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Extensive load-shedding hurts SA telcos

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As lit light bulbs become a rare sight in SA, load-shedding could have a devastating effect on all mobile operators.

As lit light bulbs become a rare sight in SA, load-shedding could have a devastating effect on all mobile operators.

Load-shedding has a devastating effect on all mobile operators, significantly increasing operational costs associated with keeping base stations alive and protected, and negatively impacts customer experience.

This is according to Cell C, responding to ITWeb’s questions about the impact of rolling Eskom blackouts on South Africa’s mobile networks.

Vodacom, MTN and Rain all agree that load-shedding is impacting their networks and pushing up costs.

Eskom yesterday escalated load-shedding from stage two to stage four after more generating units tripped. This as the state-owned power utility was already struggling with generation shortages over the weekend and constraints in diesel supply. This morning, Eskom said South Africans could expect stage three load-shedding from 08h00 until 23h00.

The Eskom board yesterday had a six-hour meeting with public enterprises minister Pravin Gordhan, following the unexpected introduction of load-shedding from Sunday.

MTN confirmed that scores of its sites are affected by the rolling load-shedding felt across the country.

“MTN has invested heavily in generators and backup batteries, in an attempt to maintain communication for our customers, despite the lack of electrical power. However, operational impact was still felt where the frequency of the load-shedding exceeded the capacity of the backup devices,” Jacqui O’Sullivan, executive for corporate affairs at MTN South Africa, told ITWeb.

She says MTN’s batteries generally have a capacity of six to 12 hours, depending on the site category, and require 12 to 18 hours to recharge.

“Where consecutive load-shedding took place, batteries were unable to fully recharge, resulting in reduced backup times.

“The uncertainty surrounding the envisaged stages of load-shedding and duration thereof puts additional strain on the network because if the duration and/or frequency of the load-shedding increases, the current battery backup autonomy per site is compromised. The end result is increased operational costs for operators,” O’Sullivan adds.

Cell C experienced similar issues, saying load-shedding also depletes the efficacy of batteries, because they are not given adequate time to recharge, which means battery backup becomes shorter every time.

“We have all put in place as many measures as possible with respect to the national electricity grid. However, even on days when load-shedding has not been implemented, operators face an incredible challenge,” Cell C told ITWeb.

“For example, on any given day, 80% of the alarms on the Cell C network are related to power outages or power-induced failures in various areas around the country. This already has a financial impact on the company, given that it needs to ensure that as many sites as possible are furnished with battery backup.”

Vodacom says it has also experienced some connectivity issues but “when compared with our total network traffic, the recent impact has been limited due to our backup power facilities”.

“Vodacom spends significant amounts on backup power solutions such as generators and batteries to maintain power to our sites. These costs are significant as especially in the case of generators, re-fuelling must constantly happen. It is accurate to say that costs have amounted to many millions of rands. Additional input costs and revenue losses amount to tens of millions of rands,” a Vodacom spokesperson told ITWeb.

Wireless data provider, Rain, told ITWeb that load-shedding had impacted its services and it had to shut down towers in past days which would have impacted users.

“Stage four load-shedding can cause up to 10% of our towers not to be available at times,” a Rain spokesperson told ITWeb.

“Intermittent power supply is a huge challenge for Rain and the rest of the industry. Should it continue, it will significantly impact our ability to drive the costs of data down, as our underlying costs will be higher,” Rain says.

Telkom did not respond to a request for comment by the time of publication; however, the telco tweeted yesterday: “As we embark on another term of load-shedding, please remember that services may be affected during this time.”

Dobek Pater, director of business development at Africa Analysis, says a lack of power can be quite a challenge, particularly in the SA and African context where a lot of crime around alternative power sources can take place.

“It means higher capital expenditure and operational expenditure for operators, when they are already under pressure from declining prices of voice and data services.”

O’Sullivan says MTN spent more than R100 million in the past year dealing with acts of theft and vandalism.

“These crimes tend to spike during load-shedding when the lack of power sees substations being vandalised for copper wire which then further exacerbates the power supply problem, when electricity is meant to be restored. MTN has had to deploy security teams around the country to protect the equipment at these sites, once again, at significant cost to the company,” O’Sullivan.

Cell C says backup power is further hindered by the high rate of vandalism to network high-sites, “of which we see around 10-15%. Load-shedding compounds these problems exponentially, with vandalism doubling during those periods.”

“In some countries in Africa, some sites are run 24/7 on diesel because of the poor power supply from the grid. This is very expensive. We’re not there yet…but maybe in the future,” Pater adds.

“We are doing all we can to ensure our batteries and generators remain fully functional so we can limit the impact this load-shedding has on our customers,” O’Sullivan says.

“While Cell C continues to do everything it can to maintain customer connectivity, this is not always possible with the electricity issues the country faces,” it says.

Rain also has battery backup at all towers and generators at key sites but says it would be “extremely expensive to install and maintain generators at all towers”.

Cell C says its generator backup is assigned to high-sites where there is high traffic, but it is not possible to get to all load-shedding affected areas.

“Additionally, load-shedding is not only the 4.5 hours; often there is a knock-on effect that lingers after the period of load-shedding. In some cases, transformers at substations trip and require Eskom manpower to bring those back online, extending the period without power. Additionally, electricity surges when power returns, which may mean equipment at base stations needs to be replaced or rebooted before those sites can be restored,” Cell C explains.

Vodacom has also deployed additional resources, batteries and generators at numerous sites across the country.

It says at some sites where the backup power might become depleted, customers will not be able to access any services when the site goes offline. When the power is restored, customers are able to catch up on calls and messages which would not have come through when the site was offline.

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Riot police squads intervene as pro-Israel and pro-Palestinian protesters clash in Montreal

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People wave flags atop cars in traffic during a demonstration to voice support for the people of Palestine, at Toronto City Hall in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, on 15 May 2021.


People wave flags atop cars in traffic during a demonstration to voice support for the people of Palestine, at Toronto City Hall in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, on 15 May 2021.

  • Violence
    between pro-Israel and pro-Palestine protesters in Montreal was condemned by
    Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
  • Montreal’s
    city police force intervened and declared the protests illegal after tensions
    heightened and clashes broke out.
  • Israeli
    strikes killed 42 Palestinians in the Gaza Strip on Sunday, the worst daily
    toll in almost a week of clashes.

Montreal
– Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Sunday condemned the violence and
“despicable rhetoric” that marked several weekend protests throughout
the country, after clashes between pro-Israel and pro-Palestinian protesters in
Montreal.

The
worst violence in years, sparked by unrest in Jerusalem, is raging between the
Jewish state and Islamist militants.

Israeli
strikes killed 42 Palestinians in the Gaza Strip on Sunday, the worst daily
toll in almost a week of deadly clashes.

Speaking
after protests in Montreal, Trudeau condemned what he said was “despicable
rhetoric and violence we saw on display in some protests this weekend”.

While
insisting on the “right to assemble peacefully and express themselves
freely in Canada”, Trudeau stressed in a tweet that there was no tolerance
for “antisemitism, Islamophobia, or hate of any kind”.

Earlier
on Sunday, Montreal police used tear gas following clashes between pro-Israel
and pro-Palestinian protesters.

Several
hundred demonstrators, draped in Israeli flags, had gathered in a central
Montreal square to express solidarity with the Jewish state.

‘Protesting is a right’

Although
the protest started peacefully, tensions ratcheted up with the arrival of
pro-Palestinian demonstrators and clashes soon broke out.

The
SPVM, Montreal’s city police force, declared the protests illegal, and squads
of riot police intervened, using tear gas to separate and disperse the two
groups, according to an AFP journalist at the scene.

The
police spent much of the afternoon in pursuit of the pro-Palestinian
protesters, who spread out and regrouped in commercial streets in the city centre.

Following
the clashes, Montreal Mayor Valerie Plante said on Twitter that
“protesting is a right”, but that “intolerance, violence and
anti-Semitism have no place here”.

She said:

Montreal is a city of peace.

Several
thousand pro-Palestinian demonstrators had gathered on Saturday in central
Montreal to denounce what they said were Israeli repression and “war
crimes” in Gaza.

“Terrorist
Israel”, some protesters chanted, while others held up a banner that read,
“Stop the genocide of Palestinian children”.

Pro-Palestinian
protests happened the same day in multiple Canadian cities, including Toronto,
Ottawa and Vancouver.


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Peter Thiel Helps Fund an App That Tells You What to Do

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“How would you feel about being able to pay to control multiple aspects of another person’s life?” asks the BBC.

“A new app is offering you the chance to do just that.”

When writer Brandon Wong recently couldn’t decide what takeaway to order one evening, he asked his followers on social media app NewNew to choose for him. Those that wanted to get involved in the 24-year-old’s dinner dilemma paid $5 (£3.50) to vote in a poll, and the majority verdict was that he should go for Korean food, so that was what he bought…

NewNew is the brainchild of Los Angeles-based entrepreneur Courtne Smith. The app, which is still in its “beta” or pre-full release stage, describes itself as “a human stock market where you buy shares in the lives of real people, in order to control their decisions and watch the outcome”. For many of us that sounds a bit ominous, but the reality is actually far less alarming. It is aimed at what it calls “creators” — writers, painters, musicians, fashion designers, bloggers etc. It is designed as a way for them to connect far more closely with their fans or followers than on other social media services and, importantly, monetise that connection…

Whenever a vote is cast the creator gets the money minus NewNew’s undisclosed commission… In addition to voting, followers can also pay extra — from $20 — to ask a NewNew creator to do something of their choosing, such as naming a character in a book after them. But the creator can reject all of these “bids”, and if they do so then the follower doesn’t have to part with the money…

Co-founder and chief executive Ms Smith, a 33-year-old Canadian, has big plans for NewNew, and has some heavyweight backers. Investors include Peter Thiel, the billionaire co-founder of PayPal, and the first outside person to put money into Facebook. Others with a stake in the business include leading US tech investment fund Andreessen Horowitz, and Hollywood actor Will Smith (no relation to Courtne). Snapchat has also given technical support.

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Sandpapergate will haunt Australia cricket forever: ex-bowling coach

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Cameron Bancroft. (Photo by Brenton Geach - Gallo Images/Getty Images)


Cameron Bancroft. (Photo by Brenton Geach – Gallo Images/Getty Images)

The 2018 ball-tampering scandal will haunt Australian cricket forever, much like the infamous underarm delivery of 40 years ago, the team’s former bowling coach David Saker said on Monday.

Saker was responding to opening batsman Cameron Bancroft suggesting that Australia’s bowlers knew about the plan in Cape Town to alter the ball which earned him a nine-month ban and rocked the game.

Saker was Australia’s bowling coach when Bancroft was caught trying to rough up the ball with sandpaper during the third Test against South Africa.

While refusing to be drawn on who knew what, Saker said “the finger-pointing is going to go on and on and on”.

“It’s like the underarm, it’s never going to go away,” he told Fairfax Media, referring to a 1981 incident when Trevor Chappell bowled underarm to ensure New Zealand lost a one-day match at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.

The notorious delivery is still cited in New Zealand and in cricketing circles as a prime example of unsporting conduct.

However, the ball-tampering scandal – dubbed “sandpapergate” – had a greater impact on Australian cricket, with the then-captain Steve Smith and his deputy David Warner suspended for a year from all cricket and stripped of their leadership roles.

Darren Lehmann also quit as coach and all the top brass from Cricket Australia left after a scathing review blasted their “arrogant and controlling” win-at-all-costs culture.

No one else among the team or coaching staff was held to account but Bancroft’s remarks in an interview with The Guardian newspaper hinted that the team’s bowlers at least knew about the plan.

“Obviously what I did benefits bowlers and the awareness around that, probably, is self-explanatory,” he said.

Saker added: “There was a lot of people to blame. It could have been me to blame, it could have been someone else. It could have been stopped and it wasn’t, which is unfortunate.

“Cameron’s a very nice guy. He’s just doing it to get something off his chest … He’s not going to be the last.”

In response, Cricket Australia said that if anyone had new information, they would look into it.

Saker said he was not opposed to a fresh investigation but added “I just don’t know what they’re going to find out.”

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Mexico’s Andrea Meza crowned Miss Universe

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Miss Universe Andrea Meza


Miss Universe Andrea Meza

UPDATE:

MISS UNIVERSE 2020/2021 IS ANDREA MEZA FROM MEXICO:


UPDATE:

THE MISS UNIVERSE 2020/2021 TOP 5:

1. Mexico

2. India

3. Brazil

4. Dominican Republic

5. Peru


UPDATE:

HERE ARE THE MISS UNIVERSE 2020/2021 TOP 10 CONTESTANTS:

1. Jamaica 

2. Dominican Republic 

3. India

4. Peru 

5. Australia 

6. Puerto Rico

7. Thailand

8. Costa Rica

9. Mexico

10. Brazil


UPDATE:

MISS UNIVERSE TOP 21 IN SWIMWEAR:


UPDATE:

MISS UNIVERSE TOP 21: 

1. Columbia

2. Peru 

3. Australia 

4. France

5. Myanmar

6. Jamaica 

7. Mexico 

8. Dominican Republic 

9. USA

10. Indonesia 

11. Argentina 

12. India

13. Curaçao

14. Puerto Rico

15. Phillipines 

16. Brazil

17. Great Britain

18. Nicaragua

19. Thailand 

20. Costa Rica

21. Vietnam


 UPDATE:

MISS UNIVERSE SOUTH AFRICA NATASHA JOUBERT WALKS THE STAGE AT MISS UNIVERSE 2020/2021:


74 contestants will compete for the title of Miss Universe on 16 May in Hollywood, Florida. 

The Miss Universe pageant takes place on 16 May in the US (02:00 to 05:00 on 17 May SA time). The show will be broadcast live on 1 Magic (DStv Channel 103) with a repeat at 21:30. 

Reigning Miss Universe Zozibini Tunzi of South Africa will crown her successor at the end of the event.

Representing South Africa is Natasha Joubert, and South Africans are hoping for the “magic double” – back-to-back consecutive wins, which has only happened once before in the pageant’s history.

Natasha wowed crowds at the national costume competition last week and on Friday impressed during the preliminary round

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Miss Mexico crowned Miss Universe 2021

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By AFP Time of article published 16m ago

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Washington – Miss Mexico was crowned Miss Universe on Sunday in Florida, after fellow contestant Miss Myanmar used her stage time to draw attention to the bloody military coup in her country.

Sunday night marked the Miss Universe competition’s return to television, after the pageant was cancelled in 2020 for the first time due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Andrea Meza, 26, finished first ahead of the Brazilian and Peruvian finalists in a flashy televised event, hosted by American actor Mario Lopez and television personality Olivia Culpo.

Former Miss Universe contestants Cheslie Kryst, Paulina Vega and Demi-Leigh Tebow (who won the title in 2017) served as competition analysts and commentators, and a panel of eight women determined the winner.

Dressed in a sparkling red evening gown, Meza tearfully walked the catwalk as Miss Universe for the first time, before rushing back for a group hug with the other competitors.

Meza beat more than 70 contestants from around the globe in the 69th installment of Miss Universe, which was held at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Hollywood, Florida.

In the days leading up to the final competition, Miss Myanmar Thuzar Wint Lwin, who made the top 21, made waves when she used her time in the spotlight to bring attention to the coup in her country.

“Our people are dying and being shot by the military every day,” she said during her biographical video, which showed photos of her taking part in the anti-coup protests. “Therefore I would like to urge everyone to speak out about Myanmar.”

Natasha Joubert, Miss Universe South Africa 2020 competes on stage in Ema Savahl swimwear during the MISS UNIVERSE® Preliminary Competition.

She also won the award for best national costume: during that competition segment on Thursday, she wore an outfit beaded in traditional Burmese patterns and held up a sign that said, “Pray for Myanmar.”

Myanmar has been in uproar since February 1, when the army ousted civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

At least 796 people have been killed by security forces since then, according to a local monitoring group, while nearly 4 000 people are behind bars.

Miss Singapore Bernadette Belle Ong – who did not make the top 21 – also used the national costume portion to make a political statement.

Dressed in a glittering red bodysuit and matching thigh-high boots, she turned around to reveal her cape – in the colours of the Singaporean flag – was painted with the words “Stop Asian Hate.”

“What is this platform for if I can’t use it to send a strong message of resistance against prejudice and violence?” she wrote on Instagram alongside pictures of her outfit.

The United States in particular has seen a surge in anti-Asian violence in the past year, which activists have blamed on former president Donald Trump’s rhetoric, especially his repeated description of Covid-19 as the “China virus.”

The pageant has also drawn criticism in the past for objectifying the contestants.

In recent years, the competition has shifted image, focusing more on female empowerment and activism.

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