BMW South Africa starts rolling out solar carport charging for electric and plug-in hybrid models

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BMW South Africa starts rolling out solar carport charging for electric and plug-in hybrid models.

As part of the expansion of its 360° ELECTRIC portfolio for BMW i Home and Public Charging Services, BMW South Africa today unveiled its first solar carport that will be rolled out locally from July 2016.

The BMW i solar carport supplies an average of 3,6kW of solar power straight to the BMW i Wallbox, which is used to show a live readout of how much power is being generated by the sun and charge electric and plug-in hybrid BMW models.

BMW South Africa starts rolling out solar carport charging for electric and plug-in hybrid models.

The BMW i solar carport concept was first shown at the BMW i8 international media launch in Los Angeles in April 2014 as well as the Consumer Electronic Show (CES) in January 2015.

“With the rollout of the BMW i solar carport, the BMW Group is demonstrating its commitment of shaping the future of individual mobility – not only with ground-breaking products and services, but also with the global as well as local involvement in the expansion of home and publicly accessible charging infrastructure for electrically powered vehicles. With innovative services like the solar carport, BMW is the first vehicle manufacturer to offer such a broad-based EV smart charging product to reduce costs for customers,” says Tim Abbott, CEO of BMW Group South Africa and Sub-Sahara.

In the coming months, BMW Group South Africa will expand the installation of the solar carport in major city centres such as Johannesburg, Cape Town and Durban for public charging.

BMW carport charging
BMW South Africa starts rolling out solar carport charging for electric and plug-in hybrid models.

Customers and fleet companies will also be able to order the solar carport for home and office charging. Produced by SUNWORX – designer and installer of photovoltaic solar systems – the BMW solar carport is made of high end bamboo and stainless steel housing for the glass solar modules, the solar carport is in line with the BMW i design and production philosophy, which prioritises a zero carbon footprint.

Bamboo is considered a particularly sustainable and high strength-to-weight ratio natural composite material useful for structures.

“We have always emphasised that in order for electric vehicles and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles to be successful, we need to firstly increase consumer confidence in the viability of electric vehicles and secondly make public charging easily accessible for customers who purchase these cars. The rollout of the solar carport is also an emphasis on this philosophy,” Abbott adds.

Holistic approach to electro-mobility

BMW’s holistic approach to electro-mobility is typified by 360° ELECTRIC product and service packages. This includes;

  • Home charging with the BMW i Wallbox,
  • Charging on the go at public charging stations with ChargeNow – a charging card used for access and payment at a number of charging stations offered in South Africa, and
  • Assistance Services designed specifically for electro-mobility. For example, BMW i ConnectedDrive navigation services not only include the charging status of the high-voltage in route planning, but also recommend the most efficient route.

In this way, 360 ELECTRIC is already making electro-mobility a practical alternative for many people today.

Charging at home with intelligent charging solutions from BMW i 360° ELECTRIC:  Wallbox, installation service and BMW i Green Energy.

The customer performs around 80% of the charging processes either at home or at the workplace. With the recent announcement of the BMW i3 (94 Ah) – a revised BMW i3 model with a more powerful battery and increased range – BMW i will be offering a new BMW i Wallbox worldwide for comfortable and fast home garage charging.

BMW electric and plug-in hybrid
BMW South Africa starts rolling out solar carport charging for electric and plug-in hybrid models

This Wallbox has been adapted to the new charging technology and in addition to single-phase operation now also offers a charging capacity of up to 22 kW in three-phase operation.

Available in two versions (the BMW i Wallbox Plus and BMW i Wallbox Connect), the BMW i Wallbox is the perfect solution for convenient, safe and fast charging at home. Almost every third driver of a BMW i3 now opts for this exceptionally sophisticated charging station. In cooperation with specialised partners, BMW i also offers its customers a personal installation service.

The environmental balance of an electric or plug-in hybrid vehicle is further optimised if its high-voltage battery is charged with renewable energy. Within the framework of BMW i Green Energy, customers in 15 countries now receive assistance in the use of electricity gained from regenerative sources they either acquire from energy providers or produce themselves. The partners with whom the BMW Group cooperates in this field include ten providers of green electricity as well as four manufacturers of solar power installations for carports as well as house and garage roofs.

With its comprehensive portfolio of products, services and piloting innovation projects, BMW i demonstrates how e-mobility today already is an alternative for an increasing number of people when it comes to every day usability and advanced sustainability standards.

The fact that the solar carport charging system can be integrated with home energy management systems also makes it possible to achieve the best possible balance between household electricity consumption and power used for charging the electric vehicle, thereby helping customers to achieve further cost savings and to make even more efficient use of solar energy.

Smart use of this power will provide BMW i customers with a fully self-sufficient charging solution for their vehicle.

Cell C introduces Multi Data Connect to help customers connect multiple devices 

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Cell C has introduced Multi Data Connect, a new product aimed at customers with multiple data devices and users at home or at the office.

Available on prepaid and contract, Multi Data Connect allows customers to link up to 14 SIMs to a primary data SIM at a monthly cost of only R5 per month per secondary SIM.

“These days, most consumers have more than one device and this product allows them to link various devices, such as handsets, tablets and laptops to a single data bundle,” says Ernst Fonternel, Cell C Chief Commercial Officer.

In addition to providing convenience at home with multiple devices and users, Multi Data Connect is also ideal for small businesses.

“Keeping track of several different data accounts for employees can be time-consuming and can lead to unnecessarily high bills. Multi Data Connect enables businesses to better manage data spend through a single bill.  In addition, by allowing multiple users to consume data from one account or bundle, businesses can be more efficient, as individual accounts or bundles are not always fully used,” says Fonternel.

Multi Data Connect will be available from 20 May and customers can purchase and link secondary SIMs at any Cell C store.

No mobile data, no problem: Absa covers the data cost for customers banking on its mobile platforms

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Absa is the first bank in South Africa to offer reverse billing across all four major mobile networks, from yesterday its customers will be able to interact with the bank’s App even if they have no mobile data.  By Staff Writer

“The agreement that Absa has signed with Cell C, MTN, Telkom and Vodacom allows the service providers to charge data costs back to Absa rather than our customers, allowing them to enjoy the full benefit of banking from their mobile device and buying airtime even if they have depleted their pay-as-you-go or monthly contractual data allocation,” says Jan Moganwa, Chief Executive, Customer Solutions at Absa Retail and Business Banking.

“Absa cares about more than just our customers’ money. While we are committed to taking care of the big things like your investment portfolio, we are equally serious about taking care of the smaller things, like running out of data and not being able to perform your mobile banking,” adds Jan.

“Our customers are the heart of our business and the ability to access our mobile banking app regardless of your data standing shows the commitment that we have as a bank to help all our customers prosper.”

Reverse billing is one of many initiatives that will be rolled out by Absa as part of the bank’s innovation journey. “Everything significant that our bank’s digital team is currently working on forms part of the move to delight our customers and offer them a smooth digital banking experience, from start to finish,” said Jan.

YouTube Red is here, and it breaks the video-on-demand mould

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Marc C-Scott, Victoria University

YouTube this week launched its paid subscription service, YouTube Red, in Australia and New Zealand. These are the first two countries to gain access to the service outside of the United States.

The introduction of a new major video-on-demand (VoD) service will now challenge many media corporations that may not have seen YouTube as a threat.

YouTube is offering a free trail of the service for a month, with introductory pricing of A$9.99 per month and A$12.99 for subscription via iOS available until June 6th.

The standard pricing fees will be A$11.99 per month, or A$14.99 via iOS. The higher rate for iOS due to the fee charged by Apple, which Google is passing onto iOS subscribers.

The sales pitch by Director of YouTube Content and Operations (Asia Pacific), Gautam Anand, stated YouTube Red is about:

Giving you more choice about how you watch YouTube […] Soon, we hope you’ll be watching what you want, when you want, on any device you want, uninterrupted.

YouTube Red

Why pay for YouTube?

Some may ask why they should pay for Red when YouTube is already free. It is important to note that Red does not replace YouTube, but rather adds to it. There are five key additions if you sign up for YouTube Red:

1) No more ads

This includes pre-roll (before a video) and pop-up adds (banner ads over the videos). While this won’t be a key selling point for people to subscribe, it is a small feature that some may appreciate in addition to the other elements.

2) Offline playback

Subscribers will be able to save videos while on a WiFi connection for offline viewing.

This will enable subscribers to watch saved content without requiring an internet connection. It’s also a boon for those who travel, or find themselves with no or poor mobile service. It will also take a load off mobile data for those who like to watch on the run.

3) Background play

This will enable you to continue to view or listen to YouTube videos while you are using other apps. This includes while the device is locked.

4) Original content

Based on Netflix’s success, and the fact that Netflix’s previous Vice President of Content, Robert Kyncl, is now YouTube chief business officer, YouTube will also experiment in the original content space.

On the list of original content is a series featuring one of YouTube biggest stars, PewDiePie, entitled Scare PewDiePie.

David Alpert, president of Skybound Entertainment, producer of the series, stated that:

One of the things that was great was, because we did it for YouTube, we didn’t have this standardised length format […] We said, ‘Let’s just make the episode great.’ That part was really freeing.

But Alpert also notes that YouTube’s original content does differ from Netflix’s, particularly due to the flexibility in the length of shows, which breaks free from old commercial television conventions.

The Scare PewDiePie trailer.

YouTube Red original content also includes feature films, such as A Trip to Unicorn Island, Dance Camp and Lazer Team. Dance Camp features YouTube star Meg DeAngelis, along with cameos from a number of other YouTubers.

The head of scripted content for YouTube Red, Tim Shey, said this is all part of “giving YouTube’s biggest fans what they want”.

This is also a way for YouTube to make sure that its “stars” don’t use YouTube as a stepping stone to traditional film studios. One example was by Liongate, which recently acquired Dirty Thirty, with YouTube stars Grace Helbig, Mamrie Hart and Hannah Hart.

5) YouTube music

YouTube is also launching a music app, which utilises the already existing YouTube music video library, rather than creating an entirely new service and library. By using this approach, YouTube has also “avoided the need to renegotiate payment deals with artists”.

In addition to the services available via the YouTube music app, YouTube Red subscribers will get access to premium Google Play Music.

One of the unique features of the YouTube Red service is that it is providing both video-on-demand and music streaming, which are typically offered by different services, such as Netflix and Spotify.

YouTube big down under

Many of the YouTube Red features are focused around mobile or portable devices. This is due to the fact that more than half of YouTube views come from mobile devices.

In Australia, from March 2013 to March 2015, the Australian YouTube net monthly audience grew 14%. Mobile devices viewing of the site also increased during the same period from 36% to 53%.

Nielsen reported last year that “YouTube and the ABC are currently key providers in the Australian market” for online video content.

The launch of the YouTube Kids app late last year and the YouTube Gaming app this year, in addition to YouTube Red, will continue to assist YouTube in building on its engagement with younger Australians.

Mr Kyncl, YouTube chief business officer, said earlier in the year that, “our focus is on the under-35s”.

But with YouTube now providing a subscription based services, this places it in competition with companies it has not brushed up against in the past.

Competition

YouTube Red’s launch in Australia is also set to shake up the VoD market.

While Netflix has achieved considerable uptake, Stan and Presto are yet to be declared success stories. Both Stan and Presto had a recent reprieve with the demise of Quickflix.

But they now face a new international competitor at a time when it is predicted that VoD will reach two-thirds of online Australians over 16 years old.

That said, YouTube maintains that it is offering a different product from traditional VoD services.

What makes YouTube Red interestingly different is its likely appeal for a younger audience, who have been abandoning traditional television.

But it remains to be seen if they will pay for content, and whether YouTube Red wins over subscribers from existing VoD services in Australia.

The Conversation

Young innovator Neo Hutiri & founder of Technovera wins R1 million in 2016 #Hack.Jozi Challenge

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Neo Hutiri, founder of Technovera, a technology-enabled service that allows people with chronic conditions to collect their repeat medication in just a few minutes as opposed to waiting several hours in long queues, is the winner of R1 million   2016 #Hack.Jozi Challenge. By Staff Writer

Hutiri and other two  winners he winners will scale their businesses to create jobs and help beat real issues they identified in healthcare, education and local government administration in the City of Joburg.

The top three contestants, selected from over 400 entries and a short-list of ten, came up with original digital solutions to tackle obstacles faced by people with chronic conditions, help students who need academic support, and boost efficiency in building plan applications to promote property development in Joburg.

They have been through a rigorous bootcamp, mentorship and development process that began at the end of March, an initiative of the Economic Development Department in the City of Johannesburg and Wits University through its Joburg Centre for Software Engineering.

First runner-up was the multidisciplinary team that developed Tuta-Me, a mobile application that connects qualified tutors and students, enabling students to receive one-on-one tutoring while empowering tutors to earn or supplement their income.

Second runner-up was awarded to Lomile Mokoka, a qualified architect, who developed eSubmit as an e-solution for a problem she was experiencing first-hand when submitting building plan applications to the municipality.

The runners up have been awarded R350 000 each in support to develop their ideas and establish sustainable businesses.

Member of the Mayoral Committee for Economic Development in the City of Joburg, Ruby Mathang, says that digital technologies are powering the development of cities across the world.

“The #HackJozi Challenge is aimed at driving our smart city agenda while catalysing innovation and development. This year’s winners show how involving citizens in identifying technology solutions to everyday problems is a powerful way improve the efficiency of services, meet residents’ needs and help improve quality of life in Joburg.”

Ravi Naidoo, Executive Director for Economic Development for the City of Johannesburg, says that participation in the 2016 challenge increased by well over one third compared to the first round of the initiative held last year.

“We received over 400 strong applications, compared to 140 last year, and eliminating contestants down to the top ten and then the top three as the challenge progressed was far tougher that we anticipated.

Prof Barry Dwolatzky director of the JCSE at Wits University says that the winners of the challenge do not receive their prizes as a cash hand-out.

“They will be closely guided and supported by experienced mentors. The prize money helps build profitable and sustainable businesses that scale, create jobs and produce more pockets of positive economic activity across our city. In addition all top ten finalists will be hosted in the incubator that forms part of the Tshimologong Digital Innovation Precinct in Braamfontein.”

 

Says Hutiri who earned top honours in this year’s challenge: “I used to be a patient collecting treatment from a public clinic. It’s really an unpleasant experience to wait the whole day just to manage your condition. Technovera is a technology solution that improves patient care by ending the indignity and exhaustion of long queues.”

Tuta-Me is founded by Abed Tau who is a chartered accountant by profession and Dylan Hyslop who holds a computer science degree. Tau says their app seamlessly integrates students and tutors to benefit both. “Students are able to find tutors that best meet their needs in terms of subject, area and time. The app also rates the tutors and students as a vital quality control mechanism.”

Lomile Mokoka says that eSubmit is a platform for submitting building plan applications to the municipality. “In my work as an architect, I realized the inefficiencies of manual process when submitting building plan applications. Thousands of building plan applications are received by the city on a monthly basis, and currently, the application process is time-consuming and costly. This also has the unintended consequence of encouraging illegal buildings.”

Simplifying and enhancing security on MTN’s information systems key to improving customer experience

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In the first hundred days in his new role, MTN South Africa’s new Chief Information Officer, Benjamin Marais says his focus was to simplify information technology processes internally and externally, and beef up security of the systems in order to enhance customer experience.

Marais was addressing the media at MTN’s media forum, which was held in Johannesburg this week.

“It is critical that the IT systems we have in place serve as enablers that help us to provide quality service, and are not cumbersome stumbling blocks that put a damper on customer experience,” says Marais.

“It’s not only about simplicity, but also about giving our customers assurance about the integrity of our systems – this is not only part of good corporate governance, which requires us to continuously tighten our internal controls, but also part of an ongoing quest to provide a superior customer experience,” adds Marais.

Marais assured the media delegation of the robustness of MTN’s systems, and provided figures to demonstrate the veracity of MTN’s IT infrastructure.

“As a testament to the robustness of the IT processes, MTN processes approximately 3 billion calls and documents the same volume of data records per day, connects 80 million minutes of calls per day, connects up to 2 million new devices to the network each month, hosts 66 000 unique websites every five minutes and dispensed 890 million voucher orders to logical channel partners orders in the past 6 months,” says Marais.

He added that: “A lot has been done to capacitate the system and the network to carry increasing traffic, and we are the first to admit that more needs to be done to take customer-centricity to the next level in line with our mission of making our customer’s lives a whole lot brighter.”

Marais used the opportunity to also announce that MTN is the prime sponsor of TADHack, the only global meeting place for developers who want to learn, share, code and create using the tools and technologies available in telecommunications.

The South African leg of the event is taking place on 14 to 16 October 2016

Is EFT the new payment comeback kid?

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Electronic Fund Transfers (EFT) may be one of the older payment methods on the block, but thanks to fraud and crime they are experiencing a revival. By Johan Dekker, head of payments in Africa at PayU EMEA

As technology platforms evolve to make EFTs more easily managed by users and merchants alike, they are growing in popularity. EFT payments are also more cost-effective and break down significant barriers to entry.

A recent 2015 Ipsos survey examined some of the drivers and barriers that impacted online shopping around the world. The survey found that 22% of South African internet users have made purchases using EFT as their preferred payment, with this figure set to rise to around 50% thanks to its security, speed of delivery and lower cost percentages.

This is being further driven by the increase in mobile phone subscriptions – more than seven billion worldwide – and a global figure of 3.2 billion people using the internet of which developing countries make up two billion. Africa has one in five people using the internet and that number is growing.

So why is the EFT suddenly sweeping the online payment floor? Because it’s easy to use and can be adopted as a method of payment by people who don’t have credit cards and have access to mobile banking, allowing for far greater reach and significantly lowering the barrier to entry for millions of people.

According to Pew Global, smartphones are as common in South Africa as they are in the United States and nine in ten people own a cell phone making this one of the most ubiquitous devices and easiest methods of handling online payments. For those without a credit card, but in possession of a cell phone, EFT grants them access to a wealth of services that previously were unavailable.

EFT payments are not subject to a 3D Secure [where a one time pin is received on a user’s phone] process, which is often something users find quite cumbersome and time consuming. Plus, the transaction rates to merchants are lower than card transaction fees.

Merchants benefit from changes in EFT payment technology as they pay lower transaction fees and are at significantly lower risk of chargebacks and credit card fraud. A survey by JP Morgan revealed that 41% of merchant losses to fraud were caused by chargebacks and the South Africa Banking Risk Information Centre reported that card-not-present fraud sat at 75% in 2015. It’s easy to see why EFT is becoming the payment method of choice.

In general, retail merchant EFT payments make up between 20-30% of total transactions processed and this has been rising steadily over the past few years. Our recent partnership with iPay in creating PayU EFT Pro has meant we can offer both merchants and consumers a platform that comes with real-time instant payment notifications and, as a real-time saver for merchants, the payments are always matched and easy to track.

If someone opts to use PayU EFT Pro, they aren’t just limited to eCommerce payments. They can also send a link to a business or individual whose bank details have been uniquely coded, allowing them to pay via EFT. These EFT payments are instant, as opposed to existing EFT solutions where the customer can pay at a later stage.

Most merchants have experienced a moment where the customer walks because the payment process is too burdensome, this makes life a lot simpler for everyone. One solution with seamless transactions from any device, anywhere.

MTN SA CEO Mteto Nyati concerned about South Africa’s plans for spectrum

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The growth of the telecoms sector and the development of the country is dependent on the expeditious allocation of radio spectrum, which will enable operators to improve their service offerings by deploying new generation networks in line with customer requirements.

MTN is encouraged by the strides that the regulator has made to finalise the process of spectrum allocation. However, MTN believes that speeding up the process will augur well for an improved and seamless customer experience, as operators will have the leeway to deploy new generation networks that will meet the increasing data needs and absorb increasing data traffic.

Mteto Nyati, Chief Executive Officer of MTN South Africa, told the media at a press briefing hosted in Johannesburg that 98% of subscribers are served by just 40% of the allocated spectrum, which is exerting a constricting pressure on the networks that are built on frequencies that are not suitable for data intensive applications.

“The rapid adoption of smart devices, which compliments government’s vision of bridging the digital divide and universal access to broadband services, has increased traffic on our networks substantially, and has rendered access to spectrum more urgent,” said Nyati. He added that the growth of data intensive services such as video is exacerbating traffic and adding pressure on the already clogged networks.

Nyati said that MTN will continue to engage with its principals to speed up the auction of spectrum, as access to spectrum forms part of MTN’s ongoing efforts to improve customer experience.

“The re-farming of existing spectrum to cater for LTE technology is an interim measure, as access to the high demand spectrum is the prerequisite for the provision of high performance networks and seamless network experience,” said Nyati.

He added: “South Africa has made enormous strides in delivering voice telephony and data services. The availability of high-demand radio spectrum will allow deployment of networks for the digital age that permits higher data speeds, which increase network capacity and enhance customer experience. This will also allow us to introduce avant-garde digital solutions.”

Lack of high-demand radio spectrum has compelled MTN to re-farm existing spectrum to cater to the pent-up demand for digital services, which operators cannot continue to meet without the allocation of the high-demand spectrum.

Nyati said that despite a challenging operating environment, MTN has made encouraging progress in meeting its strategic objectives, namely returning to growth, transforming customer experience and overhauling people engagement.

Nyati said MTN has prioritised transforming customer experience as one of the key differentiators that will set MTN apart from the competition. To that end, MTN embarked on an aggressive network rollout which saw the operator increasing spend by 92.9% last year and adding 966 2G sites, 1 593 largely co-located 3G sites and 3 148 LTE sites to its network.

In response to customer demands, MTN has also simplified its products, processes and systems, and will be introduced a cutting-edge platform called Shifta, which allows customers to create their own post-paid packages by customising the duration, services, devices that suits their needs.

Nyati said that MTN has also opened a flagship store at the Mall of Africa, a cutting-edge paperless store that is geared towards improved customer experience.

MTN has also signed a recognition agreement with the Communications Workers Union (CWU). The recognition agreement creates a formal bargaining agreement environment that will govern relations between MTN and its unionised employees.

As a socially responsible corporate citizen, Nyati said that MTN always seeks to ensure that its operations have minimal impact on the environment. To that end, MTN continues to invest in sustainability and energy management initiatives. This includes the 2MW tri-generation plant, the first of its kind in Africa, which powers its head office in Fairlands, Johannesburg.

Nyati announced that the thermal plant in Doornfontein, which generate 1MW + 750kW, is operational, and so is the thermal plant in Newlands, which generates 5.2MW + 2MW. MTN also has a concentrated solar plant, which has a capacity of 380kW and powers its data centre, and a free cooling Heat Wheel, which generates 600kW of energy.

“We are closer to being certified as an Independent Power Producer by the National Electricity Regulator of SA (NERSA), and we look forward to contribute positively to the energy eco-system in the country by offloading the excess capacity that we generate back onto the grid,” said Nyati.

Looking ahead, Nyati announced that MTN will be ramping up its full service ICT offering through MTN Business, delivering high-speed broadband to households and businesses through FTTx rollout, driving LTE and 3G handset distribution across all segments and decreasing 2G distribution share across all channels.

“Additional focus areas for this year will be revisiting customer value proposition to drive data usage and digital content services, streamlining the supply chain model, incorporating our comprehensive back-office transformation programme,” said Nyati.

MTN is the largest digital music distributor and the largest mobile bank in Africa, based on digital music and funds transferred. “We will continue to build a digital ecosystem to deliver a bold new digital world for our customers,” said Nyati.

Through the MTN SA Foundation, MTN continues to make a positive difference in the communities it operates in.

“Using the power of ICT, MTN contributes to enhancing learning and teaching in South Africa through educator ICT training and up-skilling, learner ICT support, school connectivity and curriculum digitisation. MTN also contributes to socio-economic development of disadvantaged communities in South Africa through tele-medicine and e-health training, health screening and wellness initiatives support, enterprise development and strategic arts partnerships in communities,” Nyati concluded.

MTN delivering value its digital strategy and other innovative services

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Over the last year, MTN has made remarkable progress in its growth strategy, delivering value to its customers and enabling them to enjoy the benefits of utilising affordable smartphone devices.

To date, as part of its drive to deliver a seamless and distinct customer experience, MTN has focused on perfecting its digital performance to drive growth.

MTN has enabled its customers to buy 7.6 million smartphones, which reflected a 10.6% increase in the number of devices in 2015, leading to a 37% rise in data revenue pushed up by attractive voice and data offerings.

“The unpacking of our digital strategy and investment in improving our infrastructure, as well as a focus on delivering a seamless and distinct customer experience – coupled with new innovative products and smart devices – has allowed MTN to continue achieving milestones in providing affordable mobile broadband services and life changing products,” says Larry Annetts, MTN South Africa’s Chief Consumer Officer.

MTN’s strategy stands out for its uniqueness to focus on delivering value to its customers, with a strong focus on creating a unique customer experience.

In January to March, MTN volumes of devices sold to South African customers surpassed the market by 61.3%, attributed to its strategy to focus on affordable and own-branded smart devices to bridge the digital divide.

“The Mint and Samsung devices have been our biggest selling smartphones in the past year, while premium brands Samsung and Apple smartphones as expected delivered the most value to our network in 2015.

“We have seen a lot of improvement in the sales of our LTE technology devices, benefitting from our investment in enhancing our LTE network infrastructure,” says Annetts.

In support of its vision to provide its customers with a bold, new digital world, MTN is taking its network to customers and has greatly invested more than R11 billion in 2015 on capital expenditure to enhance and grow its infrastructure, with a focus on aggressive LTE device strategy.

“Our business is to ensure that we help bridge the digital divide and provide our customers access to innovative and accessible solutions. We achieve this by focusing on addressing the needs or daily challenges they face to connect to the Internet. MTN has a clear long-term vision, and commitment to deliver innovative services and a distinct customer experience to bridge the digital divide,” says Annetts.

This is supported by MTN’s proposition to deliver value packed deals – which provides converged services such as voice, data and SMS – with the latest devices.

MTN is also focusing on getting correct its split on technology usage by customers on its network through connectivity via 2G, 3G and LTE services.

“As a result, we have experienced a 33% migration of our customers from 3G to LTE technology since September 2015 until April 2016. We also experienced a 47% migration from 2G to LTE from September 2015 until Aril 2016. We are expecting billable data usage by our LTE subscriber base to reach 211% by 2017 and voice billable minutes of LTE to continue to rise,” says Annetts.

As part value creation for customers, MTN recently unveiled its first digital store at the newly opened Mall of Africa.

The high-tech retail store is designed to offer a seamless in-store customer experience.

The flagship store is the first of many to be rolled-out in South Africa, and caters to convenience and simplicity. As part of its move to provide a seamless customer experience, MTN has also developed an MTN app, which provides contract customers with real-time billing and spending control, and no more surprises on monthly bills.

MTN’s drive to embrace digital world is yielding results and is adding value in various platforms. To exemplify, MTN Caller Tunes experiencing a 1600% rise customers using the service and MTN Play experiencing a 50% growth, while Service Delivery Platforms such as MTN Quiz Master, and saw a 300% in active customers playing the games.

“We have also piloted a product called “call in notify”, where customers can share their status with their loved ones when they call them without listening to the message.

“We are proud to have undertaken this journey to focus on creating value for our subscribers, ensuring that our IT infrastructure is agile to meet the needs of our customer and creating an intimate relationship through our best ecosystems and platforms driven by a vision to deliver a bold, new digital world,” concludes Annetts.

Post Office launches digital mail service

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The South African Post Office (Sapo) now offers a service where organisations and individuals can use an electronic registered mail to send important and sensitive documents.

According to the Post Office, an eRegistered Mail has the same legal status as paper-based Registered Mail in terms of Section 19(4) of the ECT Act 25 of 2002.

“The company has started a journey into the digital world and is looking forward to the future where it turns the corner as a revitalised Post Office,” Sapo said in a statement on Wednesday.

Anyone who needs to send Registered Mail can use this system as long as they have access to the web and have the email address of the intended recipient.

“At a cost of R16.00 (excl. VAT) per eRegistered Mail sent, eRegistered Mail offers a substantial cost advantage over the alternatives such as delivery of legal papers by the sheriff of the court,” Sapo said.

Proof of delivery and a full audit trail is recorded and available to the sender.

eRegistered Mail provides recipients with a free response service, which in itself will enhance recipient response.

“Access to the system is restricted to ensure protection of data, security and users are authenticated through a username and password as well as digital certificates,” Sapo said.

The digital post box used for eRegistered mail is free.

The Post Office said no spam and phishing is possible as the owner of the mailbox selects parties from whom he or she wishes to receive mail.

“With the digital post-box comes a free storage vault upfront where users can safely store important documents. The storage space can be extended if required,” Sapo said.

The service caters for a range of users, whether these are ‘once off’ mail users, small and medium users or institutions that send large volumes.

For more information people can contact 0860 086 860. – SAnews.gov.za