Tech4Africa

Broadband landscape changing

2010-08-12 15:50
TechCentral editor Duncan McLeod believes broadband in SA is changing fast. (Duncan Alfreds, News24)

TechCentral editor Duncan McLeod believes broadband in SA is changing fast. (Duncan Alfreds, News24)

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Special Report

Information wars begin - expert
Information wars begin - expert

The expansion of the internet in developing countries and the resistance by governments signals the start of the information wars, an expert says.

Johannesburg – There are changes coming as far as access to the internet is concerned, and it will change the way people behave online and consume media, believes Duncan McLeod, editor of TechCentral.

“There is massive capacity that we’ve never realised with the undersea cables coming on line,” McLeod told News24 at the Tech4Africa conference.

He said that high prices for broadband connectivity were declining, but often not fast enough for those who have been waiting for a long time.

“Telkom charged exorbitant prices and it’s come down 60% in six months – just on the threat on competition. They would never have reduced prices by themselves, but now we see it happening,” McLeod said.

He said that there were several companies working to supply cable services to households, but that regulation was needed to ensure that the environment was created where broadband could become universal in SA.

Legislation


“We are seeing a roll-out of national backhaul happening to people’s homes, but we need Icasa (the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa) to legislate to create the correct environment,” he said.

McLeod suggested that the arrival of accessible broadband will change the way broadcasters engage with their audience.

“Computers won’t replace TV, it will enhance TV because you’ll TVs connected to the internet and linear broadcasting will go away, except maybe for sport. People will have more control over what they watch, when they watch, but the SABC won’t go away soon.

“It’s probably another 10 years, but DSTV will feel the pain first. There’ll still be a role for a middle man, but his role in content will change,” McLeod said.

He rubbished suggestions that on demand TV will result in inferior, populist content.

“It’s like now anyway isn’t it? The biggest paper is the Daily Sun and it’s crap. There’ll still be a market for sober news, because they often have a higher LSM, and that’s more valuable in terms of advertising,” he said.

McLeod said that cloud computing would become more universal as broadband costs came down, and that SA could learn from the mistakes of developed countries with regard to security.

Safety

“Cloud computing is brilliant; I use it to run my business – it’s the way of the future. In a sense, we’ll be emulating what they’ve (developed countries) done, but we’ll also develop unique solutions, for example, prepaid cellphones were a South African invention,” he said.

With universal broadband access, there is a fear that it will result in increased censorship.

“Censorship is worrying, but it’s harder to censor things online. There are ways around it – even in China there are ways around the Great Firewall – it’s an inconvenience. It’s more about politicians trying to hide their dirty laundry anyway,” McLeod said.

He said that universal broadband would mean that parents would have to empower themselves to ensure that their children remained safe online.

“We have to create tools to block undesirable content, but it’s the parents’ responsibility – you have to make it your business to do it – you can’t just say ‘I don’t understand this computer stuff.’”

The Tech4Africa conference runs until Friday.

- Follow Duncan on Twitter
 

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