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On June 25th, O3B Networks successfully launched 4 of its satellites into orbit. It hopes to have the full complement of 8 satellites in space by the end of the year.

Successfully launched on June 25th

Successfully launched on June 25th

This marks a huge accomplishment.

You can watch the Youtube clip of the launch here.

A blog post on the company website provides further detail on upcoming activities. First up for the

satellites:

Read the rest of this entry »

Definitely, reason to celebrate

The recent defeat of South Africa’s Springboks at the Rugby World Cup may have resulted from their players’ desire to return home quickly and snap up some very enticing new pricing plans available for broadband service. Despite the rugby loss, South Africa is poised to become the Southern Hemisphere’s leader in telcoms.

A retail pricing war is underway in South Africa. Vodacom, MTN, incumbent carrier Tellkom, iBurst, and others are dramatically lowering prices while improving consumer choice and service quality.

An example of some of the changes:

…stepping up to the plate is MTN, which has launched an unlimited and uncapped data promotion that gives customers navigating options on MTN’s network at peak HSPA+ speeds from as little as R289 (FJD 70) a month.

And iBurst has also introduced new data packages ranging in price from as low as R49 (FJD 11) per month for 1GB to 50GB at R445 (FJD 105).

New devices such as smartphones and tablets drive consumer demand for data. Serame Taukobong, MTN South Africa’s chief marketing officer, said that with the increase in smartphones and tablet technologies data usage has gone up:

“We have seen a significant number of our customers taking up latest smartphones, tablet PCs, wireless routers and laptop deals that MTN is offering. This promotion is a response to the increased data appetite that comes with the usage of these devices,” he said.

At the same time, the Vodacom Apps Store has reached 100,000 downloads in its first month of operation and the company is now launching a program to support local talent in applications development.

New devices driving consumer demand for data

South Africa has achieved that enviable balance where the pipes are in place, and there are adequate numbers of players at wholesale and retail level to drive widespread adoption. As more consumers buy smartphones and tablets, increased data usage will enable even more volume discounting. Most importantly, there will be a user base in place to support an app development community that will have a local market of millions who are in position to buy their creations.

This thriving ecosystem is something the Pacific Islands can only dream of—as I was reminded by a local telecom CEO who said, “we don’t do applications and services”. You might as well be telling me that you don’t do the future. So much for all the empty rhetoric on ‘innovation’. 

From Antigua, an example of a telcom leading an initiative to increase Internet usage amongst students. Digicel, in partnership with the Government of Antigua and Barbuda, announced details of a new initiative which will deliver broadband internet service for free to communities and schools across the twin-island nation.

A Blueprint for the “Technology for Communication, Education and Empowerment” initiative which will provide free broadband connectivity via WiFi access to 3,000 homes and 5,000 secondary school children is provided:

... to provide community computer access centres in 12 secondary schools, which will include the physical infrastructure as well as the furniture and air-conditioning.  Each of these community access centres will accommodate at least 20 students.

Minister of Information, Broadcasting, Telecommunications, Science and Technology Dr Edmond Mansoor said that, “in building a truly Intelligent Nation, the Government is working towards ensuring that every home and every office is equipped with a personal computer and high-speed Internet.”

In our part of the world, such initiatives will play a crucial role in exposing the large segments of the community to using broadband Internet. Such an initiative is invited and welcomed here in the Pacific. We hope to see Digicel embark on such an initiative in the near future.

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