#DataMustFall campaign highlights inequity

The #DataMustFall campaign is a grassroots movement on social media to draw attention to, and hopefully impact, the high cost of data in South Africa. Since 2016, consumers have been touting their dissatisfaction over the unfair expense of high data prices and the imbalanced effect it has on lower income community members.

In large urban centers, there is a competitive market of mobile networks that users can price shop between—including mobile, fixed-line and fiber—and a slew of internet service providers to choose from. Conversely, in less-connected communities where the majority of the population lives, connectivity is limited to mobile networks only.

The high cost of data in South Africa rivals the expense in comparative countries such as Nigeria and Egypt, and in bordering countries Malawi and Zambia. And it disproportionately impacts poorer individuals. Mobile providers bundle their data packages by size and charge more per MB for the smaller bundles. In this example, while a higher-income resident can buy 1GB of data at R149, the lower income resident has to buy it in smaller chunks to accommodate their available cash flow. So, instead they buy 100MB of data at R29 ten times. This means the lower income resident pays R290 for the same 1GB of data—almost double the price.

The movement has applied enough pressure to initiate parliamentary hearings on the topic and most recently, the attention of South Africa’s President Ramaphosa who is planning to license spectrum in a process to promote competition, transformation, inclusive growth of the sector and universal access. “This is a vital part of bringing down the costs of data, which is essential both for economic development and for unleashing opportunities for young people,” he said, then calling on “the telecommunications industry further to bring down the cost of data so that it is in line with other countries in the world”.

At Delta, we believe internet access should be accessible and affordable for all, and are proud that our Delta Smart Grid Network can help facilitate that. To learn more about our offering, check out this section of our website.

Digital Inclusion as a driver of economic growth in South Africa

The far-reaching impact of the Internet since its introduction cannot be denied. It enabled the introduction of a myriad of digital devices that have since progressed society in numerous ways; some anticipated and others not. That progression has enabled many challenges to be overcome while at the same time creating new challenges, like the Digital Divide previously written about by my colleague. When used correctly digital inclusion can drive economic growth. Take South Africa, for example:

In South African President Ramaphosa’s recent State of the Nation Address, he emphasized that the prioritization of education and the development of skills must be at the center of the country’s efforts to achieve higher and more equitable growth, draw young people into employment and prepare the country for the digital age. The president noted that over the next six years the government will provide a tablet device with digital workbooks and textbooks to every school child, starting with those schools that have been historically most disadvantaged and are located in the poorest communities, including multigrade, multiphase, farm and rural schools.

Further, President Ramaphosa recognized that small businesses play a vital role in stimulating economic activity and employment, and in advancing broad-based empowerment. As such, the government of South Africa will be expanding its small business incubation program to provide entrepreneurs with physical space, infrastructure and shared services, access to specialized knowledge, market linkages, training in new technology and access to finance. As part of the expansion program, township digital hubs will be established in four provinces with more to follow. I previously wrote about such a hub when discussing Mzansi Digital Republic’s work in my post on connected societies.

As other South African citizens like myself ponder the President’s remarks, for me, the Delta Smart Grid Network™ comes to mind as a solution to support the efforts outlined above. It fills in the gaps left by current telecommunications providers through the building of a community-wide Wi-Fi infrastructure while at the same time addressing some of the electricity challenges facing the country today.

Connected Societies

We know that access to the internet has the capability to economically propel communities around the world, as my colleagues previously shared regarding emerging markets and rural America. But how do we take that access and convert it from individual use to a truly connected society? The community in Delft, South Africa provides us with an example.

The Delft government and the Mzansi Digital Republic (MDR) are working to implement public Wi-Fi to boost the local economy. MDR’s aim is to create digital citizens with the vision of unlocking the knowledge-based economy. To do that, they consider a multi-faceted approach to power, IoT infrastructure and internet access, connected devices, online community, e-commerce, and online support. Through their disruptive model of realigning the value chain of consumption and actualizing new opportunities for business, employment and social engagement, MDR is connecting the society in Delft in ways that haven’t been done before. As a result, local tech businesses have grown, generating local employment, facilitating digital commerce and ushering in local economic empowerment, thereby preventing a large amount of money from trickling out of the community.

In general, connected societies like the one developing in Delft will open opportunities for more collective action in regards to single-issue movements, while open government initiatives and access to public sector data will lead to more transparency and citizen-focused public services. The critical backbone to a connected society is a robust communications infrastructure that can support the required level of community connectivity. The Delta Smart Grid Network comes to mind as a solution—it fills in the gaps left by current telecommunications providers through the building of a community-wide Wi-Fi infrastructure.

Broadband Internet in Rural America

Last summer, our team wrote about the Digital Divide and how the Internet can empower and propel emerging markets. While we’ve seen some progress on connectivity solutions in the past year, there is still a way to go—and it’s not just emerging markets that would benefit from more affordable, reliable internet access. According to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), 34 million people in the U.S. lack access to broadband internet—23 million of those people are rural Americans. And while an increasing number of schools have high-speed connections, approximately 41 percent of schools (47 percent of American students), lack the connectivity to meet the FCC’s short-term goal of 100 Mbps per 1,000 students/staff.

As with emerging markets, rural Americans would benefit from reliable, affordable broadband access. State and local officials see broadband access as essential for economic development, access to educational opportunities and access to “telemedicine” so that rural patients can use the Internet to consult with medical specialists in urban areas.

The main obstacle to broadband access in rural America is cost—that’s where the Delta Smart Grid Network (DSGN) comes in. As a pioneering 2.4 GHz and 5GHz Wi-Fi-based wireless wide area network (WWAN) that reduces the need for telecommunications infrastructure build-out, the DSGN delivers broadband Internet to the populations served by its utility customers, while also creating opportunities for IoT engagement and monetization by its telecommunications partners and OEMs. This leveraging of the electrical grid and the providing of a sufficient return on investment to electrical utilities and associated partners entices the private sector to get involved, thus overcoming cost obstacles and enabling consumers of electricity to have broadband Internet access.

Delta Energy & Communications Signs Collaboration Agreement with Mzansi Digital Republic Trust

Collaboration will facilitate widespread access to the Internet to support the advancement of underserved populations in South Africa

Murrieta, CA – October 2, 2017Delta Energy & Communications, a network, smart grid, and big data company focused on providing connectivity around the globe, today announced the signing of a Collaboration Agreement with the Mzansi Digital Republic Trust, a South African non-profit organization whose mission is to extend Internet connectivity to underserved populations. Under the Agreement, the parties will work together to facilitate improvements to the energy infrastructure in South Africa, while simultaneously providing Wi-Fi connectivity. The signing of the Agreement took place at a public event at Mzansi Digital Republic in Delft, a township outside Cape Town, on Tuesday, September 26, 2017. The parties expect that extending Internet access in Delft will be initial focus of their joint efforts.

“We are excited and proud to be collaborating with Mzansi Digital Republic,” said Scott M. Foster, President and CEO of Delta Energy & Communications. “With our Delta Smart Grid Network comes not only a ubiquitous Wi-Fi network, but also an advanced smart grid solution to optimize grid efficiency, smart metering, and grid analytics—with the ability to enable real-time energy theft detection.”

The Agreement supports Mzansi Digital Republic’s continuing efforts to develop initiatives to boost Wi-Fi connectivity to Delft’s population of over 420,000 people and beyond. The Agreement will facilitate broader distribution of the Delta Smart Grid Network (DSGN), a pioneering Wi-Fi-based wireless wide area network (WWAN) that delivers Wi-Fi connectivity to the populations served by utilities, and creates opportunities for IoT engagement by telecommunications partners and OEMs.

“The Delta solution provides the opportunity to bring connectivity within reach, and in so doing, bring the requisite capacity to promote active citizenry,” said Pastor Charles George, Executive Chairperson of Mzansi Digital Republic. “With the DSGN we can realize Mzansi’s vision of a smart township—where all municipal services are integrated to enable government and residents alike to address developmental challenges, and ultimately bridge the digital divide.”

In addition to enabling increased connectivity, it is the parties’ hope that the Agreement will result in opportunities for job creation with respect to the installation and servicing of the DSGN.

Foster concluded, “We look forward to working with Mzansi Digital Republic to empower communities to join us in our passion for connectivity.”

For more information on Delta Energy & Communications, please visit www.deltaglobalnetwork.com, and connect with us on LinkedIn and Facebook.


About Delta Energy & Communications
Delta Energy & Communications is a network, smart grid and big data company that provides a transformative technology to connect millions around the globe. Delta’s novel approach brings connective technology to developing regions wherever there is electricity. In doing so, it helps utilities realize the benefits of data analytics. Delta’s core values of dignity, empowerment, transparency and innovation are the foundation for working with its partners and improving the communities it serves. Delta is headquartered in Murrieta, California and has offices in Cape Town, South Africa. For more information, please visit www.deltaglobalnetwork.com.

About Mzansi Digital Republic Trust
Mzansi Digital Republic Trust was founded by Home of Compassion, a non-profit organization focused on holistic human capital development in disadvantaged communities, and I.C.E Media Group, a company focused on using media and technology as an empowerment tool to the masses. In 2014, Home of Compassion partnered with the Western Cape Department of Economic Development and Tourism to implement part of their Broad Band Strategy of free basic Wi-Fi in Delft and surrounding communities with huge success. As phase two of this initiative, Home of Compassion and its partners built an economic model focused on digitization that birthed Mzansi Digital Republic.

The Digital Divide: How the Internet can empower and propel emerging markets

Since the Internet’s inception decades ago, its far-reaching impact on the world is undeniable. More than 3.7 billion people are now connected around the globe, which has strengthened the flow of information, increased communication, and enabled the growth and success of countless enterprises and industries.

Despite this undeniable impact, a large percentage of the world still does not have access to the Internet, especially in developing countries. This lack of Internet connectivity inhibits individuals and organizations from learning, growing and developing their digital economies, ultimately creating a deep divide between urban centers and rural districts.  In short, many believe that this lack of connectivity may even slow the economic growth in some developing regions.

The second most populated country in the world, India, has only about 30 percent of its population Internet connected. At the same time, it provides an example of how expanding Internet access helps to elevate both individuals and a country as a whole.

In 2001, only seven million people in India were connected to the Internet. Today, the country has over 391 million users. Some believe that this increase in Internet availability has allowed India’s small businesses to realize greater economic achievements. For example, doctors are able to expand the scope of their geographical activities, and students are able to gain access to otherwise unattainable information.  Internet access is also enabling visually and physically challenged students at the Balagangadharanatha Swamiji Blind Residential School in India to expand their educational opportunities. In fact, one student has been so inspired by the ability to learn more through the Internet that he’s now building an app that can help other blind people with health-related information.

It’s a similar story in South Africa, where Internet access is improving, but remains well behind the global standard. Approximately 16 percent of the world’s population lives in Africa, but the Internet serves only about 9 percent of that population.

The roll out of public Wi-Fi in Delft, South Africa is another critical example of how increasing access to the Internet can open up opportunities for many. The expansion of public Wi-Fi has enabled local tech businesses to create jobs in the community, thereby boosting the economy and stemming the outflow of residents who were leaving the area.

Fortunately, new technologies can bring about a resolution to a lack of Internet access worldwide and allow emerging markets like India and South Africa to grow and prosper.

At Delta, we understand the importance of increasing access to the Internet to support these underserved populations through our Delta Smart Grid Network (DSGN™) – a singular, standardized, and scalable network that enables these communities to not only optimize power delivery, but also build out a Wi-Fi network, essentially creating a large hot-spot.

Through this critical Internet access, we are providing the opportunity for these communities to expand education, develop new enterprises and, ultimately flourish.