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Opinion

The wedding’s off but, for MTN, life goes on

After five months of wrangling, the second attempt by MTN and Bharti executives to form a mobile giant in emerging markets has collapsed, just short of the altar. Bharti says that the SA government kiboshed the deal: “This structure needed an approval from the government of SA, which has expressed its inability to accept it in the current form.”

Duncan McLeod

Time to unbundle the local loop

SA consumers got their first taste of a broadband price war last week when a small Internet service provider, Afrihost, slashed the price of bandwidth to below cost. It’s a promising start, but matters little until Telkom is forced to open its network to rivals. It was a ballsy move. Last week, Afrihost cut the cost of fixed-line bandwidth on broadband digital subscriber lines to just R29/GB. To put that in perspective, the average selling price for this type of bandwidth has, until now, been R50-R70/GB

Gisèle Wertheim Aymés

On the future of newspapers

First National Bank CEO Michael Jordaan unwittingly sparked a public debate on the future of newspapers recently. Writing in the bank’s weekly e-mail newsletter, he asked employees whether they’d be willing to help the company save more than R1m/ year — and spare the environment — by reading news online instead of having it subscribe to newspapers. Business Day editor Peter Bruce picked up on this communication and challenged Jordaan’s views in defence of his paper’s print income stream

Duncan McLeod

Is Google bad news for news?

Is Google a friend of the media, or a foe that will undermine journalism? It’s a debate that’s been raging in media circles. But no-one has been able to agree: is Google bad news for the news business? Newspapers are in trouble, especially in developed economies. That much is clear. What’s open to debate is whether it’s the worldwide economic crisis that’s to blame or whether it’s more to do with newspaper readers abandoning newsprint for online news sources

Mark Pretorius

Ten questions every tech start-up should ask

The lack of venture capital (VC) in SA and other poorly served markets often forces local entrepreneurs to seek this type of funding abroad. But before making the long trip to Silicon Valley, start-up entrepreneurs should be prepared to answer some seemingly innocuous questions that have a far deeper meaning in the world of VC

Dave Gale

From digital janitors to enablers of business

No doubt your company’s IT department has had to do more with less recently. There’s an upside to the downturn though. Nothing focuses the corporate mind like a little cash-flow crisis. If you come out the other side of a recession in the same state of fitness as you went in, you’re at risk of getting mauled by the leaner, hungrier and more toned cats around you who have treated the economic crunch as a super-circuit for commerce.

Fungai Sibanda

In defence of regulation

The global economy faces its worst crisis in decades. Though SA has lagged the rest of the world in the slowdown, there is no doubt we have had our fair share of negative consequences. There are signs, however, that the worst may be over. Recently published GDP figures indicate a deceleration in the rate at which the economy is

Alan Knott-Craig

Why broadband in SA is so expensive

I know that this article is going shock you, but not in the way you expect, so buckle up. I have oversimplified the piece, but its essence is as true as you could wish for. The other day, I found a Telkom — in those days Posts & Telecommunications — internal “newspaper” called Postel, dated December 1982. The front page article — coincidentally written by myself at the time — described a 40% cut in international data communication tariffs based on X.75 packet-switching. Before the 40% cut, it cost, in today’s money, more than R10 000 to send 1MB of data. After the 40% cut, it cost only R6 000/MB — a bargain, with demand exceeding supply

Duncan McLeod

For the Internet, life begins at 40

The Internet is 40 years old next month. There can be little doubt that the worldwide network has changed the way we communicate as a species. And the change it’s going to bring has only just begun. Hold on to your seat. It’s going to be a wild ride

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