Gauteng Event in July to Conclude Inaugural iDays

Places are filling up fast for the final Gauteng instalment of the series of iDays planned for 2022.

This is the first year that the Internet Service Providers’ Association of South Africa (ISPA) hosts iDays in Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal and the Western Cape. The latter two iDays have already taken place and the well-attended events went a long way towards helping the country’s Internet community reconnect after two difficult years.

Together with partner entities, INX-ZA, the .ZA Domain Name Authority (ZADNA) and the ZA Central Registry NPC (ZACR), ISPA’s Gauteng iDay will include representatives from Internet Service Providers (ISPs), hosting companies, industry regulators, domain name registrars, government and others who are expected to share experiences and engage on developments that are taking place within the Internet industry in South Africa.

ISPA will talk to regulatory developments, licensing changes for ISPs, and the impact of the new Cybercrimes Act.

INX-ZA will engage about peering and generally promote the principle of keeping Internet traffic local. The community-run INX-ZA manages SA’s Internet exchange points for the benefit of Internet consumers as an independent operating unit of ISPA. The Association’s members regularly contribute towards the country’s Internet Exchanges.

ZADNA and ZACR will share insights on growth and development in the domain name sector; and on initiatives aimed at promoting the .za namespace.

Registration is still open for iDay Gauteng to be held on 19 July 2022 at The Pivot, 1 Montecasino Blvd, Fourways. Attendance is free and space is limited to 50 persons. Please visit this link to register:  https://ispa.org.za/ispa-iday-gauteng/

ICASA Cost Modelling Exercise Puts Cheaper Overseas Calls in Sight

The Internet Service Providers’ Association of SA (ISPA) welcomes moves by the Independent Communications Authority of SA (ICASA) to conduct a cost modelling exercise with regards to voice call termination rates and to introduce curbs on charges from local voice providers for terminating calls from outside of South Africa.

The result is likely to be cheaper overseas calls and much-reduced phone fraud, says the Association representing over 200 Internet Service Providers (ISPs) members, many of which provide voice services.

Call termination rates are the fees telecoms networks across the world levy on each other to ensure calls originally placed on another network can reach – or terminate – on their network.

For example: Subscriber A – a Vodacom customer – calls Subscriber B – an MTN customer. The call originates on Vodacom’s network before being transferred to MTN’s network and then being carried on the MTN network to reach Subscriber B. MTN invoices Vodacom for the use of MTN’s network to complete the call: this is the call termination charge. Vodacom then invoices Subscriber A to recover its fees as well as the call termination charge which it has to pay to MTN.

Under ICASA regulation call termination charges for local calls have been substantially reduced since 2014, but there is still work to be done.

In addition, call termination rates for international calls (i.e. where Subscriber A it outside South Africa) are currently unregulated, leading to a massive differential between what can be charged for terminating calls locally and what can be charged for a call received from outside of the country. A gap like this soon gives rise to fraudulent activities where people attempt to present international calls as local calls.

Operator

Termination rate for local calls

Termination rate for international calls

% difference

Telkom (fixed)

R0.06

R1.64

2 633%

Vodacom

R0.09

R2.60

2 788%

MTN

R0.09

R2.49

2 666%

 

For ISPA members, this has caused major challenges in terms of billing disputes and quality of service issues, amongst others.

Consumers, for their part, are receiving international calls with incorrect caller ID numbers that are frequently mistaken for spam and unknowingly paying more to call overseas than they should. For example, calls to mobile numbers in Europe are typically between R 2.00 and R 22.00 per minute, however, once reciprocity provisions come into place, these could drop to as low as R 0.20 per minute.

ICASA clearly has had enough and recently published the findings of its review of SA’s Call Termination Regulations of 2014. The summary is that ICASA has resolved to do a detailed investigation into rates for terminating local calls  and that it will require licensees to use the principle of reciprocity to negotiate down international termination rates.

According to ICASA Councillor Dr Charley Lewis: “The international termination rates charged by local licensees may not be less than the domestic regulated termination rate or higher than the international termination rate offered by their counterpart – meaning that the difference between domestic termination rates and international termination rates must be fair and reasonable.”

The next step is for ICASA to publish a notice of intention to initiate the next phase of the review. This includes a public consultation process to determine the real cost of call termination services and to amend the existing regulatory framework

ISPA Inspires Bursary Winner Announcement

The Internet Service Providers’ Association of SA (ISPA) is proud to announce that the winner of the second ISPA Inspires bursary is Tracey Bungu.

Tracey is currently enrolled to complete her Bachelor of Science in Information Technology degree with Eduvos.

ISPA Inspires is a social development programme aimed at assisting promising South African youth who are planning to pursue a career in the ICT sector to obtain the relevant skills required to aid the industry and, ultimately, boost the country’s economic development.

A total of 296 applications had been received for the ISPA Inspires bursary programme 2022 by the time applications closed on 1 October 2021. Following extensive examination of each application, one winner was selected by ISPA’s Social Development Working Group.

ISPA hopes to develop a long-lasting relationship with these top achievers and foster their talents within the ISP sector.

One of the 2020 ISPA Inspires Bursary programme winners, Fabian Joseph Brijlal, did very well in 2021, and as a result ISPA member Adept ICT has sponsored him for 2022.

Paola van Eeden, Adept ICT’s HR Manager, had this to say, “ISPA Inspires Bursary programme is a great initiative supporting young individuals in the ICT Sector. It was heartwarming to see where Fabian has come from and to see his dedication to his education in 2021. ISPA short listed Fabian from the 288 applications submitted in 2020, and this saved me the time of finding the gem amongst all the applications.”

ISPA wishes Tracey every success with her studies and is proud to be able to assist young people with their financial burden and their journey towards fulfilling their goals. We look forward to each of them contributing to the ICT sector in the near future.

ISPA wishes all the other applicants good luck and success with their studies. The next round of ISPA Inspires bursary applications opens on 01 September 2022.

Small Businesses Can Reduce Cyber Risks With Free Online Resources

Small and medium-sized enterprises form the jobs generating backbone of the South African economy and yet local SMEs are least likely to survive a cyber attack.

With the average cost of remediating a ransomware attack in SA estimated by cybersecurity firm Sophos to be R6.4m, it’s clear small business owners should focus on prevention rather than the cure.

Fortunately, cost conscious SMEs can access free and easy-to-use online resources to help them beat cybercrime. Foremost amongst these is the content developed by the Global Cyber Alliance in partnership with the British High Commission, the Department of Communications & Digital Technologies and SA’s Cybersecurity Hub.

The Alliance’s free cybersecurity and data protection toolkit is aimed at fortifying SMEs against ransomware, malware, phishing and other growing cyber threats, and is available here:

https://gcatoolkit.org/small-business-dapsa/.

When it comes to the Protection of Personal Information Act 4 of 2013 (‘POPIA’), businesses of all sizes are required to mitigate risk relating to processing and storing personal information. POPIA requires companies to implement reasonable technical and organisational measures in this regard.

The challenges for SMEs are the cost and complexity of compliance. SMEs can, however, easily follow the practical advice offered by the Global Cyber Alliance. This  allows SMEs to access free products from trusted cybersecurity companies. Anyone can implement these resources on any smartphone, tablet or computer with only a little computing knowledge.

The toolkit helps SMEs:

  • Discover and assess their devices in pursuit of the ultimate goal of securing them;
  • Boost digital immunity with tools that automatically update defences;
  • Create stronger passwords and additional layers of protection;
  • Protect themselves against malicious attacks with advanced tools to navigate the web safely;
  • Learn about applications that offer routine back-ups; and
  • Explore tools that protect SMEs’ email systems and brands from being damaged by attackers.

In addition, a library of templates is provided that will support the SME’s journey to POPIA compliance. This includes process documentation and more.

Finally; ISPA, as the Industry Representative Body of some 205 Internet Service Providers, is actively working to promote those members who provide secure hosting and domain name registration services. The following page lists ISPA members who provide different types of DNSSEC support to clients:

https://ispa.org.za/dnssec/secure-domain-providers/

DNSSEC, or the Domain Name System Security Extensions, is a feature of the global Domain Name System (DNS) that prevents cyber attacks through, inter alia, proper authentication.

ISPA Seeks Commitment to Open Access

As Vodacom and CIVH approach the regulatory and competition authorities to approve a transaction pooling their fibre network assets, SA’s Internet Service Providers’ Association (ISPA) seeks reassurance that the mobile operator’s historical closed access culture will be swept aside should the deal succeed.

ISPA’s 205 Internet Service Provider (ISP) members have, to date, struggled to obtain wholesale offerings from Vodacom for on-selling to consumers. Conversely, Vumatel and DFA have been pivotal in fostering fierce competition amongst ISPs by historically providing wholesale, fibre-based deals.

Promised cash injections to advance the rollout of high-speed fibre in South Africa are to be welcomed, but ISPA is concerned about the ability of a traditional closed access culture to be successfully married to an historically open access, entrepreneurial-based culture.

CIVH (Community Investment Holdings) is the holding company of DFA and Vumatel and it is a long-time proponent of rolling out fibre in South Africa according to an open access model that sees different resellers tapping into the base fibre offering and then competing to offer business and consumers different value-added high-speed broadband packages.

This has directly benefitted consumers and driven down the cost to communicate.

Vumatel is South Africa’s largest fibre-to-the-home (FTTH) network operator, while DFA provides fibre services in and between the country’s towns and cities.

On completion of the proposed transaction, Vodacom will hold a 30% to 40% share in a newly-formed entity currently dubbed InfraCo.

Vumatel and DFA’s infrastructure investment programmes have provided more South Africans with access to high-speed fibre-based Internet than any other comparable initiatives. As working remotely becomes the norm, it must be ensured that the open access philosophy – a national policy of South Africa – is protected and expanded.

ISPA has lodged an objection with the Competition Commission and provided requested information. The Commission has previously expressed concern about high levels of concentration of ownership in the telecoms industry.

If we are to continue fostering robust competition in South African telecoms, it doesn’t seem particularly smart to ISPA to allow the largest company in the mobile space to merge with the largest company in the FTTH and national long distance fibre space.

ISPA iDay Western Cape Set for May 2022

The Internet Service Providers’ Association of South Africa (ISPA) is launching its second iDay event, in Cape Town, on 10 May 2022. The first iDay of 2022 was held in Durban earlier this year and helped the SA Internet community reconnect after two challenging years.

Together with partner entities, INX-ZA, the .ZA Domain Name Authority (ZADNA) and the ZA Central Registry NPC (ZACR), ISPA’s Western Cape iDay will bring together communities of practice representing different segments of the Internet value chain. These include representatives from Internet Service Providers (ISPs), hosting companies, industry regulators, domain name registrars, government and others who will share experiences and engage on developments that are taking place within the Internet industry in South Africa.

As a sneak preview; ISPA will talk to regulatory developments, licensing changes for ISPs, and the impact of the new Cybercrimes Act. INX-ZA will engage about peering, how it can save stakeholders money, and generally promote the principle of keeping Internet traffic local.

ZADNA, as the ZA Domain Name Authority and ZACR, as the registry operator active in the domain name business, will share insights on growth and development in the domain name sector; and on national initiatives aimed at promoting the .za namespace beyond its current 1.3 million domain names. These include opportunities for Internet companies to streamline and expand their domain name services.

Registration is still open for iDay Western Cape. Attendance is free and space is limited to 50 persons. Please visit this link to register: https://ispa.org.za/ispa-iday-western-cape/.

NOTES:

ZADNA is the regulator of SA’s domain name industry while ZACR is best-known as the administrator of the co.za domain name system. The overwhelming success of the co.za ccTLD is illustrated in the fact that the vast majority of South African domain names can be found in co.za.

The community-run INX-ZA manages SA’s Internet exchange points for the benefit of Internet consumers as an independent operating unit of ISPA. The Association’s members regularly contribute towards the country’s Internet Exchanges so that the stability of the SA web can be maintained.

ISPA Looks Forward to Spectrum Delivering the Goods

The Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA) hosted a successful auction of high-demand radio spectrum and is now moving quickly to assign this precious resource to the successful bidders.

“ICASA should be commended for hosting a successful and long-awaited spectrum.

Unfortunately, this success cannot be properly celebrated as a court challenge by Telkom set down for next month could still derail the realisation of the benefits to competition and consumers of more spectrum in the hands of operators,” says Dominic Cull, regulatory advisor to the Internet Service Providers’ Association of SA (ISPA).

ISPA believes it is imperative the assigned spectrum is put into use as soon as possible by the winning bidders – which include Telkom – so the benefits of greater capacity and lower deployment costs can flow through an economy in dire need of job-creating, data-driven expansion.

Furthermore, many of ISPA’s members are keen to compete in selling mobile data, bringing innovation and lower prices as they have done for fixed data.

As the incumbent operators are on record as stating that limited access to scarce spectrum is the primary reason they cannot provide resale opportunities to Internet Service Providers (ISPs), ISPA also looks forward to developments in this regard.

After announcing the six qualified bidders for the spectrum auction licensing process at the end of February, ICASA held the auction this month and raised R14.4bn for the public purse.

The current pandemic perfectly demonstrated that remote access to high-speed data boosts real-world quality of life. Going forward, SA needs a post-Covid future with a much lower cost to communicate thanks to mobile network operators getting access to the spectrum that powers our connected lives.

By obtaining more spectrum, mobile operators can provide better coverage and better services. The mobile networks have long and publicly stated that they are unable to reduce the cost of mobile data significantly until they receive this spectrum. The Competition Commission has previously said that it will be keeping a close eye on whether they keep their promises.

ISPA, INX-ZA, ZADNA and ZACR Host ISPA’s iDay 2022

Registration closes soon for the inaugural KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) iDay set to be hosted on 08 March 2022 by the Internet Service Providers’ Association of SA (ISPA), INX-ZA, the .ZA Domain Name Authority (ZADNA) and the ZA Central Registry (ZACR)

This first of several Internet Day (iDay) events being hosted countrywide in 2022 has capacity for 50 delegates and registration remains open until 03 March.

ISPA iDay KZN will be held in Durban at the Southern Sun Elangeni Hotel’s Great iLanga conference hall. Interested persons are encouraged to register before all seats at the venue are reserved. Please visit: https://ispa.org.za/ispa-iday-kzn/

The day will bring together representatives from Internet Service Providers (ISPs), hosting companies, industry regulators, domain name registrars, government and others for a programme of presentations covering the state of the Internet industry in South Africa:

  • ISPA will be covering regulatory developments, licensing changes for ISPs, and the impact of the new Cybercrimes Act.
  • The INX-ZA team will be covering the benefits of peering, an overview of the options for connecting in each region, and an introduction to the services available at each Internet exchange.
  • ZACR will be sharing some insights on growth and development in the domain name sector, and highlighting the opportunities for Internet companies to streamline and expand their domain name services.
  • ZADNA will provide an update on national initiatives to promote the .ZA namespace, feedback from the recent ZADNA forum, and take a look at global domain name developments.

ZADNA is the regulator of SA’s domain name industry while ZACR is best-known as the administrator of the co.za domain name system. The overwhelming success of the co.za ccTLD is illustrated in the fact that the vast majority of South African domain names can be found in co.za.

The community-run INX-ZA manages SA’s Internet exchange points for the benefit of Internet consumers as an independent operating unit of ISPA. The Association’s members regularly contribute towards the country’s Internet Exchanges so that the stability of the SA web can be maintained.

Most of the iDay conference sessions are open to the public, and attendance is free to pre-registered delegates. Additional information is available here: https://ispa.org.za/about-ispa/iday/

Now for the Nuts and Bolts of Non-Geographic Number Porting

Many corporates, SMEs, NGOs and others with 0800, 086 and 087 phone numbers are no doubt looking forward to being able to move their usually heavily-advertised contact numbers to more innovative providers from 7 March without losing those valuable digits.

After 16 years of the partial implementation of number portability, this is the date from which South African business finally ticks off the ability to port non-geographic numbers in much the same way as consumers and businesses can switch networks without losing their mobile or fixed line numbers.

Number portability has been a tremendous boost for competition in the telecoms space with the consumer and more agile, customer-focused providers the big winners. Over 13.5 million mobile numbers were ported from November 2006 to January 2022, averaging over 72 000 mobile ports per month. For geographic numbers, the average number of ports per month is over 18 700 for the period April 2010 to January 2022.

“Things are moving in SA telecoms. Now, businesses from neighbourhood mom and pop concerns with easily-remembered numbers emblazoned on their shopfront windows to large corporates that have spent large amounts of money on helping millions more customers remember their incoming numbers can easily switch telecoms providers,” says Dominic Cull, regulatory advisor to SA’s Internet Service Providers’ Association (ISPA).

Greasing the wheels of the number porting process is the Number Portability Company (the NPC), a company now jointly owned by MTN, Vodacom, Cell C, Telkom, Neotel and Liquid Intelligent Technologies . It initially came into being as a result of the 2001 Amendments to the Telecommunications Act which mandated ICASA to: “prescribe measures to ensure that number portability shall be introduced in 2005.” Number ports are always facilitated by the NPC.

While consumers looking for a better telecoms experience most often port by purchasing a prepaid SIM and following the instructions on the new network’s starter pack, the process for porting one or many 0800, 086 or 087 numbers takes longer than the usual 12 to 48 hours, with more steps and variations involved.

Most often, the road to benefitting from more competitive pricing and better service can take up to three working days for one or more non-geographic numbers, or up to ten working days for blocks of 100, 1,000 or 10,000 consecutive non-geographic numbers.

In addition, varying once-off fees can be levied per individual phone number ported and further charges can be applied if whole number ranges are ported. Some recipient networks, however, may offer reduced porting fees or other incentives for many numbers.

Usually, the document that kicks off the non-geographic number porting process is a ‘Porting Mandate’ or similar which instructs the customer’s chosen new network to begin the porting process away from the current provider. This must be correctly completed, signed and submitted to the recipient network together with the necessary supporting documentation. The latter usually includes the most recent phone account indicating all the numbers to be ported, proof of payment of the account, the ID of the person signing the porting instruction and a letter of authorisation giving permission from the company for the numbers to be ported.

Sending the recipient network the latest account invoice from the donor network will usually provide the recipient network with all the information needed to complete the correct porting documentation. Once the documents are in order, the recipient network will submit them to the NPC.

After notification is received from the NPC that the numbers are ready to port, the recipient network will ask the customer for a preferred porting date. The number will be ported in the evening of the port date and numbers will continue working until this time. By 8am the following morning, providers around the country should have updated their call routing, based on the NPC’s database.

Finally, remember that porting timeframes are heavily dependent on the donor network releasing numbers in good time. The recipient network has no contact or influence with the releasing network and only works through the NPC.

Please follow @ISPA_ZA on Twitter.

ISPA Urges South Africans to Mark ‘Safer Internet Day’ on 08 February

“Together for a better Internet” is the theme of this year’s Safer Internet Day (SID) which has become a landmark event in the global online safety calendar over the past 19 years.

In South Africa, the country’s Internet Service Providers’ Association (ISPA) is joining the call for a worldwide web free of cyberbullying and other pressing online issues that so often impact society’s most vulnerable. ISPA is a non-profit company and recognised Internet industry representative body with some 205 Internet Service Provider (ISP) members.

The Film and Publication Board (FPB) – an organisation with which ISPA enjoys a close working relationship – is the South African SID Committee member that leads SID activities in South Africa. Today, SID is celebrated in over 200 countries worldwide.

“As the primary learning tool for growing numbers of young people around the globe, the Internet simply has to become safer. ISPA calls on South African parents, teachers, the media and others with the means to spread the online safety message to get involved on 8 February and for the rest of the year,” says André van der Walt, ISPA’s Chairperson.

Parental controls can support parents in their efforts to keep your kids’ Internet experiences safe, fun, and productive. They can only work, however, when used openly and honestly in partnership with children — not as a stealth spying method.

Parents should understand that parental controls may be helpful, but they are not 100% effective, therefore it is also very important to talk to your child about using the Internet safely. More than nine in ten parents who use parental control software consider it useful.

Common Sense media is an excellent resource for parents of kids of all ages. The site breaks down parent controls into various categories including blocking websites, filtering content, setting limits, monitoring and more: https://www.commonsensemedia.org/blog/parents-ultimate-guide-to-parental-controls.

Setting parental controls through your ISP can be the easiest way to manage what your children can access across all your devices and computers in your home. While this can be done easily by most ISPs, note that any controls set in this way would then apply to anyone using the home network.

If your child has a smartphone they use outside the home, you should consider putting controls in place on that device too. Your ISP could apply controls from your router or even on their backbone infrastructure or may even distribute software that you need to manage and install on your own.

Figuring out what kind of parental control is best is entirely based on your own family’s needs. Some families can get by with simple, free browser settings to filter inappropriate content. Some families need help clamping down on screen time.

Block websites. If you just want to limit what your kids can search for, your best option is to enable Google SafeSearch in whichever browser or browsers you use. First, you need to make sure your browsers use Google as their default search engine, and then you need to turn on SafeSearch.

Block websites and filter content. If you want to prevent access to specific websites and limit your kid’s exposure to inappropriate content such as mature games or porn, you can use the parental controls that are built into your device’s operating system. Every major operating system — Microsoft’s Windows, Apple’s Mac OS, and even Amazon’s Fire — offers settings to keep kids from accessing stuff you don’t want them to see.

Block websites, filter content, impose time limits, see what my kids are doing. A full-featured, third-party parental control service such as Bark, Qustodio or NetNanny will give you a lot of control over all of your kid’s devices (the ones they use at home as well as their phones). These can be pricey (especially if you have several kids to monitor), but the cost includes constant device monitoring, offering you visibility into how kids are using their devices.

Monitor my kid’s phone. To keep tabs on your tween or teen’s phone, your best bet is to download an app to monitor text messages, social networks, emails, and other mobile functions — try Bark, ScreenTime, Circle, TeenSafe, or WebWatcher. These are especially helpful if you’re concerned about potentially risky conversations or iffy topics your kid might be engaging in. For Android, Google’s Family Link is the most integrated approach.

Track my kid’s location. You can use GPS trackers such as Google Maps, Find My Friends and FamiSafe to stay abreast of your kid’s whereabouts.

Manage all devices on the network, limit screen time, filter content, turn off Wi-Fi. There are both hardware and software solutions to control your home network and your home Wi-Fi. To name a few popular ones: OpenDNS is a download that works with your existing router (the device that brings the internet into your home) to filter internet content. Circle Home Plus is a device and subscription service that pairs with your existing router and lets you pause access to the internet, create time limits, and add content filters to all devices on your home network (including Wi-Fi devices), plus manage phones and tablets outside the home. Visit https://cleanbrowsing.org/filters/ for another excellent option that offers a free tier.

Finally, much of the activity around SID will play out on social media. Be sure to review the #SaferInternetDay and #SID2022 hashtags on social media to see the discussions taking place. More information: https://www.saferinternetday.org

Source of Parental Control Software Information above: Alan Levin, Chairman of the Internet Society – South Africa (ISOC – ZA) and member of the Internet Service Providers’ Association of SA (ISPA) PR and Marketing Working Group