Category Archives: Amobia

iWeek 2008

Once a year the South African ISP industry gathers at iWeek for 3 days. We listen to presentations, exchange ideas, network and socialise. The event is organised by the ISPA.

Have a look at the program and listen to the podcasts.

I attended the first iWeek in back in 2002, 06, 07 and 08. It’s well worth it.. and it’s free.

iWeek confirms the un-conference “paradox” that free is better.. community driven and democratised events are of more value than expensive and restricted conferencing events.

It was a busy few days. The food was good.. too good, snacks, lunches, dinners every night. I met a number of interesting people.

This year the top three sponsors where all from Cape Town. Amobia and Teraco (new branding) were Gold sponsors. WAPA endorsed the event. Amobia and WAPA had stands in the exhibition area.

I was invited to a panel discussion on the Wireless day as the WAPA chair. I think the wireless session went well.. we had good feedback.

I was elected to the ISPA management committee at the AGM.

Thanks to Elaine, Debbie and Cheryl (WhereNext Event Management) for organising the event. Thanks to Uniforum and the ISPA for the two dinners.

ps. I figure I should just get an Apple laptop again.. it’s a much better road warrior tool than the Ubuntu/HP. Seems the E71 was the toy to have.. bumped into at least 5 very happy new E71 owners at iWeek.

Quick Update

I’m a bit late on the weekly bullet point life stream. I’ve been in Joburg and really needed to finalise the house shopping…

  • Monday, gym in the evening.. out of my normal routine, just had to go because a know I get grumpy without exercise, especially in Joburg. Conveyor belt sushi in Obs.
  • Tuesday, haircut, fetched the new Amobia banners, nice flight to JHB on the bigger SAA planes, Yaris is not a bad little car, sat nav fun to find my guest house, iWeek stand setup, dinner with Amobia Jhb and Potch crew.
  • Wednesday, early run in Bryanston.. jeepers those houses have massive walls, English breakfast, iWeek, bumped into an old (ex-cpt) friend, dinner at Moyo at Zoo Lake.
  • Thursday, iWeek panel discussion for WAPA, ISPA dinner.
  • Friday, iWeek, bad news for VANS, but.. maybe it’s good for Amobia.. another 6 months of “uncertainty”. ISPA AGM, I was elected to the ISPA management committee, flight back to Cape Town.
  • Saturday, house shopping in Obs, time with Mia and Crazy B, Mouille Point playground, Serendipity Maze, a ride on the (mini) Blue Train, Caffe Neo grub for a picnic in the middle of the (mini) train track, Gelato Mania ice cream, Xupa Xupa retail therapy, lost my credit card (aarrh!), watched Extreme Measures.
  • Sunday, gym, swim, braai with bunny rabbits, found a new (unhealthy obsession) DVD series The O.C. Season 1, Disc 1

More about iWeek in another post. Still working on that E71 post.
Ooh.. tomorrow is Braai Day.. rain or shine (-:

The Fat Lady Sings.. the wrong tune

It’s not over yet..

Today was the last day for ICASA or the Department of Communication (DoC) to appeal the judgement that VANS may self provide infrastructure.

The DoC appealed. WTF!

At least now we have clarity on where the obstacle to an open and deregulated South African telecoms market is. I guess one positive thing is that the market started thinking about how they would use the new licences if they were to get them.

“The digital divide was created and is maintained by African Governments.” — William Stucke, over lunch at iWeek

You have to wonder in who’s interest the DoC are acting.. Infraco? Telkom? Neotel?

We’ll have to wait and see what happens with the 27 VANS marked to received IECNS licenses in the Government Gazette. Will that be revoked? Seems the process is frozen again.

The WAPA case is still pending. Altech have deep pockets. The plot thickens.

I am Joe’s total sense of humour failure..

Quick Update

Themes of past weeks’ updates.. running-geek, golf-geek.. trance-geek, well almost, but it was a bit rainy on Sunday..

  • Monday, good news: Frogfoot and Amobia to get IECNS licenses, drinks at Neighborhood bar.
  • Tuesday, lunch at Caveau at the Josephine Mill in Newlands, we kinda started a peering point (again), a wet and windy Mouille Point run with Lindi, drinks at La Vie for George’s birthday, met a tshirt designer.
  • Brilliant Zapiro cartoon about O.J. Zuma.. presumed guilty in the “pantoffel” justice system.
  • Wednesday, upgraded my (7) blog farm to WP 2.6.2, Amobia exco meeting/dinner at Jamaica me Crazy, mid week trance party at Roots in Obs.
  • Thursday, house shopping in Fernwood and De Waterkant, lunch at Waterkant Village Cafe, WineX, Asoka, met somebody from Zeeq.
  • I seem to be on a successful retox program – it’s safe to say I’ve had at least two drinks every night for the last 2 weeks.. then again I know somebody who can claim a 5 year retox program. “The price you pay for the life you choose” — used to be on the wall at Caprice, Camps Bay.
  • Friday, UCT GSB talk, milkshakes with Mia and the ~ex-wife in Somerset West.
  • Saturday, Biscuit Mill Market with Cath, Parri and Georg, watched My Blueberry Nights (Natalie Portman), one of those relaxed white wine afternoons, gym, swim.
  • I made up my mind: The Darjeeling Limited mostly sucked, but Hotel Chevalier was enthralling.
  • Sunday, pondering an early morning (rainy) Earth Dance mission, gym, swim, Vida, watched Finding Nemo, Waterfront.. maritime museum, toy store, frogurt, scratch patch. Dinner at the Mexican Kitchen in Long Street, fajitas and margaritas.
  • Try some pineapple and cinnamon with your next shot of Tequila.
  • 250th Crackbook friend.
  • This week is iWeek 2008.. I’ll be in Joburg from Tuesday to Friday.. representing WAPA, Amobia and Frogfoot. Will try to keep you up to date on interesting happenings. A good opportunity to use the GPS features of my new phone.

Have a fun week crazy kids.

Amobia and Frogfoot receive I-ECNS licences

Amobia and Frogfoot are both on the list of the 27 VANS who will have their licences converted to Individual ECS and Individual ECNS licenses this month. This list was published in the Government Gazette on Friday.

..2 out of 27 ain’t bad (-;

For those who have not been keeping up with current events.. an I-ECNS licence is the same license Telkom, Neotel and the major GSM providers will have. Yes, it’s a big deal.

ITWeb Article: ICASA resumes licence conversions

Individual ECS and ECNS licence-holders, in terms of schedule A of ICASA’s regulations, can receive their licences from 22 to 30 September.

Schedule A licence-holders consist of a list of 27 companies that includes Altech Autopage, Amobia Communications, MTN Network Solutions and Internet Solutions.

It’s been a long and interesting battle on many levels to get to this point. WAPA took the initiative by first seeking clarity on the rights of VANS. Long hours of writing business plans as part of the ECA conversion process. Lobbying, spreading the word, PR, blogging and general bitching and moaning. A whole industry collectively knowing the right answer, holding its breath for ICASA and the DoC to “do the right thing”..

..and then, we won.

Size matters not. Look at me. Judge me by my size, do you? Hmm? And well you should not. For my ally is the Force, and a powerful ally it is. — Yoda

A victory for the little guy. Victory for the forces of reason and progress.

I have to confess to a few feelings of disbelief when I finally read Amobia and Frogfoot’s names in the Government Gazette. Did IQ’s just skyrocket? Did common sense somehow penetrate the confused minds defining policy in the local telecoms market?

In some ways the news that VANS can self provide is almost too obvious and logical. Do you remember when VoIP was illegal in South Africa? Do you remember when it was illegal for VANS to build (wireless) network infrastructure?

So now that we have all this freedom, all these new options.. what next?

We have to create an environment to nurture our young network infrastructure providers. A few supporting projects will be important to our new IECNS players:

  • Undersea cables and open/neutral landing sites for undersea cables
  • Infraco or other national dark fibre or layer 2 fibre networks
  • City dark fibre projects for Metro Ethernet
  • Vendor neutral datacentres
  • Peering points
  • WAPA’s self regulation and management of ISM frequency spectrum
  • Efficient usage of national frequency spectrum resources
  • Clear policies on how to gain access to municipal property and highsites

I’m working on 3 of the above.

We should see much more pressure on ISM frequency spectrum soon. I’m hoping ICASA will see the light and allow WAPA to play a more active role in keeping the ISM wireless access market sustainable.

Internet Solutions joined WAPA this week and WAPA now has 40+ members. WAPA will have to up its game.

You could say that the WISPs have had an advantage because of the past regulatory uncertainty and their appetite for risk. A small number of WISPs (or outdoor fixed wireless providers) like Amobia now have networks of national scale.

Some will say this is a good time to sell these businesses to larger players in the market.. and some will say the new regulatory environment opens a door to major investment. Amobia will have to up its game.

Interesting times.

Joe on IOL Technology

I was quoted in an IOL article: Landmark judgment liberates VANS

It’s going to be interesting how many new national telecoms operators pop up… 3, 6, 10? You need a good chunk of change to build network infrastructure.

Reminds me of a theory from iWeek a year or two ago.. somebody commented on why the ISP/ICT industry was not “representational” (too many white faces).. he figured that smart BEE investors would not be interested in telecoms: too risky, unstable, low margins, fast moving, hard to predict.. and very capital intensive.

It is ridiculous to call this an industry. This is not. This is rat eat rat, dog eat dog. I’ll kill ’em, and I’m going to kill ’em before they kill me. You’re talking about the American way of survival of the fittest. — Ray Kroc, founder of McDonald’s

Comes down to a simple question.. how long do you need to have that fibre in the ground before you recover your costs and what else could you have done with your money?

Don’t get me wrong, I’m very happy with the news that VANS get IECNS licenses, but this is the very beginning of a long journey..

Judgement Day

Loved the scene at the end of T2. A simple motion shot of a tar road at night and this voiceover…

The future, always so clear to me, had become like a black highway at night. We were in uncharted territory now, making up history as we went along. — T2, Judgement Day

If you’ve been following the WAPA and Altech legal cases against the DoC and ICASA about the VANS’ rights to self provision infrastructure, you’ll know that we’re in for a fun ride if the high court rules that all the VANS now have Individual ECNS licenses. The telecoms tiger get’s out of its cage.. ~200 players in the game.

I’m obviously very interested because of Amobia and WAPA.

Judgement in this matter will be handed down at 9:45 tomorrow.

“Interns, chill the champers and get me some popcorn..” to lunch at Lazari.

Joe on ITWeb

Spotted an article about Teraco on ITWeb : Ex-Storm investors in data centre deal

A few comments..

Teraco aims to be the first co-location data centre company in SA.

Teraco aims to be the first vendor neutral co-location data centre company in SA.

This means any business that needs secure data storage can use it without being locked in to specific hardware or telecommunication vendor’s services.

I’d say connectivity is a bigger factor than secure data storage.

The Cape Town site will have 228 cabinets, in which any range of storage devices can be located.

Naturally, you can host more than just storage devices… like servers and routers.

..supplemented by three generators and three uninterruptible power supplies.

The design allows us to start with this and add more units as the DC fills up.

Johann Botha, a director of wireless network provider Frogfoot

Frogfoot does a bit of Wifi, but Amobia is the wireless company. Frogfoot’s focus is on corporate Internet and carrier services.

Abz got left out. You have to love his website. The three initial founders of Teraco were, Matt, Abz and Joe… for the first year or so.

..everything has to be bought twice to ensure proper redundancy.

The idea is N + 1, as in.. Needed plus one. Which is not the same as 2N, though some parts of the design are 2N redundant.

I still need to write my “The brief history of Teraco” post as part of the story series. I have a few notes somewhere.

PS. Yes, the Teraco website is a bit lame at the moment, but it’s useful to have something up, if only for SEO reasons.

Quick Update

..things I write which I kinda know only friends read. Yes, it’s a bit sad, especially when I assume they read these posts.. I skip the “how was your week” stuff in conversations and move along to the “what does it all mean” parts.

  • Monday, had lunch at Rhodes Memorial with Jonathan and visited the the Old Cape Town Zoo.
  • Turns out Mia had chickenpox over the weekend, at least the worst was over by Tuesday. She’s a tuffy.
  • Amobia’s touch rugby team, won 10 – 4 in the final.
  • Turns out I’m a hero (implicitly), maybe I’ll get myself a “single dad” tshirt.
  • Tuesday, Lions Head. Put on my (mildly gay) long running tights and went for a run along the table mountain cable car road. Had sushi. Watched Get Smart. Nice movie, had a few good laughs.. man, Anne Hathaway is hot.
  • Wednesday, Frogfoot office move.
  • The VANS self provisioning case was heard in court 29th-31st.
  • Watched The Dark Knight. I enjoyed it. It’s a bit more James Bond than Kung Fu like the the previous one was.. and the penthouse was a bit more American Psycho, but I still like Batman Returns. Inspired me to wear my Vivienne Westwood shirt the next day.
  • Thursday, Web Africa brand launch at Relish and GeekDinner at De Capo with Cath. Met an interesting tailor who made suits for a number of presidents. Now I know where Fabiani sent my jackets.
  • Met Charl and Jade at the GeekDinner. Big thanks to Perdeberg wines for their GeekDinner sponsorship.
  • Friday, blogging. Gym.. trust me, newby parents need strong lower backs to keep up with a 2yr olds. Mia. Tea with the ~ex-wife at Manna. We’re working on being friends. Like the Joker said in The Dark Knight.. I was “like a dog chasing a car.. wouldn’t know what to do with it if I finally caught it.”
  • Saturday, watched parts of Babe for the 14th time. Stellenbosch Wine Festival with Georg and Mia. Long, busy, crazy day. Bumped into Max.
  • I love Vanilla Tea and honey on a laid back Sunday morning.
  • Glen Beach for a bit of sunshine and a few photos. Maybe I’ll see you at Fandango for some jazz at 20:00.

Thought for the week..
“the real breakfast of champions is a low information diet”

Quick Update

I missed my usual Sunday night blog post session. Let’s just say there was enough wine around at the time. Mostly been catching up after a busy weekend. Let’s see..

  • I finished the Extreme Networks ECDP course. Next is ENA and then most probably ENS in Dubai.
  • Worked on the Teraco switch fabric design and commercial agreements (talking turkey).
  • Wednesday was an Amobia exco meeting in Stellenbosch.
  • Thursday, watched Semi-Pro, Will Farrel is a god.
  • Friday to Monday was Mia time. She’s a good partner in crime and a unique alarm clock… luckily she has a weakness for rooibos tea, Melissa’s rusks and Monsters, Inc. In that order.
  • Friday afternoon, Mia and I visited Will for his birthday in Somerset West. Mia locked us out of his house for a while.
  • Saturday, made Maltabella porridge and watched the rugby. Traveled to Franschhoek for the Bastille day festival. Had lunch with WSE, Cath and Parri.
  • Visited Haute Cabriere for sundowners, home of Pierre Jourdan. Awesome views. Great cap classique.
  • Sunday, gym, swim, snack at Knead, ice cream at Sinn’s, Deer Park play area where we ran into Dorje. Mia says she wants her own blog.
  • Had lunch at Greens with Jonathan and Lynnae.
  • Sunday night we had a braai with friends in Llandudno. I suck at Scrabble.
  • It’s been a challenging few weeks, but I’m lucky to have very supportive friends.
  • Cape Town is a nice place to raise children.

On with the week.

Quick Update

I have not been blogging much lately. Go figure. Weekly news summary as usual..

  • I entered Amobia in a venture fund competition. Should have some feedback by mid July.
  • Added a Crackbook page for Amobia.
  • Watched Zeitgeist, 40 Year Old Virgin and Oceans Eleven.
  • We had a Frogfoot company photo taken for 2008. Pics at the usual place.
  • Completed the Extreme Networks ECSP training course.
  • Made a fact sheet for WAPA.
  • Walked up Lions Head three times this week. Helps me think.
  • I’m getting back into a swimming routine. Helps me think.
  • Friday, made a new friend by apologising to an old friend. We avoided each other for the last 3 years.
  • Removed two ~nasty blog posts.
  • I brewed up Joe’s famous thai green curry on Friday evening. Nice to cook.
  • Visited Wellington on Saturday afternoon.
  • Anton is in ZA for a week. Had a nice dinner with friends at the Fishmonger followed by drinks at the Akker.
  • Saturday and Sunday was Mia time. We watched Babe today. Sweet movie.