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In a bid to curb its financial woes, state-owned signal distributor Sentech will start cutting off customers that don’t pay on time. Last week, TechCentral learnt Sentech was battling to get government institutions and community broadcast customers that owe it money to pay up. It is now owed a total of R30m.

Android, Google’s mobile operating system, is set to contest the top spot in market share from Symbian within the next four years, says international technology research firm Gartner. Android was launched in late 2007 and has climbed steadily towards being the most popular operating system since.

Mobile operator Cell C has made a further move to restructure its crippling debt. The company, which accrued the debt rolling out its second-generation voice network over the past decade, said on Friday it had offered to purchase for cash its outstanding €400m “first priority senior secured notes” due 2012.

Nokia is replacing its CEO, Olli-Pekka Kallasvuo, with a top Microsoft executive, Stephen Elop, as the Finnish handset manufacturer seeks to make up for ground it has lost in recent years to rivals such as iPhone-maker Apple and BlackBerry-maker Research In Motion. But already a senior Gartner analyst is questioning the move. “I’m in two minds about this,” says Gartner vice-president Nick Jones.

MultiChoice, which operates the DStv service, has been awarded a digital mobile television broadcasting licence by default after the other bidder, Super 5 Media, withdrew its application. The Independent Communications Authority of SA (Icasa) announced on Friday morning that MultiChoice would become the second mobile TV broadcaster after e.tv was awarded a licence earlier this year.

State-owned broadcast signal distributor Sentech is establishing test transmission sites in order to pilot digital terrestrial television broadcasts based on Brazilian and Japanese standards. In an exclusive interview with TechCentral, Sentech chairman Quraysh Patel says the two countries, whose terrestrial broadcasting standards are similar, have asked to set up test broadcasts at their costs.

SA’s spending on research and development (R&D) has dropped slightly in terms of GDP for the second year running. Science and technology minister Naledi Pandor told journalists at parliament on Thursday that while R&D spending rose in nominal terms, from R18,6bn in 2007/08 to R21bn in 2008/09, gross spending as a percentage of GDP slipped from 0,93% to 0,92%.

Three SA technology start-ups are heading to Seedcamp week in London to compete for a possible €50 000 (R460 000) investment from the micro seed funder. Cognician, iSigned and GetAGreatBoss were chosen from a group of 11 SA start-ups in the first round of selections. They will join 20 other small businesses from around the world to compete for the funding.

Internet service provider MWeb is expanding its capacity by adding extra last-mile access on Telkom’s network. MWeb CEO Rudi Jansen says since the launch of uncapped broadband earlier this year, customers are flooding to the service. “The uptake on our uncapped product has been incredible,” he says.

MTN and Telkom, which recently signed a cellular roaming agreement, are facing off in a dispute over wholesale mobile termination rates. Telkom, which is due to launch its own mobile network within the next couple of months, wants to charge MTN — and presumably other operators — 93c/minute to carry calls onto its new network.