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ISSUE 20 ZAR 29.95 US$ 3.50 UK£ 2.25 EU€ 2.95 Rest of Africa US$ 2.95

Thought Leadership with George Ferreira from Samsung

Q&A with Birgitta Cederstrom

[ 04 ] guest ed

Bradley Shaw, Managing Editor.

[ 06 ] news



Issue 20


Thought Leadership

Sustainable power and green technology are not just nice-to-haves for telecommunications operators in emerging markets: they are vital components of their strategy to grow in the developing world.

An exclusive interview with George Ferreira, COO for Samsung Electronics Africa.

By Simon Dingle

The latest local and global telecoms news.

[ 18 ] gadgets

Want the next big thing in portable devices? Our gadget review is here to help you choose.


[ 22 ] stats

Blatant Patent Abuse

Africa Telecoms presents statistics and data relating to the African telecoms market.

Lesley Stones examines the practice of safeguarding ICT innovation.

[ 62 ] q&a

With Birgitta C ederstrom from Frost & Sullivan.

[ 66 ] calendar

Upcoming events, shows and conferences which you can’t afford to miss.

[ 70 ] jobs

A list of the latest telecoms positions from across Africa.

[ 72 ] lastword

One Ring to rule them all?



a take on tablets Global gadget gourmets now expect nothing less than white-hot innovation and über-cool design from their mobile media devices. By Steven Ambrose

46 Beyond Green


How smart can we get? Vaughan O’Grady examines Smart Grid Evolution and where the major opportunities will be for the IT and Telecoms industries.

56 African

cloud ready for Prime Time

Pundits say the cloud era is still some way off in the African market. But one South African hosting company believes it’s closer than we think. And that success is more about mindset than technology. By Brett Haggard

for the mag [ Publisher ] Mohammed Khan [ Managing Editor ] Bradley Shaw [ Sales Director ] Sarah Theron [ Art Director ] Hayley Davis Stefan Labuschagne [ Sub-Editor ] Niki Sampson [ Printing ] Tandym Press [ Contributors ] Bradley Shaw, Brett Haggard, Lesley Stones, Simon Dingle, Steven Ambrose and Vaughan O’Grady. Africa Telecoms and Africa Telecoms Online are published by: 3i Publishing Unit 6, Planet Art 2, 32 Jamieson Street, Cape Town 8001 T: +27 21 426 5590 | E: BPA AUDITED AVERAGE QUALIFIED CIRCULATION FROM NOV 10 – JAN 11, 9989 PER EDITION.


Editorial guEst


Greenification: a far cry from reducing emissions Green issues have traditionally been regarded as solutions to greenhouse effects and carbon emissions, and the reduction of these as a major issue. The telecoms industry in Africa should be well past thinking of greenification like this. It should be looking at the long term operating expenditure (OPEX) savings that can be made through implementing greener solutions. What are the power options for running base transceiver stations (BTSs)? Historically, this was either done via grid power (electricity) or diesel. Grid power makes the most sense and in most territories is probably the most cost-effective way to power these units. However, with the lack of electrification in rural parts of Africa (and the rest of the world, for that matter) diesel was the other option. If one looks at operators in Africa, there are a large number of them (clearly most them will not disclose actual figures) and one of their top three OPEX costs will in fact be diesel. This seems ludicrous on a continent that has an abundance of sun and wind in most places. Greenpeace, for example, noted that global operators consumed 1.8 billion litres of diesel in 2010. At current diesel prices of around US$3 per litre, the calculation is simple. This cost is excessive in the extreme. Considering the subscriber growth in 2011 and the lack of substantial growth in green BTSs in 2011, this figure will have increased. We should also not forget the double-edged sword effect of these BTSs running on diesel: this diesel needs to be delivered to these generators. Generally the BTSs are in remote areas, which is why they are running generators in the first place. This being the case, the diesel is shipped in over long distances – thus consuming extra diesel that the operator needs to pay for.


Does this not seem even more ridiculous? Operator shareholders should take note, as the financial impact of additional CAPEX now to install alternative energy systems like solar, wind and even fuel cell technologies could substantially affect profits in the long term. This is not the only problem with these solutions, as the CAPEX of implementing them can be substantial. If one looks at a 3,000 MW BTS, a diesel power unit will cost US$27,000, as opposed to a hybrid powered solution running solar and wind that would cost around US$173,200. This is an example from the GSMA website for an installation in Somalia. Granted, this is a substantial difference. With the current price of diesel around the $3 mark, the difference in cost is 48,000 litres of diesel. The conclusion seems clear. AT


Another hot topic discussed in this issue of Africa Telecoms is the mobile patent wars that are moving full steam ahead. The number of companies filling their patent archives with additional patent acquisitions is growing. Will all this ever come to an end? Probably not. The author believes that technology will always be a hotly contested area. Besides, as my mother used to say, “imitation is the sincerest form of flattery”. Mom, I am not sure that Google, Motorola, Apple and Nokia see it quite that way, with billions of their dollars being spent on research and innovation!




Africa Telecoms brings you all the latest telecoms news from Africa and around the world.





izz Mobile recently announced the launch of its newest mobile operator, Vizz Africa, promising unrivalled call quality, clear pricing, flexibility, reliability and the UK’s first prepaid airtime credit transfer from the UK to Africa. Formally launched during the Black History Live event at Wembley Stadium in October, Vizz Africa will provide a dedicated mobile SIM card to allow the African community living, working and travelling to the UK to communicate with their friends and relatives in Africa. Vizz Africa will provide upfront, clear and transparent pricing for its users, as honesty and transparency is at the heart of its proposition. Vizz Africa’s prepaid airtime credit transfer is an agile new international service that allows Vizz Africa customers to conveniently, safely and instantly transfer prepaid mobile credits to their friends and family in Africa directly from their Vizz Africa SIM. Subscribers can make the transfer via SMS, calling customer services or online. This allows


“THIS ALLOWS CONTACT TO CONTINUE, EVEN IF LOVED ONES ARE OUT OF CREDIT...” contact to continue, even if loved ones are out of credit, as the Vizz Africa user can transfer credit to enable them to stay in touch at all times. Through its parent company, telecoms operator QiComm, Vizz Africa has a number of international tie-ups to rely on and long-term relationships with the major African mobile operators. These associations enable Vizz Africa to offer a quality of service which is unparalleled in mobile communications between the UK and Africa – bringing an end to dropped calls and failed messages. “The African community in the UK is naturally conscious of the cost of getting in touch with their loved ones back home, but they also want reliable, high quality services and a convenient means of credit transfer.” said Pat Nabhan, CEO of QiComm. “They are natural MVNO (Mobile Virtual Network Operator) customers, but that doesn’t mean they should have to put up with

text message delivery failures, dropped calls and patchy quality of service.” “Our great strengths are our deep knowledge of the market and our strong ties to African operators,” said Saj Nabhan, Vizz Africa head of carrier sales. “Our awareness of the needs of the African community and unprecedented operator partnerships with operators in the region enable us to offer Vizz Africa users an optimum level of service. We think the differentiation of service that we can offer will ensure Vizz Africa seizes a healthy slice of market share.” The launch of Vizz Africa follows the successful January launch of Dialog Vizz, a mobile operator targeting the UK’s Sri Lankan community. Dialog Vizz has enjoyed considerable success in its eight and half months of operation by focussing on ethical and transparent operation. As a result it already serves a significant proportion of Sri Lankans living and working in the UK. AT

ERICSSON rewards innovation Ericsson reaches out to the Africa’s best young developers and innovators. The ‘Ericsson Application Awards’ invites developers from around the world to submit innovative mobile applications. Winners in each category receive a €15,000 cash prize. Ericsson has announced the launch of this year’s edition of the Ericsson Application Awards (EAA), an annual competition for application developers worldwide, organized by Ericsson Research. The competition provides a unique opportunity for developers to gain exposure within the telecommunications world and a chance to reach out to customers via Ericsson’s distribution channels, in addition to the opportunity to win the latest top of the range Sony Ericsson phones and €15,000 in prize money. The EAA 2012 awards, themed ‘Apps for the Networked Society’, will run till May 2012, and is designed to promote innovations that connect people, things and places; and empowers people and society in a variety of environments and situations. The first stage is an optional minichallenge in which members of winning teams will each receive a Sony Ericsson Xperia Arc S phone. In this stage, as part of their commitment to ‘Using Technology for Good in a Networked Society’, Ericsson is looking for innovative ‘apps for good’, ie applications focused on solving global challenges in education, poverty alleviation, refugees, disaster relief, agriculture, access to energy, transportation, smart homes

and buildings, and weather. The minichallenge closed on 10 October 2011. Lars Linden, head of Ericsson in sub-Saharan Africa, said: “We are very excited by the competition and hope to see more local developers participating in it. The awards are aligned to our vision for sub-Saharan Africa, where we have been engaging with various industry stakeholders to drive the development of a networked society, where people, knowledge, devices, and information are networked for the growth of society, life and business”. The competition launch follows the second awards ceremony which took place in the Ericsson Studios in Sweden in June 2011. “The 2011 competition was inspiring: we had over 1,800 registered users, 158 registered teams and received more than 120 submissions from over 50 countries,” said Konstantinos Tzingakis, head of innovations and partnering for Ericsson, sub-Saharan Africa.

“We saw some very impressive contributions sent in from developers around the world and hope to see even more diversity in EAA 2012,” Tzingakis added. First place in the company category went to team HipSnip from the UK comprised of two entrepreneurs for an online personal shopping application called HipSnip, which allows shoppers share what they’re shopping for and get suggestions and recommendations from their friends on Facebook or from an expert community. In the student category, first place went to team JustBit made up of four students enrolled in a Master’s programme at Tor Vergata University of Rome for their ‘What’s in my kitchen’ application, which allows users to connect to their refrigerators to check what products have been added, removed or are past their sell-by date and look up general product information, recipes, and the closest shops with stock. AT






Cambridge Broadband Networks demonstrates 40% microwave backhaul efficiency gain


the recent Packet Microwave Forum in London, Cambridge Broadband Networks Limited released live customer data that clearly demonstrates the efficiencies that intelligent data aggregation technologies can bring to mobile backhaul networks. The data reveals that aggregation can reduce bandwidth requirements by a minimum of 40% whilst delivering an identical service. Mobile network backhaul connections must have bandwidth at least equivalent to the peak data demand of the relevant cell site to ensure quality of service; however peak demand for data traffic is inherently not correlated amongst cell sites. Statistical multiplexing technologies inherent in multipoint microwave backhaul solutions take advantage of this lack of correlation when they aggregate traffic from multiple cell sites. The ‘troughs’ of one cell site are filled by the ‘peaks’ of others, resulting in the total bandwidth requirement being significantly reduced. Without aggregation, the mean microwave backhaul network efficiency is typically around 25%. This results in 75% of the cost to provision a link (link radio cost and spectrum) not being utilised. This ‘white space’ is effectively trapped in each link and not available for use. Unlike traditional point to point microwave systems, multipoint microwave solutions are able to release the additional headroom created by the increased efficiency to any site in the sector on demand – delivering superior customer experience when the customer or site re-


quires additional resources. Further investigation indicated that a point to point microwave system would require 20.3MHz of spectrum to carry the peak traffic load whereas the VectaStar system was using only 12.1MHz, realising a 40% reduction in spectrum bandwidth. What is more, the benefit increases as the number of sites multiplexed together goes up, giving more opportunities for a peak from one site to cancel a trough from another. So unlike any other form of microwave backhaul, multipoint microwave becomes more efficient as networks get denser. In practice the results would be much different with the point to point links likely to be dimensioned at 20 Mbps or more in order to deliver the peak potential of the mobile network. In this case the savings would be greater still. Commenting on the findings, John Naylon, head of R&D at Cambridge Broadband Networks, said, “Whilst the demand for mobile data services is increasing exponentially, spectrum is a scarce and finite resource. The data we’ve released today is hard evidence of the benefits of statistical multiplexing in multipoint microwave. No operator can afford to ignore the potential to reduce bandwidth requirements by 40%. That is particularly applicable as operators transition to LTE and will apply equally in the backhaul of the small cell networks now being investigated around the world.” AT

BERG INSIGHT SAYS 98 BILLION MOBILE APPLICATIONS WILL BE DOWNLOADED IN 2015 According to a new research report from the analyst firm Berg Insight, the number of mobile application downloads worldwide will grow at a compound annual growth rate of 56.6% between 2010 and 2015 to reach 98 billion at the end of the period. Berg Insight estimates that revenues from paid applications, inapp purchases and subscription services – so-called direct revenues – reached €1.6 billion in 2010. Berg Insight forecasts direct app store revenues to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 40.7% to reach €8.8 billion in 2015. Apple’s iOS is the current leader in direct monetisation of mobile applications and will keep the number one position during the forecast period. The Android and Windows Phone operating systems are anticipated to be number two and three respectively in 2015. “Even though the download numbers will increase during the forecast period, most apps are free to download and app monetisation will be a challenge for developers,” said Johan Svanberg, senior analyst at Berg Insight. “Free to download monetisation strategies such as in-app advertising and in-app purchasing will be increasingly important. This is especially true in the APAC region, which will account for over 40% of all mobile app downloads in 2015.” He added that for the next coming years, the native mobile app is here to stay. New web technologies such as HTML5 are promising and will eventually be relevant alternatives to native apps. It is also important to remember that web apps and native apps are not mutual exclusives, and publishers looking for maximizing reach should develop for the web as well as for the major mobile platforms. AT

Gartner Special Report examines how iPad and media tablets are impacting future of computing Multitouch

on the iPad and other media tablets has liberated users from the hardware keyboard and pointing device (aka the mouse), and as media tablets become more commonplace, users will expect the convenience and simplicity of multitouch user interfaces when they interact with other computing devices, according to Gartner, Inc. In the Gartner Special Report, “iPad and Beyond: What the Future of Computing Holds”, Gartner analysts examine how the iPad has impacted the hardware industry, and how media tablets are changing what users will expect out of their computing devices. “During the next five to 10 years, media tablets will instigate change

functions, becoming the cross-platform controller and brain for hybrid consumer electronics and computers,” said Angela McIntyre, research director at Gartner. “Tablets will be substitutes for several of the consumer electronics consumers often carry with them. Thin-and-light mobile PCs with tablet-like features will become mainstream, pushing out some bulkier PC styles that have been the norm.” Makers of PCs and consumer electronics are noticing the shift in consumer expectations and are incorporating features popularised by the iPad into the new products they are developing. Multitouch technology has become the de facto interface of highend smartphones and media tablets, and will extend to additional consumer electronic devices and to PCs.


brains of consumer electronic devices,” McIntyre said. “One tablet can replace multiple dedicated electronics devices by connecting with different peripherals. Tablets docked in the dashboards of cars can replace dedicated navigation devices and in-car entertainment, and environmental controls. Wirelessly connect a blood pressure cuff, a bathroom scale and an oximeter to a tablet to create a home health monitor that can plot personal health trends and send the data to a doctor. Mount a tablet into a projector, and it becomes digital signage in a retail store or a device for streaming media via the internet.” Interface technologies can be clustered around five basic modalities. They include state of mind (of the user), human-computer hybrids, action detection, speech, and biosensing. Of the interface modalities, action detection has been extensively used to this point because touch – for example, pressing a key, clicking a mouse or touching a screen – is the standard way to interact with computing endpoint devices, such as tablets, PCs and smartphones. Gartner analysts said the iPad has created a transformational change in how people interact with computers. “Alternative user interfaces, such as multitouch, are essential for extending the deployment of computing devices into new markets,” McIntyre said. “Smartphones, tablets and tablet hybrids will become the first pathway to the Internet for many. The keyboard on PCs is a major barrier for those who have had no reason or opportunity to become facile with qwerty.” AT







Alvarion wireless broadband solution chosen by ACS for high-speed network in Angola This deployment, valued at approximately US$2 million, will provide high-speed coverage with BreezeMAX® Extreme 802.16e solution. Angola Communications Systems (ACS), a business unit of MSTelcom, has chosen Alvarion’s BreezeMAX extreme solution to introduce a high-speed wireless broadband network in Angola. ACS has been providing satellite and wireless broadband services to private and public sectors including banks, government departments and

ers consistently and in the long-term,” commented Carlos Carvalho, chief technology officer of ACS. “In such a dynamic market, Alvarion’s experience in Africa and market-leading technology are crucial to successfully delivering this network with efficiency.” “Expanding beyond a traditional carrier model, service providers like ACS are enabling both rural and urban Africa to move forward at a rapid pace, and we are thrilled to be a part of this transition,” said Eran Gorev,

IMPROVING INTERNET ACCESS REMAINS A KEY PRIORITY FOR INTERNET PLAYERS ACROSS AFRICA. entities across Angola. The high-speed network, operating in the 4.9 GHz frequency range, will be the first Alvarion 802.16e deployment in Angola. ACS’s network will provide a range of broadband services to Luanda business customers, to local municipalities and to various provincial towns and villages as last mile. “Alvarion’s BreezeMAX Extreme technology, teamed with its commitment to our success, gives us the confidence that we are ready to meet the needs of our diverse types of us-


president and CEO of Alvarion. “We look forward to supporting the array of users of this valued customer and to enabling them to meet their customers’ future needs.” BreezeMAX Extreme brings technological and financial benefits to the licensed and licence-exempt frequency bands enabling a superior business case. With field-proven Quality of Service and security in very challenging interference-prone frequencies, BreezeMAX Extreme is an optimal solution for the African region. AT

8•ta, South Africa’s fourth mobile operator is increasing its brand equity and awareness in and around Joburg, with the latest exercise being the rebranding of the iconic Telkom Hillbrow Tower. After weeks of speculation Amith Maharaj, Telkom Mobile’s managing executive, confirms that as of today the iconic Telkom Hillbrow Tower will for the next three years be associated with 8•ta. The fiberglass and steel ball, which became an iconic symbol during last year’s 2010 FIFA World Cup, has been repainted Rhodamine Red to match 8•ta colours. “It really gives us great pleasure to shout “Heita” to Joburg residents and visitors from our sky-high position,” boasts Maharaj. The rebranding took just over a month to complete. 8•ta was launched last year on 14 October and has since greeted and introduced itself on taxis, busses, billboards and public transport ranks. “The rebranding of the tower is an expansion of these initiatives.” Maharaj added that they had decided to give the tower a facelift while at the same time ensuring that 8•ta’s

presence is felt by increasing its brand equity and awareness. “This is also to celebrate 8•ta’s first year of operating in the mobile landscape in South Africa and to mark the tower’s 40th year.” The tower has also been given a “green light” with the use of environmentally friendly lightemitting diodes (LED) lights. LED lights use 10 times less power than the previously used neon lights and have a longer life span. They also have a longer life span even when left on 24/7. “With the use of the LED lights we have also cut down the power usage from 2,000 watts to 400 watts per light. This is a great saving,” adds Maharaj. The 38 tonne, eight-storey-high steel soccer ball was erected as a symbol of Telkom’s readiness to provide 99.99% network availability during the 2010 FIFA World Cup. To complement the ball, the 269 metre-high tower has been covered with three 14.4 x 52.0 metre 8•ta branded leg wraps made of mesh material. AT



ervice enables expecting parents to send and receive ultrasound scans wirelessly with family and friends, and get clinical advice remotely. An innovative new service from Etisalat, the UAE telecoms provider with operations in 18 countries, allows expecting parents to share ultrasound scans of their baby with family and friends. Called Mobile Baby™, the service also provides a new dimension to mobile healthcare service delivery in the UAE by enabling remote medical diagnostics. Developed in collaboration with Great Connec-

tion Inc, Mobile Baby™ allows medical practitioners to send ultrasound images, video clips and 3D scans directly from ultrasound machines, with images delivered to any mobile phone via SMS, MMS and email. In addition to offering real‐time remote medical diagnostics, the service also allows expecting parents to share the joy of the pregnancy scan experience and ultrasound images of their baby with family and friends around the world at the click of a button. Essa Al Haddad, Etisalat group chief marketing officer, said: “Real time, low

cost transmission of high‐ quality images and video clips from the womb is an innovative enhancement to pre‐natal healthcare. The service will also appeal to the large base of expatriates in the UAE who might prefer to give birth to their babies in their home countries as a simple and efficient way of keeping medical staff aware of the progression in pregnancy.” Etisalat is a pioneer in the development of mobile health technologies. As mobile technology continues to penetrate deeper in emerging markets, services and applications such Mobile Baby™ will proliferate giving access to healthcare in the remotest locations. To give greater impetus to the development of m‐Health solutions, Etisalat is also forging relationships with companies in the medical device, pharmaceutical and health service industries to introduce innovative and relevant mobile healthcare solutions in the UAE and across its 18 markets of operation in the Middle East, Africa and Asia. AT




vv News


AVG unveils global Community Powered Threat Report Pickpocketing digital currency is the new gold mine, as criminals are outsourcing money-collecting to mobile operators and eavesdropping on Android. The “AVG Community Powered Threat Report – Q3 2011” was recently released, providing insight, background and analysis on the trends and developments in the global online security threat landscape. Highlights in this quarter’s report are the risks of digital wallets, using mobile phone operators to collect money and how an Android Trojan records your calls. Cybercrime has come a long way since it was mostly a digital form of vandalism. It has developed into a criminal business operated for financial gain and is now worth billions. In this report AVG focuses on some of the most notable cybercrime developments in the last quarter. STEALING DIGITAL CURRENCY Digital currency has become very popular in a short time.


~ THE FACTS ~ • Last month, Keith Alexander, Director of the US National Security Agency, told attendees at the “Manoeuvring in Cyberspace” conference that the global cost of cybercrime is estimated to be US$1 trillion. • Last week, the PCeU – the e-crime unit of the Metropolitan Police – reported to have prevented over £140 million-worth of cybercrime in the UK over the past six months alone. • A recent report by the Poneman Institute – a US-based information security policy research centre – states that over the past year, the median cost of cybercrime increased by 56% and now costs companies an average of US$6 million per year.

Facebook Credits, Xbox Points, Zynga coins and Bitcoin now play a vital role in a multibillion-dollar global gaming economy. Far from being just of virtual value, many of these currencies are actively traded for real currency. This has not gone unnoticed by cyber criminals, now aiming to steal digital wallets from people’s computers. In June a

digital wallet containing close to US$500,000 was stolen when someone broke into the victim’s computer and transferred most, but not all, of the money out of his wallet. OUTSOURCING THE HARD PART: COLLECTING THE MONEY In a bid to outsource the hassle and risks of collecting the money, cyber criminals are moving

beyond credit cards details and are increasingly using mobile phone operators to do the collecting for them. A criminal might install a Trojan onto a victim’s smartphone that sends premium SMS messages when the owner is asleep. They might use a Facebook scam to get hold of people’s phone numbers and sign them up for an expensive monthly phone charge. A victim’s mobile op-

erator will process the charges and transfer the money to the criminal organization, even if they reside on the other side of the world. If and when a victim notices the charge and the mobile operator is alerted to stop processing payments, considerable amounts may already have been stolen. If the amounts are small enough, many victims may not even notice for months.

EAVESDROPPING ON ANDROID With Android taking almost 50% of the world’s smartphone market share, it is no wonder that cyber criminals consider the platform an attractive target. Most Android malware focuses on making money from premium SMS. However, in July AVG investigated a Trojan that records a victim’s phone conversation and SMS messages and sends them to the attacker’s servers for analysis to identify potential confidential data. This clearly demonstrates the power of modern mobile operating systems but also the tremendous risks unprotected mobile users are open to.

OTHER KEY FINDINGS IN THE REPORT: • Rogue AV Scanner is currently the most active threat on the web • Exploit toolkits account for over 30% of all threat activity on malicious websites (‘Fragus’ is most popular, closely followed by ‘Blackhole’) • Angry Birds Rio Unlocker is the most popular malicious Android application • The USA is still the largest source of spam, followed by India and Brazil “In Q3 we started to see a clear trend in cybercriminals shifting their focus to simplifying money collection,” said Yuval Ben-Itzhak, chief technology officer at AVG Technologies. “Well-organised

criminal gangs are now letting mobile phone operators handle the money collecting part by focusing on mobile phones and setting victims up for charges that will appear on their phone bill some time later. Not only is it a lot easier, it also scales to tremendous volumes: making money by stealing small amounts from very large groups of victims.” JR Smith, CEO of AVG Technologies, said: “It’s increasingly evident that each unprotected individual makes us all more vulnerable, so it’s vital that as a global society we find ways to address this trend and ensure that we are protected together. We’re securing people’s digital life, or as we like to say: Providing Peace of Mind to the Connected World.” AT





»BlackBerry BBX




t BlackBerry DevCon Americas 2011, Research In Motion (RIM) unveiled BlackBerry BBX, its next generation mobile platform that takes the best of the BlackBerry® platform and the best of the QNX® platform to connect people, devices, content and services. In addition, RIM announced a series of developer tool updates, including WebWorks for BlackBerry smartphones and tablets, the Native SDK for the BlackBerry PlayBook and a Developer Beta of BlackBerry PlayBook OS 2.0 with support for running Android applications. RIM also provided direction for developers on how to best develop and monetise their BlackBerry applications for today and for the future. “With nearly 5 million BlackBerry apps downloaded daily, our customers have made BlackBerry one of the most profitable platforms for developers,” said Mike Lazaridis, president and co-CEO at RIM. “At DevCon today, we’re giving developers the tools they need to build richer applications and we’re providing direction on how to best develop their smartphone and tablet apps as the BlackBerry and QNX platforms converge into our next generation BBX platform.”

BlackBerry BBX


BBX is the next generation platform for BlackBerry smartphones and tablets. It is designed from the ground up to enable the powerful real-time mobile experiences that distinguish BlackBerry products and services. The BBX platform will include BBX-OS, and will support BlackBerry cloud services and development environments for both HTML5 and native developers. BBX will also support applications developed using any of the tools available today for the BlackBerry PlayBook – including Native SDK, Adobe AIR/Flash and WebWorks/HTML5, as well as the BlackBerry Runtime for Android Apps – on future BBX-based tablets and smartphones.


BBX will also include the new BlackBerry Cascades UI Framework for advanced graphics (now shown for the first time), and bring “Super App” capabilities to enable many advanced capabilities, including deep integration between apps, always-on Push services, the BBM™ Social Platform, and much more.

PlayBook OS 2.0 – Developer Beta

RIM also introduced the Developer Beta version of the BlackBerry PlayBook OS 2.0. The Developer Beta includes the BlackBerry Runtime for Android Apps and the BlackBerry Plug-In for Android Development Tools (ADT), allowing developers to quickly and easily bring Android applications to BlackBerry PlayBook tablets. The BlackBerry Plug-In for ADT (an Eclipse plug-in) extends a developer’s existing Eclipse Android development environment to support the PlayBook, and includes the BlackBerry PlayBook Simulator for developers to test and debug their apps before submitting them to BlackBerry App World™. Developers can also test and debug their apps on a PlayBook running the BlackBerry PlayBook OS 2.0 - Developer Beta. Android developers can also repackage Android apps for the BlackBerry PlayBook online by using the BlackBerry Packager for Android Apps. The web tool guides developers through a step-by-step process, allowing them to test their apps for compatibility with the PlayBook, and repackage and sign their apps for submission to BlackBerry App World, all without downloading any tools. BlackBerry Runtime for Android Apps and the associated tools allow Android developers to easily expand their market to include BlackBerry PlayBook users, and hence increase their apps’ market potential. The BlackBerry PlayBook OS 2.0 - Developer Beta also supports Adobe Air 3.0 and Adobe Flash 11, as well as WebGL, a new web technology that brings hardware-accelerated 3D graphics to the browser without installing additional software. Developers will be able to generate rich, interactive 3D graphics within their BlackBerry WebWorks application. AT


GSA RAISES FORECAST FOR LTE NETWORKS Global mobile Suppliers Association (GSA) has published an update to its Evolution to LTE report, highlighting accelerating deployments of LTE networks. The GSA report covers both LTE FDD and LTE TDD system modes. 248 operators, 60% higher than a year ago, have committed to commercial LTE network deployments or are engaged in trials, technology testing or studies. GSA now expects over 100 network launches by end of 2012. 185 firm commercial LTE network deployments, 64% higher than a year ago, are in progress or planned in 66 coun-

tries, including 35 networks now commercially launched. Another 63 operators in 21 additional countries are engaged in LTE technology trials, tests or studies. LTE TDD is also market reality following the commercial launch of three networks last month in Saudi Arabia. 35 LTE networks are commercially launched in 21 countries: Australia, Austria, Canada, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Hong Kong, Japan, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, Philippines, Poland, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, South Korea, Sweden, UAE, USA, and Uzbekistan.

LTE commercial network launches timetable: * 2009: 2 networks launched – all FDD * 2010: 15 networks launched – all FDD * 2011: 18 networks launched (up to October 10, 2011) – 15 FDD, 3 TDD Alan Hadden, president of GSA, announced: “Based on GSA’s research, we are confident that at least 103 LTE networks will be commercially launched by end 2012.” The move towards deploying LTE in re-farmed spectrum, particularly in the 1800 MHz band (ie LTE1800) is accelerating,

according to the report. Seven LTE1800 networks are now commercially launched, in Australia, Denmark, Germany, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland and Singapore. In Australia all three mobile operators have confirmed they will deploy LTE1800 systems (Telstra recently commercially launched its LTE network in this band). In the European Union, where operators are investing today in LTE networks or trials in more than 90% of member countries, GSA expects many of those operators will deploy LTE in 1800 MHz spectrum as part of their network strategy. AT

SIM Card Packaging Added value, smart protection and outstanding style. Dispak offers a broad range of innovative packaging formats designed especially for the SIM card market. With years of experience working within the telecommunications and mobile sectors, Whether you require a new and bespoke design, or an existing design, we will always advise on best-fit solutions for your brand. Our designs consider and ensure SIM card security and protection, material reduction, cost effectiveness, brand enhancement and added value towards your marketing communications.

Thermoforming and Contract Kitting


Issue •20Fax: AFRICA TELECOMS 15 Tel: 011-837 7700 011837 7703 email:




nternet Solutions (IS) has increased its majority stake in its Kenyan operation, from 51% to 80% as the group looks to expand its East African business interests. IS initially acquired a 51% stake in local Kenyan service provider iConnect in 2005, which was rebranded IS Kenya. Following unprecedented growth in the East African market, IS and Dimension Data made the decision to increase the Group’s shareholding to 80%, with an option to acquire the outstanding balance of 20%. Alongside this increase in investment, Loren Bosch, who previously acted in the capacity of sales director, has been appointed managing director for IS Kenya. Says Bosch: “East Africa is experiencing a boom with the telecommunications sector playing a vital role in fuelling the rapid growth across multiple vertical markets. This is largely due to the increased international bandwidth capacity supplied via the numerous undersea cable systems, of which IS has secured substantial capacity on. These include: SEACOM, EASSy and TEAMS. There is also massive investment being made into fixed line and wireless infrastructure in the region,” explains Bosch. “Kenya forms the hub of the East African operation, as it is strategically well-placed to serve a number of other key countries such as Tanzania and Uganda. We also have plans to roll out into Rwanda and Burundi in the near future, and to enter the southern-Sudan region. This investment will ensure that we have the resources and capabilities to successfully roll out into these key regions and secure sustainable market share.” IS identified Kenya as a key growth market due to the strength of the local economy and the rapidly increasing data demands in the consumer and corporate markets. “As greater capacity comes online we are starting to see an increase in the demand for cloud-based services, specifically the delivery of software as a service. To meet this demand IS has made a substantial investment into upgrading its local data centre, to the point where it is currently the only tier 3 data centre in the country.” Kenya is also seeing a paradigm shift in terms of how service providers provision services, as local infrastructure providers have historically built out their own infrastructure. “However, due to changing global economic conditions and the subsequent need to reduce large-scale capital expenditure and operating costs, providers are electing to follow the growing trend of outsourcing their infrastructure needs. This has opened up the market by creating a provider-agnostic environment where a good mix of technologies can be delivered. “As the Kenyan market continues to develop as the innovation hub of East Africa and serve as a springboard into the other important emerging economies in the region, it is important that IS establish a strong presence in the market. This increased investment will greatly assist to position IS Kenya at the forefront of the corporate ICT sector and serve the needs of this rapidly growing market,” Bosch concludes. AT


Africa Telecoms is always in the know when it comes to the hottest gadgets and devices.


S I 0 5 1 X S n o Can

Sony Walkman B162F MP3 player

» » »

x i r t A a l o r o t Mo & dock


Rating: Phone Price: R4799 HD Multimedia Dock Price: R1350 Lapdock Price: RTBA


• Android-based smartphone • Dock turns it into a multimedia PC • Outputs visuals to an HDTV over mini-HDMI connection

Motorola’s engineers have poured a huge amount of effort into making the Atrix the Android smartphone to own. They have created an extremely competent device that succeeds on its own merits, but one that also goes above and beyond the call of duty – it’s a smartphone that can work as a tablet PC and even a multimedia device that connects to an HDTV. This is achieved with two accessories that don’t ship with the phone – Motorola’s HD Multimedia Dock and the Lapdock, a compact docking station that has a screen, keyboard and built-in battery. The Multimedia Dock can be connected up to an HDTV using an HDMI cable, and has 3 USB ports at the back that keyboards, mice and USB storage devices can be plugged into, whereas the Lapdock - quite literally - turns the Atrix into a netbook. Once the Atrix is docked in either device, it outputs all visuals to the connected screen and loads Motorola’s Webtop application that provides a much more PC-like interface that can be controlled using any USB keyboard and mouse. HD movies and many popular music formats play natively on the Atrix as well, making it a fantastic multimedia hub. Far more than just a phone, Motorola’s Atrix is a modern gadget that’s been specifically designed to fit into enthusiasts’ lifestyles, which it certainly does with the right accessories.


Rating: Price: R2 799


• 14.1-megapixels • 12x optical zoom • 720P video mode

The latest Canon Powershot is one of the company’s middleof-the-range power-zoom cameras. The SX150 boasts a 14-megapixel sensor, HD video recording and a very handy 12x zoom lens, and makes everything more accessible to entry-level users by offering an “Easy” mode. When used in this mode, the camera automatically detects pre-programmed scenes and saves users from having to manually select the scene in the menu system. Of course, using one of those 32 preprogrammed settings will be a more foolproof way to get the shot you want. Where the SX150 doesn’t impress is with its slippery, curved design. We found it hard to find a comfortable grip on the camera, and when it’s loaded with two AA batteries the extra weight makes it heftier than expected. It’s definitely one to be used with a wrist strap. Image quality is good, and performance at higher ISO settings is more than acceptable. The maximum, ISO 1600, won’t produce pics you’ll want to print, but they’ll be great for web use. For the money, this is great value, but the oddball design doesn’t quite endear it to us.

Rating: Price: R399


• Quick charge function • 2GB storage • 18 hours playback on single charge

With Apple’s dominance in the portable music player market it’s easy to forget that Sony actually established the segment back in 1979, with its cassette Walkman. 32 years later, the brand is still around, and the products are still very good. The baby of the new range, the snappily named B162F, has a USB flash drive form factor. It’s got a cap that pops off, revealing a USB connector. Plug it into your PC, simply drag files across – no fancy software needed – and you’re good to go. It only supports MP3 and WMA formats, so don’t expect to load any of your iTunes purchases without converting them, first. Sony’s given it some great features, such as the Quick Charge function. This lets you juice up the player for 3 minutes, gaining 90 minutes of audio playback. Audio quality is a tad bass-heavy, but actually impressed us with how powerful it sounded. The included earphones worked well, delivering great sound, but unless they fit your ears perfectly you’ll be very uncomfortable wearing them for longer than 10 minutes. Simple controls, great sound and even an FM radio make the B-series Walkman an excellent alternative to Apple’s hyped iPod shuffle. Get one of these and you won’t be disappointed.






» »

X 2 0 7 L S P X l Del Entertainment Notebook

Skullcandy Roc Nation Aviators Rating: Price: R1 999


• Great, simple design • High-powered 40mm drivers • In-line controls and microphone

Skullcandy, the company that’s known for its stylish headphones and earphones, hasn’t been in line to win any awards for audio quality. The Skullcandy range has definitely been form first, function second, while remaining an affordable upgrade option, should you want to get rid of the naff earphones that came with your MP3 player. All of that changes, with the Roc Nation sub-brand. Roc Nation is the entertainment entity owned by rap star Jay Z, and like his counterpart, Dr. Dre, he’s decided to partner up with a well known manufacturer to put a good quality set of headphones on the market. The Aviators, so named for the design that loosely resembles the comms headsets used by pilots, boast a simple, elegant design. Hiding in those earcups are 40mm drivers that pump out dynamic, vibrant sound. Deep bass, and crystal-shattering highs are all on tap, with plenty of power in reserve. To sweeten the deal, the Aviators have a builtin set of audio controls, to control playback on iPods, iPhones and iPads, and there’s also an in-line microphone for taking calls.


Rating: Price: R19 999


• Intel Core i7 Quad-core Processor • 17” LED-backlit screen • 3D Vision Ready

Dell’s XPS range of notebooks has always been known for its performance, and one of the latest models, the L702X, is no exception. It has been designed from the ground up to satisfy almost any need a dedicated computer user could ask from it, and that includes gaming, Blu-ray playback and general productivity tasks. Even more impressively, it does 3D as well, and we’re not just talking 3D movies, either – the L702X can even play supported games in stereoscopic 3D. This is thanks to its 3D-capable screen (wireless active shutter glasses are included in the package) and the excellent GeForce GT555M graphics chip Dell has used for visuals. The entertainment options don’t stop there, Dell has gone all out and given the L702X an absolutely amazing set of JBL speakers that literally have to be heard to be believed, and paired them up with Maxx Audio, a professional audio system used in movie production. As a result, sound is rich, crisp and clear and best of all, incredibly loud if that’s how you want to roll. The only disadvantage it offers is the size – this isn’t a very portable notebook if you don’t have the shoulders and strength of a professional wrestler. As a desktop replacement, however, it’s near-perfect. AT



Accumulated Cost of Ownership over 20 Years

Focus on Green Telecoms and the Mobile Patent Wars

Diesel Solution

Solar Solution

Off-grid On-grid 800000



Average annual growth in Internet users in 25 key emerging market economies: 2011-2020

Source: GSMA Anylysis

400000 200000 0 Zimbabwe




Patent-related suits between mobile device/component manufacturers

Average annual % growth 2011 - 2020


Suing each other

Above 10 7-9.9





Licensed technology to company


5-6.9 0-4.9 Not Illustrated Source: Euromonitor International


An estimated 75,000 new off-grid sites will be built each year in developing countries through 2012











Annual Growth in BTS in Developing Regions 2007 - 2012 Middle East and North Africa Latin America and Caribbean Europe and Central Asia Sub-Saharran Africa East Asia and Pacific South Asia


Source: GSMA Anylysis


Total 0 22 AFRICA TELECOMS Issue 20







Utilises Google’s Android OS Cases resolved





LG Source: Reuters news reports


SamSung’S plan for african dominance From green technology to local relevance and investment, Samsung wants to own Africa. We take a closer look at what it plans for the next five years. By Brett Haggard



“OuR EnGInEERS ARE dEdICATEd TO ThE TASk OF MAxIMIzInG OuTpuTS And dELIvERInG A SupERIOR uSER ExpERIEnCE whILE MInIMISInG EnvIROnMEnTAL IMpACT.” Even though the telecoms sector is one of the most significant transforming forces for good in the world, it’s also one of the leading sources of carbon emissions. Do the maths … Outside of the power requirements of base stations, there’s the combined demand for power created by the need to keep cellphone batteries charged, even in the lowest income brackets. Add to this the negative impact of the endless manufacture of new devices and the severe shortage of recycling facilities capable of responsibility and you begin getting a picture of just how significant a contributor the telecoms sector is. And because of our ‘addiction’ to telecoms products and services, usage is unlikely to decrease anytime soon. The only solution is for the vendors, service providers and other related parties to begin thinking and behaving more responsibly at an international scale. Samsung Africa’s COO, George Ferreira, says he’s proud of the fact that his organization considers itself somewhat of a pioneer in this regard.

GREEn CRuSAdER “As an international organisation, we’ve made great strides in continuing to meet our customers’ demands for


new and exciting products, while at the same time looking after environment and planet,” he says. “Our engineers are dedicated to the task of maximizing outputs and delivering a superior user experience while minimising environmental impact.” Primarily, what Ferreira says speaks to Samsung’s practice of using more efficient gases inside its fridges and air conditioners, improving the battery technology used in its digital devices, and manufacturing products with more environmentally friendly materials. “This even speaks to the implementation of newer technologies, such as LTE, which gives users and the networks they utiltise better capacity with lower power requirements, he says. “It’s also massively important that these devices are recycled properly and responsibly,” he adds, “and in this regard we’ve put a great deal of effort into finding recycling partners in South Africa and other parts of the continent, capable of disposing of and recycling products that have passed their useful life. “The partners chosen,” Ferreira says, “are put through a rigorous interviewing process and need to produce credentials on their compliance with local laws,

before they are engaged.” Ferreira says that Samsung even offers promotional periods where – in concert with retailers – it arranges for the return and disposal/recycling of other vendors’ products, providing a replacement from the Samsung stable is purchased. “We also take pride in the fact that we are heavily involved in the process of ensuring products stemming from our existence in the industry don’t negatively impact the planet,” he says. Ferreira says that Samsung is so passionate about this that it regularly sends the very engineers responsible for designing its products to countries within Africa, so products can be designed for greater appropriateness and durability.

BuILT TO LAST To this end, Samsung has brought products to the African market such as televisions with built-in surge protectors, air conditioners designed to withstand fluctuating power supplies, and fridges that are more heavily insulated and can therefore withstand an intermittent electricity source. From a telecoms perspective, there are dual-SIM, ruggedized and extremely affordable handsets on offer. By offering products that are better suited to custom-

ers’ needs in Africa, we dramatically increase the usable life of those products and make a substantial dent in the amount of electronic waste we as an industry create,” Ferreira says. He adds that his company is also a massive fan of the moves being made by the ITU to standardize on a single charger interface and technology for mobile phones. So far, it’s looking strongly as if that interface will be Micro USB – bringing a combination of convenience and greener behaviour to the mix. “When users are no longer dependent on a single type of charger from a single vendor, there will be less call for hundreds of different chargers and cables, easing the load on the world from a manufacturing perspective,” Ferreira says. “In fact, in time,” he continues, “it might well be possible for users to decide whether or not they’d like to forego their new cellphone coming with a charger – either saving a couple of bucks or realizing the favour they’re doing for the environment.”

dOInG MORE wITh LESS “Ultimately, however, we can make the most substantial impact by doing more with less,” Ferreira says.

Again, the conversation drifts back to LTE and he says that the most exciting part of the LTE value proposition is the ability to render a higher class of service with less onerous power requirements. “For me it’s about the ability to handle more traffic without the need for numerous complex, intricate and power hungry management systems. “Less physical infrastructure – but infrastructure that’s capable of more – will mean towers that require less cooling. And this is something that greatly contributes to more power efficiency in the industry,” he says. It’s a little known fact that Samsung is heavily involved in the infrastructure side of the telecoms industry. But, Ferreira says it is already engaged in LTE projects for the Malawian, Ghanaian and Angolan markets, and is engaged in talks with South African telcos. “We should also not forget that we’re developing a range of devices capable of using LTE technology,” he says. “I honestly believe that, should we continue innovating at the pace we are – and drive LTE into the market swiftly – we’ll be looking at a more power conscious industry in no time,” he adds.


EMbRACIng SOLAR Increased product durability and appropriateness, coupled with technology that makes more efficient use of available power resources, can only take you so far, however. Ferreira says that there is quite simply no choice for today’s technology vendors but to look at alternative ways of powering electronic products. To this end, he says, Samsung already has a solar powered netbook and is making great strides in its labs when it comes to green power. “The solar powered netbook is something that’s doing extremely well in the African market. The challenge is, however, all about making a one to two hour solar charge sufficient to power such a machine for the entire day and cramming higher end components into that power envelope. “It’s a start, however, and I think it’s plausible that – in a couple of years’ time – we will be using more performance centric devices that can go for an entire day on a couple of hours’ exposure to sunlight.

AFFORdAbLE SMARTphOnES Ferreira says that the industry faces substantial challenges when it comes to doing more

with less – and at the core of these challenges is the war being fought between the various smartphone operating systems. “When we look at the African market, we must consider that more than 50% of the devices sold across the continent cost less than $30,” Ferreira says. “And if we up the price bracket to ‘less than $50’, we’re able to account for up to 70% of the African market,” he adds. “We can deduce that, in order for smartphones to bring the Internet to the masses, they cannot cost more $50 all in. “And quite frankly, as good as Android is, it’s not yet possible for an Android device to be sold at this price point,” he says. It’s for this reason that Ferreira predicts that over the coming 12 to 18 months, the market might well have access to a lighter version of Android – similar conceptually to the lighter operating systems used on netbooks targeted at entry-level users and students. The reasoning makes sense. With a less onerous set of feature requirements, this lighter version of Android will have lower hardware requirements and allow for much more cost effective smartphones to find their way

into the market. Despite Samsung having plays in the Java, Windows Phone 7 and its own Bada (ie, its own smartphone operating system) space, Ferreira says that Android is the operating system that’s of most interest to Samsung. “That’s because Android has arrived in Africa and every quarter when we receive the GFK reports it continues creeping up on all other players. The market is voting with its wallet and we’re simply adapting our strategy,” he says. However, Ferreira believes that by far the two most interesting trends are the uptake of dual-SIM handsets and tablet form factor devices. While the dual-SIM devices hold clear benefits for African users, the popularity of tablets must somehow stem from their ability to deliver the kind of functionality African users need PCs and notebooks for – but in a more attractive package. “We’re well ahead of our projections for tablets and I believe this will continue well into the future,” he adds.

TAbLETS – hERE wE gROw Ferreira says that research from IDC echoes this sentiment, predicting between 300% and 400% year on year growth for tablets over the

For me it’s about the ability to handle more traFFic without the need For numerous complex, intricate and power hungry management systems. Samsung Africa’s COO, George Ferreira


next couple of years. “We’re personally tripling and quadrupling our tablet business in Africa, and currently own more than 60% of the market share,” he says. And this is despite Africa being one of the most expensive countries for cellular data. Interestingly enough, Ferreira believes the growth we as a continent are experiencing is carrying on, unhindered by these high usage costs. “People are hungry for information and Android devices – regardless of whether they are in the form of a smartphone or a tablet – facilitate that need,” Ferreira says. “When costs do come down, however – with savings from undersea cable providers beginning to make an impact – we’ll see an even stronger move from feature phones to smartphones, and operators supporting these moves with aggressive pricing,” he says. In fact, Ferreira reveals that Samsung is already in final discussions with South African operators and in early discussions with some African operators about the delivery of affordable ‘uncapped’ or ‘all-you-can eat’ data packages that will allow heavy smartphone and tablet users to enjoy their devices and the Internet without worrying about the end of month bill. “I predict these will be in


place before the end of the year in South Africa and during the course of 2012 in the rest of Africa,” he says.

AFRICA – kEy TO ThE STRATEgy “Earlier this year, we committed to pushing US$140 million of investment into the African market over the next five years,” Ferreira says. “This investment will be evenly distributed across all aspects of our African operations, but most notably towards the creation of more logistics hubs, better incountry representation, and improving and uplifting our on-the-ground workforce. “We will be marketing, improving our partner ecosystem and increasing Samsung’s consumer-focused brand penetration with more branded shops, mobile plazas and preferred plazas,” he explains. While Samsung is playing its cards close to its chest when it comes to its strategy for logistics, staffing, marketing and better in-country representation (there’s after all some competitive advantage in this), Ferreira says he can talk about the strategy for increasing brand penetration and building new partnerships. “From a consumer engagement perspective, the plan is for Samsung to open an additional 100 of its brand

shops across the continent each year for the next four years – essentially taking our presence from 100 stores to 500 stores,” he says. “We also want to open an additional 150 to 200 Samsung mobile plazas each year for the next five years, across all regions,” he adds. “This will bring a combination of mobile devices and cameras and digital devices to markets that previously never had access,” he says. At least US$20 million of the US$28 million committed each year (US$140 million over five years), will go directly to these efforts, with the balance to efforts Ferreira says Samsung needs to keep quiet about. He says he really cannot

overstate the excitement and interest Samsung has for the African market at present. And the evidence of this will show through its strong investments over the next while. “We’re not just bringing products to Africa that have been successful in other regions,” he continues. “We want to develop products that deliver local relevance in every country we operate and grow Samsung’s presence in every country through adding human resources,” he says. “As our business grows, expect us to increase the level of manufacturing we do across Africa,” he adds. “We’re serious about this continent,” he concludes. AT



Blatant » patent abuse

The practice of safeguarding ICT innovation seems to be spiralling out of control. Who are the winners and who are the losers in this bizarre battle? By Lesley Stones

Vicious clashes over intellectual property rights in the hi-tech sector have raged for decades. As soon as something is technologically feasible, it’s inevitable that in a world of seven billion inhabitants, you are not the only one trying to develop a new device or chasing a vision for innovative software. So it’s a routine occurrence for one company to sue another for an alleged breach of patent. Especially since high-flying technicians


move from one employer to another, and the knowledge they developed with one company may later be used to benefit another. The movement of staff is compounded by the risk of industrial espionage: as well as storing information inside their heads, it may also be tempting to take physical or digital information with them. IT developers working with open source software disdain patents altogether, and simply hope their intellectual property will be admired, reused and improved, since it almost certainly cannot be protected.



Most of the battles revolve around the Android operating system, which was developed by Google for use on mobile devices.

Yet such big money is at stake, and so many customers to be won or lost, that the courts are frequently called upon to resolve clashes between IT developers. Often the claim is that one company has reverse engineered breakthroughs developed by a rival so they can quickly launch their own slightly modified copy. At other times legal action stems from the belief that a rival has simply put their own name on a feature or function that was blatantly stolen without the pretence of any enhancements. Since leading companies in the information and communications technology (ICT) industry all employ people capable of amazing inventions, it’s sometimes difficult to prove theft or replication, rather that the coincidence that two companies were working on the same idea simultaneously. Complicating the issue even more is the fact that ICT development is truly global, involving multiple jurisdictions with different legal processes and differing attitudes towards the theft of intellectual property. A legal victory in one territory may hold no authority in another country, or may even clash with the verdict reached by a different court. Which often means that products or features available in some countries are banned in others, due to an isolated ruling on patent infringements or anti-competitive behaviour. Industry veterans will remember how Microsoft was in and out of court for more than a decade over various practices, including whether it should be allowed to link its Internet Explorer browser to its Windows operating system. The European Union decided that this did contravene its antitrust rules and fined Microsoft more than $600 million. Now the intellectual property war has inextricably followed the trend set by internet browsers, by migrating from the PC to the smartphone. And just like those earlier Microsoft skirmishes, this is also a convoluted issue involving numerous players lodging various claims and counter-claims. The current complicated legal battles make a story of epic proportions, involving global patent litigation over tablet computers and smartphones produced by warring technology giants Apple, Samsung Electronics, Microsoft, HTC, Google and others. The stakes are enormous because the smartphone makers are fighting to dominate a market worth an estimated $206 billion, according to figures from researcher IHS Inc. With smartphone consumption poised to explode, companies are clamouring to buy existing patents to gain an edge – or at least to prevent themselves from being sued by their rivals.

MOnEy, MOnEy, MOnEy

Most of the battles revolve around the Android operating system, which was developed by Google for use on mobile devices. When Android was first launched, its chances of competing against the Microsoft and Apple operating systems seemed slim. Yet by June this year Android had grown to rank as the world’s top smartphone platform, claiming 40.1% of the market share, up 5.4 percentage points from March. Apple held second place with 26.6% of the smartphone market, according to ComScore, up just a sluggish 1.1 points from the prior period. Microsoft’s share had actually fallen to 5.8% for its Windows Phone 7 operating system. More than 550,000 Android devices are activated every day on products developed by 39 manufacturers. Interestingly, Google offers Android for free, whereas Microsoft charges a fee for licensing Windows Phone 7. That strategy by Google has made the manufacturers who use Android vulnerable to endless lawsuits by Apple and Microsoft, however. If they can win patent infringement cases, then the smartphone manufacturers will either grow reluctant to use Android at all, or will have to pay royalties for the right to use another company’s intellectual property copied in those phones. Nor surprisingly, patents have become so lucrative that numerous legal firms specialise in that field, researching every device to work out whether intellectual property may have been infringed. “This is not a winner’s game; it’s a money game,” says South African analyst Steve Ambrose of World Wide Worx Strategy. “There are firms of attorneys who spend their lives doing research to try to figure out who is doing what and looking for ways to create issues. Lots of people make profits simply from dealing with patents, and if it wasn’t for lawyers there wouldn’t be a problem.” An infographic of the patent lawsuits looks like a spider’s web, with everybody suing everybody. “Intellectual property is a huge business because devices like phones have tons of interdependent services and elements,” Ambrose says. Ironically, Microsoft earns more money from sales of Apple’s iPhone than it does from its own phones, simply due to royalty payments, Ambrose says. “Over the years there has been an enormous cross-pollination of patents, so one element of a particular product is patented by one guy and another element is patented by another guy. Microsoft owns a ton of them and gets paid for certain elements. Android was supposed to be a free operating system, but it’s not free by any


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means because HTC pays Microsoft $5 for every phone,” he says. “The technology developers are hoping to prove a best-selling phone breaches its patents so they can force the manufacturers to pay them a couple of dollars per phone. So there’s a huge cash settlement, and then good income going forward ad nauseum.” So far the lawsuits have not affected Africa directly, as no manufacturer has been slapped with an injunction banning it from selling any products here. The battles are still being fought in the far more lucrative consumer playgrounds of the US, Germany and Australia. The US government is now reassessing its legislation in an effort to stem the abuse. “Patents were created to protect people’s intellectual property,” Ambrose says. “What it has become is a money-making scheme and ultimately that drives up the cost of everything because you have to pay various people to make your product and pay legal teams to manage the whole system – so it’s a huge money-making racket on all levels. “Patents are not consumers’ friends.”

“Patents are not consumers’ friends.” AppLE vERSuS SAMSung

One of the largest battles currently being waged sees Apple pitched against Samsung Electronics. Apple has launched an international legal battle by alleging that Samsung’s Galaxy phones and Galaxy Tab computers ‘slavishly copy’ its iPhone and iPad. The clash could dent Samsung’s fastest-growing businesses, since Galaxy gadgets running the Android operating system are regarded as the biggest challengers to Apple’s devices. Samsung has denied the accusations and retaliated with allegations of its own. The claims and counter-claims escalated, and Samsung and Apple are now suing each other in 20 cases in nine countries on four continents. Apple has already won some victories, forcing Samsung to withdraw two features from the Galaxy 10.1. Some remaining disputes involve touchscreen display technology, and a patent over the way finger movements are used on tablets to generate a software command. Microsoft has also demanded that Samsung pay $15 for each Android smartphone it manufactures, to compensate for other


alleged patent violations. But the legal battles are about more than money and market share. They also highlight the perception that Apple revels in: of being an innovative trendsetter that other companies cannot hope to match, but can merely emulate. The reputational kudos to Apple from each win and the damage to Samsung from each loss are inestimable in terms of image, respect and share price value. Apple has already won an order preventing Samsung from selling its latest Galaxy tablets in Germany, and from selling some models in the Netherlands after courts in those countries upheld claims that Samsung had appropriated Apple’s intellectual property. The court in the Netherlands ordered Samsung to prepare a software update to eliminate one of the violations. In October, a Sydney court temporarily banned Samsung from selling its new Galaxy Tablet 10.1 in Australia until a patent lawsuit involving touchscreen technology is ultimately resolved. The judge granted the temporary injunction as she felt that Apple was likely to win the trial. The ruling was a blow for Samsung, which had hoped to launch its new model in time for the Christmas rush. “We are disappointed with this ruling and Samsung will be seeking legal advice on its options,” the company said in a statement. “Samsung will continue its legal proceeding against Apple’s claim in order to ensure our innovative products remain available to consumers.” Samsung remained confident that it could win a counter-claim by proving that Apple had violated its wireless technology patents, the statement said. “We will continue to legally assert our intellectual property rights against those who violate Samsung’s patents and free ride on our technology,” it declared.


Perhaps the most important victory or loss will come in California, long regarded as the hotbed of high-tech innovation. This is where Apple first sued Samsung, alleging that the product design, user interface and even the packaging of Samsung’s Galaxy devices ‘slavishly copy’ the iPhone and iPad. In response, Seoul-based Samsung filed its own lawsuits accusing Apple of infringing patents for its wireless telecommunications technology. Attorneys for both companies appeared before a US District Court in October, and Apple asked Judge Lucy Koh to issue a preliminary injunction to ban Samsung from selling its tablets in the US while the case is being heard. Judge Koh told Apple it

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» regulations, with 3,000 lawsuits being filed this year alone. “In the tech sector, since the late ’90s, losses from litigation have been exceeding the benefits,” Bessen said. Yet he predicts that ICT players will make many more acquisitions purely to amass a warchest of patents. The answer may lie in cross-licensing deals, Bessen suggested, where companies strike five-year pacts not to sue each other over patents in a particular field. With more patents in its arsenal, Google may now be able to secure a better cross-licensing deal with Apple or Microsoft.


Google believes that these lawsuits are simply an attempt to get a royalty tax imposed for the use of patented technology, which would raise the price of Android phones and diminish their appeal to consumers. Google’s chief legal officer, David Drummond, is using his

Patents are meant to encourage innovation,” Drummond wrote, “but lately they are being used as a weapon to stop it.” official blog to gripe about what he calls an “organized campaign against Android by Microsoft, Oracle and other companies, waged through bogus patents”. Microsoft and Apple were “banding together to acquire Novell’s old patents and Nortel’s old patents to make sure Google didn’t get them; seeking $15 licensing fees for every Android device; attempting to make it more expensive for phone manufacturers to license Android (which we provide free of charge) than Windows Phone 7,” he said. “Patents are meant to encourage innovation,” Drummond wrote, “but lately they are being used as a weapon to stop it.” He added: “We’re not naive; technology is a tough and everchanging industry and we work very hard to stay focused on our own business and make better products. But in this instance we thought it was important to speak out and make it clear that we’re determined to preserve Android as a competitive choice for consumers, by stopping those who are trying to strangle it.” He has a point – although Google itself subsequently went on its own patent buying spree and hired a top patent lawyer to play them at their own game. Apple’s ferocious legal activity has turned into a widespread offensive against several makers of Android devices for allegedly infringing the designs of its iPhone. The company did give fair notice, however. When the iPhone was introduced in 2007, the late Steve Jobs warned rivals to keep their hands off Apple’s intellectual property. “We’ve been innovating like crazy for the last few years on this and we’ve filed for over 200 patents for all of the inventions in iPhone. And we intend to protect them,” Jobs said.


Another company feeling the wrath of Apple is HTC, which was sued in March this year for allegedly infringing 20 iPhone patents. A US trade committee quickly ruled that HTC probably had violated two of Apple’s patents, although the case is still dragging on. In September, HTC turned the tables by using nine patents it had just bought from Google to counter-sue Apple by slapping it with some infringement allegations of its own.


» “We think competition is healthy, but competitors should create their own original technology, not steal ours,” said Apple ...

Google itself had owned the patents for less than a year, after buying them from Motorola, Openwave Systems and Palm. Agreeing to sell those patents to HTC in the midst of this legal whirlpool was an interesting and perhaps bold step, since HTC quickly used the patents to attack Apple for allegedly infringing the patents it had just obtained from Google. HTC hopes that smart move will also give it the ammunition to overturn the 20 patent-infringement claims it is facing from Apple. HTC’s counter-claim accuses Apple’s Mac computer, iPhone, iPod, iPad, iCloud and iTunes technologies of infringing various patents, including methods to upgrade software wirelessly and to provide constant contact between applications and a radio modem. “HTC will continue to protect its patented inventions against infringement from Apple until such infringement stops,” HTC general counsel Grace Lei said. “We believe that we have an obligation to protect our business, our industry partners and our customers, who love using our products.” Yet Apple had already won a case against HTC in July, when a judge ruled that some HTC Android devices infringed two patents. Another complaint still pending alleges a breach of patent committed in HTC’s Flyer tablets. “We think competition is healthy, but competitors should create their own original technology, not steal ours,” said Apple spokeswoman Kristin Huguet, reiterating a statement made by Jobs last year. Google’s action to help HTC defend itself was hugely significant in this industry-wide dispute over smartphone technology, since the battle also affects other Android customers including Motorola Mobility, Samsung and Barnes & Noble. Google had previously has been criticised for not wading in to help users of its Android software who were facing lawsuits from Apple. Technology analyst Will Stofega of IDC described Google’s decision to sell those patents as a bit of a game-changer. “Google was interested in protecting its licensees with Android. It shows they need to support their customers in order to make sure the customers stick with them,” he said. But by getting involved, Google has made itself more vulnerable to be on the receiving end of litigation from Apple, which has so far mostly targeted the manufacturers who use Android, rather than Google, which developed it.



As Google’s Drummond complained on his blog, Microsoft and Apple were fighting through litigation rather than by creating more innovative new devices or features of their own. “A smartphone might involve as many as 250,000 (largely questionable) patent claims, and our competitors want to impose a ‘tax’ for these dubious patents that makes Android devices more expensive for consumers,” he said. “They want to make it harder for manufacturers to sell Android devices.” When Apple, Microsoft, RIM, Ericsson, EMC and Sony bought the patents owned by Nortel for $4.5 billion they bid as ‘Rockstar Bidco’ – a name that implies that this has become more about game-playing, posturing and one-upmanship than about serious technological innovation. The bundle of patents spanned numerous aspects of telecoms as well as internet searching and social networking. Google had bid $900 million for the bundle, but the “Rockstars’ offered five times more. With so many players suing and counter-suing each other, the battles are not only complicated and expensive. They also risk making the industry focus more on who owns the rights to existing intellectual property than on developing further innovations. As these legal battles wend their way through multiple courts in multiple countries, the only certain fact is that the lawyers will benefit handsomely. The handset manufacturers and the consumers who use them will most likely be the losers. AT



» a take on tablets Global gadget gourmets now expect nothing less than white-hot innovation and über-cool design from their mobile media devices. By Steven Ambrose

The tablet revolution has bitten so deep that even your favourite bank is now offering them at discounted prices; and everywhere you go, even three-year-olds are managing to make good use of them. What is amazing is that as little as 18 months ago, none of us had heard about tablets or slates at all. The closest we had come was the Amazon Kindle, which launched in 2007. Since that time the ability to read books electronically has become the de facto way that a huge percentage of people in the connected world read. And the tablet is the hottest new must-have gadget. Apple launched the iPad in April 2010 and unleashed on the world a totally different way of computing and consuming media. The iPad was such a hit that it sold three million units in the first 80 days – remarkable, as it was initially available only in the USA. Apple caught the computer industry completely flat-footed. Many had proposed, and some had even produced, tablet-style products, but not one has seen even a single percent of the success that the iPad has had. The combination of slick design and ease of use, as well as the large number of applications available, sealed the deal. The iPad has gone on to sell over 15 million units, and it does not seem to be slowing down. This article is not to sing the iPad’s praises but to analyse the industry Apple created. The questions being asked are whether anyone else can compete … and if in fact anyone really wants to. Luckily we live in a word where there is choice, and yes plenty are competing. The iPad’s biggest competitor, and the source of much legal wrangling, is the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1. The Galaxy Tab is unashamedly a direct shot at Apple: it is as well built, and feature for feature is better. The Galaxy Tab has a faster processor, faster video processor, and a higher resolution screen. The fit and finish, a key Apple iPad attribute, is every bit as good as the iPad and the overall presentation is in the same class. All this bodes really well; so no wonder Apple is trying to have the Galaxy Tab sales curtailed in many countries, notably Germany and Australia. Legal battles aside, the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 is a very slick competitor to the iPad, on the surface at least. Samsung took the iPhone love just a step too far, in my estimation. The Galaxy Tab runs Android version 3 – no issue there for Apple. However Samsung overlaid Android with a launcher called Touchwiz 4.


This is where the fun starts: Touchwiz looks, feels, and behaves a little too much like iOS, and even replicates the look and feel of the Apple icon structure. The challenge here is it may look like an Apple product but in no way does it behave like one. The net result is a type of split personality, with users being left to decide which side they prefer. This lack of consistency extends throughout the interface, with some elements being very good and others a bit annoying. Overall the Galaxy Tab is an eminently usable Android tablet: the hardware is super slick, and the performance is good as well. The interface never lags and never appears to be taking strain, no matter how many applications are open. The sound quality for movies and music is good, and overall the browser and Google integration is fantastic. There are lots of apps in the Android market and the ease of setup and use, if you are a Google mail or Google docs user, is impressive. The Galaxy Tab 10.1 is light, well built, and attractive – a worthy opponent in the tablet wars, you may think.

» EvOLvIng AndROId

The fly in the ointment may be Android itself. Many of the competitive tablets – from the Galaxy Tab, Motorola Xoom and the Toshiba, to a host of cheaper, less well-made devices from Lenovo, Asus and other well-known manufacturers – have exactly the same issue. Android is not ready for prime time, at least not yet with the current version 3. The next version 4, or Ice Cream Sandwich, has just been released and may in fact address much of what I am about to lay out. Android 3 feels like phone software. Google tried hard to create a cool tablet optimised experience that stayed true to the Android ethos, and they succeeded in part. It is

This article is not to sing the iPad’s praises but to analyse the industry Apple created. The questions being asked are whether anyone else can compete … Issue 20 AFRICA TELECOMS 41



remarkable how good Android 3 actually is, considering the short time Google had in which to roll it out. Apple has had at least a two-year head start on Android, at least in the tablet space, and it shows. iOS 5 on the iPad just feels polished, from the unlock screen to the notification pull-down, to every part of the operating system. This is clearly a super optimised OS, that Apple has had the time and scale to work on. At no time do you feel you are operating a huge screened phone: all apps work really well, even those not optimised for the iPad. Android on the other hand just feels spotty, super slick in part, totally flaky elsewhere. There is very low consistency in apps and overall usability, so much so that the user is often left hunting for the home, back, or accept button – simple stuff, but potentially hugely annoying. The applications themselves feel poor; Twitter for example is merely the phone app writ large. When compared app for app to the iPad apps, there is no contest. Apple wins hands down. Android has a way to go, and yet manufacturers like Samsung are trying to stay ahead of the tablet wave. The big benefit of Android is that it evolves so fast, much faster than iOS, and I have no doubt that it will close the gap in the near future (read 18 months). The big challenge is that Apple with such a head start is probably cooking up the next big thing that may, or may not, send the Android crew back to the drawing board. The bottom line here is that Android is acceptable right now, and is in part very good; but overall it feels more like an early prototype rather than a finished product. A leap is needed before it will gain mass acceptance. The buying public, which includes me … and you, can’t be fooled. We ask ourselves, almost subliminally, why we would want a tablet that costs the same as an iPad, and is actually not an iPad.


» PuShIng bOundARIES

The true challenge, in my opinion, is innovation. Samsung make really good hardware, but have no track record in innovation. Their answer is to imitate, even if only in part. A good example of this is the Samsung-developed Bada operating system, which feels like a marriage between iOS and Android, and although it is really slick, Bada does nothing to extend the art or challenge the status quo. BlackBerry on the other hand tried to do just this: innovate and push the boundary that is the current state of the art. BlackBerry bought a small company called QNX who specialise in operating software for embedded devices in cars, planes and military hardware such as tanks. BlackBerry then produced the , a seveninch tablet that looks, feels, and works like no other tablet. The fly in the BlackBerry ointment was applications. Once again the head start and consumer success of Apple conspired to sap all other app stores – the BlackBerry one in particular – of developers. Part of this was due to timing, as Apple had a three-year head start, and the rest was due to developers going where the customers are, and that is currently on the Apple apps store. In my estimation a seven-inch tablet is a bit of a glorified phone, and becomes another device to carry in your bag. Movies look better on a big screen; games play better on a big screen. All that smaller tablets have going for them is portability, but then they are not as portable as your phone. A bit of a no-win situation. There will be certain instances where a smaller tablet will have a big future, mostly in industry vertical applications, such as for


v Tablets

Should we buy an iPad or a Kindle Fire?” – I maintain most will have both. Crazy but true.

courier companies. Generally, the tablet space will continue to be dominated by the 10-inch variety, with smaller devices filling niches. The future for now is Apple and their best-selling iPad. The rumours are out that a smaller device is in the works, but I maintain there is little chance of that. Don’t write off the others, though. Samsung could prove formidable. Combine their manufacturing expertise, global distribution, and mobile dominance with a new, updated and competitive Android version coupled with a dash of innovation and we may yet have a winner.

glitches and bugs, and lacking polish. Any company competing with Apple will have to have the whole package, from hardware to software, in an ecosystem of apps and services that make our lives easier and better. Imitation has never cut it, even if the price is taken into account. Cheaper Android based tablets, and even those that are technically superior at the same price, are not what people are looking for. They want simplicity coupled with ease of use, and a touch of the cool factor that only cutting-edge innovative design can bring.



One company that may have got it spot on is Amazon with their release of the seven-inch Fire tablet. The Fire is not an iPad killer; in fact it’s not a tablet killer at all. What the Fire offers is a brilliant combination of form factor, coupled with content, all delivered up at a price that makes it almost irresistible. It won’t be “Should we buy an iPad or a Kindle Fire?” – I maintain most will have both. Crazy but true. The latest estimates are that Amazon will sell five million Kindle Fire devices before the end of 2012. The Kindle Fire is the ultimate media consumption device: when coupled with Amazon’s book, music, and movie store, with some magazines thrown in for good measure, it cannot help but be big. No huge, actually. What the Kindle Fire is not, is a full function tablet at a bargain price. The Fire is as different from the iPad and Samsung Galaxy Tab as they are from traditional laptop computers. What the Fire gives us is another take on tablets and going digital, and as a result it will have more impact on magazine, book and other media sales than even the original Kindle. All the other manufacturers, BlackBerry included, just need to get off their collective backsides and start to innovate, not imitate. There must be other, superior, partly or completely different ways of executing tablets. The QNX system from BlackBerry looks as if it could be one of those ways; and Windows 8 from Microsoft may be another. I do believe we are at the beginning of innovation in the tablet space, with form factors and operating system paradigms just starting to evolve and emerge. The jury is still out on whether tablets will dominate computing, but we can all agree that light, easy-to-operate touch, speech, and gesture based computing is definitely in all our futures. Innovation in itself may also not be enough. Gone are the days when we would happily accept half-completed products, with





GREEN Sustainable power and green technology are not just nice-to-haves for telecommunications operators in emerging markets: they are vital components of their strategy to grow in the developing world. By Simon Dingle

24 AFRICA TELECOMS Issue 20 46


adjective ‘green’ is a cliché in the modern world. We refer to green cars, green offices, green power and green technology as if adding the word to the mix somehow magically transforms whatever we’re talking about. So I won’t blame readers who roll their eyes at the prospect of ‘green telecommunications’. In this industry sustainable power isn’t a nice-to-have, cleaner alternative to how things are done now, but rather an imperative that the very future of telecoms depends upon. Nobody understands this better than emerging market telecoms operators, who face a daily uphill struggle in powering their networks. As the largest operator in Africa, MTN is one of the players at the forefront of the fight for alternative energy applicable to telecoms – a challenge born of necessity.

DODGING DIESEL If you scan the balance sheet for MTN’s operations in Ghana and Nigeria, for example, you’ll find that its single biggest expense is diesel. The group spends over US$150 million on diesel every year. It currently has no choice: there is no other way to power its network of base stations in countries like Nigeria. Grid power is unreliable, overpriced and doesn’t have the capacity required in the first place. So it’s no surprise that MTN has become an innovator in its own right in the field of sustainable power. Its future growth prospects rely on it getting off diesel – and quickly. The primary embodiment of MTN’s research and development into alternative energy sources is its new tri-generation power plant that uses methane gas to power data centres, offices and air-con-

ditioning systems at its headquarters in Johannesburg. This 2-megawatt plant is not only pretty special by African standards, but is one of a kind in the world. It is powered by natural gas that is piped in from the Mozambican coast, some 874 kilometres away, via Secunda and Sasol in South Africa to Egoli Gas – MTN’s supplier. A grid at the MTN campus is connected to Egoli Gas to transport the gas down a pipeline to the tri-generation plant that is housed below the ‘Phase II’ building. MTN executives say that methane is clean-burning and sustainable. There are huge reserves of it in Africa and many ways of producing the substance. According to the operator’s engineers it makes more sense than solar, wind or most other forms of renewable energy. And, if it proves to be as successful as MTN says it will, the tri-generation plant may be a prototype for systems that will help it save some of that $150 million it spends on diesel in Nigeria, Africa’s largest market in terms of population. At the launch of the plant, Karel Pienaar, head of MTN South Africa, said that power challenges also faced MTN’s data centres. “To get more power for these operations has been

a big challenge. Hence the decision to find alternate sources of energy. We went through a process of selection and looked at solar, wind and other options – but these are not practical in built-up areas,” he explained. The tri-generation plant, on the other hand, is less dependent on climate and does just fine in densely populated and urbanised areas. “The tri-generation plant is powered by what looks like a normal diesel engine, except that it runs on methane gas. This generates power, but also energy that can be used for cooling,” said Pienaar. The actual tri-generation part of the system captures the heat generated by the methane engine and then uses this in cooling systems, thanks to a phenomenon similar to what is used to cool your fridge. The plant provides sufficient energy to provide air conditioning for the more than 4,500 people that work at the MTN Campus – more about that later. “This is a highly efficient way of utilising excess energy and means that the trigeneration plant is 85% efficient,” said Pienaar. “There are three major benefits to this plant: it provides us with an alternate source of energy, allows MTN to become more self-sufficient, and reduces our emission,” he adds.

Issue 20 AFRICA TELECOMS 47 25

It also allows MTN to register for the United Nation’s carbon credit project for corporates, making it the first African company to take part in the initiative. At a cost of R32 million, the tri-generation plant isn’t a big expenditure either, and Pienaar reckons MTN will see a full return on investment in five years’ time, thanks to the substantial savings on power from Eskom.

GREEnER by ThE dOzEn MTN’s fiercest rival in South Africa, Vodacom, has also been making strides with its green initiatives. Vodacom was the first organisation in South Africa to receive a sixstar Green Star rating for the Vodafone Innovation Centre building that it is – at the time of writing – constructing in Midrand, Johannesburg. According to the operator, the Vodafone Innovation Centre will be carbon neutral and is powered by renewable energy. Once completed, the centre will house a team of


experts tasked with creating energy efficiency solutions that are expected to significantly reduce Vodafone’s global emissions. CEO of the Vodacom Group Pieter Uys said that his company has been hard at work to reduce its impact on the environment. “It is a core strategic priority for both Vodafone and Vodacom. The Innovation Centre, as the hub of our creative thinking around a low-carbon future, will play a critical role in the reduction of carbon emissions across the group,” he said. Infrastructure companies are also hard at work on more sustainable solutions that will help them to harness growth in emerging markets.

GROwTh ThROuGh GREEn Ericsson, for example, has been at the forefront of rural cellular solutions for some time. Its Millennium Villages initiative has been going since 2007, with public-

private partnerships between the UN, governments, businesses, universities and networks like MTN and Zane. The goal of the project is to connect rural villages in Africa and, in so doing, develop on-the-ground solutions for rural telecommunications infrastructure with progress in sustainability that will flow through to conventional networks too. Technology solutions to achieve the aims of the Millennium Villages project are inherently centred on renewable and sustainable electricity solutions and Ericsson has developed systems that utilise diesel, solar and wind power to turn on networks in even the most remote of villages in Kenya, for example. Elaine Weidman, head of sustainability and corporate responsibility at Ericsson, said that the project had made good headway when Africa Telecoms spoke to her at the annual Mobile World Congress in Barcelona in 2010. At that time the Millennium Villages project had connected a number of villages in Africa with amazing results, including trade routes being rerouted through rural villages that now have connectivity for the first time.

One would think that the distribution of handsets would be a huge problem. Having a network is one thing, but without actual phones and other devices to use on the network little impact would be made. But Weidman said that when networks were made available, edge devices naturally followed. “The phones just appear ... People are incredibly resourceful,” she said. Ericsson also has initiatives to provide cellular telephony to people who do not or cannot have phones. One way it does this is with the Ericsson Virtual Number product. This technology allows subscribers to have a number that can be used on other people’s phones or at central kiosks. They log into a telephone device and calls to their number are then routed to that device, while usage is billed to their individual account. Ericsson is working to improve the related economies for networks with technology that allows them to bill based on actual network utilisation at a specific time. So, for example, a provider like MTN that runs Ericsson infrastructure is able to monitor the usage of its network throughout the day and accordingly adjust billing in a dynamic way. This might not sound like a green solution, but it aids in optimising networks, and


reducing load and power requirements. Lower cost handsets have also taken some leaps forward with some even adding the ability for solar charging. Weisman doesn’t place much hope in actual solar panels on phones, however, but points to an Ericsson technology that creates central power points in villages where residents can go to charge their phones. The points, in turn, can be powered from a variety of sources, including solar, wind, diesel and others. VNL is a smaller provider focused on taking cellular connectivity to even the remotest of rural areas with technology that the company’s founder and CEO, Rajiv Mehrotra, has spent the better part of six years developing. The result of Mehrotra’s research and development is a cellular base station that can be packed into two medium-sized boxes and shipped almost anywhere. The construction is dead simple and, according to Mehrotra, can be done by the villagers themselves. Typically the station would be put up on the roof of a central building in a village. Once it has been erected the station runs off solar power exclusively, connecting that area to the rest of the network. Even in dense fog and cold


weather, Mehrotra says the base station will continue to draw power. “We have seen dense fog in rural Mumbai, and during those times our stations draw 20% of the power they would in full sunlight,” he says.

GREENING DEVICES While networks themselves develop more sustainable energy strategies, there is also a drive amongst large vendors of mobile devices to review their operations in order to make things greener. In the current environment where millions of mobile devices are sold and disposed of every year, this is becoming an important issue. One of the world’s largest device manufacturers, Samsung, has made public its Eco-Management 2013 initiative that aims to make the company a leader in sustainability within its industry. Deon Liebenberg, managing director for Samsung South Africa, said that this is being adhered to at a local level. As of the first half of 2011, Samsung has reduced its greenhouse gas emissions at its manufacturing facilities by 4.58 tons per R640 851.4, equivalent to a sales-normalised cut of 38% from 2008 levels. This puts Samsung on track to exceed its target of a 50% reduction by 2013.

According to the company, new Samsung products are on average 18.5% more energy efficient than in 2008. With this, estimated indirect carbon emissions from newly introduced Samsung products were reduced by 22.89 million tons between January 2009 and June 2011. In recognition of its efforts, Samsung received six EcoDesign honours at the prestigious International Consumer Electronics Show 2011 Innovation Awards, the most ever for the company. This will also spur other manufacturers on to follow suit. Apple has also made repeated statements about its greener manufacturing initiatives and devices made from recyclable materials. “We’ve learned that about 98% of Apple’s carbon footprint is directly related to our products. The remaining 2% is related to our facilities,” it says on the company’s website. “Since 2008, as our revenue grew 74%, our greenhouse gas emissions grew only 57%. And we’re the

only company in our industry that can claim that every product we sell not only meets but exceeds the strict energy guidelines of the ENERGY STAR specification,” it continues. The company has also reduced packaging size. It says that the packaging of the iPhone has been significantly reduced since it first shipped in 2007, which has led to a 6% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions from the transportation of devices. As mobile devices become more powerful, they are also becoming more power efficient and manufacturers are finding smarter ways to manufacture, package and recycle them. These are imperatives for telecommunications in emerging markets. There simply aren’t enough power and other required resources to take the kind of communications that first world residents are used to and replicate them in emerging markets. AT


how smart can we get

Along with metering companies and the field services they imply, the smart grid evolution is going to be a major opportunity for companies better known to the IT and telecoms industry. By Vaughan O’Grady


In many cases, governments are driving change, notably in the U.S., where in October 2009 President Barack Obama announced $3.4 billion in Recovery Act funds to spur the transition to the smart energy grid, the largest single energy modernization investment in US history. “I don’t think you can define the smart grid succinctly,” says Dr Darrin Hill, energy specialist at management and IT consulting and technology firm PA Consulting Group. He is not alone. Smart meters apart, most commentators would have trouble summarizing a concept that has, nevertheless, caught the imagination of governments, utilities, suppliers, and consumers across the globe. Hill suggests: “To me it’s all about being able to control the network flexibly and immediately in response to demand and generation.” That ability opens the door to numerous possibilities, such as using technology to make power networks more efficient and responsive. Or enabling effective integration and use of renewable sources of energy. Or enabling consumers to better manage their energy use and expenditure. Or encouraging more distributed generation, to shorten supply distances and enhance energy security. Or enabling new ideas like smart appliances, a home network that ‘talks’ to those appliances, or electric vehicles. Or generally making power supply more intelligent – a two-way flow of information as well as electricity. However you define it, activity directly or indirectly referencing the smart grid concept is already under way: from proposed energy efficiency schemes in the UK’s Shetland Islands, utility integration initiatives in Amsterdam, and Abu Dhabi’s carbon-neutral Masdar City initiative, to actual smart meter or grid pilots in Singapore, Western Australia, and other regions. In many cases, governments are driving change, notably in the U.S., where in October 2009 President Barack Obama announced $3.4 billion in Recovery Act funds to spur the transition to the smart energy grid, the largest single energy modernization investment in US history. Many governments like the smart grid. Consumers may initially face rate increases during transition but will probably like the idea of help in keeping their expenditure down. But will utilities benefit? After all, the costs – not just of adapting their infrastructure, but of the way they manage the vast increase in data produced by the smart grid, not to mention educating customers – will be significant. Hill says that for utilities the main boost involves “knowing where you need to reinforce the network and knowing where you could manage demand. That would be the big saving, ultimately.”


Being smart, in other words, could change everything and everyone for the better. Energy is just the first step.

Delaying billion-dollar plant construction, or just avoiding the use of supporting plant for peak periods is certainly no modest saving. Which is just as well because, for most of the developed world, the smart grid is going to happen. In fact, argues Tony Kalcina, founder and executive director of business operations automation company Clarity, and member of the TM Forum Advisory Council, it has to. As he says: “We’re living in an unsustainable model of growth. There’s a fundamental need for us, not only in energy but in various parts of our society, to be a little more clever in the way we do things.” That cleverness won’t come cheap. One estimate suggests that over the next 40 years more than $45 trillion will need to be invested in energy networks, much of it on the smart grid. But that investment will also be driving a major new market. In fact there could be a $100 billion market opportunity just for smart grid communications technology in the next five years. The telecoms market itself is mature and opportunities there are levelling off. The smart grid ecosystem, by contrast, is in its infancy. Smart meters or advanced metering infrastructure (AMI) are the earliest and most obvious manifestations of the concept. Already widely employed, they provide consumers with the ability to use electricity more efficiently (by alerting them to items that use excessive power or to lower tariffs at certain times of day, for example) and provide utilities with the ability to detect problems on their systems and operate them more efficiently. Which is why, along with metering companies and the field services they imply, this is going to be a major opportunity for companies perhaps better known to the IT and telecoms industry. In fact, as long ago as May 2009 Oracle Utilities announced


the introduction of its own smart grid software – an end-to-end software offering including mission-critical applications and back-end technology infrastructure. As Bastian Fischer, VP and general manager for EMEA, Oracle Utilities, says: “There is a clear convergence of electrotechnical equipment and IT and communication technology.” In retail terms, he suggests, this means the creation of new products “beyond pure energy, to manage energy, to provide home energy management services, to provide home security services”. On the standardization side, a number of players will be involved: global bodies such as the technology specific IEEE and the International Electrotechnical Commission, as well as regional ones like the North American Electric Reliability Corporation, and the National Institute of Standards and Technology, which has its own Smart Grid Advisory Committee. An early standardization challenge is certainly going to come from AMI. That’s because, in the short term, Kalcina suggests: “The key development will be at the edge – with smart meters: how to deploy and install these meters, how to collect the real-time data. In some cases as much as 700 terabytes of data generated in a day.” At the moment, many utilities are unable to gather and utilize the intelligence created by smart meter technology because their IT systems are unable to cope with the vast amount of information smart meters produce. However, if smart meter data – such as consumption information, power factors, or quality of electricity – are to be accessible to the core corporation, it will need an enterprise-wide meter data management system. As Fischer points out, “Smart grid adoption is more than only putting technology in the grid. What is central here is that all that

technology provides a massive amount of data and that data needs to get processed in near-time – sometimes in real-time – to give the different operators and stakeholders actionable information.” Of all the players likely to be involved in smart grid standardization, TM Forum probably has a clearer idea than most of how it can benefit this new paradigm. As Keith Willetts, TM Forum Chairman, said at a recent round table (Understanding the Smart Grid EcoSystem and Applying Communications Best Practices to the Utility Sector): “The Forum doesn’t come at it at network-level technology design. We come in at the business operations part of it: how you take and process orders, how you fix customer problems, how you bill for things. How you move data around isn’t of that much interest to us – where we’ll help is when you have got that data back; we can help you significantly reduce the cost of dealing with that.” In other words, it’s all about managing customer experience and real-time management, control, and optimization of the intelligent network. Does that sound familiar? It should. In the 1980s the TM Forum began working on this socio-technical operational management challenge. The result has been Frameworx artifacts “to document best practice processes, functionality, information models, and expertise to deliver large-scale, reliable, and smart operational management of intelligent telecom networks”. The still nascent smart grid market isn’t so different. In fact the Forum has near-ready artifacts in Frameworx for market offerings to the utility marketplace, just as its members have near-ready service offerings for the same marketplace. While the evolution of the smart grid may eventually mean product modifications, at the moment, in many cases, Kalcina says, “The TM Forum members who are selling their business systems, their revenue assurance systems, their OSS systems – all of these are a direct fit without any change”. On the other hand, this is also a complex ecosystem with different drivers for change on a country-by-country basis. Governments, regulatory environments, utilities (not to mention retailers in countries where disaggregation of utilities has taken place), suppliers, and others often still need to respond to the challenge of smart grid implementation. Consumers, meanwhile, will have to be convinced of the benefits. It won’t happen overnight, says Hill, suggesting that there will be a few years of “continuing rollouts of smart meters, continuing trials and tests. We should get greater clarity on standards of communications, the home area network communications and

the protocols – about how they will link to smart appliances, for example. The definition of what a smart meter is will become tighter. And I think from the trials, people will start to see the things we can deliver with smart grids”. Nevertheless there are grounds for arguing that the telecoms industry has been through the BSS/OSS adaptation process and, even at this early stage, can teach the energy industry a lot. Hence the Forum’s plans to establish a Smart Grids Market Support Center. But the TM Forum is acutely aware that it cannot dictate change to an industry that is often unfamiliar with the Forum’s role. Instead it aims to demonstrate what it can offer and how utilities in particular can benefit from established TM Forum standards. One such outreach will be offering the artifacts to the industry in a methodology and in a language that can be understood by a utility person. Meanwhile, there’s the bigger picture. The smart grid could bring with it enormous commercial and environmental rewards. And, the incentive is not just in energy. Kalcina says this could be a cross-industry play: “One where the same model of unsustainable growth that we have in energy is being played out in health where, in another 30, 40 years there just won’t be enough in the GDP to support our aging population.” So how smart can we get? Successful global implementation of the smart grid could lead to application of the concept in many other industries, improving efficiencies, and boosting economic activity: smart transport, smart health, smart water, and smart education, for example. Being smart, in other words, could change everything and everyone for the better. Energy is just the first step. AT


AFRICAN afRican CLOUD cloud READY Ready FOR foR

TIME Pundits say the cloud era is still some way off in the African market. But one South African hosting company believes it’s closer than we think. And that success is more about mindset than technology. By Brett Haggard

24 AFRICA TELECOMS Issue 20 56

‘Cloud’ is one of the most overused and misused terms in the modern technology industry. All you need for evidence of this is to look at some of the more popular cloud services on offer today. Chances are you’ll soon find that they only differ from the online services we’ve been using for the past decade by the fact that they have the word ‘cloud’ in their name. The problem with the way things are going today is that companies believe that slapping the word ‘cloud’ before or after their service is the only way to make headway in a tough market. It’s not only wrong, but

also disingenuous. The misuse of the word ‘cloud’ is blurring the landscape and making life complicated for customers. And ironically, it’s supposed to lead to less complexity. That said, there’s a handful of companies getting it right and Global Micro claims to be one of those companies. We like the fact that its managing director, JJ Milner, couldn’t agree more with the growing sentiment around the meaning of the word ‘cloud’. ‘The term will go away at some point, and what people are really interested in right now are applications. And

it’s becoming clearer that the place ‘cloud’ and existing on-premise applications meet, is where the real value is to be had,” he says.

COMING-OUT PARTY Formed out of the desire of telco companies to move beyond the provision of digital plumbing, Global Micro has, for about ten years now, been providing many of the services that underpin a modern telco’s value proposition. Milner says that the only reason its name isn’t all that easily recognizable in the market is that the company has been providing ‘whitelabel’ hosting services on

behalf of its clients. Services include hosted backup, hosted exchange, private cloud virtualisation, hosted remote monitoring and managed security services. And while the model of playing the back-room genius has worked well up until now, it’s not one that’s led to a great deal of expansion. So how does a company that’s got very little brand awareness expand? The answer lies in clever partnership. Taking a leaf out of the ‘hardware vendor’s playbook’ Global Micro has chosen to remain the brains trust behind the hosted solutions and is developing a channel to take its solutions to market. And, to be frank, the timing couldn’t be sweeter. Technology resellers are feeling the pressure of an industry that’s growing its yearon-year unit numbers, but not its revenues. In fact, in most of the industry, the average selling price of hardware is lower than it’s ever been. By selling hosted services and applications as add-ons to the hardware they’re moving, resellers get to build annuity revenue streams: something they’ve never had access to before. And finally, resellers get to do what they’ve wanted to do for decades now – that is, get out of the box-dropping game.

ReselleR buy-in Don’t take Global’s word for it though. A Johannesburg-based SME technology provider, Uthanda, says its business is booming since it moved its operations to a cloud-based platform. Uthanda, like many small IT consultancies, started life in a suburban garage three years ago, providing infrastructure support to small businesses. When it changed tack and began on-selling hosted services to its clients – companies with between 10 and 50 users – Uthanda says it not only increased the portfolio of services it was able to offer, but also increased its quality of service. The key, says Uthanda’s sales and technical manager Colin McCarthy, was the ability to provide and monitor all of these new services remotely. And, believe me, the access to annuity revenue probably didn’t hurt either. “We’ve gone from being a reactive company, which would fix things as they broke, to being proactive,” says McCarthy. “So now we can see problems developing, and fix them before the client is even aware of them. This frees us up to start delivering greater valueadded services to our clients.”

McCarthy says this new approach has transformed the business. “On Hosted Exchange, for example, the spam and virus protection is incredible, and our clients get ‘bottomless’ mailboxes and 100% uptime. “Remote support for our clients is the way to go. Every time we send someone out, it costs us money. Now we have the time to focus more on the business. “Our customers are happy because they get 100% uptime at a fixed, predictable fee. We’re happy because we’re making more money and moving up the value chain.” he says.

smaRt paRtneRships Building a channel filled with companies like Uthanda, while necessary, is hard work. And Milner says his

company realised some time ago that to accelerate things it needed the backing of a known quantity in the technology game. With a reseller base that was beginning to feel the pinch of slowing sales cycles, stalling average selling prices and end-user customers that were strongly considering the cost savings on offer from hosted applications, Shereen James, retail sales division manager at Mustek, says her company needed an alliance with a company like Global Micro. “The problem for our resellers is, as end-user customers start moving their noncore functions like e-mail and collaboration to the cloud, they require less hardware and fewer support services. “And that means decreasing revenues for our channel,” she says.

Issue 20 afRica telecoms 57

“We saw the writing on the wall and started urging our resellers to make the shift from box-moving to services. The path just wasn’t all that adequately lit. “Our new alliance with Global Micro lights that path perfectly,” she says. James says that Global Micro’s offering is already being piloted with 50 of Mustek’s most motivated, hard-working resellers and over the space of the next six to 12 months will become available to every authorised Mustek reseller. “And the reason it’s going to work is that all three parties – us, Global and the resellers – have distinct roles,” she says.

DISTInCT ROLES “Global Micro is responsible for the data centre, infrastructure, hosting environment and a toolset that will allow Mustek’s resellers to offer customers – as a starting gambit – a Hosted Exchange bolt-on service for Small Business Essentials that can be provisioned, managed and maintained completely remotely,” she says. This will also include Office on Demand – for all intents and purposes a virtual filing cabinet for critical files. “The resellers will be respon58 AFRICA TELECOMS Issue 20

sible for managing the customer relationship, managing any on-site issues and facilitating warranties on hardware on the customer’s premises. “Additionally, they will field customer requests for new mailboxes, handle first line support and perform maintenance tasks. “Using Global Micro’s toolset, resellers will also be able to remotely manage and monitor their customers’ onpremise equipment, thereby rendering a far higher quality service than they were able to before,” she adds. “Mustek will continue to supply hardware, manage warranties and work its magic with logistics,” she continues. “It will also be the one managing the financial aspects of the agreement: performing credit checks, carrying out all of the monthly subscription-based billing and pretty much handling the aspects of the reseller/client relationship that the reseller just doesn’t have the expertise or resources to manage,” she explains. Obviously, James says the intention is to very quickly roll the availability of these solutions out to Mustek’s broader customer base and thereafter expand the services on offer to include hosted backup, business continuity, other applica-

tions and ultimately, unified communications. One difference between this alliance and others, James says, is the fact that Mustek resellers will earn their annuity revenues in perpetuity.

DIFFEREnTIATORS “We want there to be a strong incentive for them to keep the channels of communications open with their customers, conduct regular customer visits and take care of the relationship with the customer. “Providing they’re doing their bit, they will earn monthly revenue,” she says. Another difference, she says, is the fact that there’s no prescriptive pricing model. “Resellers are free to set their own pricing and to wrap different service levels agreements around the hosted services they on-sell. While we will obviously provide some guidance, resellers must feel they’re able to customize the solution as they see fit,” Global Micro’s Milner explains. “Resellers will discover that the market has an ability to correct pricing that’s not in line with the value it provides and, furthermore, that there’s a stark difference between some services which will be a commodity and others that lend themselves to more differentiation,” he adds.

WILL IT WORk? The short answer is: “It looks that way…” “Make no mistake, there’s money to be made for the early cloud adopters,” Milner says. “But the cloud alone is not a recipe for success. You have to be able to combine cloud and non-cloud services seamlessly, and provide layers of value on top of the cloud.” Its alliance with Mustek, and access to resellers that do things aside from selling hosted services, does exactly that. Global Micro is also a company that’s grown up in the cloud era, doing only one thing – providing hosted applications and services that companies either couldn’t be bothered to have on-site, or feel more comfortable from an expertise or a cost-efficiency perspective entrusting to a third part. The fact that it’s remaining focused on that one thing and building alliances to take care of go-to-market strategy, partner engagement and logistics also means they’ll be the ones you will want to go to when it comes to mission-critical applications, data and services. That, or this whole cloud thing’s a farce. In which case we’ll all find out in the next decade just how wrong we were to move everything off-site. AT

dence from existing infrastructure, SES believes that many African countries can reach the 2015 deadline for analogue signal switch-off.



DIGITAL PROMISES MODERNISATION Satellite support will help many African countries to reach the 2015 deadline for analogue signal switch-off, while stimulating the continent’s socio-economic growth. According to SES, a leading global satellite operator that is contributing to the digital migration in Africa, only about 82 million homes out of an estimated 234 million households have televisions in sub-Saharan Africa. Christopher Limmer, SES senior director for marketing and market development in Africa, contrasts this figure with the recent forecast by the International Monetary Fund that sub-Saharan Africa’s growth will average 6% in 2012. In Limmer’s view, this discrepancy between economic growth and poor development reflects the need for more


to be done to advance modernisation in Africa so that opportunities can be exploited in future. From a broadcasting perspective, 2015 is the year in which Africa officially migrates to digital TV. It is expected that digitalising Africa’s TV will ultimately have the ‘domino effect’ of improving technological sophistication in the region. Yet, in a continent that, in the next ten years, requires almost US$63 billion in infrastructure development, digitalisation has its challenges. These include the ability to reach a maximum number of homes in the shortest possible time

frame at reasonable costs. “Through the use of satellite transmissions, existing technologies will be able to connect the unconnected in remote communities and close the digital divide,” comments Limmer. “We are seeing more and more African countries investigating ‘satellite support’ in order to reach those areas with poor infrastructure. This would allow countries to reduce their infrastructure investment costs while providing consumers with quality signal.” By complementing land networks and offering African nations nationwide coverage and indepen-

Limmer also believes that for digitalisation in the region to be successful, strong cooperation and coordination of all stakeholders is necessary. “In working with many key players across the continent, we strongly urge all of them to facilitate discussions with their counterparts – whether they be broadcasters, network operators, equipment manufacturers and retailers, or governments and regulators,” Limmer says. “Countries have a mammoth task ahead in meeting the regional deadline, and with digital migration posing specific challenges for African countries, we have also facilitated the initiation of country-specific Joint Industry Committees (JICs) across the region to encourage the development of a coherent, coordinated approach to media measurement,” Limmer adds. “This, as a way to sustain digital TV into the future.” He insists that industry discussions are essential in accelerating the implementation of viable solutions in preparation for digital TV. “In Ghana, for instance, the formation of their National Digital Broadcasting Migration Technical Committee (NDBMTC) has resulted in open discussions around obtaining consistent funding necessary for research,” Limmer says. Added to this, the formation of NDBMTC has seen a pilot project currently under way in the country, as well as a commitment on a national level to complete digitalising all regional capitals and their environs by 2012. In anticipation of the enormous task ahead, we should regard the digital migration in Africa as a potential affirmation of what American entrepreneur John Rohn believed: “For every disciplined effort there is a multiple reward.”

CATALYST FOR GROWTH Having a young population with increasing discretionary income levels, Africa has been identified by many global investors as one of the biggest growth opportunities in the world. Further to this, more and more African media entrepreneurs are investing in local media and are seen as catalysts for the growth of local media content.

“CURRENTLY, AFRICA HAS JUST OVER 8 MILLION DIGITAL TV HOMES...” Digitalisation is also seen as a catalyst for growth in local economies, as well as fostering innovation and human talent in both private and public companies. Says Limmer: “Digitalisation will create new distribution networks and expand the potential for wireless innovation and services; while the digital dividend in spectrum usage will allow more channels to be carried and lead to greater convergence of services.” Digitalisation also offers even greater benefits for consumers. “Transmissions on low-end frequencies are susceptible to local electrical interference. Digital TV would mean that reception interference would be less likely to interfere,” continues Limmer. It is widely known that digital transmission is also more efficient in its use of spectrum than the old analogue system, which allows for the delivery of high definition television, multiple programme streams (multi-channelling and multi-view) or interactive television. Electronic programme guides are also common on digital platforms. These allow viewers to consider current and upcoming programmes on-screen simply by pressing a button on their remote. With the large number of diverse languages on the continent, digital migration provides the opportunity for all languages to be accommodated on educational, informative and entertainment programmes.

“Currently, Africa has just over 8 million digital TV homes, which is only about 10% of all TV in Africa, although we expect this number to increase six fold by 2015,” indicates Limmer.

SATELLITES LEAD THE WAY It is with this in mind that SES has set up 49 satellites at an average cost of around US$400 million, or almost R3 billion each. “We are putting another two satellites up in the coming months, called SES-4 and SES-5, which are specifically being launched to cater for the demands of broadcast and consumer internet services in the African market,” Limmer reveals. The challenge is for the telecommunications sector to find ways to migrate to digital timeously and to sustain digital television into the future. Moreover, Limmer believes that shared best practices from ‘digital ready’ countries will help to alleviate some of the challenges during and post the migration. According to Limmer, the digital migration will not only bring Africa a new viewing experience but will also address some of the continent’s socio-economic development needs by creating opportunities to build manufacturing hubs to meet the demand, for instance, for settop boxes. According to the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, from 2000 to 2009 foreign direct investment into Africa increased six fold to US$58.5 billion – this despite the economic downturn. Africa is clearly the investment destination of choice for both developed and developing economies, which highlights the latent potential of the continent. “If the positive uptake of the mobile phone market is anything to go by, we foresee that in time digital TV will be a common feature in African homes,” concludes Limmer. As governments debate the processes and challenges of digitalisation, an exciting opportunity to ‘modernise’ Africa is unfolding before our very eyes and SES is surely leading the change. AT




Q&A with Birgitta Cederstrom, business unit leader, ICT Africa, Frost & Sullivan

tackling bandwidth shortage through deployments of mobile broadband solutions such as 3G (HSPA and LTE). Cloud computing will emerge on a need basis, probably starting with virtualization of systems. Already commercial data centres are emerging in the smallest economies in Africa. The growth and long term viability of cloud computing will depend on the running costs charged to end users.

«Q» This issue of Africa Telecoms is focusing on Green Telecoms and the way forward. What are your thoughts and where do you see the future for this segment of the telecoms industry? «A» Green Telecoms will take shape in energy efficiency, the use of renewable energy and offsetting/ minimizing of carbon emissions. For example, we will see new ways in which companies and people collaborate and communicate. Unified Communications with tele presence is regarded as green telecoms and will lower the carbon footprint with reduced staff pool travelling. Data storage and data centres are becoming smarter in terms of cooling solutions lowering usage of energy.


«Q» The telecoms industry is reportedly responsible for around 2% of global emissions. However, the effects are far greater when one considers personal computing. Do you think cloud computing can be considered a green alternative? «A» No! However, cloud computing will facilitate reduction in energy at enterprise premises. Personal computing devices are still required to access resources in the cloud. Cloud computing will congregate servers located in inefficient micro-data centres at enterprise premises and relocate them into more energyefficient data centres. «Q» Looking at cloud computing in Africa, is this a viable solution for the continent considering average broadband speeds? «A» Leading operators in Africa are

«Q» Considering this, cloud computing requires massive data centre infrastructure generally with huge power requirements for cooling. Currently Africa does not have any green data centres. Do you think there is an investment case for this? «A» There already are a handful of data centres adopting climatic or ocean water cooling strategies. Teraco is an example of data centre providers that use colder outside air during winter for cooling. Vodacom has a data centre in Cape Town where ocean water is used for cooling. These are some of strategies that can be adopted widely in parts of Africa. «Q» The biggest concern for most operators is the capital expenditure (CAPEX) costs of renewable technologies. Do you think this is a valid concern? «A» Yes, it is! This is similar to my comment on the viability of data centres, where cost will play a key role. Operators will not install energy generation infrastructure if the CAPEX for adopting renewable energy does not translate into long term savings on the same.

«Q» Solar versus wind? What do you think is the best solution for the telecoms industry? Or should it be a hybrid solution? «A» Wind power can only be harnessed where there are prevailing winds throughout the year; and solar power can only be generated when the sun shines! Some locations in Africa, such as parts of the Western Cape in South Africa, offer good sites for harnessing wind power. In such places it makes sense for significant investments into wind power to be made. Solar power can be effectively used in places with a higher percentage of sunshine in a year. The cost of installing these technologies, as well as the quantity of power to be generated, will play a key role. Operators such as MTN in South Africa are using solar powered base stations to provide cellular coverage in parts of rural areas. «Q» The consumer electronics industry is embracing solar energy with a number of mobile phones, laptops and even keyboards now being made available. Do you think this is a viable solution for extended battery life, and why? «A» Solar energy is effective in powering low rated devices with an internal rechargeable battery. The solar cells can use the minimum amount of sunlight to power such devices and recharge the battery, hence reducing the frequency with which they need to be plugged into a power outlet. This area of usage will see wider adoption. «Q» Is there any way that the Green Telecoms market can be quantified in

terms of spend in Africa? This would clearly be specific to what operators are spending with vendors. Some level of quantification can be made; however, accurate quantities cannot be determined as yet. «Q» There are a number of vendors making exciting products in the Green Telecoms industry. What do you think the most significant technology is in this field and who is the vendor? «A» In the mobile industry, vendors like Nokia Siemens Networks are leading in developing energy efficient base stations (FlexiPacket base station) that don’t require air conditioning and can be powered by solar energy. The base station currently supports HSPA/+ and LTE. «Q» What is the biggest consideration for operators when one looks at sustainable energy solutions? «A» Short term and long term cost, as well as the reliability of these solutions.

OPEX. For the solar and wind powered base station, operators save OPEX by not having to refuel diesel generators, which would otherwise be required. By not relying on imported energy, operators avoid the impact of currency fluctuations on the cost of diesel. «Q» Fuel cells seemed to be the answer in 2010; however, we have not seen many deployments of fuel cells in Africa. Do you foresee this changing moving forward? «A» Fuel cells are expensive, especially when looking at production of greater magnitudes of power. Developing infrastructure to locally extract the fuel also requires CAPEX. Fuel cells will become viable as an alternative to solar power for use in certain areas. But the time for that is yet to come.

«Q» MTN South Africa has a number of completely off grid base stations running on wind and solar solutions. Are there any other examples of operators running these solutions already? I mentioned MTN earlier, but I don’t know of any other operator currently.

«Q» In this issue we are also featuring the sub topic of Mobile Patent Wars. It seems crazy when one looks at the info graphics showing the number of suits. What is your opinion on this and do you think it will ever end? «A» Patent wars seem to be here to stay. Given that almost any innovation can be patented, the practice will be used more and more to not only protect intellectual property, but also to prevent competitors from using inventions that are genuinely theirs.

«Q» Can the operational expenditure (OPEX) saving generally be quantified; and, in your opinion, can the operators expect to see this saving? «A» I cannot give a specific figure, but operators mainly adopt renewable energy and energy efficient sources to lower

«Q» Finally, an outside the box question. Personally do you use BlackBerry, Apple, Android or Windows Mobile? Why? And if you could use another, which would it be? «A» Can’t afford any of these now, but I would use Samsung S II with Android. AT




CONNECTIVITY BREEDS PROSPERITY The practice of safeguarding ICT innovation seems to be spiralling out of control. Who are the winners and who are the losers in this bizarre battle? By Lesley Milhom Head of Enterprise Sales for Southern Africa at Research In Motion (RIM), the company behind the BlackBerry® solution

Most Africans have bypassed fixed-line telephony in favour of mobile phones for their voice requirements. Now, mobile networks and mobile phones are beginning to put Internet and data services within reach of many people right across Africa who couldn’t afford or access them before. Market researchers expect the mobile broadband market to truly ignite over the next five years. Informa Telecoms & Media, for example, forecasts that there will be 265 million mobile broadband subscriptions in Africa by 2015, a huge increase from the current figure of about 12 million.*


There is cheaper international bandwidth as a result of new undersea cables, networks are investing in high-speed cellular networks, and competition is heating up in many markets as telecommunications deregulation continues. What’s more, affordable smartphones, such as the BlackBerry® Curve™ 8520 smartphone coupled with the BlackBerry® Internet Service on attractive flat-rate packages are bringing connectivity and apps to many small businesses and consumers in Africa that did not have Internet access before.

According to Intelligent Life Magazine (Spring 2011 issue), there are already currently 84 million Internetenabled phones in Africa. It is predicted that 69% of mobiles in Africa will have Internet access by 2014. ** The rapid adoption of smartphones is radically transforming the way people across Africa manage their personal and professional lives. Now, the mobile phone is no longer a device simply for phone calls and text messaging. It unifies media, communications and productivity tools onto a single device you can take with you wherever you go. This is particularly significant in Africa where fixed line and desk-top computer penetration is so low. With smartphones, many African users now have access to instant messaging, mobile banking, email, media downloads and many other powerful applications. Because apps are more affordable, RIM is seeing huge growth in usage of data services among its African customers: consumers, small businesses and large public sector and private sector organisations alike. The impact that these apps could have on productivity, quality of life and efficiency on a continent with low Internet penetration is massive. In many parts of Africa, services such as banks are few and far between and travel costs are high. Being able to transact from a smartphone can save a rural African a great deal of time and money.


Mobility is also starting to move into the mainstream of the African business sector. Smartphones ensure that employees can be in contact with the office and productive wherever they are. Employees can be flexible according to the company’s needs and work in a way that allows them to balance their professional and personal lives optimally. Many executives employed by African companies already depend on smartphones to keep up to date with their emails, browse the mobile Internet, access personal applications and manage their diaries. This, however, is just the beginning of the potential that mobility holds for African organisations. Businesses that adopt mobile technologies can use them as an effective competitive tool in a tough trading environment. There are many opportunities to be found in offering cost-effective mobile solutions to field sales and service staff, for example. Mobility can deliver hard business benefits such as shortened sales cycles or better customer service. For instance, if a service representative can answer a question about inventory while onsite with a customer, he could win a piece of business the company would otherwise have lost.

There are literally thousands of business applications available for the BlackBerry® platform – ranging from light applications like news feeds, Facebook® access, and expense trackers through to enterprise-class business intelligence, customer relationship management (CRM), and vertical solutions.


Although operators have ramped up their investments in highspeed data technologies such as 3G, HSDPA and HSPA+ (with some even trialling LTE), the major challenges for the industry in the years to come are optimising these investments and ensuring the efficient use of spectrum and infrastructure. That is why operators place such emphasis on data efficiency. Consumers want feature-ridden, high-quality, data-hungry apps and services from their mobile operators. Operators and handset manufacturers face an intriguing challenge to sustain massive growth in a scalable way. To date, much of the pressure to tackle the capacity crunch has landed at the feet of operators, evidenced by the move to start capping previously unlimited data usage so that networks can handle the increasing traffic. Manufacturers also need to provide efficient devices and services that ensure users do not experience a dip in quality of service. RIM’s DataSmart™ technology, which makes BlackBerry smartphones more data efficient than any other platform, will be a key advantage as mobile data usage soars. BlackBerry smartphones using DataSmart provide users with up to four times as much email and twice the Web browsing and social networking for the same amount of data as other smartphones. The benefits of BlackBerry smartphones with DataSmart technology include lower monthly service plans, faster application operation and efficient battery life. This technology will have an important role to play for the telecommunications industry as a whole as data consumption rates take off.


As the telecommunications industry – network operators, apps developers, handset manufacturers and infrastructure equipment providers – we are starting to address Africa’s hunger for connectivity with solutions that are appropriate to the continent’s needs. In turn, affordable connectivity will feed demand for mobile apps and value-added services. The cellular miracle will replicate itself in the data market, making Africa more competitive and prosperous in the process. AT * Press release: Africa crosses 500 million mobile subscriptions mark (http://blogs.informatandm. com/1388/press-release-africa-crosses-500-million-mobile-subscriptions-mark/) ** Intelligent Life Magazine article entitled Digital Africa ( ideas/jm-ledgard/digital-africa?page=0%2C0)



april 17-18

Africa Telecoms events calendar November 2011 - May 2012

Nairobi, KENYA

november 02-03 09-10

Helen Moroney: +44 148 088 0774



Helen Moroney: +44 148 088 0774



Johannesburg, SOUTH AFRICA

Rumana Bukht: +44 208 600 3800

Ledia Ariza: +41 22 730 52 07

march 13-15 NAMIBIA 66 AFRICA TELECOMS Issue 20

satcom africa


the tv shoW africa


submariNe NetWorks World africa

Johannesburg, souTh AfricA Tarryn Volkwyn: +27 (0)11 516 4000

june 06-07


Nairobi, KENYA


Johannesburg, souTh AfricA Tarryn Volkwyn: +27 (0)11 516 4000



telecoms World africa

february 07-09


Louisa Rogers: +44 (0)20 7017 51575

Johannesburg, souTh AfricA Tarryn Volkwyn: +27 (0)11 516 4000


Nairobi, KENYA

North africa com

Johannesburg, souTh AfricA Tarryn Volkwyn: +27 (0)11 516 4000


Hong Kong, CHINA


Tunis, TuNisiA

Cape Town, SOUTH AFRICA Caroline Wiezien: +44 (0) 207 017 5605


Louisa Rogers: +44 (0)20 7017 51575



Nairobi, KENYA

east africa com

aitec baNkiNg & mobile moNey West africa 2012

Accra, GhANA

Helen Moroney: +44 148 088 0774


West & ceNtral africa com

Dakar, sENEGAl

AITEC BANKING & MOBILE MONEY COMESA 2012 Helen Moroney: +44 148 088 0774

Rumana Bukht: +44 208 600 3800

If you would like Africa Telecoms to add an event to the calendar, please contact Mr. Bradley Shaw at

july 03-04


Louisa Rogers: +44 (0)20 7017 51575

vas africa

Johannesburg, souTh AfricA

Louisa Rogers: +44 (0)20 7017 51575 Issue 20 AFRICA TELECOMS 67



GSA RAISES FORECAST FOR LTE NETWORKS Global mobile Suppliers Association (GSA) has published an update to its Evolution to LTE report, highlighting accelerating deployments of LTE networks. The GSA report covers both LTE FDD and LTE TDD system modes. 248 operators, 60% higher than a year ago, have committed to commercial LTE network deployments or are engaged in trials, technology testing or studies. GSA now expects over 100 network launches by end of 2012. 185 firm commercial LTE network deployments, 64% higher than a year ago, are in progress or planned in 66 coun-

tries, including 35 networks now commercially launched. Another 63 operators in 21 additional countries are engaged in LTE technology trials, tests or studies. LTE TDD is also market reality following the commercial launch of three networks last month in Saudi Arabia. 35 LTE networks are commercially launched in 21 countries: Australia, Austria, Canada, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Hong Kong, Japan, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, Philippines, Poland, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, South Korea, Sweden, UAE, USA, and Uzbekistan.

LTE commercial network launches timetable: * 2009: 2 networks launched – all FDD * 2010: 15 networks launched – all FDD * 2011: 18 networks launched (up to October 10, 2011) – 15 FDD, 3 TDD Alan Hadden, president of GSA, announced: “Based on GSA’s research, we are confident that at least 103 LTE networks will be commercially launched by end 2012.” The move towards deploying LTE in re-farmed spectrum, particularly in the 1800 MHz band (ie LTE1800) is accelerating,

according to the report. Seven LTE1800 networks are now commercially launched, in Australia, Denmark, Germany, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland and Singapore. In Australia all three mobile operators have confirmed they will deploy LTE1800 systems (Telstra recently commercially launched its LTE network in this band). In the European Union, where operators are investing today in LTE networks or trials in more than 90% of member countries, GSA expects many of those operators will deploy LTE in 1800 MHz spectrum as part of their network strategy. AT

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Thermoforming and Contract Kitting


Issue •20Fax: AFRICA TELECOMS 15 Tel: 011-837 7700 011837 7703 email:

ICT Jobs at your fingertips How To Apply Step 1: Visit Step 2: Type the CJ Ref# in this box on the CareerJunction site and search.

Register free at and create a professional online Resume!

Web Ref.

* Please note that Recruiters may expire/delete Job Ads at any time.


EE Legal Advisor

Retention Consultant




Market Related Basic Salary

Market Related Basic Salary Neg

R7,300 Per Month Basic Salary

Permanent management level position in the Telecommunication sector at Permanent Management position in the Telecommunication sector in South Africa. CJ Ref# 11314654

Contract skilled level position in the Telecommunication sector at ZTE Corporation in South Africa.

Temporary junior level position in the Telecommunication sector in Johannesburg North in South Africa.

Country Manager / BDM(VAS experience)

EE Assistant Project Manager

Key Account Manager




R480,000 - R650,000 Per Annum CTC

Market Related Basic Salary Neg

R22, 000 - R24, 000 Per Month Basic

Permanent management level position in the Telecommunication sector in South Africa.

Contract skilled level position in the Telecommunication sector at ZTE Corporation in South Africa.

Permanent skilled level position in the Telecommunication sector in Gauteng in South Africa.

CJ Ref# 1300051

CJ Ref# 1300050

CJ Ref# 1315111

EE Program / Product Management Officer

Manager Product Portfolio - Applications

Key Account Manager

(Western Cape)



Market Related CTC Neg

R470,000 - R624,000 Per Annum CTC

Market Related CTC

Permanent management level position in the Telecommunication sector at International Communications Giant in South Africa.

Permanent management level position in the Telecommunication sector in South Africa.

Permanent management level position in the Telecommunication sector at Azola Recruitment Solutions in Johannesburg North in South Africa.

CJ Ref# 1289584

Fulfillment and Assurance Support Manager (Gauteng) R470,000 - R624,000 Per Annum CTC

Permanent management level position in the Telecommunication sector in South Africa.

CJ Ref# 1315543

CJ Ref# 1315743

Specialist - Product Management (Gauteng)


R470,000 - R624,000 Per Annum CTC

R450,000 - R500,000 Per Annum CTC

Permanent skilled level position in the Telecommunication sector in South Africa.

Permanent skilled level position in the Telecommunication sector in Centurion in South Africa.

CJ Ref# 1315792

CJ Ref# 1315125

CJ Ref# 1315738

Specialist - Mobile Content Management

Application Support Engineer

Wireless Trainer




R470,000 - R624,000 Per Annum CTC

R400,000 - R500,000 Per Annum

Market Related CTC

Permanent skilled level position in the Telecommunication sector in South Africa.

Permanent senior level position in the Telecommunication sector in Centurion in South Africa.

Permanent skilled level position in the Telecommunication sector at Huawei Technologies Co. in Johannesburg in South Africa.

CJ Ref# 1315736

Operations Specialist - Mobile Content Management (Gauteng) R330,000 - R390,000 Per Annum CTC

Permanent management level position in the Telecommunication sector in South Africa

Account Manager



Basic Plus Commission Neg

Market Related Basic Salary Neg

R20, 000 - R22, 000 Per Month Basic

Permanent junior level position in the Telecommunication sector in FOURWAYS in South Africa.

Contract skilled level position in the Telecommunication sector at ZTE Corporation in South Africa.

Permanent position in the Telecommunication sector in KZN in South Africa.

CJ Ref# 1300045

CJ Ref# 735157

EE Civil Work Supervisor

Fiber Transmission engineer

Account Executive

(Eastern Cape)



Market Related Basic Salary Neg

Market Related Basic Salary

R15, 000 - R18, 000 Per Month Basic

Contract skilled level position in the Telecommunication sector at ZTE Corporation in South Africa.

Contract skilled level position in the Telecommunication sector at ZTE Corporation SA (PTY) LTD in South Africa.

Permanent position in the Telecommunication sector in KZN in South Africa.

CJ Ref# 1307351

CJ Ref# 1300060

CJ Ref# 735141

Site Design Engineer

EE Procurement Administrator

(Eastern Cape,Free State,Gauteng,Western Cape)

(Western Cape)

Market Related Basic Salary

Market Related Salary CTC

Contract skilled level position in the Telecommunication sector at ZTE Corporation , South Africa.

Permanent skilled level position in the Telecommunication sector at MWEB Connect in Cape Town in South Africa.

(Eastern Cape, Free State, Gauteng, Western Cape) Market Related Basic Salary Neg

Contract skilled level position in the Telecommunication sector at ZTE Corporation in South Africa.

CJ Ref# 1309014

CJ Ref# 1300059

CJ Ref# 1313656

EE Senior Internal Auditor

EE Head: Network Operations

EE Fiber Optical Technical Manager

EE Power Application Engineer

EE Project Manager




(Eastern Cape,Free State,Gauteng,Western Cape,KwaZulu-Natal)

(Western Cape)

R550,000 - R600,000 Per Annum CTC

Market Related Salary

Market Related Basic Salary Neg

Market Related Basic Salary Neg

Market Related Salary CTC

Permanent senior level position in the Telecommunication sector at Iocore Global Resourcing in South Africa.

Permanent management level position in the Telecommunication sector at FastNet in Centurion in South Africa.

Contract senior level position in the Telecommunication sector at ZTE Corporation in South Africa.

Contract skilled level position in the Telecommunication sector at ZTE Corporation in South Africa.

Permanent management level position in the Telecommunication sector at MWEB Connect in Cape Town in South Africa.

CJ Ref# 1315751

CJ Ref# 1287328

CJ Ref# 1315508

Specialist - Element Technology

Huawei Core Network Trainer



470,000 - R624,000 Per Annum Cost To Company Incl Benefits

Market Related CTC

Permanent skilled level position in the Telecommunication sector in South Africa.

Permanent skilled level position in the Telecommunication sector at Huawei Technologies Co. in Johannesburg in South Africa.

CJ Ref# 1315773

EE EHS auditor


EE Network Planning and Optimization Engineer

CJ Ref# 1315249

CJ Ref# 1315255

CJ Ref# 1091186

Sales Representative

CJ Ref# 1314806

Application Support Engineer

CJ Ref# 1314039

CJ Ref# 1315259

for more jobs visit

Polish Speaking Customer Service Representative

EE Network Planning / (Optimization) Manager



R10,000 - R12,000 Per Month CTC

Market Related Basic Salary Neg

Permanent junior level position in the Telecommunication sector in Sandton in South Africa. CJ Ref# 984404

Contract senior level position in the Telecommunication sector at ZTE Corporation in South Africa. CJ Ref# 1300055

CJ Ref# 1313611

CJ Ref# 1311688

CJ Ref# 1300056

Network Administrator, MCN Support

EE Senior Manager Portal Content

(Western Cape)


Market Related CTC

R750,000 - R900,000 Per Annum CTC

Permanent skilled level position in the Telecommunication sector at Telkom SA Limited in Cape Town Onsite Foschini in South Africa.

Permanent senior level position in the Telecommunication sector in Johannesburg in South Africa.

CJ Ref# 1314369

for more fmcg jobs visit

CJ Ref# 1289936

Last Word

Bradley Shaw writes exclusively for Africa Telecoms

One Ring to rule them all? Tolkien helps us to tease out the meanings embedded in today’s mobile sagas. Ah, the glorious tales of heroes and antiheroes! What timeless realities speak to us in the resonating epic poems of Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey; through JRR Tolkien’s mythical trilogy, The Lord of the Rings? The tableaux are vast, the stakes are huge; the protagonists and antagonists are giants among men and women. Their victories and defeats resonate down the ages: centuries are shaped and continents are conquered. Cherished traditions and symbols describe risks and odds, bravery and sacrifice, betrayal and devotion. Gains and losses of superhuman and supernatural proportions. Tolkien’s stirring fantasies have transported his fans into makebelieve realms for decades. What comparable, dreamlike dimensions do we inhabit today? What digitalised worlds beyond the telling of even the most gifted Homers and Tolkiens of our time? On planet Earth the cyber skirmishes and battles being waged are every bit as decisive as any conflict in history. We witness transformation and power broking on an unprecedented scale. Let’s explore the current mobile patent wars, using a Lord of the Rings analogy. Tolkien aficionados know that the central character in The Lord of the Rings is less Frodo and more the One Ring, aka “My Precious” (can’t you hear Sméagol’s love phrase in your head right now?). The One Ring motivates all the characters and events. And the One Ring in this analogy is smartphone and tablet market penetration. The Dark Lord Sauron forged the One Ring in the fires of Mount Doom thousands of years ago, and used it to influence the leaders of Middle Earth. But during a great battle King


Isildur cut off Sauron’s ringbearing finger, destroying the Dark Lord (in body if not in soul) and claiming the Ring as his own. In our mobile landscape, Apple emerges as the Dark Lord Sauron, with the other players challenging Apple’s dominance in the smartphone and tablet market. Samsung sees itself as King Isildur, but is currently down in the battle, with the Galaxy 10.1 Tab being removed from shelves in several markets. Which company is Frodo, the great seeker and destroyer of the One Ring? With its latest purchase of Motorola Mobility (faithful Peregrin “Pippin” Took), Google is positioning itself as the defender of the Android environment. Google has even given patents to HTC (loyal Samwise Gangee) to bolster its patent litigation against Apple. Enter Gandalf the Wizard, the elderly one in the fellowship. Who else but Nokia? Although still vociferous and in there fighting, Gandalf continues to lose his grip on the mobile marketplace. Sorry, but one company has to be Saruman, the corrupt wizard in The Lord of the Rings. Take away “corrupt” and we are left with Microsoft as this antagonist. Saruman is becoming more active in the mobile sector, as illustrated by his new friendship with Gandalf. Today’s mobile patent wars seem unreal. Nearly every company has at least one lawsuit pending against another company working in the same ecosystem. This exposes the weaknesses and threats inherent in the global patent environment. Is it a case of “One ring to rule them all, One ring to find them, One ring to bring them all and in the darkness bind them”? What are our fictional heroes and antiheroes telling us now? AT

Africa Telecoms - Issue 20  

Green Telecoms

Africa Telecoms - Issue 20  

Green Telecoms