In an era driven by digital connectivity, the recent events involving the unprecedented damage to three of South Africa’s major west coast undersea internet cables have thrust the country into a precarious position.
A king once asked a wise man what he would like in payment for his services. The wise man presented the king with a chessboard, and said he would like one grain of rice that doubles for every one of the 64 squares on the board. Without thinking, the king accepted, not realising that by the time he reached the second half of the board, he’d be paying the man more rice than the kingdom could produce in a year.
You could probably get more reliable, fast connectivity at a price you can afford. Of the 38 million South Africans who used the Internet as of January 2021, 36 million did so on mobile. Not all of them used mobile data (just the mobile device connected to Wi-Fi). But a lot of South Africans are using prepaid or contract data. It’s the most expensive way to connect in this country and among the most expensive worldwide.
South Africans who work from home, study online and try to keep their businesses alive rely on connectivity, without which it all ends. “Digital loadshedding” is small-fry compared with digital fratricide. ICASA is effectively snuffing the concerted and, quite frankly, miraculous efforts of so many businesses, workers and students, who have survived lockdown using nothing but cellular connectivity, by reclaiming 5G spectrum from the mobile networks.
Some ISPs are concerned about the timing of ICASA interim transformation requirements, suggesting that April 2022 does not give them enough time to establish effective agreements.
We urgently need your feedback on Wi-Fi 6E regulatory so please check out that section if it’s a spectrum band that’s on your radar. Expect high-demand spectrum issue to go to court. As of the regulatory briefing on 16 August 2021 there was a draft settlement order being circulated by the parties involved.
In short, no, it’s illegal, and you will be caught. But, that said, there are legal ways to provide connectivity. It is also legal to put Wi-Fi across your own property but that changes if you cross a public space. You’re also not allowed to share your Internet link according to the contracts you sign for connectivity.
The Cybercrimes Act recently signed into law in South Africa does not put WISPs (wireless Internet service providers) and other ISPs under any obligation to monitor their subscribers or report them to the SAPS for online copyright infringement (commonly referred to as piracy).
There are pros and cons to every type of Internet connectivity, so how are you supposed to know which is the best network for your work from home or to run a business? Choosing one can become difficult. There are five main types, but each has its own pros and cons, and they come with technical terms which for non-technical people can be a bit of a headache.
To connect the rural unconnected to affordable internet is not so much a technical problem but more one of economics. For the large mobile operators, it is of no economic value to connect people who live away from the main rural highways in sparsely populated areas, even as a loss- leader project. TV WhiteSpace technology is the way forward.