MOOCUNISA has made distance learning a common practise in South Africa. It’s position is entrenched more so after the 2004 merger with Technikon RSA. The next evolution in distance learning beyond e-learning or computer-based training is Massive Open Online Courses or MOOC. This is made possible with the pervasiveness of broadband Internet. MOOC is a virtual delivery model that allows participation in learning activities at convenient places and times,rather than forcing students into set time frames; blended learning, which can facilitate widespread, often global collaboration with other students and teams of specialized instructors (Bujak,K,R, et al, 2012).

Recently we enrolled for three modules on Coursera.org after listing to Daphne Koller’s TED Talk. The initial appeal to using this platform was the flexible time schedules and immediate access via the Internet. We’ve already opted out of one and there was no real downside because there was no financial commitment in contrast to traditional universities.

Benefits for Teaching

E-learning has been around since the earliest stages of the Internet. It is well know the origins of this global inter-connected network began in the military and expanded quickly into academic research facilities in the US before becoming available to the general public in the 1990s. Expanding access to and the availability of e-learning programmes for students, teachers and government is an important step in furthering continental development and growth (Rupp, 2012).

Even though Rupp (2012) points out the availability of e-learning technologies provides expanded opportunities for countries in Africa to make education available to their whole population. Clearly these same information and communication technologies (ICTs) allow students from the rural or remote areas to access opportunities for scholarships to academic institutions they may not otherwise have identified.

Benefits for Learning

MOOC introduces students to a new type of experience called “Blended Learning” by Bujak,K,R, et al. (2012). It combines face-to-face interactions with communication enabled by ICTs. A key consideration is that ICTs compliment not replace traditional pedagogy. Whereas e-learning was online only experience, more blending the online and offline experience takes shape in self organised groups meeting similar to traditional self organised groups of students who attend the same campus, except this takes place even easier in the virtual world. Initial research suggests that students are not only accepting blended learning approaches, but also they are improving learning outcomes.

Conclusion

Two challenges reduce the adoption of MOOC. Firstly they do not lead to a widely recognized credentials and workable revenue models are not available at present (King, J.W. & Nanfito, M. 2012). Until both are addressed by institutions and investors in the platforms, MOOC, may be a blip on the radar and future of online learning solutions.

Even though MOOC have caused well established institutions from UCT in South Africa and MIT in United States to invest resources, clear impact in Africa continent remain limited. One segment that stands the most to gain, are people who do not gain entry to traditional universities for reasons financial or otherwise. Internet literacy will delay the adoption further among the rest of the population in Africa irrespective of the availability of broadband Internet. As with all technological innovations MOOC will take a number a few years before we know whether it is viable platform or not.

Reference

Bujak,K,R, Baker, P., & DeMillo, R. (2012) The University: Disruptive Change and Institutional Innovation Centre for 21st Century Universities. Paper number 22012. Available online: http://c21u.gatech.edu/sites/default/files/u21/C21U_22012__University.pdf [03 December 2012]

Rupp, S. (2012) Technology, e-learning and education in Africa. In Consultancy Africa Intelligence. Available online http://tinyurl.com/9dul5he [04 December 2012]

King, J.W. & Nanfito, M. (2012) To MOOC or Not to MOOC? Available online: http://www.insidehighered.com/views/2012/11/29/essay-challenges-posed-moocs-liberal-arts-colleges [05 December 2012]

Koutropoulos, A. & Hogue, R.J. (2012). How to Succeed in a MOOC. Available online: http://www.cedma-europe.org/newsletter%20articles/eLearning%20Guild/How%20to%20Succeed%20in%20a%20MOOC%20-%20Massive%20Online%20Open%20Course%20(Oct%2012).pdf [05 December 2012]

 

Norton: Cybercrime cost $110 billion last year

The yearly Norton Cybercrime report (.pdf) analyses how cybercrime affects consumers, and how emerging technology — including mobile and cloud computing — impacts security. As mobile technology and bring your own device (BYOD) schemes insinuate themselves into the corporate sphere — blending personal and professional communication — businesses need to take note.

This year’s release comprises of over 13,000 participants across 24 countries, aged 18-64, and says that U.S. consumers lost $20.7 billion last year after falling prey to cybercrime including attacks, malware and phishing. Globally, the rate rose to $110 billion in direct financial loss.

An estimated 71 million people in the United States became cybercrime victims last year. According to the report, 1.5 million people are impacted every day across the world — close to 18 people per second. The highest numbers of cybercrime victims were found in Russia (92 percent), China (84 percent) and South Africa (80 percent).

Globally, each victim accounted for an average of $197 in financial loss. In the United States, this increased to $290.

According to the report, an estimated 556 million adults across the world have first-hand experience of cybercrime — more than the entire population of the European Union. This equates to nearly half of all adults online (46 percent), a slight rise from the 2011 figure of 45 percent.

There has been an increase in cybercrime which takes advantage of social networks and mobile technology. 21 percent have fallen prey to social or mobile crime. Specifically within social networking, the report found that 15 percent of users have had their account infiltrated, and 1 in 10 have been victims of fake links or scams.

75 percent of participants believed that cybercriminals were gearing more towards social networks, but less than half (44 percent) used security software to help protect them against these kinds of attacks. In addition, only half (49 percent) used privacy settings effectively to control the information they share.

Norton Internet Safety Advocate Marian Merritt said:

“Cybercriminals are changing their tactics to target fast-growing mobile platforms and social networks where consumers are less aware of security risks. This mirrors what we saw in this year’s Symantec Internet Security Threat Report which reported nearly twice the mobile vulnerabilities in 2011 from the year before.”

Although most Internet users take basic steps to protect themselves, 40 percent do not use complex passwords, and over a third aren’t fussed about typing sensitive information into an unsecure site. When accessing email, 44 percent use unsecure, public Wi-Fi — and 40 percent do not recognize how malware has evolved to subtly compromise a system, placing personal and corporate information at risk. In addition, 55 percent of participants are unsure if their systems are currently clean.

When using public connections, 67 percent access email, 63 percent use social networking and 24 percent access their bank account, according to the report.

The study found that email accounts are often a target for cybercriminals to try and access personal and corporate information. 27 percent of adults have been notified to change their email due to an account being compromised — and when 42 percent store work-related correspondence and documents on these accounts, businesses need to be aware that this could be a security risk.  Adam Palmer, Norton Lead Cybersecurity Advisor says:

“Personal email accounts often contain the keys to your online kingdom. Not only can criminals gain access to everything in your inbox, they can also reset your passwords for any other online site you may use by clicking the ‘forgot your password’ link, intercepting those emails and effectively locking you out of your own accounts.”

Victims were most likely to be Millienials (75 percent) in comparison to Baby Boomers (56 percent), potentially due to their more frequent use of online services. Businesses should take away the potential damage that a lack of security acumen can cause, as personal devices and mobile storage of company information becomes firmly entrenched in corporate culture.

Source : http://www.zdnet.com

 

Social Media breaks barriers in South Africa

Social networking in South Africa has
crossed the age barrier, the urban/rural divide and even the
relationship gap, according to research findings announced today.

The /South African Social Media Landscape 2012/ study, produced by
technology market researchers World Wide Worx and information analysts
Fuseware, shows that the fastest growing age group among Facebook users
in South Africa is the over-60s. From August 2011 to August 2012, the
number of over-60s on Facebook grew by 44%, compared to less than 30%
for those aged 30-60, less than 20% for those aged 19-30, and less than
10% for teenagers.

This is a reflection of Facebook going mainstream in South Africa,
says World Wide Worx managing director Arthur Goldstuck.  The younger
segments are still far from saturation, but we re not seeing the same
heady pace of growth among the youth as before.

At the end of August, 5.33-million South Africans were using Facebook on
the Web, 2,43-million were on Twitter and 9,35-million on Mxit. Because
Facebook does not measure mobile-only usage among those who have
registered via their cellphones, however, the full extent of its
penetration is significantly understated: primary research among
consumers by World Wide Worx shows that 6.8-million people access
Facebook on their phones.

Twitter use, also measured in this primary research, indicates that its
registered base had grown to 2,2-million by the end of June: 100 000 new
users a month since August last year. Fuseware data, collected directly
from Twitter through an API (application program interface), shows that
the number reached 2,4-million at the end of August, exactly matching
the growth rate measured by World Wide Worx, and validating the earlier
data.

The integrity of data, and its interpretation, is vital for business
decision-makers and marketers who are investing in social media,  says
Fuseware managing director Mike Wronski.  Different methodologies allow
us to gain deeper insights, as well as providing cross-validation for
our data.

Other key findings announced today include:
* Both Facebook and Twitter have grown at a similar rate, at around
100 000 new users a month, for the past year.
* LinkedIn has grown substantially, but at a slightly lower rate, to
reach 1,93-million South Africans.
* Pinterest is the fledgling among the major social networks, with
only 150 000 users in South Africa.
* WhatsApp has become the leading instant messaging tool among South
Africans aged 16 and over, living in cities and towns, with a user
base of 4,6-million.
* The youngest mobile instant messaging tool to emerge on the
measurement radar in South Africa, 2Go, has close to a million adult
users.
* The most common  Check In  sites for Facebook in South Africa are
airports and shopping malls.
* The biggest tweeting day of the week is a Monday, with an average of
9,6-million tweets sent by South Africans on the first working day
of the week. Friday is next, with 9.6-million, while Saturday is the
slowest Twitter day, with 8,4-million tweets.
* Both Facebook and Twitter have crossed the urban/rural divide. The
proportion of urban adults using Facebook is a little less than
double rural users – but rural users are now at the level where
urban users were 18 months ago. Twitter’s urban penetration is a
little more than double its rural penetration, but the rural
proportion has also caught up to where the urban proportion was 18
months ago.

One of the most fascinating findings reported today is that the number
of single users has grown faster than any other relationship group, by
almost 25%, to reach 957 000. The number of married and engaged users
has each grown by 16%, while the category of those  in a relationship
has increased by 9%.

Clearly, Facebook is filling a relationship gap in the lives of many
South Africans,  says Goldstuck.  But social networks are also so much
more   we see them playing the roles of communication, information and
entertainment networks.

Wronski adds:  Social media fatigue has set in for the more over-active
users, who follow too much, communicate too much, and vent too much. But
most users are arriving in this world for the first time, and new users
are going to keep coming. It s mainstream today but, tomorrow, it will
be pervasive.

For more information, visit http://www.worldwideworx.com.

 

Blogging about Jacob Zuma not Malema

President Jacob Zuma dancing with Helen ZilleBlogging about politicians seems to be a sure-fire way to get extra traffic. Politicians like South African President, Jacob Zuma, is constantly in the news. All his speeches like those by Julius Malema feature heavily in the local news media and social media, sparking several fake profiles and debates in the last year especially.

Back in 2007 someone emailed me a joke about Jacob Zuma and for some reason it remains one of the most popular pages on my website. It makes sense because he only assumed his office in the Presidency during May 2009, so he’s news coverage has only increased. To some extent his rivalry with Julius Malema continued to increase his exposure and appeal to Malema’s detractors. Some may even see him as the victor or the political hero because the ANC banished Juju for 5 years even through it seemed like the never-ending story.

With his seemingly never ending string of marriages, women may see him as a virile, masculine man. In a traditional sense, a strong leader. Since he started tweeting on @SAPresident (118, 483 followers) he also spawned a copy cat, one of the greatest complements to a public person like the Fake Steve Jobs profile. Time will tell whether the @SAPrezident (9667 followers) profile has staying power. Thank goodness Jacob Zuma does not tweet as often as his nemesis Helen Zille. She’s alienated more people with her tweets than any other politician in my opinion.

Another blog post from 2010 was just a series of his previous wedding photos. This is a popular post probably because the photos show up on Google Images. People are visual and tagging photos with appropriate “alt tag” descriptions will further increase your search engine love. The president seems to live a cartoonish life with all the controversy around fraud, the battle with his nemesis Malema, his subsequent victory and dancing with Helen Zille. Sometimes it feels like half the comic strips produced by Cartoonist Zapiro are about Jacob Zuma and his dancing and singing at political rallies.

Anyway this blog post was written to teach some basics around blogging for business. You can also view a video of me discussing how I wrote this blog through my Psychology of Technology Youtube channel.

 

Cyber-policing vs IT Security Awareness

In December the Postbank lost R42 million to hackers. Afterwards experts called for a new cyber policing strategy. After 20 years on the Internet I did not know we had a cyber policing strategy in place. During 1997-2003 I worked for major Internet Service Providers and three banks running their IT Security. If South Africa has a national cybercrime strategy, it’s time we know more about it.

Professor Basie von Solms, from University of Johannesburg, warned parliament against internet fraud like the Postbank loss over the 2011 festive season. While I was direct of Computer Society South Africa, I was engaged with Prof von Solms and found him honest and direct. He said, while SA Police Service had highly skilled cyber specialists, there were not enough of them. There was no overarching policy to protect the security of SA’s interconnected computer networks.

Von Solms said a draft cyber security strategy was circulated in 2010 by the government but nothing further had been heard of it. Without a cyber policing unit with compliance inspectors, cyber crime and cyber terrorism would just increase. Most countries had a computer security incident response team that tracked global trends in cyber crime and virus attacks to spread awareness and propose measures to address them.

“We are allowing citizens to use the internet more and more but are not protecting them.” This reads like something from 1984 or Brave New World professor. Citizens needs education on safe use on the Internet. No amount of laws will stop stupidity.

He believed Parliament had an obligation to conduct oversight of the cyber security of government departments and other state entities. The failure to exercise this oversight was partly to blame, he said, for the debacle at the Postbank as no check had been made of its computer security system.

According to the annual Norton Cybercrime report, South Africa ranked #3 in the world. They estimate consumers lost close to $20.7 billion after falling prey to cybercrime including attacks, malware and phishing. The highest numbers of cybercrime victims were found in Russia (92 percent), China (84 percent) and South Africa (80 percent).

To reduce your risk we recommend the following:

  1. Study Internet Security Awareness Basics from Gideon Rasmussen
  2. Ensure your HR department talks to your IT department once a month about IT Security issues
  3. Ensure you make your staff, teachers and students (in school or university) sign an Internet usage policy.

For information on our new Internet Security Awareness workshop, contact our national office.

 

Social media goes mainstream in South Africa

Recently World Wide Worx, one of our partner companies, released the definitive study on the social media landscape in South Africa. Instead of simply republishing the press release with the research findings, I also include a short email interview with the co-author, Mike Wronski.

The questions we answer in the report deal with the specific demographics and user base sizes of the major social networks in use in South Africa. We have also in depth analysis of some top social media campaigns conducted in
South Africa.

1. What conclusions can you draw from your research on the impact of social media on the intimacy or bonding that takes place online, and offline?

It is fairly obvious from the analysis of words being used that people use social media to discuss matters that are important and intimate to them. With some of the top words in all conversations including “people, today, think, see, need”, it shows that people are not afraid to voice their opinions and talk about their daily interactions.

2. What are the differences or similarities between male and female users of social media in South Africa?

We do not have specific data on this metric.

3. What is the profile (including LSM) of the average/typical users of social media given your recent study?

We analysed available online data for the report. No surveying was done in our social media stats, so there is no clear indication of LSM. However, the overarching stats for Facebook, the most balanced social media platform, are as follows:

  • 2 million males – 2.2 million females
  • 1.15 million university graduates
  • 68,000 still in university
  • Users most concentrated in the 23-36 year old age bracket
  • Johannesburg has 1.9m users
  • Cape Town 900k, a surprisingly low number given its large population size

Social media goes mainstream in South Africa

26 October 2011:- South Africans have embraced social media as a core pillar of Internet activity in this country, along with e-mail, news and banking. MXit and Facebook lead the way in user numbers, while Twitter has seen the most dramatic growth in social networking in the past year, and BlackBerry Messenger is the fastest growing network in the second half of 2011.

These are among the key findings of a new study released today by Fuseware and World Wide Worx, entitled South African Social Media Landscape 2011.

?The question of how many South Africans use each of the major social networks comes up so often, it became a priority for us to pin down the numbers,? says Michal Wronski, Managing Director of information analysts Fuseware and co-author of the report. ?The data was collected through a combination of Fuseware?s analysis of social network
databases, information provided directly by social networks, and World Wide Worx?s consumer market research.?

An analysis of Fuseware?s extensive database of Twitter usage, in conjunction with World Wide Worx?s consumer market research, shows that there were 1,1-million Twitter users in South Africa in mid-2011. This is a 20-fold increase in a little more than a year.

?One of the drivers of growth of Twitter is the media obsession with the network,? says report co-author Arthur Goldstuck, managing director of World Wide Worx. ?Most radio and TV personalities with large audiences are engaged in intensive campaigns to drive their listeners and viewers to both Twitter and Facebook. The former, coming off a very
low base, is therefore seeing the greatest growth.?

As in the global environment, not all Twitter users are active users, with only 40% tweeting, but probably as many simply watching, following and using it as a breaking news service.

MXit remains the most popular social network in South Africa, with approximately 10-million active users. Its demographic mix runs counter to the popular media image of MXit as a teen-dominated environment. No less than 76% of the male user base of MXit and 73% of female users are aged 18 or over.

A surprising finding emerged from analysis of Facebook data. Of approximately 4.2-million Facebook users in South Africa by August 2011, only 3.2 million had visited the site in the year-to-date.

?This is partly a factor of many users moving on once the novelty of the site had worn off, as well as a result of the fickle nature of the youth market,? says Wronski. ?Once BBM picked up significant traction in private schools, for example, many teenagers who had previously flocked to Facebook, opted for BBM?s greater immediacy.?

While LinkedIn, aimed at professional users, also reached the 1,1-million mark, it came off a far higher base ? but still saw 83% growth of South African users from 2010 to 2011. Of these, 112 000 or 10% are business owners.

Consumer research analysed in the report revealed that future intention of usage of most social networks is strongly related to age. The younger the user, the greater the intention of usage.

?This is only one of many micro-trends shaping social networking,? says Goldstuck. ?MXit, Facebook and BBM statistics illustrate, for example, that as social networks become more mainstream, their penetration within
all age ranges deepens. This, in turn, will result in the continualflattening of the age curve as social networks mature.?

(ends)

Media Contacts:

  • Fuseware: Michal Wronski (in Cape Town) on Tel: 021 930 9171
  • World Wide Worx: Arthur Goldstuck (in Johannesburg) on Tel: 011 782 7003

 

 

Jonathan Jansen: Dear President Zuma. I am writing to you out of desperation.

This open letter is reprinted without permission from the Times website. I feel very strong about education, and Prof Jansen is one of the few voices that speak with authority about education in South Africa. For real practical solutions I highly recommend the work of John Taylor Gatto.

Jonathan Jansen education expert university of free state vice-chancellorDesperation is an emotion I seldom feel, except in relation to education, for I believe very deeply that for most of our children, a solid school education represents the only means available for ending the cycle of family poverty. Skills come later. Economic growth even later. Social cohesion lies far in the distance. What matters is that children complete 12 years of schooling with the ability to read, write, reason, calculate and express confidence for purposes of further studies, skills training and higher education.

At various moments during your leadership, I have been encouraged, sir, by your standpoint on education. You are absolutely correct to insist on teachers being in school, teaching, every day. You are right, of course, to insist on materials being available for learning. You cannot be faulted for requiring performance contracts from the ministers who report to you on progress in education. Your own biography as a man who has sacrificed his own schooling in that broader quest for liberation, is something I admire.

The problem, Mr President, is the distance between what you stand for and the day-to-day operations of schools in our country.

Unlike most of your MECs for education, I do not for one moment believe the crisis in schooling lies inside the schools themselves. Having visited thousands of schools over the past decades, and having spoken to (and taught) thousands of pupils across the nine provinces, I can assure you that the children are the least of your problems.

With the right leadership and authority in place, with enthusiastic teachers ready to teach, and with organisational routines (starting on time, homework every day, solid teaching, and so on) running like clockwork, children anywhere in the world respond positively to the efforts of adults to educate them. So, I am not speaking about the children.

It is clear to me that at the moment the control of schools does not rest with government. It rests with the teacher unions. Until this simple fact is acknowledged, it is impossible to create the kinds of conditions in and around schooling that provide for predictable teaching timetables and powerful learning environments.

This is, I know, difficult terrain for public discussion. After all, the largest teachers’ union is part of the massive labour federation, which has a critical role in who stays in or comes to power in the next rounds of election.

But, Mr President, I believe you can and should look beyond the politics of succession that comes in five-year cycles, and look to the long-term development of the country and the prospects of tens of thousands of youth who routinely fail examinations every year and who fuel the numbers of frustrated youth who turn on society and themselves. This is the single most important challenge you face, and it cannot be resolved by pedagogical means, only through political intervention.

To signal your seriousness about this crisis, Sir, I propose you appoint an “Education Crisis Panel of Experts” to guide you and our government on how to resolve the education standoff as a matter of urgency. Please do not appoint activists to this panel, unless they are also experts; and do not see these appointments as ways of rewarding loyalty in the past or present; there are other commissions that can and have achieved such objectives.

Ensure, Mr President, that these are people who actually know how to turn around schools, and who are unlikely to tell you what you want to hear. You made an excellent start by hiring Dr Cassius Lubisi as your director general; I have worked with him for many years. You will not find a person of greater integrity, passion and insight. Perhaps he could chair the panel.

I propose, if I may, the following names: Linda Vilikazi-Tselane, Muavia Gallie, Anita Maritz, James Letuka, Brian Isaacs, Sibusiso Maseko, Nontsha Liwane-Mazengwe, Stephen Lowry, Sharon Lewin, Itumeleng Molale and Margerida Lopez. These are some of the most hardworking principals and education thinkers I have ever known.

They boast track records of success in changing schools. These are among finest South African educators when it comes to love of school and country.

They are fiercely independent in thinking, and unsentimental in their ideas about the bottom line: the learning achievements of our children.

Mr President, I wait to hear from you.

Incoming search terms:

 

IT Skills Shortage Is Proving Costly

As insufficient numbers of IT professionals graduate from tertiary institutions the skills gap continues to widen.

Greg Vercellotti, executive director of Dariel Solutions, says graduate numbers are remaining the same or dropping, while requirements in the industry are constantly increasing.

“It’s a global problem, but SA is probably worse off than the rest of the world – we have a 10 to 15-year gap that needs to be plugged. If we’re to become an economy of knowledge workers, we need to get people through the system more quickly.”

Vercellotti says while university graduates have a good IT background and generic skills, they lack certain essential skills to perform in the workplace. “For instance, universities will teach a general programming style, whereas we require them to know specific styles for the type of system they’re writing.”

One solution, he says, is to send employees on multiple short, focused and practical programmes, which allow them to apply immediately what they have learnt.

He says BSc and engineering programmes tend to focus on hard skills, but soft skills are equally vital in the industry. “Technologists can’t exist in a vacuum; they need to interact with clients. We find that people with good communication skills are a lot more successful than those without.

“People management is also important in getting people to work together as a team and deliver. We don’t usually do soft skills development as a once-off course, but weave it into our other programmes. It’s something you have to emphasise and reiterate.”

A further difficulty for the IT industry is insufficient numbers of maths and science matriculants coming out of the schooling system. Prof Barry Dwolatzky, professor of software engineering at Wits University, says this is a huge challenge that can only be resolved over the long term.

“If we are going to maintain and retain the South African software industry, which is world class and has been world class for decades, we need to find plans and approaches that can quickly produce more skills.”

Dwolatzky, who also runs the Joburg Centre for Software Engineering (JCSE), says a short-term solution is to uplift the skills of people who have already entered the workplace.

“The master’s programme requires a postgraduate degree in engineering or computer science, but because such people are so employable, the feedstock for our programme is low.”

To address this challenge, the JCSE has developed a three-year continuing professional development course for people who have work experience but don’t have the prerequisite formal degree.

“This is our flagship programme, but we also offer a number of short courses, evening courses, public lectures and forums. Many courses tend to be vendor-oriented, but we’ve tried to retain a neutral mould to build a deeper education, rather than just skills training.”

The programme comprises four masters courses taught as continuing professional development courses.

“If they pass all courses with 60% we then make a case to allow them to enter Wits as a mature student,” says Dwolatzky. “They receive credits for the courses they’ve passed and can complete the part-time master’s in two more years.

“We aren’t targeting to produce hundreds of skilled people, but relatively small numbers of highly skilled people.

“I see skills as a triangle – you need few highly skilled people to support larger numbers of less skilled people, but if you don’t have the people at the top of the triangle, you can’t do the work that needs those less skilled people.”

Vercellotti says anyone, including schools and further education and training colleges, can contribute to the IT skills shortage, provided it’s done properly and with the right intent. “We’ve been pretty disappointed with some of the college type education houses – some of them just take money and run and have no care for the needs of individuals.

“You can’t have everybody coming out with a university degree, but also need the middle tier people with diplomas and good skills. You need all strata of workers – employees and entrepreneurs; that’s where every institution has a role to play.”

source: Business Day

 

Report On Cellular Payment Systems In South Africa

This report is republished with permission from the author, Reuel Leach. You may contact him for more advise on saving money when using cellphones and Internet access on his cell 082 211 2619

Do you know what you are paying on your cellular bill every month. Maybe you do, but have you ever wondered what the networks costs are? Would you like to see something published on this subject? Read on. Its time that people started to get answers to these questions.

Lets start off with GSM. It’s a radio signal just like any radio frequency. You have a radio? You have a television, you pay a licence which is a minimum cost to get messages ( or Signals with information) to your home, office or car. With a radio frequency you choose which signal you want to pick up the messages you want to listen to or “watch”.

So what frequencies are there? Here are but a few common ones:

1.Short wave
2.Medium Wave
3.Frequency Modulation (FM)
4.Wi-Fi (Wireless)
5.Bluetooth
6.GSM
7.Edge
8.GPRS
9.UMTS (3G) which consists of data for internet and 3G video calls
10.HSDPA & HSUPA
11.Infrared

Lets focus now on the formats of some of these signals. What do I mean by that? Well, you listen to a CD with music of your favourite artist and its recorded in WAV format. You might be familiar to the more common format used called MP3. Now lets make a comparison with these two formats. WAV will give you 700 megabytes over 80 minutes and MP3 gives you about 70 MB ( megabytes ) over 80 minutes. When you record something with your cellphone, you might use AAC or a similar format which might give you around 2-4 megabytes an hour.

The format of GSM is AMR, it could be similar to AAC, but this is where the interesting part comes. Lets look at the speed of these frequencies. These are true speed real life situations, not what they tell you at the shops

True Speed example in South Africa

  • GSM – 6 to 13 kilobits per second
  • GPRS 1 to 6 kilobits per second
  • EDGE 6 to 25 kilobits per second
  • UMTS 30 to 120 kilobits per second
  • HSDPA 50 to 200 kilobits per second

But if you tried to do a voice call over GPRS or EDGE you might find it a bit choppy. Ok here is the first big issue. A voice call can be easily done one EDGE using Skype or MSN and the maximum you will use is around 2.5 MB an hour. At the current data rates an unbundled GPRS? EDGE? 3G connection will cost you R2/MB which is the most expensive DATA rate. If you use a data bundle you will go as low as R0.19/MB so an hours call on Skype voice to voice will cost you in the region of R0.46 and R5 an HOUR! But if you use your normal Cellular phone for the same time, it will cost you R90 to R180 an Hour! So lets compare R0.46 to R180 an hour which most people are paying. Are you going to do something about this….

You should resort to these forms of technology:

  1. Skype
  2. Google Talk
  3. Mxit
  4. Nimbuzz

Heres the real shocker! Do you know what the most expensive form of communication in the world is. And it probably in South Africa. Its called SMS. Yes you thought it was cheaper than a call. Think again. Here is the simple price plan comparison

Let me explain this bit by bit. 1 sms is 160 characters. That includes the spaces in between. I you type an A4 page there is place for approximately 3680 characters with a font of 10 on it. Divide 3680 into 160 and that gives ou 23 sms messages. If you pay the normal day time rate it will cost you at 85 cents R19.55 PER PAGE and after hours at 35 cents an sms it costs you R8.05 so its far more than a page.

Let compare this to Skype or mxit this one page will be only 27 Kilobytes and at R2 per megabye it will cost you R0.05 cents per page and if you are using a data bundle then it will be as low as R0.005 per page!

Ok so what does an SMS cost us per Kilobyte?
1 sms = 140 bytes = 7.3142 sms = 1kb
85 cents x 7.3 = R6.21/kb

What does an SMS cost us per Megabyte?
1024 x R6.21 = R6359/mb
(normal data costs between R0.19 to R2.00 per megabyte)

What does an SMS cost us per Gigabyte
1024 x R6359 = R6 511 656 per GIGABYTE

So if you were to write or type a 2 page letter and put it in an envelope it will cost you around R2.50 to R3.00 depending on paper and stamp costs. If you had to type the equivalent in SMSs you will pay for a 2 page letter:- R39.10 so its R40 to send a letter.

No why are the networks so expensive. If technology has become so cheap, why have they not given us the GPRS SMS function which almost every cellular phone has the function of? It will cost us a few cents only. If you connect your cellular phone to a PC or had Skype capabilities you could do a full skype call on 3G or HSDPA signal for between R0.39 and R5 per hour or a video call at R2.34 and R24 per hour!

If you had to send someone a full WAV cd over the internet at R0.19 per megabyte it will cost you 700 x R0.19 which is R133.00 and that’s 80minutes of music. If you spoke at the average cellular call of R2.50 (hidden costs excluded) at 80 minutes you will pay R200 for the call. Your bit rate for the wave 8MB per minute and your cellular call is 0.360mb per minute! So the intensity and quality is much better!

I suggest that people all cut off their smss, get Mxit and Skype and call over those mediums to make calls and send messages until the networks in the future.

I reckon that Wou-daar-Kom and Empty-N don’t pay more than R0.39 to R0.40 per hour for your call!
If they are paying more than that they should discontinue this old technology and give us the better faster stuff I mentioned above!

You may download the original report with graphics using this link: Report on Cellular Pricing Reuel Leach.

 

Invictus conquered by heart

The 2010 Soccer Worldcup is upon us in South Africa. My mood changes from mild excitement to complete ecstasy day by day as we draw closer. This is surely one of the biggest mass events ever to be hosted on the African continent and I cannot be more proud to be a South Africa during this period. We’ve come a very long way over the last 300 years or so since Jan van Riebeeck arrived in Cape Town, to the first Democratic elections in 1994, to winning the Rugby Worldcups in 1995 and 2007.

Anyway as a tribute to Bafana Bafana and the fans who have gone out in thousands today in Johannesburg and across South Africa I post this video clip for the trailer of Invictus, the film starring Morgan Freeman as Nelson Mandela and Matt Damon as Francious Pienaar. Few South African films have touched me as deeply as this movie. And I am not embarrassed to say that during several scenes I became so emotional that I cried. Knowing that I was there during 1990s when all these major events that have changed our world happened, makes me feel like we can certainly accomplish anything we set our mind too. Miracles don’t always happen overnight, they may take 27 years!

And here’s the actual Invictus poem by William Ernest Henley…

Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds and shall find me unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.