About Me

I ramble about a number of things - but travel experiences, movies and music feature prominently. See my label cloud for a better idea. All comnments and opinions on this blog are my own, and do not in any way reflect the opinions/position of my employer (past/current/future).

26 April 2008

Telecommunication Prices

MyBroadband has an article on the proposed Neotoel consumer pricing info, and in my opinion, it is very competitive. But, as Phathu loves to say, South Africans love to complain.

Reading the forum discussion, it seems what Neotel (or for that matter Telkom) needs to provide is fibre to the premises, uncapped, high speed broadband, and all for less than R500! Sorry - but that is not only unrealistic in the short term - but it is also clear that many people just do not know how expensive it is to roll out telecommunication infrastructure.

As I work for a ICT company in South Africa, I have first hand knowledge of how expensive it is to build infrastructure. Just some raw figures - it costs approximately 1 million rand (if you are lucky) to lay one Km of fibre. That does not even include the costs it will take to process the admin required to dig across numerous roads and pavements. Fibre to the home ... forget it anytime soon. And don't forget the switches ... a low end switch for fibre networks easily costs a few hundred thousand rands. Then, one should not forget the emergency power supplies (always important in South Africa), the security measures and the costs start multiplying very quickly.

I have done the calculations (as part of my job) ... if a company is to roll out telecommunication infrastructure, across all the major cities in South Africa, charge about R1000 per month for a 1 Mbps link, they will need 30 000 subscribers on average over 5 years to just break even. And this would be for a wireless network (like WiMax or iBurst or something similar).

As for international bandwidth - it costs a lot because there is scarcity. Until the new cables come into operation, do not expect Internet prices to drop. And even with new cables, it will take time for prices to drop - under sea cables are expensive to lay and even more expensive to run and maintain.

In one of his early books, the late Arthur C Clarke argued that once there are enough satellites in space covering the globe, global communication would become almost free. What he did not obviously take into account was the price of maintaining global connectivity, and the bandwidth required for YouTube, HD Video or even Web 2.0.

25 April 2008

Movie: Street Kings

I am not too sure how to treat this movie - at its core, it is an action movie about cops and bad guys; but it could also be seen as a commentary on police brutality and police corruption. In the words of Capt. Wander (Forest Whitaker), "We are all bad" - and the movie is basically about how much. And because we are all bad, it does not matter how bad guys are taken down - and the question is posed from the very beginning. In the opening scene where the lead character "L.A.'s deadliest white boy", Tom Ludlow (Keanu Reeves) rescues two girls from a child prostitution ring, and in the process kills all the thugs involved, and frames it as a defensive encounter. Should protocol have been followed? Should the suspects have been apprehended and brought to trial instead of being killed off?

This is a non-stop action thriller, and although it is quite predictable (particularly because of the trailer), it is still a very enjoyable movie. Forest Whitaker's acting is particularly impressive - and Keanu even manages some emotional expressions! But like in the Matrix, Keanu is particularly suited for this role, because it needed a cold, calculating person without expressing too many emotions.

23 April 2008

Back on the court

I had not played badminton since I left Cape Town, and it was great to play once again. Yesterday, I went to the Wanderers Club (next to the cricket staidum), and they have nice facilities and the people are quite friendly. It is quite far for me though - about 25 Km drive in each direction ... so need to see if I can find an alternate venue.

21 April 2008

Digital Lifestyle Expo

Digital lifestyle - one would think that would encompass lots of cool gadgets, lots of funky electronics and all those things that would make Eskom start another round of load shedding and your bank manager tearing his hair out on another potential bad debt. Unless you are the organisers of Digital Lifestyle Expo (that's ITWeb it looks like).

The expo distinctly lacked gadgets and presence from gadget makers. For starters, there was no display from Apple. Nor from Nintendo. Or from any camera maker. There were no funky gadgets that made you want to spend money. Even major household brands in South Africa - such as Samsung and LG did not have stalls.

As for the stalls that were there - I encountered some of the most incompetent people manning the stalls. For example, at the Iomega stall, the salesperson tried to sell me a NAS that supports "all versions of RAID 1 to 4". The salesperson for Netgear did not know where I could get his product. And over at the Asus stand (which did feature some cool motherboards), the AMD representatives walking around pointed out that the specs for the motherboards seemed to be wrong (apparently the motherboards featured ATI chipsets and not nVidia chipsets).

As an expo - this was a massive disappointment.

Photos from Saturday

Looks like composer function in Blogger is working in Windows (but still not in OS X). Anyway .. here are a couple of pics from Saturday.

20 April 2008

Cycling Again

It has been a long time since I cycled ... the last was in Nuremberg, and before that sometime in Cape Town, before I left. As for using my bike for its intended purpose - off road - it has been a seriously long time. Anyway, after dragging my bike from Durban, getting it serviced (quite cheaply too), Reinhardt introduced me to real off road mountain biking (i.e. not going up and down the block house on Devil's Peak).

As you enter Pretoria (from Johannesburg), there is a large nature reserve - Groenkloof Nature Reserve - which is very popular for cycling, 4x4 trails and hiking; and there are numerous trails around the reserve that cater for these activities. Most of the cycling options are not difficult - though I did manage to fall once (when my front wheel got stuck between two bog rocks) and had to walk a few times when I just could not find any traction going uphill on a sandy/rocky type of soil.

But what is really amazing about the reserve is that it is a proper nature reserve, complete with wild animals like Zebra and Wildebeest. There are also elands and giraffes, but we didn't see any. It really makes for a great cycling event; and I hope to come back often!

I would post pictures, but my image upload function has disappeared ...