Is M-Net discriminating against whites?

Trade union Solidarity on Tuesday accused pay-TV channel M-Net of discriminating unfairly against white people.

The allegation comes after M-Net has indicated in a recent advertisement that only black, Indian and coloured candidates may apply for a paid internship programme offered by M-Net’s Magic in Motion Academy. According to the advertisement up to 20 individuals can be accommodated in the programme.

Dirk Groenewald, head of Solidarity’s centre for fair labour practices, said the advertisement does not comply with the provisions of the Employment Equity Act.

“The said advertisement boils down to nothing but the total exclusion of white people and amounts to a quota system. The said legislation prohibits quota systems. Moreover, the courts, including the Constitutional Court, have already found that the use of a quota system as well as the exclusion of people based on the grounds of their skin colour is unlawful.”

Groenewald added that numerous complaints have been received from white candidates who meet the requirements for the internship, but who may not apply for the programme because of the colour of their skin.

“In a letter Solidarity requested M-Net to amend the advertisement in order for white people to also be allowed to apply for the positions in question. Should M-Net fail to comply with the request, we will lodge an official complaint with the Human Rights Commission,” Groenewald said.

The trade union also called on the public to speak up against M-Net’s racist behaviour by signing a petition on Solidarity will hand the letter of petition to M-Net’s management.

Merck plans to launch a portable device to monitor HIV


Merck is planning to launch its  Muse Auto CD4/CD4% System, a portable instrument for monitoring the progression of the HIV/AIDS virus, throughout Africa. By Staff Writer

The portable device has received regulatory approval in Nigeria, Cote d’lvoire, Cameroon and Angola, and is pending in South Africa.

Of the more than 35 million people infected with HIV worldwide, 25 million live in Africa alone – and only 19 million are aware of their status, according to a 2014 UNAIDS report. Many patients in this part of the world, particularly those in rural areas, lack access to regular medical care. Treatment is often hindered by the long distances from the patient’s village to the nearest hospital or clinic.

“Through the launch of the Muse CD4/CD4% system, we are enabling health professionals in Africa to more effectively respond to the health care needs of their patients and make progress towards the treatment, cure, and prevention of HIV/AIDS,” said Udit Batra, president and CEO of Merck’s life science business.

For people infected with HIV, CD4 cells provide an indication of the disease’s progression. In the course of an HIV infection, CD4 cells indicate the state of the immune system and act as markers for T cell lymphocytes. Patients with a low count of these cells in their blood are at increased risk of opportunistic infections.

Merck developed the Muse Auto CD4/CD4% system for rapid, simple and accurate monitoring of T cells in adults and children. The low-cost system is designed to be easily portable and operational with minimal training, making it the ideal solution for clinics serving patients living in remote areas.



Durex release condom emoji

Global leading sexual wellbeing brand, Durex launched an international campaign calling for the creation of the world’s first official safe sex emoji, ahead of World AIDS Day on 1 December 2015.

Research conducted by Durex reveals emojis play a vital role in young people’s conversation around sex with 80% of 16-25 year olds finding it easier to express themselves using emojis and over half of respondents regularly using emojis when discussing sex. 84% of 16-25 year olds said they feel more comfortable talking about sex using emojis.

More worrying is the rise in apathy towards engaging in safer sexual practices with over a third claiming not to care about safe sex. Further research showed nearly half think that HIV will never affect them or their friends.

In light of this, Durex has launched a worldwide campaign to call for an official safe sex emoji to be created by the company behind emojis (Unicode).


Such an emoji will enable young people to overcome embarrassment around the discussion of safe sex, encourage conversation and raise awareness of the importance of using condoms in protecting against sexually transmitted infections (STIs), including HIV and AIDS.


Durex is calling for people to use and share the hashtag #CondomEmoji in support of safe sex. Durex hopes 1 million users will let their voices be heard over November so the support can be captured as part of the official submission to Unicode on World AIDS Day, 1 December 2015.

“The influence of social media in our lives is astounding and as Durex we understand the significance and impact it has, hence we have come up with this emoji campaign,” Alexia Theocharis, Durex brand manager, said. “With this campaign we want to continue the emphasis on the importance of practising safe sex especially amongst young people and this is hugely important for us as we draw close to World Aids Day.”


How M2M will revolutionise the automobile sector


The technology industry’s love affair with the so-called ‘Internet of Things’ (IoT) continues unabated. Technologists in almost every industry are touting the future of connected sensors, devices, components, and actuators – all pumping information into a sprawling network of cloud services. By Michael Frans, head of business operations: Automotive at T-Systems South Africa

The automotive industry is regarded as one of the verticals most perfectly primed to capitalise on The IoT, and Machine-to-Machine (M2M) communication advancements. In recent years, high-tech companies like Tesla, Apple and Uber have raced into leading positions in the automotive and transportation arenas.

New technology has certainly exposed a number of slower-moving, more traditional automotive players to various risks of disruption. But, for those vehicle manufacturers and service providers that are willing to embrace change, advancements like M2M offer incredible opportunities.

These include things like reduced costs, greater efficiencies, increased transparency, minimised risks, enhanced service quality, better environmental protection, and the possibilities for new business models.

We essentially describe the emergence of M2M in the automotive sector across three levels, showing the escalating value that can be derived by manufacturers and others in the ecosystem.

By Michael Frans, head of business operations: Automotive at T-Systems South Africa

Level 1: Connect and visualise – devices and sensors start recording driving patterns, vehicle performance, geolocation data, and other metrics.

This can be overlaid with other data sources – such as weather, real-time traffic data, airport and bus schedules, or traffic light failures – to communicate useful information back to the driver. This promises to enhance vehicle safety and general enjoyment levels, and reduce annoyances like traffic jams.

Level 2: Analyse and optimise – by developing the right tools to understand and analyse the streams of incoming data, we can start to predict certain things – such as traffic congestion in a certain areas, risks of driver fatigue, or vehicle components that are likely to fail soon.

Safety is a major selling point for connected car technology. Noting that most accidents happen at intersections or while changing lanes, in-vehicle warnings could alert drivers to potential crashes with merging vehicles that are nearby, cars that are in the driver’s blind-spot or even harsh braking from the vehicle in front.

Level 3: Innovate and grow – for vehicle manufacturers, these rich insights from customers’ every move while they are driving will fuel new product and service offerings, and new collaboration opportunities – even with service providers in previously-unrelated industries, but now part of the connected car ecosystem.

Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) will be able to make an evolutionary leap, from once-off sellers of hardware (the car itself), to integrated service providers that remain in close contact with their customers throughout their lives. Radical new partnerships will become possible in areas like security, track-and-trace, entertainment and internet connectivity, navigation, insurance, emergency help, and roadside assistance.

A recent study from Machina Research predicted an astonishing 1.5 billion M2M connections in the automotive sector by 2022 – creating a global connected car market of $282 billion.


This is the new BMW 7 Series, rooted in the most advanced technologies
This is the new BMW 7 Series, rooted in the most advanced technologies


While these estimates may sound optimistic, some companies have already accelerated away from the start line: with some higher-end cars already featuring adaptive cruise control, blind sport systems and cameras, and lane-changing aids.

But the key to unlocking the future potential of M2M, and achieving the kind of radical transformation that analysts like Machina are predicting, is developing platforms to handle the explosion of data. These platforms are the ‘information superhighways’ that transmit, interpret, and find meaning in the masses of machine-generated data.

These platforms empower OEMs with the ability to achieve what we term ‘zero distance’ with the consumer: close contact and intimate understanding, throughout every stage of the customer journey and customer lifecycle.

M2M truly does hold the potential of transforming the automotive sector and improving the way we move around every day. Supported by powerful information superhighways, the role of OEMs and other industry payers can be transformed, in the high-tech future of transportation that stretches ahead of us.


Vodacom-Neotel merger hearing ‘postponed indefinitely’

The Competition Tribunal of South Africa has agreed to indefinitely postpone a hearing regarding a R7bn merger between Vodacom and Neotel. By Gareth van Zyl, NewsAgency

This comes after Vodacom released a market update earlier on Monday, saying the company is exploring a “revised transaction structure” regarding the Neotel deal.

Vodacom in its statement said the revised transaction discussions “will directly impact the extent of the approval being sought from the Competition Tribunal and the scope of the Competition Tribunal hearing”.

The Competition Tribunal then on Monday morning announced a delay in the meeting, which was expected to hear challenges from intervening parties such as Telkom [JSE:TKG], Cell C and MTN [JSE:MTN]. The Independent Communications Authority of South Africa and economic development and telecommunications ministers were also set to attend.

But now the hearing is off.

“Vodacom and Neotel have until December 7 to inform the tribunal and intervening parties, which include Telkom, MTN, Cell C and Dimension Data, whether the transaction will be cancelled or be continued in an amended form. A pre-hearing will then be heard on December 10 to determine how to proceed,” said the Competition Tribunal in a statement.

“If it is decided the merger will continue in an amended form, then new negotiations will be required to decide whether the hearing can continue as part of the present process. The merging parties did not want to give further information about the negotiations because of their commercially sensitive nature,” said the tribunal.

Vodacom, at the time of writing, had not responded to Fin24’s request for comment.

The move by Vodacom to push for a revised transaction structure comes after Neotel placed its chief executive officer Sunil Joshi and chief financial officer Steven Whiley on special leave in July amid an investigation into bribery.

At the time, The Mail & Guardian reported that Neotel stands accused of making illicit payments of R91m in fees to a ‘letterbox company’ company called ‘Homix’ to win a R1.8bn telecoms services contract from transport parastatal Transnet.

Vodacom is majority owned by the UK’s Vodafone, which is listed on the London Stock Exchange (LSE). The LSE has strict requirements, with the likes of its Bribery Act which seeks to tackle bribery regardless of whether it took place in the UK. – Fin24

Everything you need to know about connecting abroad


With the December holidays only a few weeks away, many executives, business owners and entrepreneurs will be planning to take their work away with them. Few people can afford to completely disconnect from the office, particularly at a time when businesses of all sizes and across sectors are under pressure.

For those travelling abroad, however, staying connected can quickly become a costly – and often complex – exercise. Some travellers opt for local SIM cards, others rely on public and hotel Wi-Fi, and most are unaware of the security and cost implications of each option. So what is the best approach?

execMobile founder Craig Lowe

Craig Lowe, founder of execMobile, which provides products and solutions for mobile connectivity, answers some common (and important) questions around staying connected abroad…

Q: Can’t I just rely on Hotel Wi-Fi?

Preferably not…we don’t view this as a smart strategy. Most people believe that hotel Wi-Fi is more secure than public Wi-Fi, but this is simply not the case. Both options put you at similar risk. The recent “Dark room” revelations from Kaspersky Lab revealed that hotel Wi-Fi hacking has been rife for the past four years, and is highly sophisticated and organised! This makes sense, if you think about it – where better to gain access to high-level company executives than in an expensive hotel?

Q: Isn’t good public Wi-Fi something you can expect nowadays?

No, sadly not! Over 80% of travellers expect Wi-Fi when they travel, with 75% actively searching for it prior to travel. But reports have shown that 82% of users are disappointed by the quality, speed or availability of public Wi-Fi when using it. More astoundingly, 79% do not trust public Wi-Fi security, whether paid or free…and probably for good reason, yet they continue to rely on this option.

Q: What is the cheapest way to stay connected abroad?

In our view, the cheapest route to mobile connectivity is to ensure you have enabled SMS-only roaming prior to leaving SA – and then buy a local SIM card and insert this into a wireless router. It must be noted, however, that this option does require the user to be technically savvy to set the APN settings of the router (assuming it is not network locked) and also to ensure the router is compatible with the destination network frequencies (e.g. USA 3G uses 1700 or 1900 MHz frequency, which many low cost SA wireless routers do not support).

Q: Do companies have specific rules or policies for people working from abroad?

Interestingly, less than 3% of our corporate customers have a policy that governs connectivity abroad. The approach is generally, “Go out and do your best! Good luck out there!” Many companies are very reluctant to consider options that increase cost (assuming there is free Wi-Fi available) in these times of ongoing cost reduction…even though the risk of a massive roaming bill or security breach is very real. We believe companies should be taking the matter more seriously. Indeed, with POPI and the threat of R10 million fines or Director jail time, CIOs need to consider this lack of regulation very carefully!

Q: How expensive is it to use voice services when abroad?

Roaming call costs are high. A better option would be to use some of the voice over data solutions like WhatsApp voice, Skype, Viber etc. all of which use about half a MB of data per minute, assuming you are using a low cost data connection like Wi-Fi. Video calling services (FaceTime, Skype, Lync, etc.) options use between two and four MB of data per minute.

Bear in mind that mobile roaming data costs average R128/MB, so a call could end up costing you R64/minute  – and video call an extortionate R384/minute! It would actually be cheaper to phone at R23/minute (roaming call rate). The voice over data solutions are very handy but you need to ensure these services are used over a decent quality internet connection.

Vodacom in talks to revise structure of Neotel deal


Vodacom is in discussions with Neotel and its shareholders to explore a revised transaction structure. By Gugu Lourie

The South African biggest mobile phone operator is in a process of buying Neotel for R7 billion from its parent company Tata Communications.

The Competition Tribunal was set to hear Vodacom’s application for the acquisition of Neotel between today, 23 November 2015, and 11 December 2015. But the tribunal has agreed on the weekend to postpone a hearing into the proposed R7bn Vodacom-Neotel merger.

Vodacom informed investors on Monday that it was in discussions with Neotel and the shareholders of Neotel to explore a revised transaction structure.

“The outcome of these discussions will directly impact the extent of the approval being sought from the Competition Tribunal and the scope of the Competition Tribunal hearing. Accordingly, Vodacom South Africa and Neotel have requested that the hearing be postponed. The details applicable to the postponement are to be determined at Competition Tribunal hearing in Pretoria today. Shareholders will be advised accordingly of the outcome”

Launched in 2006 to compete with Telkom, Neotel owns a lucrative 800MHz spectrum, which is at the heart of concerns raised about the pending Vodacom-Neotel deal.

However, the deal is being opposed by rivals Telkom, MTN and Cell C.

ICASA’s decision to approve the proposed transaction has also been taken on review in the High Court by Telkom, MTN, Cell C and Dimension Data.

Vodacom, which is owned by British mobile phone giant Vodafone, is keen to see the deal being finalised by 11 December so that it can aggressively roll out its fibre-to-the-home (FTTH) and fibre-to-the-business (FTTB) services.

In the meantime, Joosub told Business Day newspaper that Vodacom will seek certain guarantees and securities from Tata Communications to cover any potential liabilities that may arise from its acquisition of Neotel following fraud allegations at the fixed-line company.

The Mail & Guardian reported in July that Neotel paid R66m — allegedly in kickbacks — from April last year to February this year to a company called Homix to secure a R1.8bn contract to provide network-related services to Transnet.

Hearing into Vodacom-Neotel merger delayed

The Competition Tribunal of South Africa agreed on the weekend to postpone a hearing into the proposed R7bn Vodacom-Neotel merger. By Gareth van Zyl, NewsAgency

This comes after Vodacom [JSE:VOD] and Neotel brought an application for a postponement of the hearing that was scheduled to start on Monday.

Reasons for the postponement were not disclosed by the Competition Tribunal. However, Fin24 understands that the delay has inconvenienced parties opposed to the merger as witnesses have been transported to Gauteng where the hearing is planned to happen in Pretoria.

Instead, the Competition Tribunal will hold a private pre-hearing on Monday to discuss the application, the “issue of wasted costs” and when the hearing can reconvene, said the Competition Tribunal in a statement.

The Competition Tribunal hearing is expected to be among the last hurdles facing the Vodacom-Neotel merger after the Competition Commission and the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (Icasa) approved the merger earlier this year.

However, telecommunications competitors are expected to oppose the proposed R7bn merger deal at the Competition Tribunal hearing amid arguments that the acquisition of Neotel’s spectrum would give Vodacom an unfair advantage. Vodacom is currently South Africa’s biggest mobile network with around 30 million subscribers.

Intervening parties to attend the hearing include Telkom, Cell C, MTN, Icasa and economic development and telecommunications ministers.

Icasa, in particular, is expected to oppose the Competition Commission’s conditions for the merger.

In June, the Competition Commission approved the deal on condition that Vodacom not use Neotel’s spectrum to offer wholesale or retail mobile services for two years.

The Competition Commission also requested that black economic empowerment shareholders must increase their stake in Vodacom by R1.4bn within two years, that Vodacom not retrench any employees amid the merger and that Vodacom invest R10bn in fixed network, data and connectivity infrastructure. – Fin24

Usain Bolt to promote Telkom’s fibre


Telkom on Sunday announced that that it has teamed up with Olympic sprinter, Usain Bolt in a media partnership to promote fibre technology. Bolt is regarded as the fastest person ever and the first man to hold both the 100 metres and 200 metres world records. He is the reigning Olympic champion in these events and the first man to win six gold medals in sprinting. By Staff Writer

This alliance is a first of its kind between a South African telecommunications company and an international sprint star.  Telkom is currently rolling out an extensive network of fibre technology as part of its campaign to provide all South Africans with broadband technology.

Telkom filmed the superstar athlete in his home country of Jamaica last weekend and, during that filming, Bolt thanked his many South African fans for their ongoing support.

Watch Telkom’s launch video below:


Telkom’s Chief Marketing Officer, Enzo Scarcella, said the association with Bolt helped drive the message of Telkom’s commitment to provide South African’s with the most advanced broadband technology available. “We believe that Bolt, as the fastest person in the world, will assist us in creating awareness of the speed, consistency and reliability that fibre technology offers.”

Telkom is committed to reaching one million homes with fibre by 2018 to expand, what is already the largest fibre network in the country.

Fibre to the home currently allows for download speeds of up to 100Mbps, allowing users to download a standard definition 4.7GB video in under seven minutes. An entire music album can be downloaded in eight seconds.

Watch Usain Bolt send good wishes to his South African Fans:


Fibre optic cables transmit light and is thus not affected by interference from electromagnetic noise such as radios, motors, power lines, electric fences or other cables. Consequently, fibre broadband offers greater reliability and stability.


Telkom shares extends gains on Cell C


South Africa’s Telkom’s share price has been on the up again today, buoyed by yesterday’s collapse of the talks with Dubai-Based Oger Telecom to buy Cell C. By Staff Writer

On Thursday, Telkom shares jumped after acquisition talks with Oger Telecom to buy its stake in Cell C collapsed, ending concern the local firm would overpay to bulk up its mobile phone assets.

Telkom shares traded a 1.52% higher at R68.02 by midday on Friday as investors continue to digest news of the country’s incumbent fixed line operator calling talks off  discussions with Oger Telecom to buy the country’s third biggest mobile phone operator.

“We believe Telkom has discovered some nasty issues when they were conducting their due diligence on Cell C assets and they used the price issue as a sticking point to avoid painting the company as a vulnerable asset,” said Cape Town analyst, who wanted to remain anonymous.

On Thursday, Telkom shares gained 9.96% at R67.58 giving the telco a market value of more than R34 billion after it announced on the JSE that talks with Oger Telecom to buy Cell C collapsed.

Market talk has suggested that Oger Telecom was asking a R20 billion price tag on Cell C.

Telkom said on Thursday talks to buy Cell C collapsed after not reaching an agreement with Oger Telecom on how to value Cell C.

By “mutual agreement” Telkom and Oger Telecoms said they have ended all discussions related to the potential purchase of Cell C by Telkom.

“Through Telkom’s engagement with Oger Telecoms in relation to Cell C, it has become clear that there is a difference between the parties on the assessment of value of the proposed transaction. As no agreement has been reached, Telkom and Oger Telecoms today agreed to end all discussions,” said Telkom in a statement.