If you have ADSL, read this

If you have ADSL, read this

Telkom is currently decommissioning its copper network, which means South African ADSL and VDSL subscribers are getting cut off.

This process leaves many DSL subscribers without a reliable fixed-broadband connection at home or at the office.

ADSL and VDSL subscribers must find an alternative connection, and the best options are fibre or fixed-LTE.

Fibre-to-the-home or fibre-to-the-business are the best alternatives to ADSL, as they offer higher speeds, better reliability, and are not susceptible to copper theft.

Fibre prices are also on par or more affordable than DSL when the total cost of ownership is considered.

The bad news is that fibre is only available in selected neighbourhoods in South Africa, which means not everyone can get it.

Where fibre is not available, fixed-LTE is the best option. It offers good speeds and high usage limits at an affordable price.

Another benefit of fixed-LTE is that it is quick and easy to order and install, which is not always the case with fibre.

Move to fibre or fixed-LTE now

Contact us for a wide range of affordable, uncapped fibre services in areas which have fibre coverage.

Also offers an excellent fixed-LTE service over MTN’s award-winning network to those who cannot get fibre.

Brazen cable theft is hurting South Africa’s infrastructure

Brazen cable theft is hurting South Africa’s infrastructure

The theft of copper cables remains a widespread problem in South Africa, resulting in service outages for ADSL customers as well as power outages for many citizens.

Thieves have also become increasingly brazen, stealing from substations and telecommunications infrastructure during broad daylight.

Speaking to the South Coast Herald about a recent group of thieves that were caught red-handed stealing copper cables from the Eskom Sezela substation, Scottburgh SAPS communications officer Captain Adam Francis said these crimes are negatively affecting residents.

“Theft and damage to Eskom, Telkom and Transnet/Prasa cables and infrastructure have serious implications,” Francis said.

“It was shocking to see this happening in broad daylight,” a witness told the South Coast Herald.

“It is because of thefts like this that we are subjected to power outages such as the one experienced recently when we were without power for almost a week.”

Telkom turning off ADSL

Copper theft was amongst the factors which influenced Telkom’s decision to decommission its ADSL network in favour of newer technologies such as fibre and LTE.

The older infrastructure is far more costly to maintain and the rampant cable theft only serves to exacerbate the operational costs of the ADSL network.

Subsequently, ADSL customers who live in areas with fibre and LTE coverage are being contacted and requested to switch from ADSL, with Telkom stopping repairs and cable replacements in many parts of its copper network.

This has led to a steady decline in the number of ADSL customers across the country.

South African farmers blocked from helping to solve load-shedding

South African farmers blocked from helping to solve load-shedding

Many South African farmers want to generate enough green electricity to cover their own use and sell the rest to Eskom and municipalities, but they are blocked from doing it.

This is according to Agri SA corporate member Sonfin, which specializes in structuring green power solutions on its customers’ behalf.

The National Energy Regulator (Nersa) recently implemented a process for registration to allow farmers to legally generate their own power.

Once their registration has been approved, a farmer can generate their own electricity and “bank” power on the grid for offsetting against future usage.

This is a positive development which helps farmers to alleviate the impact of high electricity prices and load-shedding.

However, it still does not allow farmers to generate enough electricity to cover their own use and offset the fixed costs and line fees payable to Eskom.

Sonfin told MyBroadband that all its customers – it has 120 applications with Eskom – want a “zero Eskom account”.

This will not only assist the farmers to cut costs, but also help Eskom to meet demand and potentially prevent load-shedding.

Prohibitive Eskom rules

Sonfin told MyBroadband that the Electricity Regulations Act and the Eskom and municipal policies prohibit anybody from selling power to Eskom or municipalities.

“We, almost daily, get enquiries about farmers, businesses, and households that would like to put up solar photovoltaic (PV) and sell power to Eskom and municipalities,” Sonfin said.

Sonfin added that they have several farmers that already approached Eskom to offer to put up PV and even one hydroelectric system to sell power to Eskom which they do not use.

It added that the current Eskom rules for own use, which apply to farmers, also prohibit farmers from achieving a “zero Eskom account”.

The prohibitive policies include:

  • Peak power can only be used for offsetting against peak power. The same holds for standard and off-peak power.
  • Customer can only bank and offset, Eskom will not give credits for kWh that cannot be offset against actual consumption.
  • Customer must remain a net-consumer in a banking year.

These regulations restrict the size of the systems which farmers can install to help the country to meet its electricity needs.

Energy Minister’s statements not accurate

Energy Minister Gwede Mantashe recently claimed that available renewable energy, which could help the government to meet electricity demand, is a red herring that does not exist.

He added that he has “not had anybody who has come to the Department of Energy who said we have available energy and want to offer it to you”.

Sonfin told MyBroadband that it had several communications in this regard with the Department of Energy and the Minister.

They added that the Energy Department’s Request for Information last year for projects that could deliver power within 12 months had 481 responses. Since then, not much concrete has happened.

One of the biggest problems is that nothing happens within the timelines promised by the government.

“It takes a minimum of 18 months to get approval from Eskom for grid connection when they promise 180 days,” Sonfin said.

Cape Town is ready to leave Eskom and load shedding behind

Cape Town is ready to leave Eskom and load shedding behind

The City of Cape Town is looking to buy energy from independent power producers (IPPs) so that it can become less reliant on Eskom.

This comes after president Cyril Ramaphosa announced in his State of the Nation Address that municipalities in good standing, such as the City of Cape Town, will be able to buy energy from IPPs in the future.

Responding to the announcement, Cape Town mayor Dan Plato said that urgent clarity is required from the national government on the legal and regulatory nuts and bolts of how this must happen.

“The city has been putting pressure on national government for many years to reshape the energy regime in South Africa to the benefit of our people and businesses,” he said.

“Now we need urgent clarity from national government on the roles and responsibilities for municipalities and other stakeholders in terms of the New Generation Capacity Regulations in the Electricity Regulation Act.

“This is an important case for all stakeholders in the energy sector as legal clarification is required for the future purchase from IPPs to become a reality.”

New power stations in three years?

Plato said that the city will first need to complete an Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) to best optimise the supply and demand options.

“We are working with the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research about the production of such an IRP,” he said.

“We are also working with the Western Cape Government and GreenCape, to look at several game-changers that, from an energy perspective, will greatly contribute to energy security of supply and ensure a transition to a lower-carbon future.”

He added that a lot depends on the legal clarification and also the lead time to construction varies by technology type.

“At a minimum, if the decision is favourable, it will bring new power plants online in three years time,” he said.

Government’s alternative power plans could still be half a year away

Government’s alternative power plans could still be half a year away

South Africa’s plans to procure more electricity-generation capacity will have to wait as long as six months until the regulator has approved a state resource strategy, the nation’s energy department said.

Africa’s most-industrialized economy has been hobbled by a shortage of electricity from debt-stricken state power utility Eskom Holdings SOC Ltd.

A government blueprint published last year set out plans to increase power output over the next decade.

Energy Minister Gwede Mantashe has submitted the so-called Integrated Resource Plan to the National Energy Regulator of South Africa for its consideration.

As soon as the plan is processed by the regulator, procurement of new capacity can begin, Department of Mineral Resources and Energy Deputy Director-General Jacob Mbele said at a conference in Cape Town on Tuesday.

“It could be anywhere between three to six months,” he said when asked to estimate the timeline. A spokesman for Nersa didn’t immediately respond to an email seeking comment.

South Africa’s Independent Power Producers office has started preparing a procurement process for when the IRP is processed, according to Maduna Ngobeni, a representative of the office.

Telkom data depletion – What you should know

Telkom data depletion – What you should know

Telkom customers should take note of the differences in data bundle types or risk losing their unused data.

An issue concerning Telkom’s data depletion order was brought to light after a prepaid customer contacted MyBroadband with a problem.

The customer said that at one point in January he had 100MB data remaining on one bundle, due to expire on 1 February.

In order to avoid running out of data, he transferred an additional 1GB from a 5GB FreeMe bundle on another phone. This bundle was only set to expire on 16 March.

After the transferral, the customer noticed that data was being consumed on the transferred bundle, rather than the bundle which had 100MB remaining.

This means that if he did not use up the transferred bundle before the 1st of February, the 100MB remaining on the first bundle would be lost.

The customer indicated that this was not the first time this had happened.

ICASA’s FIFO regulations

According to ICASA regulations that came into effect on 1 March 2019, bundles must deplete on a First-In-First-Out (FIFO) basis.

This means whichever bundle was purchased or allocated first must be consumed before data depletion on a bundle bought at a later stage can begin.

The regulations were implemented to avoid users being unable to use valid data after purchasing additional bundles, optimising the amount of data which can be rolled over.

This Telkom customer appeared to have his bundles depleted according to Last-In-First-Out (LIFO) consumption, which meant the newer bundle was consumed first.

However, according to Telkom, an important distinction can be made between the customer’s inclusive bundle and the transferred bundle.

Telkom responds

The operator told MyBroadband that it had a pre-defined consumption order for different types of bundles.

“Telkom has implemented a data consumption hierarchy which is based on pre-determined rules for the order in which data is consumed. These rules prioritise aspects such as data expiry date and the data type,” Telkom said.

The operator explained that data which is deemed to be Campaign, Bonus, Promotional will always be depleted first, even if its expiry date is after that of any inclusive, recurring, or once-off bundles.

“Typical examples of these would include any data provisioned on the customers’ plan as part of a marketing campaign, i.e a Once-Off data bundle valid for 30 days, transferred data received from another Telkom customer or bonus data received from re-charges.”

This also includes Night Surfer data and LIT streaming data where applicable.

After this data is consumed, the customer’s inclusive data will begin depleting, starting with any valid carried-over data.

“Should there be any carried over data from the previous month this would be consumed first before the current month allocation starts being utilised,” Telkom said.

Any additional recurring or once-off data bundles purchased will only start depletion once the all-inclusive data has been completely consumed, Telkom said.

“Only time-based data bundles may supersede any of the above classes of data, this would be due to the fact that these data resources are only available for a limited amount of time,” Telkom added.

The consumption pattern is as follows:

  1. Campaign, Bonus, Promotional Data (includes transferred data)
  2. Inclusive Data
  3. Recurring / Once-off data Bundles

Telkom customers should take note that transferred data or any other promotional data will always be consumed before any remaining inclusive data.

You can’t just throw away your old laptops and hard drives in South Africa

You can’t just throw away your old laptops and hard drives in South Africa

Getting rid of broken or obsolete computer components is not as simple as throwing them in the trash.

In South Africa, the disposal of old electronic equipment like hard drives and batteries is governed by various regulations.

The National Environmental Waste Act of 2008 requires the appropriate disposal of hazardous waste such as batteries that contain chemicals which pose a danger to the environment.

Additionally, the Protection of Personal Information Act (POPI) necessitates the need for enterprises to completely delete any personal data from storage drives to protect employees and clients.

Both businesses and individuals therefore have an obligation to get rid of their old electronic equipment in a responsible manner to ensure the necessary compliance.

To find out more about the lawful destruction and recycling of e-waste, MyBroadband spoke to Desco Electronic Recyclers, E-waste SA, and Computer Scrap Recycling.

Types of goods

The types of electronic products that can be recycled, refurbished, or destroyed may vary from company to company.

Giulio Airaga from Desco Electronic Recyclers said that eligible devices are not limited to the IT industry.

“Anything electronic, with a plug or battery, or anything that has metal content. So the industries can vary, from the financial sector, to legal, to medical, to industrial. We are not limited to IT equipment. It is any kind of device or machine that is powered by electricity,” Airaga said.

Computer Scrap Recycling also listed a myriad of electrical and electronic goods that typically qualify.

These include monitors, laptops, desktop PCs, printers, photocopiers, servers, scanners, PVC cables, motherboards, UPSs, keyboards, and cameras.

Other general household electric appliances include stoves, fridges, washing machines, air conditioners, vacuum cleaners, kettles, irons, lawnmowers, drills, grinders, and transformers.

The process

Customers typically have the option of either taking their old goods to a waste depot, or having them picked up from their home or office, said the companies.

Airaga explained that upon delivery to the depot, the materials are weighed before being off-loaded and separated according to predefined waste streams.

During separation, the materials are unpacked and sorted into waste streams for further processing and dismantling.

This is when items are dismantled into “E-Waste fractions” – PC boards, plastics, ferrous and non-ferrous metals, glass, and PVC cabling.

PC boards are shredded before being sent to refineries for smelting, while the other fractions are provided to specialist downstream vendors for recycling and recovery of secondary resource materials.

E-waste SA’s approach involves the processing of the received equipment, where devices are tested and earmarked for refurbishment, dismantling, and destruction.

From this, a report is generated which will show the status of each device, such as working, faulty, or scrap.

Any qualified e-waste recycler must also provide the customer with a recycling certificate upon completion of the process.

Data destruction

It is essential that any private information contained on storage devices be dealt with appropriately when disposing of e-waste.

Clients must be furnished with another certificate confirming that the correct procedures have been followed to ensure that no data can be salvaged or parts put back into the market for further use. 

Desco securely destroys hard drives, magnetic tapes, tablets, cellphones, GPS units, and other devices that may contain sensitive data.

For the destruction of hard drives, the company charges R20 per unit excluding VAT, while the secure destruction of other e-waste is priced at R10 per kg.

Additionally, Computer Scrap Recycling said it removes any logo or indications of previous owners from all devices.

“Tags, company names, and stickers are all removed from the equipment when it arrives at our premises and a code is allocated to the equipment for company records,” the company said.

“All non-working devices are crushed and we make sure that no data or information is leaked during the destruction or refurbishment process.”

For devices that are intended for refurbishment rather than destruction, Computer Scrap Recycling erases all data and wipes drives through low level format and zero format.

Prices and compensation

When it comes to the pricing involved with e-waste recycling, customers may find a range of options available.

To establish the exact compensation or charges for recycling, the goods will need to be assessed by the chosen recycler.

Airaga said that Desco compensates clients for the delivery of e-waste to its door, while it charges for collection if the total weight of the equipment is less than 1,000kg. There can be exceptions to this, however.

“Depending on the type of electronics, if it is less than 1,000kg but the value of the e-waste is higher, we can waive the collection fee,” Airaga said.

Generally, the price list is broad, but at Desco customers can expect household electronic goods delivered to Desco to get R1 in compensation per kg. IT equipment can range from R1 to R8 per kg.

Additionally, components such as RAM, CPUs, or PC Boards can fetch prices from R30 to R2,000 per kg at Desco.

E-Waste SA said it creates a purchase order based on the device report as described in its recycling process above, with a calculated value for the devices which were recovered or assessed.

This is then sent to the customer, who must create an invoice from this purchase order.

Legislative compliance

E-waste recyclers must also comply with the necessary legal requirements under environmental and data laws.

Computer Scrap Recycling and E-waste SA are members of the e-Waste Association of South Africa (Ewasa), a body which was established to develop an e-waste management system back in 2008.

Desco partners with the Southern African E-waste Alliance (SAEWA) and the Institute of Waste Management of Southern Africa (IWMSA), both of which promote and support the responsible management of e-waste.

Airaga explained that the consequences of irresponsible destruction or recycling could be devastating for the environment and humans.

“If these fractions get dumped, their chemicals leach into the ground. They affect the soil and the groundwater underneath it. You can’t plant on this soil, and if you drink the water that comes from the water table where e-waste was dumped you can get poisoned,” Airaga said. 

He added that the approach to batteries in particular was important. 

“All are hazardous, but lead acid batteries have a recovery value because of the lead, so we can buy them. But lithium-ion (from cellphones or laptops) doesn’t have a recycling solution, therefore, it either goes to a hazardous landfill or gets incinerated.”

The pictures below show e-waste during various stages of the recycling process at Desco Electronic Recyclers.

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South Africa’s massive new solar farm aims to power 40,000 homes

South Africa’s massive new solar farm aims to power 40,000 homes

The 86 MW facility, known as Dyason’s Klip 1, is expected to produce 217 GWh and deliver clean energy to around 40,000 households annually, the company said.

“This is another great achievement by our team in South Africa, bringing this important project online earlier than planned and supporting South African power supply in this time of much-needed electricity,” said Raymond Carlsen, chief executive officer of Scatec Solar.

“We continue to develop renewable energy projects to support the country’s energy demand and we are ready to deliver new capacity, both within the utility-scale segment as well as towards private customers in the commercial and industrial spheres.”

When completed, the Upington solar power complex will provide clean energy for around 120,000 households and lead to the abatement of more than 600,000 tonnes of CO² emissions annually.

The last of the three solar plants under construction is expected to reach commercial operation within the next few months, Carlsen said.

The three projects are situated next to one another on adjacent plots,  approximately 25 kilometres outside of Upington in the Northern Cape.

The projects were awarded in April 2015 in the fourth bidding round under the Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Programme (REIPPP) in South Africa.

Scatec Solar owns 42%, Norfund holds 18%, the surrounding Community of Upington 5% and H1 Holdings, a South African Black investor holds the remaining 35% of the equity.

National shutdown over electricity threatened

National shutdown over electricity threatened

The Gauteng Electricity Movement said it is not going to pay for electricity and threatened a national shutdown unless its demands are met.

A movement spokesman said they have inherited debts of the Apartheid regime which is why they are “suffering so much”.

“That is why today they want us to pay for electricity. Electricity is a basic right. Everyone, starting from Gauteng, to other provinces – we are not going to pay,” he said.

The group highlighted that this is not a Soweto-only problem but extends to the whole country.

The Gauteng Electricity Movement has published a list of demands which include:

  • A flat rate for electricity for all residents of Gauteng
  • Scrapping of all prepaid meters
  • Reconnection all houses with no electricity
  • An end to load-shedding
  • Scrapping of all Apartheid debts
  • Electrification for all informal settlements
  • Publicly owned renewable energy production

The movement accused Eskom of using “bullying tactics” against working-class communities by using load shedding as a “scapegoat against the poor”.

Failed Soweto shutdown

The Gauteng Electricity Movement shrugged off reports that its planned shutdown on Tuesday 25 February failed.

The movement planned to bring various areas in Gauteng, including Soweto, Alexandra, Tembisa, and Ga-Rankuwa, to a standstill.

This did not happen, but the movement’s Trevor Ngwane said this is only the first of many rounds in the fight.

He said they have now assessed the “muscle of the enemy” and are ready to facilitate more protests in future.

He previously said they are not paying for electricity because they “cannot keep up with the high tariffs in the country”.

“The difference between us and the rest of the country is that we are fighting (the issue), we are defending our grannies and defending the vulnerable,” he said.

When pushed as to why Soweto residents don’t pay while the rest of the country does, Ngwane said it’s because the township’s residents have a “fighting spirit”.

Eskom to take power units off the grid for 75 days at a time: report

Eskom to take power units off the grid for 75 days at a time: report

Eskom plans to modify the boilers at the Medupi and Kusile power plants in an attempt to reduce exhaust steam temperatures, City Press reports.

The project will see the 130-metre tall boilers extended by a further 12.5 metres – making them taller than both Standard Bank and Absa’s head offices in Johannesburg which currently stand at 140 metres.

The additional modifications at the power plant will also see each one of the 12 generation units at the plants taken off the grid for 75 days for the repairs, with each producing around 600 MW of power.

During this downtime, Eskom chief executive officer Andre De Ruyter said that engineers would also fix other problem areas at the plant, including the equipment used to handle coal.

The additional costs of the upgrades means that Medupi is expected to cost R145 billion once it is completed – R65 billion more than the original budget of R80 billion.

Kusile is now expected to cost R161 billion after it was originally budgeted to cost R100 billion.

Five years of load shedding

This new construction alongside other issues means it will take at least five years to get the power utility’s plants to a place where load-shedding is not needed, said energy expert Ted Blom.

Speaking to SABC News about the latest series of power cuts across the country, Blom said claims by Eskom and energy minister Gwede Mantashe that load-shedding will last for between 18-24 months are misguided.

He said the energy minister is not close enough to Eskom’s operations to know what is going on, and the new CEO André de Ruyter has not been there long enough to make accurate predictions.

“I have gone into the situation at Eskom in detail with an IMF (International Monetary Fund) subcontractor with vast experience,” he said.

“Our estimate is that it will take at least five years under the Eskom scenario of refurbishing the boilers.”