Achieving Universal Service in a Converged Environment

Posted by LexxyStar
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on Monday, 19 November 2007
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Okay, so I work for this Agency (USAASA) that is tasked with achieving the goal of universal service and universal access to electronic communications services (telecommunications and broadcasting) for all South Africans. Since arriving at the Agency, about 6 months ago, I have always asked myself the question: Is universal service and access really possible, especially in the context of South Africa with its so-called Two Economies? Initially, this concept was based on fixed line voice communications. However, mobile operators (Vodacom, MTN, Cell C) have done more than the fixed line operator (Telkom) could ever try to achieve, even though it has been in existence for such a long time. I'm not trying to put a blame here, but I'm merely stating facts. Now, in the era of convergence, multimedia, broadband and all those other nice terms, what should the concept be based on? We can't really look at voice services only, we have to go much more than that. Looking at the coverage networks of the mobile operators, it could be said that the concept of communications for all has been achieved. What about broadband though? People need to do more than just make a phonecall to that far away relative. The Internet and Email have become serious communication tools, therefore we need to consider this when talking about communications services for all. Looking at it though, there's still a long way to go! The problem is, both these services depend on some form of a computing devise, like a personal computer. How many people in South Africa can afford it? Especially people in the so-called Second Economy. Are they going to be left even further behind in as far as technology is concerned, because they can't afford a PC? What is it that we need to do to ensure that everyone in SA can access 'myDigitalLife' for example? We could look at cellphones that have all these capabilities, but even they are unaffordable to most people. So I ask my question again: Is universal service and access really possible in SA??? Personally, I don't believe we can achieve it...no country can. What I believe is that we can get really close to achieving it, but not fully. I would really like to hear some opinions here!!!
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Strategic Conversation

Posted by LexxyStar
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on Monday, 05 November 2007
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I attended an interesting course just last week and something dawned on me. There's all these talks about technology, from the latest PC to Broadband to Multimedia to Digital Migration to a host of others that seem to be changing every year, if not every day. What makes me wonder is...do we have an idea of where we want to go with all these technologies, or are we just moving along and jumping on every technology band wagon we can find??? Do we as a country (South Africa) know where we want to be in say 10 years, technology wise that is? I remember one of Microsoft's statements, when they started out, was "A computer in every home!" That was a profound statement and one can say they almost achieved it, at least in the US. Do we as technologists, policy makers and the country as whole have a vision that profound? Are we talking of technologies like WiMax, HSPA, 3G-LTE, IMT-2000 and all other beautiful acronyms just for the sake of talking are is there a direction we are all headed towards? I think it would be nice if we all have a common goal that we are working towards, hopefully not just a profit driven goal (although profit is good)! I hope this is at least the beginning of a "Strategic Conversation" on where we are headed as a country...TECHNOLOGICALLY!
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Do they know something we don't???

Posted by LexxyStar
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on Thursday, 07 June 2007
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I'm an avid fan of movies, and I try to watch as many as a I can at any given time. I have noticed a certain trend from the Hollywoodians, and I wonder if there is something behind this trend. There was 12 Monkeys, a film where Bruce Willis is sent back in time to stop an outbreak of a deadly virus. There were other after that, but one I remember is Deja Vu, with Denzel Washington. There's an upcoming one called Premonition with Sandra Bullock and the much hyped series Heroes, with the Japanese guy having the ability to travel into the future at an instant. Now I wonder, with all these films about time travel and so on, could there be something that these Hollywoodians know that the rest of us don't? I believe in time travel and if you dig deep into science, you might find that there is some logic to it. Quantun Physicists can better describe how it works. Perhaps these Physicists have figured out how its done and Hollywood is a pre-launch strategy to avoid shock when they are ready for real tests. My 2 Cents worth!!!
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Technology with a mind of its own!

Posted by LexxyStar
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on Tuesday, 05 June 2007
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I'm a great lover of technology and i'm constantly keeping my ear to the ground to hear about the next big thing! One technology that has generated much interest in me is Nano-Technology. I'm impressed by the usage of organic material to develop the technology, but mostly, it's the size of the technology that has sparked much bigger interest in me. You can have a chip the size of a rice grain packing enough power to rival the much larger Pentium 4 microprocessors of today. Heck, the chip can even be smaller than that. L'Oreal has performed trials of including nano-technology in their creams, giving these creams the ability to intelligently target an area of concern. You could rub the cream on your hand and it would go directly to your hair and straighten out that dandruff problem. How about that hey??? But, there is the other side to this great technology. Because this technology is based on organic material, this means it can regenerate itself. Imagine a microchip spawning other microchips...one chip spawns 10, 10 spawns 100 and so on and so on. What happens if there's a malfunction of the technolgy and it regenerates its own code to fix the malfunction. We end up with millions of microchips out there with minds of their own. It can fix problems when it feels like it, or kill when it feels like it. I foresee a lot of issues here! Greater than our little minds can comprehend. As much as I hail the genius of all those scientists who developed this technology, I also fear the possible outcomes! I suppose that's why Nano-Technology is referred to as "Black Dust" in some sceptical quarters! My 2 Cents Worth!!!
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Beam Me Up Scottie!!!

Posted by LexxyStar
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on Monday, 04 June 2007
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They say back in the late 19th century and early 20th century, scientists believed everything had been invented and there were going to be no more new inventions to come.

Well, it seems they were sadly mistaken! I remember in the late 1990's, when almost everything that they had talked about in Beyond 2000 had already been invented and was already old news; I believed that there could be no more inventions. I mean really, what could be better than the Internet?

Seems I was sadly mistaken as well. There are plenty of things that these scientists seem to be cooking up in their confined labs and it is said that some tests have been conducted thus far, some close to success and some far from it. I remember watching Star Trek and thinking to myself it would be a beautiful mode of transport if I could say to a machine, "Beam me up Scottie", and found myself in a massage palour in Japan. How time saving that would be!

It seemed like my and many other people's wild imaginations at the time, but it seems it may not be any more. It is said that there are a number of companies in the US and Japan (I will not mention exact names of these companies) that are already performing some small tests of beaming objects from one place to another, all in a matter of seconds.

This is all based on the field of Quantum Physics, which looks at science from a sub-atomic level. I suppose this technology will really take us Beyond 2000...well, maybe Beyond 2030 or 2100. Most people might be a bit sceptical about this, saying it's not possible! But then again, someone did say faxing was impossible at one stage. If those old sceptics had to see the stuff we're doing with the Internet, they would probably drop dead with shock and disbelief.

Well, my love of science is clearly not misplaced because it always continues to impress me! My 2 Cents Worth!!!
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The answer has been right in front of our eyes!

Posted by LexxyStar
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on Monday, 04 June 2007
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Science is a subject that fascinates me. Be it physics, chemistry or biology, I'm just so fascinated by it all. One thing that really fascinates me about science is how everything is right in front of us. With our complicated minds and thought processes, we sometimes search for answers within the deepest ends of the earth, only to discover later that the answer has been in front of us all along. Let's for instance look at some of the draw-backs of our ideas in as far as technology goes. According to Moore's Law, or my intepretation of it; "Every 18 months, technology will double in power, while physical size and price halfs!" This is all good and well, but how far can this really go on. There will be a point where the properties of Silicon (as an example) will not allow for size to be any smaller, or else it will burn out. So what's the next step? It has been found by many scientists that this is where Biology will come in. I'll go back to my biology lesson, when we learned about cells, plant cells in particular. A leaf of a plant can contain millions of cells, with properties that ensure the life of the plant. There's been controvertial talks about Genetically Modified Foods all over the world. How about Genetically Modified Plant Cells that have the ability to store digital data? Imagine it, a plant that can store millions and millions of data bytes, without running out of space. The great thing about it is that plants are self sustaining, no need for external power. They grow, so you won't run out of capacity. There's no need to make them smaller, we'll be contributing positively to our environment. You can plant trees in your backyard, and that will be all the data storage you need for a lifetime. Data warehouses could be run in Green Houses. It is said that this is the basis upon which Nano-technology is based on, so I guess that's great, or so I hope!!! Multi-national companies have been setting up labs all over the world to come up with ways of compressing more transistors into a single, finger-tip size chip. All of this, while the answers have been right in front of our eyes. Next time you smell the flowers you received from your secret admirer, take a second and imagine just how much power that plant holds and how much it could change the future! Just my 2 Cents worth!!! Lexxy Star :)
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