A high speed, quality fibre connection, provided by Telkom, is set to make a big difference in the lives of learners of Orlando High School in Soweto.
“The internet will be an enabler for us as learners from the township. The teaching and learning environment will change drastically and [it] will open a whole new world for us. We will not be left out as the world moves into the Fourth Industry Revolution,” said Orlando High student representative Thatho Mahlatsi on Friday morning.
The school, which has a rich political history dating back to the liberation struggle, received a fibre connection earlier today as the country marks World Telecommunications and Information Society Day (WTISD).
WTIS Day is spearheaded by the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) and has been celebrated annually since 2006. The day focuses on the importance of ICT and issues relating to the information society.
Speaking at the activation, Telkom CEO Sandile Maseko said the fibre connection at the school marks the start of a broader investment into South Africa’s 26 000 estimated schools.
Maseko views the roll out of fibre internet as a catalyst for economic development and education.
“Our focus is to ensure that many South Africans are connected to quality and fast internet. With more people connected, the less the data will cost,” Maseko said.
Telkom is exploring partnering with government to roll out a fibre network to public places like schools, hospitals and police stations so that they get connectivity at zero-rated costs.
With the right technology, Maseko said, this fibre connection can contribute to many other sectors and contribute to revitalising the township economy.
Communications Minister Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams, who led the WTISD Day celebrations, said information and communication technologies are important tools for advancing a more equitable and prosperous South Africa.
She encouraged the learners to use the connectivity to their advantage and tell the world their stories and history.
Government’s plan is to ensure that policies and regulations are in place so that Telkom and others are able to roll out internet connectivity throughout the country.
“As much as government has made investments in the digital space the main drivers are the industry role players. This is why as government we are calling on many other networks to join in connecting the unconnected.”
The minister said as much as government is driving the Fourth Industrial Revolution, the issue of speed and the quality of the connectivity becomes crucial.
She said while President Cyril Ramaphosa has called on investors to invest in the country, government had to ensure the best infrastructure was in place for their investments. Government will be establishing the Digital Development Fund to assist in the rollout of this infrastructure and move the country towards the realisation of the 2030 National Development Plan (NDP) goals.
Radio frequency spectrum allocation policy
Ndabeni–Abrahams said government is moving towards finalising the radio frequency spectrum allocation policy directive.
She has extensively engaged the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA) to ensure the regulator is adequately resourced to effectively conduct the spectrum licencing process once the policy directive is issued.
The Department of Telecommunications and Postal Services has reprioritised its finances and has already transferred R10 million to ICASA which will be used to provide for the requisite additional human and financial resources that will be borne by the regulator.
To ensure an inclusive approach, Ndabeni-Abrahams said she has invited sector stakeholders to provide written submissions on their interpretation of the definition of the spectrum licencing process.
“We want to ensure everybody that we are in charge of the process and that everybody will get what they deserve according to the country’s priorities.”
Through spectrum licensing, government wants to fast-track 4G spectrum assignment which operators have been waiting for for many years. It will also help transform the sector by attracting new investments while also hastening the growth of mobile communications in the country.
Broadcasting Digital Migration
With regards to the implementation of broadcasting digital migration, the Minister said one of the reasons for the delay was that few people have registered to receive the subsidised set top boxes, which are needed to facilitate the switch from analogue broadcasting to digital.
With this in mind, they have extending the rollout until 2020 so as to bring everybody on board.