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The Role of ADSL in Your Business

New wireless and fibre options can greatly improve reliability at good prices.

George Golding

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Businesses are increasingly dependent on Internet-delivered (cloud-based) IT and communications services today, including Voice over IP (VoIP). In such circumstances, reliable Internet is a must, or your business will simply grind to a halt.

Aware of this, VoIP customers often cite connectivity as their biggest concern. Frequently reported technical issues with ADSL have only deepened their fears, and so the answer is to look beyond using ADSL alone.

The role of ADSL

It must be noted that ADSL is a good technology that has done much to popularise broadband. Even today it holds its own among more up-to-date connectivity options.

But an ADSL link is only as good as the local exchange. Poor ADSL service is often caused by an exchange that is either over-subscribed or under-maintained, causing outages or quality problems like jitter, delay or dropped voice packets.

Good ADSL, bad ADSL

There are good areas for ADSL and bad ones. Some have a rich supply of ADSL bandwidth via well-maintained local exchanges, while others have too many users ‘contending’ for the same bandwidth and poorly maintained infrastructure.

So how do you overcome this? Ensure you’re in a good coverage area (this goes for any form of connectivity). Free tests on sites like www.speedtest.net (line throughput) and www.pingtest.net (quality) give an instant indication of speed and quality of lines.

Secondly, always have ‘failover’ (a backup line) – but never from the same provider or, naturally, using the same technology.

Better new options

Thirdly, ADSL is not the only option. Without detracting from the contribution of ADSL over the years, numerous new wireless and fibre connectivity options are emerging to offer great quality, copious, non-contended bandwidth at a small premium. These include WiMax from Neotel, fibre from Neotel and Telkom, and a range of wireless connectivity providers such as Snowball, Vlocity and TWK.

  • WiMAX offers high-speed connectivity over long distances. It compares favourably with ADSL and fibre in price and performance, without suffering the contention of ADSL or the infrastructural investment of fibre.
  • Fibre – Fibre rollout is speeding up, and uptake among businesses and affluent communities is causing prices to fall. As competition increases, fibre offers increasingly well-priced, high-performance options too.
  • Wireless – The number of wireless providers in SA is growing. Some of the bigger providers offer direct VoIP-dedicated links into national fibre networks such as ECN’s (also VoIP-dedicated). Others link to providers offering ‘breakout’ onto fibre networks. The low cost and minimal infrastructural disruption of wireless allows providers to pursue low-population areas.
  • 3G – The cellular providers offer high throughput at competitive rates, but due to the inability of 3G to handle more than one stream of data (two calls or a call and browsing simultaneously), it must be used in conjunction with a quality of service tool like ViBE (see further down). To use ViBE, 3G users need an unrestricted APN to allow a VPN tunnel through its firewall.
Comparison between broadband access technologies
Technology Line speed Up/downlink speeds Bandwidth package Considerations Price (+/-)
ADSL Broadband 4Mbps 640Kbps/4Mbps 50GB Reliant on exchange (contention, maintenance) R2600
Wireless Broadband 2Mbps 2Mbps/2Mbps Unlimited Breakout onto fibre backbone R2699
Wireless Voice Link 512k 512k Diginet Replacement Unlimited Voice only links directly link into dedicated VoIP networks bypassing all shared networks. 1350
WiMAX Broadband 5Mbps 2Mbps/5Mbps Unlimited Broadband link, new technology R2300
Fibre 2Mbps 2Mbps/2Mbps Unlimited Broadband link, new technology R3050
3G Varies per provider and location Varies per provider and location Depends on package and provider Broadband Link Varies per provider

Source: Webafrica.com, Snowball.co.za, Neotel

Quality vibe

Even with quality technologies like these, uptime can never be taken for granted. As with ADSL, having redundancy or failover with all these, especially 3G, is wise. In fact, because of their cost-effectiveness, an ADSL line or 3G connection is most appropriately used not as primary, but as secondary (backup) line to these other providers.

But if ADSL has been the cause of complaints, and 3G can’t handle more than one voice stream, how can they be an option even as backup? The answer is to combine it with a technology like ViBE by VoIPex, a de facto quality-of-service standard with VoIP providers.

ViBE works on multiple levels to overcome quality and capacity issues:

  • It streamlines data traffic by stripping out unnecessary data
  • Using VPN technology, it ‘insulates’ voice packets within a non-dedicated data line to block out interference from other data
  • By a technique similar to ‘ADSL bonding’, it pieces a complete VoIP stream together out of voice packets from two redundant links if one goes down or both have quality issues

3G, like ADSL, can be much improved with ViBE and VPN technology. With ViBE and an unrestricted APN, VoIP on 3G can handle up to five concurrent calls. ViBE creates a single VPN link, managing multiple calls within it but seeming like a single thread.

Take two

Depending on your financial profile and throughput requirements, a variety of primary and failover connectivity options exist that can give you the assurance that the Internet won’t fail your business.

While ADSL continues to make sense in certain circumstances, a range of new connectivity options like fibre, WiMAX and wireless are challenging the copper technology’s once uncontested birthright to rule the connectivity landscape.

George Golding is Euphoria Telecoms’ CEO and media spokesperson. A natural-born entrepreneur, George is as fervent about IT as he is about affordable communications services and business integrity. Euphoria Telecoms provides Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) communication services to small and medium enterprises in South Africa. For more information go to www.euphoria.co.za.

Entrepreneur Today

10 African Innovators Selected For Global Accelerator Startupbootcamp Afritech

Startupbootcamp AfriTech empowers the top innovative African tech startups, linking them to the fastest-moving corporates on the continent.

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Startupbootcamp (SBC) AfriTech today announced the Top 10 African Innovators selected to participate in the globally renowned, multi-corporate backed accelerator programme for 2018.

Post an intensive 3-month global scouting tour, across 15 countries, and inclusive of 19 FastTrack events and 220 face-to-face startup engagements, the SBC AfriTech team received 1,004 applications from 73 countries in total, attracting double the applications from its inaugural launch in 2017.

The applications were shortlisted to the top 22 startup teams that were flown down to pitch their businesses over 2-days to some of the most progressive leaders in the innovation space in Africa, including corporate sponsors, mentors and investors.

The SBC AfriTech programme (previously SBC Africa) ended on a record high in 2017 with 32 corporate agreements in pilots and proof-of-concepts signed by close of the accelerator.

“Our inaugural year was big, it was bold,” comments Zachariah George, co-founder and Chief Investment Officer of SBC AfriTech, “Our phenomenal success of last year has made us the only truly global accelerator for tech ventures in partnership with dynamic corporates on the African continent – we are accelerating the next wave of innovation in Africa.”

Related: A Comprehensive List Of Angel Investors That Fund South African Start-Ups

The top 10 African Innovators selected are:

  1. Akiba Digital, South Africa: A financial savings platform and personal savings coach that leverages A.I., machine learning and gamification to democratize wealth in Africa.
  2. Bankly Technologies, Nigeria: A goal-based savings product that digitizes cash and enables in-country, peer-to-peer transfer services through the use of vouchers available nationwide.
  3. Brandbook Analytics, South Africa: A mobile application providing users free gift-card coupons for completed purchases with the ability to harvest vast amounts of consumer data and improved forecasting and analytics.
  4. CredPal, Nigeria: An innovative solution using deep data that provides individuals with instant access to credit at the point of checkout for various online and offline merchants.
  5. Digitech Group, Ivory Coast: Provides incumbent insurance companies an omni-channel and cloud-based digital platform to sell insurance products through mobile and web.
  6. Inclusive Financial Technologies, Ghana: Inclusive FT’s API helps digital financial services reach the most remote customers across Africa by enabling them to onboard, verify and monitor them via digital channels.
  7. Kudimoney Bank, Nigeria: A no-charge, full-service, online-only bank making banking services more affordable and more accessible by offering an interest-earning spending account with zero charges, a savings account with above-average interest rates and access to low interest instant loans.
  8. Lüla, South Africa: A mobility-as-a-service platform that connects stakeholders to improve mobility by providing transport that is convenient, accessible and safe and enabling operators, cities and passengers to have easy access and understanding of transport.
  9. MPost, Kenya: A patented solution providing legally recognised physical addresses for the 95% of the African population that do not have a postal address.
  10. Prospa, South Africa: A micro-savings solution for low-income earning South Africans, allowing users to purchase savings vouchers at traders that entitle the user to a set amount of savings which are deposited into a mobi-savings account.

The 10 selected tech startups have a month to ready themselves for the 3-month accelerator that will kick off on August 13th in Cape Town and culminate with the Demo Day on November 8th when they will pitch to the world.

Related: 27 Of The Richest People In South Africa

To the Top 10, Philip Kiracofe says: “You are here because your solution is market-ready and the sponsors want to work with you starting from today. The next 3 months are going to be absolutely exhilarating. We are going to be here side-by-side, shoulder-to-shoulder, pushing you, cajoling you, encouraging you, nurturing you, mentoring you and helping you achieve 12 – 18 months’ worth of growth in a 3-month span. On Demo Day you’re not going to believe that just 3 months ago you were standing where you are today. Congratulations and good luck.”

SBC AfriTech is anchored and endorsed by heavyweight corporate sponsors RCS, BNP Paribas Personal Finance, Old Mutual, Nedbank and PwC. The programme also has local service partners Brevity Law, Cloudworx, Inner City Ideas Cartel, and The Loudhailer and is globally supported by Google Cloud, Cisco and Amazon Web Services.

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Entrepreneur Today

Annual Show Fundex To Reveal Entrepreneurs Funding Secrets

Riversands Incubation Hub is set to host its third annual FundEX event at Riversands on Thursday 16 August 2018.

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Last year’s FundEX brought together more than 600 entrepreneurs seeking funding for business expansion. This year’s one-day conference and expo is set to create numerous golden opportunities for entrepreneurs needing access to funding.

FundEX carries the theme ‘Secrets of Scale’, and will unpack what it takes to build a ‘fundable’ business, featuring entrepreneurs who have attracted funding and built successful businesses.

“We measure the success of FundEX against the number of entrepreneurs who secure funding after the event. Contrary to popular belief, there is funding available. This event aims to provide practical guidance on what funding is available and what it takes to access this capital,” says Jenny Retief, CEO of Riversands Incubation Hub.

While Riversands does not provide funding, the organisation plays a role in bridging the gap between entrepreneurs and the many players in the funding space.

Related: Government Funding And Grants For Small Businesses

This year’s FundEX will extend beyond the one-day event and includes 10 places for entrepreneurs to work with a finance coach with insights from funding experts to prepare for funding. “We will walk this funding journey with these selected entrepreneurs,” adds Retief. Entrepreneurs attending FundEX can apply to be selected for this ‘fast-track’ process.

Entrepreneurs will also have the opportunity to interact with a variety of funders including banks, government funders and alternative funding platforms in the funders’ lounge during the show. Appointments with funders can be booked on the day, with the lounge opening at 10:00 and running to 15:00.

The one-day event runs from 09:00 to 16:00 and is open to the public, with tickets available online at http://www.fundex.co.za priced at R350 per head.

Riversands Incubation Hub is located off William Nicol Drive near Dainfern.

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Entrepreneur Today

What Is South Africa Day?

Celebrated annually on the last Saturday of November, South Africa Day is dedicated to nation building where South Africans are inspired by the spirit of our common citizenship, values and constitution to forge a unity that is unique to our land and people.

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Drawing inspiration from an auspicious moment in South Africa’s history when 26 political parties signed the Interim Constitution in November 1993; South Africa Day is not a public holiday, but a day of celebration and of community togetherness that is supported by South African business, and driven by ordinary citizens.

South Africa Day is therefore a day on which projects, celebrations and events aimed at community building are undertaken throughout the nation. While South Africa already has many specific focused days viz. Youth Day, Women’s Day, Worker’s Day, Mandela Day (service to humanity, with international focus), Heritage Day (cultural diversity), there is no day set aside for the deliberate bringing together of South Africans as a whole. South Africa Day is intended to bring a sense of urgency to addressing the challenges facing South Africa within the global economy, and those facing the nation in its politics and in the fracturing of social cohesion.

South Africa Day is the brainchild of Dr Bheki Shongwe; whose vision was brought to life through the support of prominent members of South African society who have dedicated their lives to building our country. Archbishop Thabo Magkoba, Advocate George Bizos, Father Smangaliso Mkhatshwa, Professor Wiseman Nkuhlu and Dr Enos Banda are patrons of South Africa Day. Of course, the contribution of our sponsors and the value they have added cannot be stressed enough.

Noteworthy activities to date include The Foschini Group’s vibrant approach to an in-house display in celebration of South Africa Day in November 2017 where staff where encouraged to sign the South Africa Day Pledge and Declaration. The Foschini Group has set in motion what South Africa Day hopes will be one of hundreds of events that will be organised by South Africans citizens in the future.

Related: 6 Of The Most Profitable Small Businesses In South Africa

Nation building is important to inculcating a feeling of belonging and with it accountability and responsible behaviour (National Planning Commission: 2011). Central to South Africa Day’s efforts toward nation building is active citizenship in community upliftment in partnership with business and community organisations. As such, the organisation has a number of Flagship Projects that are being activated.

One project that is already coming to fruition is that of the South Africa Day Towns Makeover Initiative; wherein NWK is the proud premier sponsor.  Spearheaded by South Africa Day Chief Operations Officer Barend la Grange, the town of Coligny was selected out of 6 towns in the North West province.

Coligny was a town plagued by racial fragmentation and tension following the death of sixteen-year-old Matlhomola Jonas Mosweu and the subsequent riots; and rising out of such a difficult situation especially with the events that have further divided the society being so recent, is not an easy feat. However, the Cleaning, Reparation, Painting and Planting (CRPP) beautification process, through the commitment and efforts of the local community and local business saw sponsors from outside of Coligny viz. Promac and PowerRock step in to work with the local community and business by sponsoring products and service. Prior to implementation and for the purpose of this project in Coligny, research was undertaken by the Urban and Regional students of the North-West University, under the leadership of Prof Juaneé Cilliers.

South Africa Day is immensely proud of the progress to date and plans are already under way to ensure that the objective is not just to make the town attractive in an effort to instil pride in its residents and visitors but to create an environment that is investor friendly. Chris Hart, Marius Joubert and other key economic and financial experts and interest groups are collaborating with the Coligny Forum around medium and long term investment in the town that will have sustainable impact through job creation for the local communities of Coligny, Scotland and Tlhabologang.  After all, the beautification process of the town has to be accompanied by improvement of the socio-economic circumstances of citizens for the South Africa Day Towns Makeover Initiative to have a more long term, meaningful impact.

South Africa Day would love to see all South Africans get excited about and pledge support for, South Africa Day by adopting the South Africa Day Pledge and Declaration: http://www.southafricaday.org.za/Pledge/PledgeDeclaration.

For more information about South Africa Day, kindly visit www.southafricaday.org or https://www.facebook.com/SouthAfricaDay/

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