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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.

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Tsogo Sun Entrepreneurs Takes On 30 New Businesses

22 Women and 20 men – attended a three-day induction at Tsogo Sun’s Crowne Plaza The Rosebank hotel in Johannesburg from 31 January to 2 February.

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With new hope burgeoning throughout the South African business environment as fundamental political change sweeps through the country, the Tsogo Sun Entrepreneurs programme has inducted 42 new beneficiaries from 30 different SMMEs for a year of intense training, coaching, mentorship and support – to assist them to professionalise and grow their businesses. This brings to 242 the total number of entrepreneurs supported by the programme.

The inductees – 22 women and 20 men – attended a three-day induction at Tsogo Sun’s Crowne Plaza The Rosebank hotel  in Johannesburg from 31 January to 2 February. This represented the commencement of the programme’s 2018 development year, which incorporates the provision of customised analysis and strategic plans tailored to the specific needs of each enrolled business, business management courses provided by the University of Cape Town and facilitated by GetSmarter; Financial literacy courses through the Colour Accounting system, Microsoft Office courses, and Sales & Marketing training.  The beneficiaries are each assigned a business analyst, a financial mentor and a leadership coach who work with them to implement their business strategies throughout the year.

Related: Before Time In Soweto – The Décor Hire And Catering Entrepreneurs That Are Growing Their Business Annually

This year’s class of 2018 entrepreneurs is made up of 30 small businesses operating in provinces across six provinces in South Africa in a diverse range of market sectors that include: tourism, ICT, cleaning, professional services, manufacturing, retail, health and beauty, agriculture and secretarial and administrative services. Candy Tothill, Tsogo Sun’s GM of Corporate Affairs, says “Part of the value of such a diverse group is that it creates opportunities for the businesses to trade with each other.”

She adds, “Job creation is increasingly crucial in South Africa, as unemployment has reached unprecedented levels, particularly among the youth. Through the Tsogo Sun Entrepreneurs programme, we identify and assist people running their own businesses to professionalise their operations in an effort to make them viable employers who are sustainable businesses and contributors to the growth of the country’s economy.  At the same time, we encourage them to be “conscious” consumers who procure local products and services and support each other by keeping it local and proudly South African.  We are interested in changing their approaches from “managerial” mindsets to “leadership” mindsets, and so we motivate them to be fearless in their approach to growth with purpose. The programme provides them with the skills to enhance their strategic planning and performance and the wisdom to “pay it forward” by training them to become leaders in their communities.  The role that the programme’s mentors and coaches play in instilling these values is of great significance to the achievement of our objectives.”

Belinda Francis, MD of Tych Solutions, a generalist recruitment agency based in Durban with offices in Johannesburg and Eastern Cape, was enthusiastic about joining the Tsogo Sun Entrepreneurs programme. “Tsogo Sun is an amazing brand to be associated with, but more so, having met the team at a Supplier Showcase and heard others’ success stories, I was hungry to learn more and be a part of this journey. I don’t have an active partner and so I believe this programme will help to grow and empower me and my entire team even further. I am big on empowering and developing people and small businesses – and this will certainly create the platform for me to do so.”

Related: Gemkids – From Montessori Method To Micro Enterprise

Entrepreneur Carol Mlangeni, director of Enhle Creatives Photography & Design, also based in Durban, says she was browsing the internet looking for guidance on how to resolve issues within her company when she saw a Tsogo Sun Entrepreneurs advertisement – and immediately responded. “I have issues within my business and I have been looking for answers on how to resolve them and grow my business and my brand awareness – I hope to achieve this through this programme.” Mlangeni adds that her future plans include providing job opportunities for “other aspiring enthusiasts like me”.

Thato Senosi is Founder of Magauta Designs and Projects, which supplies custom-made curtains, upholstery, and furniture repairs, and is based in Katlehong in Ekurhuleni. He was introduced to Tsogo Sun Entrepreneurs by his mother, Carol Senosi, who joined the programme in 2016 and was a finalist in the Entrepreneur of the Year Awards. He says he joined the programme because

“I believe that entrepreneurship is a science, and one needs to put together all the necessary tools and formulas to build a successful business – and this programme offers that. My expectations this year are to identify missing formulas and find solutions, to be monitored and supported, and helped to become a great version of myself so I can inspire others, because no man is an island.”

His plans for the future include starting his own textile manufacturing company and bringing industry into the township to help combat some of the social challenges in his local community.

Says Tothill, “It’s encouraging to see the growing reach of Tsogo Sun Entrepreneurs throughout the country and in a diverse range of businesses, and we wish our new beneficiaries – the Class of 2018 – every success through the year as they discover new ways to develop themselves and their enterprises.”

Tsogo Sun has a portfolio of over 100 hotels and 13 casino and entertainment destinations throughout South Africa, Africa and the Seychelles. For more details, visit https://www.tsogosun.com, follow on Twitter @TsogoSun or like on Facebook /TsogoSun.

Visit the Tsogo Sun Entrepreneurs on Facebook: Facebook/TsogoEntrepreneurs and follow #TsogoEntrepreneurs on Twitter and Instagram.

Tsogo Sun Entrepreneurs Class of 2018 with Hezron Louw

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2018 National Budget: What To expect?

The South African economy has experienced undue economic pressure and decreasing investor confidence. 

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Pressure was undoubtedly on the South African National Treasury to take active steps to address short-comings and enable growth within the local economy.

“The anticipation of 2018/2019 Annual Budget Speech is growing; with the hope that it will bring improvement in the economy, address key challenges and create tangible solutions for consumers and businesses alike,” says Hugo van Zyl: FNB Fiduciary Specialist.

With the upcoming Budget Speech on the 21st of February; we looked to the past year and highlight a few key financial key points that may still affect consumers this year:

Personal Income Tax

In 2017, minor adjustments were made to this tax bracket last year; with 45% for taxable income above R1.5 million being introduced. This increase in taxes payable for income earners above the R1.5 million income thresholds saw significant pressure on tax payers having to manage an existing budget with lower disposable income.

We foresee that the Personal income tax rate will remain the same for this financial year.  With this in mind we encourage tax payers to avoid incurring unnecessary debt and ensure that one’s debt to income ratio is minimized at all costs.

Higher Education

Last year, an additional R5 billion was added to the previously announced R32 billion. Approximately 30% of South African parents save for their child’s education on a yearly basis. With the cost of education rising by about 10% each year, parents are encouraged to continue making provision for their children’s future. In addition, the recent funding announcement for free university education to students from poor households in South Africa will be announced in the upcoming budget together with possible tax increases.

Related: #SONA2018: Upbeat Address Offers Inspiring Message For South African Entrepreneurs

Exercise duty rates for tobacco and alcoholic products

The Sin Tax has increased previously between 6.1% and 9.1%. We anticipate this to also increase as is the case every year. We advise that consumers should consider reducing their consumption to ease budget constraints on their wallets and more importantly, improve their health.

Tax-free Savings Accounts

The annual Tax Free Savings limit increased from R30 000 to R33 000 last year. This was great news for investors and we predict that this will remain the same this year.

The financial year ends on the 28th of February 2018. South Africans still have an opportunity to take advantage of tax free savings, encompassed in the benefit of exemption from taxes like dividends tax, capital gains tax etc. The benefits will give a huge boost to your investment over time. The key to investing is to invest early, stay invested and in time you will reap the rewards, regardless of how much you invest per month.

Dividend Withholding Tax

The rate increased from 15% to 20%, which was put into effect 22 February 2017, and any dividends incurred on or after this date attracted the increased rate. We do not foresee any further change during this Budget speech.

VAT Increase

We predict a possible increase in the VAT rate as it can raise large amounts of revenue. Between 2015 and 2017, the general fuel levy increased by 30c/l. We expect an increase in the fuel levy; but the extent of the increase will depend on whether the VAT rate is increased.

Capital Gains Tax

An increase in the annual inclusion for individuals and special trusts is expected.

Investment overview

Chantal Marx; Head of research FNB Securities says that, “The MTBPS painted a very negative picture of the South African fiscus in October last year, and from an investment perspective, we will be very focused on how government plans to make up what is expected to be a significant revenue shortfall. However, the expenditure component will be equally important.”

Possibilities to increase revenue:

  • Disposing of assets like government’s share in Telkom.
  • Increased taxes:
    • A possible increase in VAT. If this is the case, there could however be some relief for grant recipients through higher grant increases as well as the zero rating of certain items.
    • Fiscal drag (not adjusting tax brackets to compensate for inflation).
    • A possibility of a further increase in the marginal tax rate for the highest income earners.
  • Given the stronger rand, treasury could use the opportunity to raise the fuel levy.

On the expenditure side, the line is even finer and there is very little government can do to limit the states’ spending bill. The wage bill is expected to grow a little ahead of inflation and grant payments could increase to provide relief for possible VAT hikes. Capital expenditure growth is anticipated to remain negative in real terms.

Related: Bitcoin Family Of Coins – Who Will Win?

We anticipate an improvement in deficit targets relative to the MTBPS on the back of revenue raising measures. This will signal a return to fiscal consolidation which is likely to be bond friendly, particularly if enough is done to avert a Moody’s downgrade.

Of course, equities tend to be a bit of a balancing act. On the one side higher tax rates and continued pressure on fixed investment expenditure from government could have a near term dampening growth impact. On the other side however there are a number of underpins for equities. Valuations may be supported by lower risk-free rates (government bond yields) and if South Africa avoids a downgrade from Moody’s, the SARB may feel confident to cut interest rates.

“Given potentially higher business and consumer confidence flowing from fiscal discipline, the longer term growth outlook for the economy is likely to improve and this will ultimately filter through to a better corporate earnings outlook,” concludes Marx.

Agriculture

Comment by Paul Makube, Senior Agricultural Economist at FNB Business says that “the current budget speech comes on the backdrop of renewed pressure on the agriculture industry to accelerate transformation as well as severe drought that is currently ravaging the Western Cape. Confidence in the sector nose-dived last year and further investment has been subdued.”

Makube expects further details on financing models that are envisaged in partnership with the Banking sector as well as the increased allocations for the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fishing (DAFF) and the Department of Land and Rural Development (DLRD) for agriculture support and fast racking land reform. The ruling party has prioritised land reform through its resolution on expropriation and it is therefore expected that this will be a bigger focus for the budget.

The quantum is difficult to predict given the tight fiscal situation.

SME’s

Jesse Weinberg, Head of the SME Customer Segment at FNB Business says “Ideally we would want to see continued focus on supporting and growing SME’s in South Africa with funding and reducing compliance requirements, as we have seen in previous budgets.

“Ideally we will see a continued effective channelling of funds through to government programmes, and an increased emphasis on the various programmes and departments working together to deploy these funds. Another theme that we are hoping to see coming through is the focus on reducing regulatory and administrative burdens on small businesses which often presents obstacles that hamper their ability to operate and grow. These include both tax and government compliance requirements,” shares Weinberg.

Please visit the FNB Blog to view the 2018 Budget preview from the FNB Economics team: https://blog.fnb.co.za/2018/02/2018-budget-preview

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#SONA2018: Upbeat Address Offers Inspiring Message For South African Entrepreneurs

Small & Medium Businesses in South Africa are likely to take inspiration from the upbeat tone of President Cyril Ramaphosa first State of the Nation Address.

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Small & Medium Businesses in South Africa are likely to take inspiration from the upbeat tone of President Cyril Ramaphosa first State of the Nation Address and its positive outlook on how smaller businesses can play a major role in spurring economic growth and addressing the challenge of unemployment, says Pieter Bensch, Executive Vice President, Africa & Middle East at Sage.

“We are pleased to hear the new president of South Africa acknowledge that the growth of our economy will be sustained by small businesses,” says Bensch. “It is especially heartening to hear that he is committed to building a small business ecosystem that assists, nourishes and promotes entrepreneurs.”

“Entrepreneurship doesn’t happen in a vacuum – it is the result of collaboration between big business, government, business builders, universities and other stakeholders to build the skills, infrastructure and support systems entrepreneurs need to succeed.”

Related: Budget 2018/9: 3 Key Tax Areas To Look Out For In The Speech

Bensch adds that the CEO Small Business Fund – which currently stands at R1.5 billion – is an outstanding example of how government and big business can work together to nurture entrepreneurship. “I was excited to hear that government is finalising a small business and innovation fund targeted at start-ups and that it also has plans to reduce the regulatory barriers for small businesses,” he says.

“These sorts of interventions could help us to dramatically improve the success and survival rate of South Africa’s small and start-up businesses.”

President Ramaphosa tackled the burning crisis of youth unemployment when he mentioned the launch the Youth Employment Service initiative, which will place unemployed youth in paid internships in companies across the economy.

“Skills in the ICT sector remain a challenge and big business must play a central role supporting government as far as possible through internships and learnerships. This, along with existing initiatives such as the Employment Tax Incentive, could play a major role in upskilling young South Africans – enabling youngsters to play a role in the digital economy, while supplying the skills every business needs to be globally competitive,” Bensch says.

Adds Bensch: “Our new President’s speech was pragmatic, but he also looked towards the future. Industry 4.0 is likely to change the skills employers will be looking for, how entire industries will operate, and the nature of work itself. It was great to hear President Ramaphosa talk about science, technology and innovation as opportunities for our country – we need to seize the chance to put South Africa right at the forefront of the digital industrial revolution if we are to unleash its full potential.”

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