SAJIC Issue 6, 2005

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    Convergence and Emerging Technologies: Issues Faced by the Regulator
    (LINK Centre, University of the Witwatersrand (Wits), Johannesburg, 2005-12-15) Muhoro, Daniel G; Kennedy, Ian G
    Convergence is taking place in the telecommunications, broadcasting and information technology industries. Services that in the past were offered only on one platform are now offered on any platform by the three industries. The evolution of convergence has led to an increased demand for access to services and content. This, in turn, has led to the development of new technologies that offer high throughput to the end user. The regulator is now faced with the challenge of regulating the converging environment and dealing with spectrum management issues that arise due to the emerging technologies. This article reviews the issues faced by the regulator due to convergence and emerging technologies.
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    Geeks, Cowboys, and Bureaucrats: Deploying Broadband, the Wireless Way
    (LINK Centre, University of the Witwatersrand (Wits), Johannesburg, 2006-12-15) Bar, François; Galperin, Hernan
    The advent of new unlicensed wireless technologies allows a variety of new actors – from co-operatives to municipalities – to deploy and operate communication networks. This article reviews the evolution of the new breed of wireless technologies, in particular Wireless Fidelity (Wi-Fi), and discusses its implications for the architecture and control of emerging wireless broadband networks. Drawing on the social constructivist history of large technical systems and the work of economic historians concerned with the evolution of technology, the article explores the largely unexpected success of Wi-Fi. It then reviews the evidence to date on the bottom-up deployment of wireless networks by local actors in the United States, focusing on three types of initiatives driven by different deployment dynamics: end-user co-operatives (the “geeks”), wireless internet service providers (“cowboys”), and municipal government (“bureaucrats”). The conclusion discusses the policy and institutional issues most likely to affect the balance between centralised and decentralised deployment of wireless broadband networks in the near future, and suggests possible implications for the developing world.
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    Beware Dongas! An Assessment of the Road Ahead for Under-Serviced Area Licensing for Telecommunications Operators in South Africa
    (LINK Centre, University of the Witwatersrand (Wits), Johannesburg, 2005-12-15) Van Leijden, Fabian; Monasso, Ton
    In 2001 the South African Government began the process of Under-Serviced Area Licensing (USAL) as a major effort aimed at getting telecommunications into deep rural areas throughout the country. The USAL policy has three objectives: universal service and access; black economic empowerment; and stimulation of market competition. To fulfil these three objectives, the policy has to take into account the tensions that exist between the three objectives. The South African USAL process is not designed to mitigate these conflicts and is, therefore, unable to attain the objectives. While the policy is aimed at offering community-based and community-owned organisations the opportunity to provide telecommunications services, the licensing process and the licence conditions do not reflect this. Financial and educational support from the Government is minimal. Both the licensing process and the business process of building a telecommunications network are expensive, and gaining capital is difficult for these small companies. It should also be noted, regarding the business case of the companies, that while at the outset this case was already fairly weak, changes to the licensing conditions and a saturating cellular market over time have further seriously weakened this business case, rendering the viability of the companies questionable. For the process to be successful, Government bodies have to provide more support to the companies, and propagate a stable and clear regulatory environment.