Technology Web

OTT Regulation is an Attack on Net Neutrality, but Zero Rating is just as Evil

Finally, the issue of Net Neutrality has arrived on South African shores, with money gluttons MTN and Vodacom making attempts at garnishing WhatsApp’s revenue through something shrouded in the phrase “OTT regulation”.

Put simply, Vodacom and MTN want to charge content providers for providing their content to the networks’ clients.
It’s complete nonsense, and shows a lack of understanding of the tech industry and the future of telecommunications, and of course, smacks of greed grown on the back of collapsing SMS revenues. (A gift of a revenue, as SMS was actually designed as a network control channel, not as a chargeable service of GSM).

If the parliamentary committee that has suddenly and mysteriously taken it upon themselves to hold hearings on the matter actually find a way to implement rnew controls, a very bad precedent will be set for the future of South Africa’s Internet. Reckless regulation could lead to Telcos having the ability to hold to ransom any service that could potentially transit their network; Google Mail, Dropbox, Youtube, Netflix, Facebook, Vimeo, Showmax, Skype, Apple, and every website and web service on the planet.

The knock-on effect is catastrophic to entrepreneurs and small businesses. For example the small online radio station They certainly do not have the revenue to pay Vodacom or MTN if someone on the MTNVoda-networks listens for a few hours to their station. Any young upstart product from South Africa, that could potentially change the world, will instead be squashed with punitive charges and never see the light of day. I certainly cannot and will not pay MTN or Vodacom if they charge me to have someone read this blog post.

MTN and Vodacom and the likes (Telkom, Neotel) will delight in further extending their anti-competitive business practices into controlling Internet connectivity and speed in South Africa. They will have no shame in selling their content from their portals to their customers while censoring competition from other content providers. It’s a small step from blocking and regulating just WhatsApp, to then developing walled-garden applications WhatsAppVoda or MTNiMessage which only work on their respective networks and are subject to the billing whims of these powerful companies.

It’s double-dipping. It’s bad for all consumers.

Cell C, on the other hand, have been championing an opposite voice; that of non-regulation of OTT services, and this I do applaud. They are actually trying to stand up for the consumer, which is fantastic. Or is it?

You see Cell C love to “zero-rate” certain services. (Charge customers nothing for their data usage). In fact, Cell C currently zero-rate WhatsApp traffic. In the same way MTN has zero-rated Twitter and their own FrontRow movie service, and Telkom zero-rates Showmax and MTN zero-rates WeChat and And Vodacom zero-rates some digital classroom initiatives. And this is just as big a problem. It’s anti-competitive in exactly the same fashion as OTT regulation. It’s just portrayed as customer friendly and easily disguised as being of benefit to the consumer.

Net Neutrality is the principle that Internet service providers should enable access to all content and applications regardless of the source, and without favoring or blocking particular products or websites

Zero-rating creates tiers and classes of data that are not even for all. It’s a devil just as evil as OTT regulation.
It has to be net neutral or bust. None should have privilege at the expense of another.

Both OTT regulation and zero-rating are stances against Net Neutrality, introducing imbalances that a country filled with inequality can surely do without.

To read more, there’s a collection of articles on Net Neutrality in South Africa here.

Entertainment Sports

Google’s World Cup Tidbits

Apart from the old Street View being launched in SA, Google has also introduced a few other treats in anticipation of the soccer World Cup.

For instance, if you search for “World Cup” on Google, you get a summary schedule of upcoming matches, as well as a list of teams and pools. If you then scroll further down the page, you’ll see this beauty:

Nice one, Google.
Oh, and Bafana supporters, don’t forget to tweet with tag #WhenBafanaWins to get onto the When Bafana Wins microsite.

Computing Technology Web

Google Street View South Africa Is Here

Barely scraping it in by the skin of their teeth, Google has managed to get its Street View imagery operational for South Africa just in time for the World Cup. Yay! No more lost tourists.

They’ve also done a huge amount of work in the Google Earth platform to create 3D imagery of all the stadiums which looks quite beautiful:

Over and above the 27 towns and cities photographed, the cars and trikes also made over 40 ‘special collects’ of imagery at special locations. ¬†Amongst others, these include:

  • For sports lovers:
    • Soccer City
    • Loftus
    • Moses Mabhida
    • Peter Mokaba
    • ABSA Durban
    • Mbombela
    • Wanderers
    • St Georges
    • Supersport Park
  • For outdoors lovers:
    • Cape peninsula
    • Natal Midlands
    • Kruger
    • Addo
    • Tsitsikamma
    • Walter Sisulu Botanical Gardens
    • Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens, Midlands
    • Tsitsikamma
    • Wilderness
    • Harkerville Forest
    • Kagga Kamma Nature Reserve
    • Blyde River Canyon
  • For city lovers:
    • Nelson Mandela Bridge
    • Vilakazi Street
    • Gandhi Square
    • Walter Sisulu Square
    • Newtown and Africa Museum
    • Adderley St and St George’s Cathedral
    • Beach Road, Cape Town
    • Company Gardens
    • Apartheid Museum
    • Turffontein Race Course
    • Settlers Park
  • For wine lovers:
    • Meerlust
    • Jordan Wines
    • Rustenberg
    • Klein Constantia
    • Bouchard Finlayson
    • Morgenster
    • De Wetshof
    • De Rust Estate
    • Warwick Wine Estate
    • Vilafonte Vineyards
    • Hamilton Russell
    • Fairview

Usually being African makes life a little less digital, but this time, thanks to Google, it’s good to feel like a 21st century citizen.
More at: Google Street View South Africa.

Entertainment Technology

Google Street View South Africa Launch on 8 June

According to news site MyBroadband, Google has now announced that it will launch Street View Imagery in South Africa on Tuesday, 8th of June 2010, in time for the 2010 FIFA World Cup.

A quick glance at show’s they’ve already uploaded some higher-res imagery of parts of SA. Presumably we can expect views of the World Cup stadiums, possibly inside and out, as well as a trip through the Kruger National Park and perhaps one or two other exciting highlights.

More details about the service will be revealed at a media event on 8 June.


When Bafana Wins microsite

In a show of support for the South African national soccer squad, Bafana Bafana, it’s time for South Africans to rise up with speculation on what will happen when Bafana wins matches at the 2010 Soccer World Cup.

Visit the When Bafana wins microsite.

Like to contribute? Use the #WhenBafanaWins hashtag on twitter and it might just get picked up and published.