iWeek – The pulse

Tracy Burrows
14 Oct 2009

The week in review


THE SOUTH African National Roads Agency Limited (Sanral) says it is battling constant copper theft and damage to fibre-optic cables, but this will not affect deadlines for its Gauteng electronic tolling project. Sanral says the first phase will be completed next year as planned. The agency recently awarded its R1.16 billion contract for the project. – ITWeb

IBM and Canonical, an open source company founded by Mark Shuttleworth, are taking on Microsoft’s dominance with the introduction of a low-cost desktop applications package for netbooks and thin client devices. The two will offer cloud- and premise-based Linux netbook software package designed to offer a 50% saving per seat compared to a Microsoft-based desktop. – ITWeb

IBURST has rolled out a prepaid Internet offering aimed at simplifying mobile Internet access. The starter pack, priced at R999, comes with a USB modem, an installation disk, 30MB of data, a username and a free e-mail address. Top-up vouchers will be available on iBurst’s site in denominations from 40MB to three gigabytes, with a price per megabyte from 16c.

TELKOM’S LUKASRAND tower in Tshwane has been officially recognised by Guinness World Records in the category of “largest football sculpture”, thanks to the giant football now mounted at its summit. To mark the coming 2010 World Cup, Telkom had the gigantic steel and fibreglass ball installed on the tower last month. It weighs around 50 tonnes and is 24 metres in diameter and eight storeys high. A similar giant football is now being built for Telkom’s Hillbrow Tower.

THE UNIVERSAL Service and Access Agency of SA is still without a CEO. The position became officially vacant in March when former CEO James Theledi’s appeal against his dismissal on charges of sexual harassment was rejected. But legal manoeuvres by Theledi have repeatedly delayed the process, and now the agency does not expect to appoint a new CEO until, at the earliest, the end of this month. – ITWeb

MOBILE application developer Korwe Software has received its first round of funding from SPII, the support programme for industrial innovation managed by the IDC for the Department of Trade and Industry.

M-Net’s Big Brother Revolution show has partnered with mobile social network Mxit to provide a free voting and chatroom platform for fans of the reality TV show.

HAWKSTONE iSolutions says the security features of its Hawkstone iLab withstood a determined attempt by thieves at a Johannesburg school recently. The iLab features bolted-down chairs and desks and thin client computers and screens, which are sealed in metal casings, designed to make them be theft-proof. The company says thieves tunnelled through a brick wall into the class, but were unable to steal anything.

FOR THE FIRST time in the 26-year history of the South African Computer Olympiad, two participants tied for the first place. Gwylim Ashley of Knysna and Kosie Van Der Merwe of Brackenfell were both awarded gold trophies at the recent awards function in Cape Town. The Standard Bank/CSSA Computer Olympiad for high school learners attracted more than 33 000 entries for the first round this year.

SOFTLINE CEO Ivan Epstein (left) handed over a cheque for R100 000 to Pat Pillay, founder and CEO of Life College. With them is Tshepfatso Mashapa, a Life Contender at the college. Life College is a Johannesburg-based non-profit organisation that offers character education, real life projects and leadership education to public school learners. Softline formed a partnership with Life College a year ago, also donating R100 000, which helped 71 students complete a formal curriculum on entrepreneurship.


NAMIBIA: The Namibia Tourism Board has launched a mobile information site for tourists at www.discovernamibia.mobi. The mobile site offers updated weather forecasts, travelling tips and information about tourist attractions – www.tourismupdate.co.za.

LESOTHO: Econet Telecom Lesotho now offers two-way e-mail services to its entire mobile customer base, in partnership with ForgetMeNot Africa. The new service, which takes e-mail services to users via the most basic cellphones, will more than double the population’s access to e-mail. The ITU reports that only 3.4% of the population currently uses the Internet.

NIGERIA: Brymedia CEO Adrian Wood says Nigeria needs to attract $25 billion in investments into its telecommunications industry, to realise its vision of being one of the top 20 economies in the world by the year 2020. – This Day

KENYA: The Kenyan government has accused the East Africa Marine system (Teams) shareholders of colluding to fix Internet connectivity prices. The government said shareholders are making a massive 2 000% from selling their capacity before the cable officially goes live. The shareholders said they will first have to recoup their investment before lowering the connectivity prices – Daily Nation


THE AGREEMENT between the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (Icann) and the US government’s Department of Commerce expired recently, and a new agreement confirms the effectiveness of the Icann model of international multi-stakeholder and bottom-up governance of the global Internet addressing system. “There can no longer be any doubt that the Internet belongs to the world and is not under the control of any single government or special interest group,” said Mike Silber, a local member of Icann’s board of directors. – ITWeb

BBC NEWS reports that Web sites can no longer use the .yu domain extension assigned to the former Republic of Yugoslvia. The extension has been replaced by .rs (for Serbia) and .me (for Montenegro).

JSE-LISTED publishing company Naspers has bought 91% of Brazilian e-commerce group BuscaPe.com, for $342 million. Latin America is of particular interest to the group as it evolves from a traditional print media business in one country, to a broad-based e-media company in multiple markets. – ITWeb

SOUTH AFRICAN e-tailer WantItAll has officially launched in Brazil. The new site, compreUS.com.br, is managed from the WantItAll offices in Bryanston, Johannesburg, and run by a team in Sao Paolo. WantItAll is now looking to expand to Nigeria, Argentina and Chile by early next year.

ITU’S Regional Cybersecurity Forum for Asia-Pacific was staged in Hyderabad, India, with a view to developing a co-ordinated international approach to combating cyber-crime.

REUTERS reports that Hewlett-Packard has predicted an IT market rebound next year. HP chief executive Mark Hurd told analysts the IT industry will return to growth in 2010, and HP should outpace that growth. – ITWeb

BT SAYS its Global Services division has been rated the “global leader of global leaders” in the Enterprise Strategy Scorecard published by analyst house Ovum.

[PICTURE]AROUND 300 young people of university age, from 150 countries worldwide, attended the ITU Youth Forum at ITU Telecom World, in Geneva, this week. Youth Forum Fellows had opportunities to interact and develop mentor relationships with senior members of the ICT sector, including government officials, industry executives, technology leaders, content providers and strategists.

REUTERS reports that network maker Cisco Systems is buying Norwegian videoconferencing company Tandberg for $3 billion, in a bid to dominate the corporate video communications market. EconoBEE V3 software worth R2 500

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