SAJIC Issue 2, 2001

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Now showing 1 - 7 of 7
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    When Cultural Content and Information Technology Converge
    (LINK Centre, University of the Witwatersrand (Wits), Johannesburg, 2001-12-15) Berger, Guy
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    Convergence, Digitisation and New Technologies: Towards the Next Generation Network
    (LINK Centre, University of the Witwatersrand (Wits), Johannesburg, 2001-12-15) Hanrahan, Hu
    This paper introduces the concept of the Next Generation Network as the vision for convergence between the modern digital Public Switched Telecommunications Network and Internet Protocol Networks. The technological features of the NGN, as well as the business models that it facilitates, are described. Gateways to the PSTN are described. Migration of the PSTN to the NGN and further evolution of the NGN are outlined. The role of the NGN in providing universal service and universal access is outlined. An example of the use of NGN technologies to create next generation Telecentres is presented.
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    Reviewing Universal Access in South Africa
    (LINK Centre, University of the Witwatersrand (Wits), Johannesburg, 2001-12-15) Benjamin, Peter
    This article reviews the progress towards universal access to telephony and other information projects in South Africa between 1996, when the last Telecommunications Act was passed, and 2000. It draws on the results of the Telecentre 2000 (1) study and the Community ICT (2)research project. The Telecentre programme of the Universal Service Agency (USA) is examined in detail, with statistics on the progress of their 65 telecentres being provided. This programme is critiqued, focusing both on the problems of the telecentres and a misunderstanding of their role in creating a model for universal access. Initiatives, such as Vodacom Phone shops and the Multi-Purpose Community Centres of the Government Communications & Information Service, are also covered to show other models for community ICT projects were possible. The statistics on universal access since 1996, showing a major increase in access to telephony, are given though this has little to do with the work of the USA. The idea of a "Dig-it-all divide" is introduced. The challenges facing the country in this sector are very different from what they were in 1996, and the focus of the work in this area must shift from chasing numbers to finding real ways in which these technologies can support people-centred development.
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    Experimenting with Institutional Arrangements for Communications Policy and Regulation: The Case of Telecommunications and Broadcasting in South Africa
    (LINK Centre, University of the Witwatersrand (Wits), Johannesburg, 2001-12-15) Gillwald, Alison
    This paper examines the shifting institutional arrangements in South Africa’s telecommunications and broadcasting sectors as it seeks to deal with national transformation at the same time as the relentless economic and technical changes to the sector being driven at a global level. These include the convergence of traditionally distinct forms of communication resulting from the digitalisation of technologies and the privatisation and liberalisation of traditional monopoly services. The author locates the changing institutional arrangements in this sector in the context of the struggle by government to transform decision-making and institutional arrangements. The tensions inherent in this process are not clear-cut, consistent or even clearly visible but impact in complex and cross-cutting ways on the policy framework and arising institutional arrangements. The paper then periodises institutional arrangements in the broadcasting and telecommunications sectors into four overlapping phases: the pre-transition phase up to 1993; the reform phase up to 1997; the implementation phase which begins in 1994 in broadcasting and 1997 in telecommunications and the review phase which begins with broadcasting in 1998 and in telecommunications in 2001. Although the institutional flux has often been attributed to forward looking policy it is argued that the perpetual reorganisation of the sector also reflects large scale institutional failure. It is argued however that this cannot be placed solely at the door of the various new regulatory institutions. Perhaps one of the most critical factors to undermine the various regulatory institutions has been the lack of resources. The lack of skilled human capital has allowed all three regulators to be out-regulated by the industry and the lack of financial capital has rendered them in effectual both in defending their actions and fulfilling their mandate. The dearth of these have taken their toll on the ability of the regulator to be credible and one can only conclude reflects the covert desire of the industry and state for them not to be entirely effectual. Finally, the paper argues that until there is an integrated and holistic national information and communication policy, driven from the Presidents Office, various policy proposals impacting on ICT development in the country emanating from different portfolios will continue to be contradictory, inconsistent and ultimately damaging to the vision of South Africa as a regional ICT hub and a major contributor to the African Renaissance.
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    The Collision of Regulatory Convergence and Divergence: Updating Policies of Surveillance and Information Technology
    (LINK Centre, University of the Witwatersrand (Wits), Johannesburg, 2001-12-15) Hosein, Ian
    Regulation theory rarely considers the disruptive capacity of technology, nor regulation in the sole interest of government. This paper will investigate the capacity of technology to disrupt regulatory regimes surrounding surveillance and communications infrastructure in various countries. As policy regimes are updated to meet new challenges, through the creation of new policy habitats, new powers are created despite protests and claims of technological neutrality. However, the capacity to interpret technology does not end: technology will disrupt even the new habitat, requiring renegotiation and re-settlements. Such negotiations often occur at the international level; some of these processes will be reviewed and critiqued. Considering the contingent nature of technology policy, this paper then recommends some ways forward when considering new national policies, such as the process that South Africa is about to embark on.
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    Towards Electronic Commerce in Africa: A Perspective from Three Country Studies
    (LINK Centre, University of the Witwatersrand (Wits), Johannesburg, 2001-12-15) Esselaar, Philip; Miller, Jonathan
    The challenges of globalisation and the information age are concentrating the minds of all African governments. Many of the issues that need to be addressed are similar but the situation in each country is different, both from an economic and a historical perspective, and the roads to the optimum realisation of the potential of ICT will be different. Studies in three African countries (Rwanda, Namibia and South Africa) have highlighted both the similarities and the differences. The similarities relate to the fact that all three countries have large and relatively impoverished groups of people, mainly located in rural areas, where the benefits to be derived from ICT have not been felt. However there are major differences in the sizes of the overall economies, in the level of expertise available, general infrastructure, and socio-economic and historical circumstances that manifest in different policy and development issues within each country. Recently, several assessment tools have been developed to assist countries and communities to determine where they are positioned in relation to the factors critical to the development of an information society and the consequent widespread use of e-Commerce. The intention is for policy-makers to make more informed policy decisions. The authors have applied one such tool to all three countries, in particular differentiating between rural and urban communities. Clear differences emerge and in particular it appears that more refined analyses of different demographic groupings within each country could help the e-commerce policy formation process.