NBN Co and biggest carriers to jointly tackle telco congestion – Networking – Telco/ISP- Tempemail – Blog – 10 minute

NBN Co and its five biggest retail service providers may jointly implement “unusual traffic management and capacity optimisation techniques” to keep services performing for those who need them most during the coronavirus pandemic.
A working group comprising NBN Co, Telstra, Optus, Vodafone, TPG and Vocus has been set up and given permission to collaborate and take extraordinary action.
That permission comes in the form of an Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) interim authorisation, unveiled today.
However, measures decided by the group are “not compulsory” to implement, and the retail service providers (RSPs) can “opt out” if they so choose to.
The working group has two collaborative missions, which target the continued operation of internet services during the pandemic, as well as customer support in the form of hardship measures.
It’s the congestion management strategies that are likely to get the most attention, though much of the detail on this is either redacted or in non-public documentation.
“The [special working] group will share information, coordinate strategies to manage congestion and take other steps to address significant demand changes caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and the large numbers of people now at home during the day,” the ACCC said in a statement.
“The ACCC will be an observer on the special working group.”
How the NBN – and other telecommunications networks – would cope with a sudden influx of people locked down in their homes and conducting work and study remotely is being put to the test right now.
NBN Co has already offered free bandwidth boosts to providers to stave off congestion on its network.
However, it appears that other traffic management strategies will also be needed on the RSP side, with some workloads prioritised over others.
“The capacity optimisation strategies may directly or indirectly temporarily prevent, restrict or limit the supply of certain telecommunications services by group members to end users in Australia,” according to NBN Co’s application. [pdf]
NBN Co notes the shift of internet and voice services from enterprise and business-grade connections to residential, as workers are required to log in from their home connections.
The company said a joint approach was needed to manage these “abnormal traffic patterns”, and that this would require the use of “unusual traffic management and capacity optimisation techniques”.
Working collaboratively with the five largest RSPs means that the techniques could be applied to over 90 percent of all end users’ services, for an initial six months.
NBN Co does not rule out asking smaller RSPs to similarly join the arrangement. 
Exactly what traffic prioritisation is planned is unclear, though NBN Co argues in its application that any short-term detriments on certain types of internet user “are significantly outweighed by the public benefits that arise”.
“The strategies implemented will only arise temporarily as a result of critical restriction or limitation of telecommunications services in some areas to ensure that critical demands can continue to be serviced during this period of national crisis,” NBN Co said.
In a statement of its own, NBN Co welcomed the interim authorisation.
“We are pleased that the ACCC has moved swiftly to grant the necessary permission that allows NBN Co to continue to lead and co-ordinate the whole-of-industry response within the telecommunications and communications sector, and we recognise and appreciate the resolve and commitment of our industry partners during this time,” a spokesperson said.

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Nigerian Telco Customers Face Cybercrime and E-Fraud | Tempemail – Blog – 10 minute

Sourced from IDG Connect

The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has signalled that cybercrime and e-fraud are some of the major challenges facing telecommunication users in Nigeria, reports Vanguard.
NCC Executive Vice-Chairman, Prof. Umar Danbatta says just that at the ongoing Enugu International Trade Fair. Furthermore, Director in the Commission Reuben Mmuoka says that the NCC recently hosted a cybersecurity enlightenment conference where telecoms stakeholders were exposed to the dangers associated with cybercrimes.
Mmuoka advises telecom consumers not to open unknown emails or post their PINs for any sort of platform online as a bank would never ask them for their personal details via the internet or over the phone.
Danbatta also disclosed that the commission is educating parents on their roles regarding child online protection, stating “sensitisation programmes are targeted at parents, aimed at equipping them with the right knowledge they need to limit the exposure of their children to the negative aspects of Internet use.”
The commission created a feature known as ‘Do Not Disturb’ (DND), which directed “all mobile network operators to dedicate a shortcode to enable subscribers to make informed but independent decisions on what messages they wish to receive.”
“NCC identifies the consumer as a very important stakeholder in the telecoms industry, which is evident in our 8-point agenda where empowerment and protection are properly captured,” added Danbatta.
The Vice-Chairman would go on to say that the NCC Special Day is aimed at educating and informing subscribers on uses of communication services, as well as their rights as telecom consumers. He points out that the NCC, working as a regulator, is coming up with initiatives to enable consumers to send complaints when dissatisfied with service providers.
“The Commission will apply appropriate regulatory measures and sanctions against such service provider,” he says.
Cybercrime and Africa
A 2019 survey of many African countries showed that Africans are very vulnerable to cybercrime because they are not aware of what they do not know, and that Africans mistakenly think they are prepared and knowledgeable about malware and security issues when in reality they could be better prepared.
“It’s a worrying trend – many phishing scams will use any means necessary to tease out valuable nuggets of personal information and phone calls or emails from so-called ‘trusted sources’ are among the most common methods used,” says KnowBe4, the company that funded and ran the survey.
The Antivirus Group Kaspersky says that in Africa, it is dating apps that pose the harshest threat for users in terms of cybercrime and malware.
Their analysis has shown that within 2019, the local region saw the circulation of 275 threats under the guise of advertisements for over 20 popular dating apps in South Africa – with a total of 4,451 malware attacks coming from them. This is 58% of all attacks detected in all African regions (7,734).
Edited by Luis Monzon
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Telstra worries about neutrality of new rural telco support service – Telco/ISP- Tempemail – Blog – 10 minute

Telstra is against the prospect of a new limited-hours telephone service being set up to troubleshoot telecommunications issues for regional and rural users, fearing the advice provided might not always be “neutral”.
The telco is the only operator to directly respond to a government inquiry into the establishment of a digital technology hub, which is intended to “support regional, rural and remote Australians to make the most of telecommunications services.”
While it is billed predominantly as an online resource, there is also a proposal for a phone service that could operate up to four hours a day and also offer the ability to perform call-backs.
But Telstra is against the prospect, and instead wants any requests for phone-based assistance to be redirected straight to the respective telcos.
“To protect the integrity of the service we recommend that the digital tech hub be provided as an online service only and, where relevant, refer individual customers to the call centres of their own service provider to resolve technical or account issues,” Telstra said. [pdf]
“Enquiries via a phone service could result in lines of questioning that seek opinions and recommendations.
“If a limited-hours phone service is implemented, then rules and systems should be put in place that ensure the integrity of the service is maintained as a neutral provider of information.”
With the hub to be stood up and operated by a third-party, much of Telstra’s submission deals with how to ensure the hub is neutral and does not favour one provider over another.
Neutrality is also favoured by other stakeholders, particularly when it comes to forward funding, so that the hub does not become beholden to particular interests that wind up bankrolling it.
When established, the hub is likely to take some of the brunt of effort that is currently shouldered by volunteers in the Better Internet for Rural, Regional and Remote Australia (BIRRR) group.
BIRRR is a united and respected advocate for regional, rural and remote users, but its volunteers’ time is increasingly taken up by support and troubleshooting.
“Our volunteers are currently stretched beyond their capabilities, with work in the advocacy and research space taking a back seat to our troubleshooting role,” it said. [pdf]
“Our volunteers spend an extensive amount of time using a series of troubleshooting Google forms to identify service issues and escalate them to the required providers. 
“Ideally we would prefer to devote our volunteer hours to advocacy and not be constantly troubleshooting and providing digital literacy skills assistance to RRR users who require assistance.”
BIRRR said a survey of its members found they are in favour of the limited phone-in option, in addition to online assistance channels through the hub.
The group suggested that, if procurement rules allowed, it be able to work with the eventual hub operator to ensure a seamless transition of troubleshooting capability and knowledge.
“It is essential that the new digital tech hub shadows BIRRR for a designated period of time so that existing knowledge is not lost and can be passed on,” it said.
“There may also be the possibility that some of the BIRRR volunteers could be engaged by the hub on a paid basis to assist in getting the hub set up.”
BIRRR also added that the hub “must be technology and provider agnostic”, echoing Telstra’s concerns in that regard.

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INTERVIEW: New Telco Hopes to Bring “Excellent, Affordable” Internet to Everyone in SA – Tempemail – Blog – 10 minute

Sourced from HeroTel and AfricanArguments.com

South Africa is host to a massive digital divide – a phenomenon that exists between socio-economic lines that continues to stop millions of South Africans from achieving more than the circumstances they were born into.
A new company, HeroTel, which has slowly come to fruition in South Africa via a lengthy process of acquiring smaller telcos is finally ready to act in their goal of bringing, what they call, “excellent and affordable” internet to all parts and peoples of South Africa, bridging the digital divide.
“Over the last five years, HeroTel has been quietly acquiring over 40 owner-operated businesses, which until now remained trading under their original brands. The plan has always been to unite these companies into a single national entity, which can then use its scale to bring about meaningful change to an industry that desperately needs a shake-up”, says HeroTel.
At the forefront of HeroTel’s mission to bridge the digital divide is its CEO, Van Zyl Botha. A man who believes that his company is in the perfect position to change how the internet is accessed in South Africa, and by whom.
Tempemail’s Luis Monzon chatted to Van Zyl about HeroTel’s big dreams and their plans to achieve them. Here’s what transpired:
1. The digital divide stems from a distinct economic divide as well, one that has roots in the history of the country. People in smaller, more remote and rural areas either do not know how to gain access to the internet, or they simply cannot afford it.
While HeroTel is offering “excellent, affordable” internet, how does it believe it can mend this multifaceted and complex issue in terms of providing an internet connection affordable enough to be feasible for the company’s bottom line and for the most economically disadvantaged of SA consumers?
Our focus is to be the lowest-cost provider in the market and we believe in connecting 100% of any area where we provide services. To prove our commitment to this, we continually re-invest profits back into building the network farther and wider.
It will, however, have to be a phased approach in order to connect the most disadvantaged communities over time.  We have several trials in process at the moment and we are looking forward to connecting everyone.
Right now, we are focusing on smaller metros, towns and farming communities, but as soon as we have achieved necessary economies of scale in the denser rural areas, we can increase our presence to the outlying areas. It is critical that we approach the problem in an economically-responsible manner to ensure that we can provide internet at a price point that our customers are able to afford.
2. Even in the smallest, most out-of-the-way towns there are usually locales for brands such as Cell-C and Vodacom, who offer affordable, yet restrictive voice and internet data bundles.
How will HeroTel dissuade consumers away from the more-tenured brands?
A fixed-internet solution in your home or business is typically more affordable than cellular data – in fact, cellular data is one of the most expensive ways to connect to the internet. Most South Africans simply cannot afford to connect to the internet over cellular networks only, especially if they want to watch video content like TV shows and movies or listen to music.
While Vodacom, MTN, and Cell-C offer mobility, since you can take your phone with you everywhere you go, we offer large amounts of internet access but at fixed locations, for example at your home or business. Similar to bottled water compared to fixed pipes – the one does not negate the other. We will, however, compete against mobile companies on price and quantity.
3. Access to the internet is also limited by specific pieces of hardware.
While access on a mobile phone is better than no access at all, specific functions, especially in education and self-enrichment for professional work, require larger, more expensive pieces of hardware such as desktop computers or laptops.
How will HeroTel aid rural communities in overcoming this issue to ensure the connection of the digital divide?
HeroTel will assist by doing what it does best: building fixed telecoms networks that can connect more people in the communities we serve. Once people are connected, it will be possible for government and hardware providers to find solutions that can overcome screen size.
4. While laudable, HeroTel’s goal of “Everyone Connected” is a tall order, especially in South Africa with the communication and digital landscape as it is.
How will HeroTel remain committed to providing fast, reliable and affordable internet to people who have been previously disadvantaged across the country?
HeroTel has already invested large amounts of capital into our networks, so we are financially committed to a long-term future in South Africa. We are highly optimistic about South Africa and its future and will always look for new ways to connect everyone to the internet. Given enough time and resources, we are certain that every South African will get connected.
Edited by Luis Monzon
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Treat us like something between a telco and a newspaper, says Facebook’s Zuckerberg – Strategy- Tempemail – Blog – 10 minute

Online content should be regulated with a system somewhere between the existing rules used for the telecoms and media industries, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg told global leaders and security chiefs on Saturday.
Speaking at the Munich Security Conference in Germany, Zuckerberg said Facebook had improved its work countering online election interference, and expanded on his previous calls for regulation of social media firms.
“I do think that there should be regulation on harmful content … there’s a question about which framework you use for this,” Zuckerberg said during a question and answer session.
“Right now there are two frameworks that I think people have for existing industries – there’s like newspapers and existing media, and then there’s the telco-type model, which is ‘the data just flows through you’, but you’re not going to hold a telco responsible if someone says something harmful on a phone line.”
“I actually think where we should be is somewhere in between,” he said.
Facebook and social media giants including Twitter and Google have come under increasing pressure to better combat governments and political groups using their platforms to spread false and misleading information.
Zuckerberg said he now employed 35,000 people to review online content and implement security measures.
Those teams and Facebook’s automated technology currently suspend more than 1 million fake accounts each day, he said, adding that “the vast majority are detected within minutes of signing up.”
“Our budget is bigger today than the whole revenue of the company when we went public in 2012, when we had a billion users,” he said.
“I’m proud of the results but we will definitely have to stay vigilant.”

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