Archive for the ‘Tech Bytes’ Category

FOA Certified Fiber Optic (Technical) Course

 

Invitation to participate: FOA Certified Fiber Optic (Technical) Course, 29th November to 2nd December 2011, at African eDevelopment Resource Centre Nairobi, Kenya.

African eDevelopment Resource Centre (AeRC) is an organization that champions ICT for capacity development initiatives in the region through knowledge sharing and skill development programmes.  We would like to invite you to a 4 day unique, authoritative, high-value, hands-on practical Fiber Optics course which will provide participants with essential skills and knowledge necessary to design, install, splice, connectorize, troubleshoot and test fiber optic systems.

  • Dates: 29th November – 2nd December 2011
  • Venue: eDevelopment House, 604 Limuru Road, Old Muthaiga, Nairobi, Kenya
  • Fee: US$ 1,630 per participant exclusive of VAT

About Certified Fiber Optics Technician (CFOT)

In today’s high tech world, certification is considered proof of professional status and is often required for jobs.  Students will be eligible to write the FOA (Fiber Optic Association) exam after completing the course. Successful students will receive the Certified Fiber Optics Technician (CFOT) accreditation, which includes a CFOT passport.

The FOA maintains a worldwide database of fiber optic installers, contractors and consultants as a resource for those searching for a designer or installer for fiber optic projects or trained employees. The database is searchable by location and fiber optic specialty. As of the end of 2006, over 20,000 CFOT’s have been certified through training at over 135 schools worldwide. The FOA is the most recognized certification in fiber optics in the world.

Who should attend?

Previous experience in this field of fiber optics is necessary. This training program is not limited to installers or technicians, it is an excellent credential for sales and marketing personnel, indicating their comprehensive knowledge of the industry and building confidence in their assistance to their customers.

Learning outcomes

This is a comprehensive, integrated training program which covers all aspects of both local and wide area optical networks to make sure that our students are fully prepared and employable. Optical fiber installation, splicing, connectorization, troubleshooting, acceptance testing and much more are taught with extensive hands-on practice.  Also covered is the use of transceivers, switching gear, splice enclosure hardware, and procedures pertaining to installing and testing them.

Click to Download Course Outline

Regards,

Kindest regards,

James Ngatia | Business Development Manager


Africa’s leading Consulting and Training partner in ICT and Telecommunications

D.I.T Registration No. DIT/TRN 705

eDevelopment House, 604, Limuru Road, Old Muthaiga

(+254-20-4041646/47/57 : :  M: +254 726 582828 or +254 738 818283 : : Skype name: james.ngatia

Visit our website www.africanedevelopment.org for the latest catalogs, eBooks and white papers

Certified Fiber Optic Training Course, 10-13 August 2010, eDevelopment Centre – Nairobi, Kenya

Invitation: Certified Fiber Optic Training Course, 10-13 August 2010, eDevelopment Centre – Nairobi, Kenya.

African eDevelopment Resource Center (AeRC) in collaboration with 3 Triple Play Fibre Optic Solutions would like to invite delegates to a 4 day unique, authoritative, high-value, hands-on practical course which will provide participants with essential skills and knowledge necessary to design, install, splice, connectorize, troubleshoot and test fiber optic systems.

AeRC is a not-for-profit organization championing ICT for capacity development initiatives in the region through knowledge sharing and skills development programmes. Formed in 2005, 3 Triple Play Fibre Optic Solutions based in South Africa is an organisation that specialises in installation and training in Fibre Optic Systems.

In today’s high tech world, certification is considered proof of professional status and is often required for jobs 3 Triple Play Fiber Optic Solutions is an approved training centre for the Fiber Optic Association Inc. (FOA). http://www.thefoa.org. Students will be eligible to write the FOA exam after completing the course. Successful students will receive the Certified Fiber Optics Technician (CFOT) accreditation, which includes a CFOT passport.

The FOA maintains a worldwide database of fiber optic installers, contractors and consultants as a resource for those searching for a designer or installer for fiber optic projects or trained employees. The database is searchable by location and fiber optic specialty.

As of the end of 2006, over 20,000 CFOT’s have been certified through training at over 135 schools worldwide. The FOA is the most recognized certification in fiber optics in the world.

Our Instructors

A number of instructors in this program are experienced academics from the University of KwaZulu-Natal with considerable theoretical backgrounds as well as extensive industrial experience related to fiber optic technology. (View the course outline below for more Details on the Lead Trainer).

Who should attend

This training program is not limited to installers or technicians, it is an excellent credential for sales and marketing personnel, indicating their comprehensive knowledge of the industry and building confidence in their assistance to their customers.

What will you learn

This is a comprehensive, integrated training program which covers all aspects of both local and wide area optical networks to make sure that our students are fully prepared and employable. Optical fiber installation, splicing, connectorization, troubleshooting, acceptance testing and much more are taught with extensive hands-on practice.

Also covered is the use of transceivers, switching gear, splice enclosure hardware, and procedures pertaining to installing and testing them.

Registration Fee

The registration fee for the workshop is US$1630 + 16 % VAT which will cover all the documentation, administration and meals during the workshop. To participate in this workshop, please fill out the attached registration form and return it to the email indicated. Due to the nature of the course we have a limited number of spaces available and will be allocated on a first-come-first-served basis.

Please find the links to download the Course Outline and Registration Form.

Prescribed Text for the Course will be provided upon registration:

We look forward to be of service to you should you need more information on the Course.

Regards,

Macharia Celestine

African eDevelopment Resource Centre
eDevelopment House : : 604 Limuru Road
Old Muthaiga : : P O Box 49475 00100
Nairobi : : Kenya
Landline +254 20 3741646/7 : : Cell +254 722 284 328
Training : : Research : : Consultancy : Publishing

2010 Capacity Building Opportunities:

  • VSAT Field Engineering: 7-9 July (Kenya)
  • GIS Disaster Management: 14-16 July(Kenya)
  • Knowledge Management Course: 21-23 July (Kenya)
  • Enterprise Resource Planning: 28-30 July (Kenya)
  • Certified Fibre Optic Technician: 10-13 August (Kenya)
  • Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL): 18-20 August (Kenya)
  • Satellite Communications Systems: 25-27 August (Kenya)
  • Mini-MBA in Telecoms: 6-9 September (Kenya)

Book Now, Limited spaces available.

Kenyan Student Googles Herself To An International Award

Shikoh Gitau, a Kenyan PhD student in the University of Cape Town, Department of Computer Science, has bagged the prestigious Google Anita Borg Memorial Award for 2010, the first recipient from sub-Saharan Africa.

The award is given to female students who show exceptional academic and leadership skills in computing and technology. The award carries a cash prize and a visit to Google’s Engineering Centre in Zurich for a networking retreat.

Read more here on the UCT website

Why I Will Not Use Zain’s Zap Again…..

This is a rant. Events occur in real time…..

Being that time of the month when bills are settled, and being very angry with a certain leading mobile network operator, who shall remain unnamed, I decided to send some money using Zain’s Zap money transfer service. Since I am supposed to be very organized, I get the cash and start the arduous task of locating a Zap dealer. You see the second largest mobile operator, Zain, almost 10 years in business, does not have very many agents for the money transfer service. From a second floor office, I am able to locate a few agents in downtown Nairobi.

I march gallantly to the first agent, an yes, they can serve me. Am so excited, especially when I remember how much I dislike the unnamed leading operator’s service. More on that later.

Since I registered for Zap about 3 months ago, I had never actually used the service and I can’t remember my PIN. So I quickly call Customer Support, who promptly pick my call…..that doesn’t happen in Kenya! The young man at the other end questions me to ascertin I am who I claim to be. He resets my PIN, and I quickly change it to ****. Awesome!

Back at the agent’s, I hand over the cash and we transact, now I have the electronic value in my SIM. I am jumping up and down. I fire off a quick text to the recipient, and tell him, please wait in a few seconds you will be Zap’ing rich.

The first attempt to send KES. 13,000 fails.  I try again, thinking I missed something, since this is the first time I am doing it. Again, I get a message about exceeding the limit of 5,000. Am stunned! Since am outside the agent’s shop, I go back in and ask about limits. Girl One tells me newly registered SIMS can only send/receive 5,000. I say I registered 3 months ago BUT have never transacted. The other Girl 2 says, that’s rubbish, you can send and receive any amount up to a max of 35,000. I agree with the second girl. The first says if I don’t agree with her, I try again. I try and get the same message. Am getting annoyed. Girl 1 suggests I send in 3 tranches – 5000, 5000, 3000 total 13,000. Mmmmmhhh….since the cost is only 10 per send transaction, I agree with her, pull a chair and start the motions.

The first 5,000 is off super fast, no delay. My confidence is restored in Zain. The second 5,000 bounces, something about the recipient’s account being over limit with electronic cash! I try again, and again. No luck. I even check my balance at a cost of 1/-, still at 8,000. Mmmm….

I remember Zain’s Customer Scare, sorry Care works and you can get through on the first attempt. I call, and some guy picks, I cry my heart out to him. He explains that my account limit is set to 5,000. I tell him that’s fine, could he make it 35,000?  No sir. He says he will put the request to the “technical people”, and I ask whether he can fast track that, so I can transact now. He says the “technical people” have gone for the day, so I have wait. I am stunned beyond words. I rant a bit, but cool off, telling him its not his fault. I finish saying I will never use Zap again. He courteously says, thank you for calling etc etc

Back at the agent’s I ask Girl 1, who is supposed to be most knowledgeable, what to do and she says unless the recipient withdraws the cash, we can’t send him more. I start shaking in anger, tears well up in my eyes. I cannot believe this. I pace around the shop thinking…and get a eureka! I ask to withdraw the 8,000 so I can send by parcel courier. It should get there in a couple of hours. Tough luck! The money I just gave them has been taken to the bank! OK, where is the next agent? They direct me, and am off.

The leading mobile operator, who still remains unnamed, seems to have agents all over, but I can’t transact with them right? I am angry with them. I walk all over trying to locate the next Zap agent, and voila! I spot one. Uh….they don’t have cash so we can’t transact. Fair enough, where is the next agent? I am directed and am off.

Third agent for the day, and yes, she has all the cash I need. I quickly withdraw, zap zap. No fuss. Am happy again as I walk towards the bus stage where the matatus to my village operate from. A text message lands in my phone. Recipient has had a brainwave! Why not send using ______ (the unnamed leading mobile operator in Kenya). I am almost hit by a speeding motorist as I jump and curse him.

Everywhere I look, I see the colour schemes of the unnamed leading operator. So I reluctantly walk into one agent and inquire whether the service is working. Yes sir. Can you serve me? Yes sir. Do you have electronic float? Yes sir. Are there any delays? No sir. Are you sure? Yes sir. Is the service down? No sir. I hand over the cash, and get the electronic value in my other SIM. I quickly fire it off to the recipient, who receives and acknowledges, by text. It worked!

That’s how I sent Zap using _____ (the unnamed leading mobile operator’s money transfer service).

Cc:  Zain / Zap Customer Care

Of Zain, Bharti Airtel and Indian MNCs in Kenya

So MTC Kuwait, trading as Zain, is flipping its Africa operations to Bharti Airtel of India? If the deal goes through, and we shall know by March 25th, then the metamorphosis of Kenya’s second largest GSM mobile network, by subscriber base, will have undergone yet another momentous change.

Starting off as Kencell (jointly owned by Naushad Merali’s Sameer Group and Vivendi), part of the company was then sold by Vivendi Universal of France to Celtel BV, then promptly re-branded Celtel. That was in 2004. Celtel continued with many mistakes that Safaricom capitalised on. Dealers were unhappy, marketing and advertising did not touch the Kenyan soul (many of them were cut-n-paste pan-African ads which did little to “talk” to Kenyans), and a high employee turn over, especially at the executive level did not instill alot of confidence in the business. Interestingly, the most recognised CEO in Kenya is Michael Joseph of Safaricom, who has been at the helm since inception.

Almost a year later in 2005, MTC of Kuwait came knocking with some serious petro-dollars, a whole US$3.4bn and bought out Celtel International with all its network assets, including Celtel Kenya. The network later went on to be re-branded as Zain, in line with MTC’s international branding policy. The story has not ended yet, as we await March 25th when Bharti and MTC will emerge from the boardroom.

The journey has been long and arduous, as Zain’s number 1 nemesis and market leader, Safaricom, overcame teething problems in the early years to streak way ahead of the competition. Safaricom simply studied what the people wanted, capitalised on Zain’s simple mistakes, like charging a fee for any recharge voucher (since discontinued) and basically connecting with the ordinary Kenyan who was being introduced to mobile telephony, or any form of telephony for that matter, for the first time. Safaricom quickly cut an image of a “mwananchi” (citizen) conscious company, while Zain, then Kencell, was seen as elitist and playing to the corporate theatre. This was to set the battle field dynamics that played until the other two late entrants, yu, an Essar Telecom network, and Orange, a France Telecom network came in. Safaricom by then was light years ahead in terms of innovation, products (especially M-Pesa money transfer), mass subscriber base appeal, philanthrophy, network coverage etc.

It will be interesting to see how Bharti Airtel of India deals with the Zain brand, an early starter turned laggard. Bharti is no push over, it is India’s largest integrated telecom company in terms of customer base. They offer mobile services, fixed line services, broadband & IPTV, DTH, long distance and enterprise services. Globally, Bharti Airtel is the 3rd largest in-country mobile operator by subscriber base, behind China Mobile and China Unicom. In India, the company has a 24.6% share of the wireless services market, followed by 17.7% for Reliance Communications and 17.4% for Vodafone Essar (part owned by Essar Telecom, operating in Kenya as yu). Are the Indians coming?

Will Bharti start by re-branding Zain? Perhaps this time to Airtel (the brand they use in the largest GSM network in India?) How do they address subscriber apathy despite great tariffs, well built network, and competitive products e.g. Zap money transfer? How do they address the distribution chain?

We can only wait and see.

Broadband Kenya: Dr. Bitange Ndemo Cracks The Whip

Our beloved government has woken up and smelt the coffee. We need real broadband, not lofty adverts by ISPs about how “connected” they are and how many kilometres of fibre thay have laid in various places.

Information Permanent Secretary Dr Bitange Ndemo said on Tuesday that Internet Service Providers (ISPs) were still making obscene profits from the high cost of bandwidth despite the operationalisation of the fibre optic cables.

“They are being mischievous. We have been talking about $6000 per Megabyte, telling us that they are lowering to $600 which from our calculation their payback would be in less than six months that is not what we want,” he stressed.

It was widely believed that with the coming live of the SEACOM and The East African Marine System (TEAMS) cable, the cost of bandwidth would come down significantly but this has not happened.

Yes Daktari, read the riot act. We need real broadband connections, not advertising and endless “promotions” hoodwinking us to buy “bundles” and all manner of monthly contracts. When you get home, fire up your PC and connect, nothing. You actually miss your old dial-up line, at least it worked at a certain low speed, and you got what you expected.

“We have many options but it’s always good to leave the competition to push the pricing down, but it doesn’t the regulator (Communication Commission of Kenya), would step in,” the PS emphasised. Mr PS, please ensure the CCK steps in now.

Dr. Ndemo did not stop there, read on.

He said the argument that the providers have increased capacity for the same pricing is not valid since majority of Kenyans cannot access affordable and after internet connectivity.

“That is nonsense. If Kenyans are not able to afford, then I’m not happy because for me to ensure that the economy grows it is to make broadband available to Kenyans. But now it cannot be used, not many people have this in their homes,” he complained.

Yes Dr, we need to cut out this nonsense!

Moving on, we also need Kenyans to stop sitting on their laurels and do something about connecting themselves to the information superhighway, creating content and addding value to the body of knowledge. Being mere consumers of pre-packaged, pro-Western content is unhealthy.

That is my 2-cents worth, what is yours? Comment below.

Balcony BroadBand

Fellow Kenyans, wireless broadband has arrived on my balcony! Those who have been following my quest for wireless broadband on that my balcony (bila shoes) will know I have searched high and low. The problem with Kenyan service providers is they tend to spend alot of time launching lofty products, with lots of shock-n-awe, glitz, pomp and ceremony. They then take all available stands in exhibitions, shows, malls, and so on and show off their latest services with jaw-dropping demos that leave you “seeing stars”.

Now try calling the sales office, and you usually get indifferent sales staff who read from some print out and churn out jargon about Wimax, and fibre optic cable, and wireless-this-wireless-that, they talk of ADSL and upload and download and 256kbps and 512kbps and 1MB, and DHCP and WLAN and stuff…… Bottom line, they know zilch! Between the demo staff and sales staff, lots of sales are made. Try the after sales service (if any).

So it was with lots of trepidation that I filled some forms and had technicians hook me up to a nifty, ADSL modem, with wireless capability in my sitting room. Stay tuned as I kick off my shoes and hit the balcony with the laptop. Ahhhh, broadband on the balcony, bila shoes. I will keep you posted and also how you can have these people close the digital divide for you.

What your comment on residential broadband using FTTH? That is fibre-to-the-home.

Linux and Us Kenyans

Alot has been posted on the comments forum of my star post on 3G networks, Internet access in Nairobi and Kenya. A new crop of young Kenyans are emerging chanting the Linux mantra. And we the older geezers (MS-DOS, BASIC, DBASE I, II and III and Wordperfect crowd) are nodding our collective heads.

While my experience with Linux is rather scanty (never mind that I advise you on this post on how to reset a forgotten password in Ubuntu), I do have a dual boot WinXP / Ubuntu 7.04. I also have the Ubuntu 8.04 CD somewhere on my crammed shelf and am awaiting delivery of Ubuntu 8.10, thanks to our brothers @ Canonical. Feel free to contact me for a copy.

Recently at a shopping mall in Nairobi, I lit up my trusty hp laptop, fired up Ubuntu and was surfing away in seconds, bila configs. I did lots of stuff, watched videos, burned CDs and DVDs, backed up my work to an external disk, wrote poems (see my other weakness here) and basically felt good while surfing for free, using free software. That’s how the world should be like, no?

NB: Is anybody working on Kenux……a Kenyan flavoured distro of Linux. I think Asianux is already on, Google it.

Zain, Orange, Safaricom – Tariff Wars

People, the tariff wars are here! Zain fired the first salvo by asking us all “Sain” minded people to “Vuka 8”. This means you “vuka” to Zain and make 8/- per minute calls to ALL, repeat ALL networks. You are firmly in control now. You decide.

Not be outdone, Big Brother Suffer-icom, sorry Safaricom, shot back with a weak, mee-too rate of 5/- per minute from 10pm – midnight and 2.50 per minute from midnight to 6am ONLY on Suffericom, sorry Safaricom to Suffericom, sorry Safaricom calls. I hope nobody will make the mistake of waiting for these unGodly hours to call me. Have you noticed that Big brother never tells you how much you suffer when you make a call to another network? If you new you would go inZain, sorry, insane.

New kid on the block, Orange, is rolling out funky shops, funkier adverts and stuff. Their tariffs are not very impressive either, just so-so. Does anyone have an Orange GSM phone? What’s their network like? These are their pre-paid rates.

Family and friends — 3.50
Orange mobile, Orange fixed plus, Telkom fixed — 7.00
Other networks — 14.00
SMS local (all networks) — 3.50
SMS international — 10.00

But, their data services are worth looking at. Go here and pick an Orange

Back at Essar House, where the Econet lives, all is quiet, but am sure they are soon going to kick up a big dust storm. We are waiting!

Of Safaricom and a 3G hotspot

Post Update!

Our beloved and leading GSM network, a.k.a Safaricom, is finally acknowledging that we, the 10mn plus customers, actually matter. They are going to allocate us cool KES. 1 billion (out of the many), in the form a swanky new contact centre on Mombasa Rd (its actually in Mlolongo). There should be at least 300 Customer Scare, sorry Care, personnel at hand to attend to our silly problems, which we are always bothering the busy and leading provider with. The call centre will allow us to answer four times as many calls than we are able to answer now, the CEO was quoted as saying. It feels good to be recognized as the king, after a few pickups were thrown our way for endless chatter.

Methinks, with hungry competition (read Orange and Econet) sniffing the air, and Zain re-branded and ready for battle, dear Safcom is cleaning up house in readiness for bruising wars. Let’s wait and see, 1 or 2 years down the line, who will be king.

When all is said and done, its the customer who will win by taking our chatter-box selves where we get value for money, or will we? Remember we are still peculiar.

BTW: I sincerely hope Telkom Kenya will bring a fresh new brand with the launch of their GSM network, something like Orange, which the mother company uses elsewhere. Else, we shall look away uninterested and unexcited. Just do a manual network selection on your phone, and KE 07 will appear.

*********************************

Original Post….

While still on the theme of things wireless, broadband, and Nairobi, our city is now blanketed by a 3G, ultra-high speed broadband hot spot, or something like that. Kenya’s runaway success story, GSM mobile service provider Safaricom, has done it again. Depending on which side of the Mobitelea fence you sit, those fellows at Safaricom are really thinking hard. They announced a multi-billion profit figure, before tax, then launched a 3G service in the city of Nairobi (complete with various connection bundles), then launched a free call service, between 9pm and 6am, for a month. You simply need to have registered once, and oh yer, recharged your account with at least 100 bob of airtime. (Some math: with 10million plus subscribers, x 100 bob each, did they just make a billion this weekend? Maybe.) Caveat: Recharging using the 20 bob voucher x 5, or the 50 bob voucher x 2, will not equal 100, a least according to our beloved Safaricom math. So you will sit patiently waiting for 11pm to chatter, only to discover you airtime has been depleted. Read the small print, comply, then call away. What is annoying is that the chatterboxes are driving other customers south.

With peculiar calling habits already entrenched, Kenyans have been chattering from 11pm to dawn without ceasing. Expect lots of calls after this hour from long lost friends, and some enemies as well. So this past week, Safaricom, the company we Kenyans love so much, has been ringing in our minds. We wonder what is next from them?

So has my dream come true? Wireless broadband on the balcony? Safaricom are promising that, and I am making a beeline for the local shop to get me one of those USB modems. I should be whistling away as I surf, while other Kenyans chatter for free. For a sum of 1,999/- per month, I shall enjoy broadband on my balcony, for a download cap of 700MB. We just have to see what that exactly means.