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In Brief:SITA cancels South Africa Connect broadband tender 

South Africa’s State IT Agency (SITA) has cancelled a tender for the deployment of ‘phase one’ of a rural broadband network under the government’s South Africa Connect broadband strategy.The first phase of the programme,for which the national treasury has allocated ZAR.5 billion(USD104.5 million),is aiming to connect 6,235 government facilities in eight district municipalities.Phase two,meanwhile, will comprise the rollout of broadband connectivity to 35,211 facilities in the remaining 44 district municipalities by 2020 to meet the SA Connect target of 90% population coverage. News of the cancellation of the tender comes just days after ITWeb reported that six companies had been shortlisted for the tender, including Broadband Infraco, EOH, MTN, Neotel, Vodacom and Tradepage & Galela Telecommunications as a joint venture. Telkom, which had been expected to be a frontrunner for the project, was not among the shortlisted names.

***India's Telecom Regulatory Authority announced a cut in the maximum fee for USSD banking, in an effort to support mobile payment services. Effective immediately, the maximum cost per USSD session is INR 0.50, down from INR 1.50 previously. In addition, the maximum number of steps to complete a USSD transaction increases to eight from five, in order to allow for more complicated transactions over mobile phone.The lower price will help increase access to financial services, especially in rural areas where more and more people have mobile phones. Usage of mobile banking and payments has increased in India since early this month when the government announced that the low-denomination INR 500 and 1,000 notes would no longer be legal tender. This is part of efforts to root out 'black money', where payments in cash are used to evade taxes.

***For the first time, mobile accounted for a third of all email driven revenue in Q3 2016, a milestone in the shrinking gap between desktop and mobile, according to data from Yes Lifecycle. In the newly released report, mobile also marked a 37 percent year-over-year increase in email-driven revenue and a 50 percent increase from Q3 2014. The report also revealed that nearly half (48 percent) of email-driven orders originated from mobile this quarter. This was up 14 percent from last quarter and 34 percent year-over-year.In Q3, 59 percent of all email clicks occurred on a mobile device, up 55 percent over the past three years, further demonstrating that consumers are becoming increasingly comfortable making purchases on mobile devices.

***U.K. enterprise services provider Daisy Group has agreed to acquire rival Alternative Networks in a deal worth £165.3 million (€193.9 million).The deal is the latest in a string of acquisitions by Daisy aimed at increasing scale and strengthening its portfolio of fixed, mobile,and managed IT services."Alternative Networks is one of the largest independent providers of IT managed services and business-to-business communications in the U.K.and represents a strong and complementary strategic fit with the Daisy Group's existing business and operations,"said the CEO of Daisy.Alternative Networks has had a tumultuous 2016.Its financials have been hit by reductions in mobile roaming rates,and uncertainty following the U.K. referendum on EU membership.It issued the latest of several profit warnings in late September.

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