2009 was a particularly exciting year in telecoms with a new communications minister entering the fray, SEACOM landing to break Telkom’s SAT-3/SAFE monopoly and bandwidth prices starting to plummet. Here are some of the biggest IT and telecoms stories from 2009.
New Communications Minister
In May this year president Jacob Zuma named Siphiwe Nyanda as the new minister of communications. The new deputy minister of communications is Dina Pule (http://mybroadband.co.za/news/Telecoms/7981.html). This came only weeks after the former Communications Minister Ivy Matsepe-Casaburri passed away in a Pretoria hospital (http://mybroadband.co.za/news/Telecoms/7651.html)
Telkom sells Vodacom; Vodacom lists on the JSE
After years of talks, negotiations and speculation Telkom finally sold its stake in Vodacom. (http://mybroadband.co.za/news/Telecoms/5528.html). Vodacom listed on the JSE (http://mybroadband.co.za/news/Business/8061.html ), but not before a last-minute legal battle with ICASA and Cosatu (http://mybroadband.co.za/news/Business/8078.html).
MTN and Vodacom bandwidth rollover
MTN and Vodacom improved their 3G/HSDPA value proposition with bandwidth rollover, something which consumers have been asking for for years. Pricing however remained unchanged, much to the dismay of mobile broadband subscribers.
Jannie van Zyl takes over at iBurst
In a surprise move Alan Knott-Craig Junior resigned as iBurst MD in April (http://mybroadband.co.za/news/Business/7734.html). An even bigger surprise was Jannie van Zyl – well known on MyBroadband as Vodacom3G – taking over as iBurst group CEO to the delight of the local broadband community (http://mybroadband.co.za/news/Business/8414.html)
The long awaited SEACOM cable was officially launched in August after eighteen months of feasibility studies and shareholder agreements, a nine month marine survey and a nineteen month cable construction period.
ADSL price drops
ADSL data prices have hovered around the R70 per GB mark for years, but a few service providers like G-Connect, Vox Telepreneur and Afrihost are shaking up the market and have dropped the new standard rate to below R50 per GB (http://mybroadband.co.za/news/ADSL/10825.html)
Internet Solutions, DigiChilli, SAOL and Screamer Telecoms also shook up the uncapped ADSL market with services priced from as low as R300 per month. This is mostly a result of lower international bandwidth prices brought about by SEACOM (http://mybroadband.co.za/news/ADSL/10809.html)
Hosting bandwidth price cuts
Following the downward spiral of ADSL bandwidth pricing after SEACOM’s launch, hosting bandwidth prices also started falling with Hetzner, Afrihost and Web Africa leading the way.
In what many saw as the strongest unified effort yet to drive down telecoms prices, the Department of Communications, Parliament, ICASA, industry players, consumers and the media all played a role in ensuring the peak mobile termination rates were reduced from R1.25 per minute to 89c per minute.
Some observers however argue that this was merely a backlash to Telkom’s sale of Vodacom, which was unsuccessfully opposed by ICASA and Cosatu, in which a few Mbeki loyalists made millions.
Gaming console pricing wars
When Sony acknowledged the existence of the PlayStation 3 Slim model in August – and revealed that it would significantly decrease prices across its console range – the gaming market was thrust into a console pricing war. Both Nintendo and Microsoft responded by reducing pricing on their respective consoles and announcing new bundle packages to be released in time for the holiday season.
Windows 7 launched
Microsoft released its much-anticipated Windows 7 operating system in South Africa in October. Along with the OS, Microsoft also announced the release of a new range of Windows phones, which it believes will further boost its growing presence in the local mobile sector.
Google Android Phones
Vodacom and MTN launched the HTC Magic and HTC Dream smartphones – aka Google Phones – in South Africa. Google announced late this year that it is planning a ‘true’ Google Phone.
The non-event of pay-TV competition
Telkom has managed to avert the winding up of Telkom Media by selling its 75% interest in and claims against Telkom Media to Shenzhen Media South Africa – and it is renamed Super5Media. Despite a lot of noise and promises MultiChoice/DStv continues to enjoy its monopoly in the local pay-TV arena.
Biggest tech stories of 2009 – do you know of any other ones?