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R3bn in needless cellphone spend in SA

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Tariffic estimates that companies are unnecessarily wasting more than R3 billion a year because of the lack of effective tools to manage their cellphone spend.

Tariffic, the company which specialises in saving corporates money on their cellphone bills, aims to cut this excessive overspending through the launch of Tariffic Online, its complete Cellular Management Platform – a 360-degree real-time management dashboard for all your corporate cellphone spend.

“More and more, companies have told us that it’s impossible for them to manage their company spend, their abuse, and their upgrades”, says Tariffic’s CEO Antony Seeff. “The self-service platform allows companies to easily understand their cellphone costs, manage their cellular environment, curb abuse in real-time, and save on their cellphone bills both in-contract and when contracts expire”. Tariffic Online operates across all networks in one easy-to-use environment and provides you with management data in real-time allowing companies to actively curb their cellphone spend.

Vodacom owns the corporate market

“Over the past few years working in the cellular industry we have seen some very interesting trends”, says Cherise Stein, who heads up Business Development for Tariffic, “although Vodacom’s packages are approximately 21% more expensive than the other mobile network operators, Vodacom continues to own the lion’s share of the corporate cellphone market in South Africa”. More than 80% of all corporate contracts analysed by Tariffic over the years, belong to the Vodacom network.

Each contract wastes approximately R280 per month

“When looking at the tens of thousands of contracts analysed by Tariffic” says Nicholas Botes,

Tariffic’s CTO, “we have found that we can save on average about R280 per contract per month just by ensuring that each employee is on the correct package. For a company with 500 contracts that’s on average a saving of R1.68m that goes directly to the company’s bottom line”.  Botes notes that savings are achieved even in contract, “what people don’t realise is that Out-of-Bundle data is over 6 times more expensive than in-bundle data, and Tariffic Online sees company employees saving an average of R226 per month by simply adding the correct bundles.”

11% of contracts land up in a desk drawer

Further analyses by Tariffic indicates that 11% of corporate lines analysed have no usage on them whatsoever. Antony Seeff explains “our Tariffic Online system identifies this – usually when an employee leaves a company or moves roles, the SIM cards then land up gathering dust in a desk drawer somewhere while the company is still charged every month”.

Your extra spend is ordained in the stars

“Our Tariffic Online system finds “Extra Costs”, which are a killer financially”, says Toma Batev, Tariffic’s Head of DevOps, “the average SIM has R55 per month in extra costs, which are generally completely unnecessary. It is absurd that companies are paying for employees’ daily horoscope SMSs and for BlackBerry charges when the employees are not using Blackberry phones – and many haven’t been for years!”

Are your employees taking you for a ride?

Employees try get away with whatever they can when they think their bosses aren’t watching.  Tariffic Online also identifies voice and data abuse and notifies the company and employees in real-time, based on predefined notification alerts.  Tariffic has helped identify a case of an employee using in excess of 70GB of data on their cellphone in a single month. “We also look at frequently-dialled numbers and after-hours calling to pick up real-time abuse”, explains Seeff. We have even found some employees doing airtime transfer off their SIM cards to other people of more than R25 000 per month.

“There is too much smoke and mirrors in this industry” says Seeff, “by removing the mystery and providing the right tools, we can regain the margin and give it back to the consumers”.

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Data journalism takes top prize in revamped awards

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The entries to the 2018 Vodacom Journalist of the Year Awards were extraordinarily varied and of an excellent standard, with new categories introduced which are based on content as opposed to platforms. This year, the judges decided that two entries were equally worthy of the coveted Vodacom Journalist of the Year Award.

The first co-winning entry, in the new Data Journalism category, is a set of stories by Alastair Otter and Laura Grant of Media Hack which showed how Data Journalism is shaping the future. The second co-winning entrant is Bongani Fuzile of the Daily Dispatch for his articles in the investigative category on how migrant workers were being ripped off by pension deductions (full citations below).

Convenor of the judging panel Ryland Fisher says: “This year we modernised the 12 categories that journalists could enter their work in and the change was embraced by entrants. In a turbulent time for media, the 2018 entries once again proved that there are excellent South African journalists delivering praiseworthy work, and we commend them for finding new and innovative ways to cover the news.”

Takalani Netshitenzhe, Chief Officer for Corporate Affairs at the Vodacom Group, says: “Vodacom is proud of its 17-year association with these prestigious awards, which make an important contribution to our society through the recognition of journalistic excellence. I’d like to congratulate all of tonight’s winners and, as always, I’d like to pay tribute to our hardworking judges. Ryland Fisher, Mathatha Tsedu, Arthur Goldstuck, Collin Nxumalo, Elna Rossouw, Patricia McCracken, Megan Rusi, Mary Papayya, Albe Grobbelaar and Obed Zilwa: thank you for making these awards a continued success.”

Veteran journalist and media stalwart Ms Amina Frense is the winner of the 2018 Vodacom Journalist of the Year Lifetime Achiever AwardShe has spent decades in mainstream media both locally and internationally. She is a former Managing Editor: News and Current Affairs at the SA Broadcasting Corporation. She has worked in many countries abroad as a producer and a foreign correspondent, has written two books and is also a founding member of SANEF where she still serves as a council member (full citation below).

The overall winners share the R100 000 main prize. National winners in the various categories are as follows, with each winner taking home R10 000:

SPORT

The entries in this category were of an exceptionally high standard. One entrant stood out and became the unanimous winner. This journalist showed an exceptional skill for story-telling and for finding unexpected angles and unknown facts. For his stories about Musangwe’s fight for recognitionAge cheating in SA football, and Hansie Cronje revisited, the winner is Ronald Masinda, and the team of Gift Kganyago, Nceba Ntlanganiso and Charles Lombard from eSAT TV.

Click here to see who won the awards for data journalism , CSI/sustainability and photography.

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Cons exploit Telegram ICO

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Kaspersky Lab researchers have uncovered dozens of highly convincing fake websites claiming to be investment sites for an initial coin offering (ICO) by the Telegram messaging service. Many of these websites appear to belong to the same group. In one case alone, tens of thousands of US dollars’ worth of cryptocurrency were stolen from victims believing they were investing in ‘Grams’, Telegram’s rumoured new currency. Telegram has not officially confirmed an ICO and has warned people about fraudulent investor sites.

In late 2017, stories started to circulate that the Telegram messaging service was launching an initial coin offering (ICO) to finance a blockchain platform based on its TON (Telegram Open Network) technology. Unverified technical documentation was posted online, but there appears to have been no confirmation from Telegram itself. The resulting confusion seems to have allowed fraudsters to capitalise on investor interest by creating fake sites and stealing vast sums of money.

Kaspersky Lab researchers have discovered dozens of such sites, possibly belonging to the same group, claiming to sell tokens for ‘Grams’ and inviting investors to pay with cryptocurrencies including Bitcoin, Ethereum, lice litecoin, dash and Bitcoin dash. A record of transactions on one site revealed that the scammers were able to steal at least $35,000 US dollars’ worth of Ethereum from investors.

The researchers found that some of the websites were so convincing that even after Telegram and others began to issue warnings, they were still able to recruit potential investors. Most use a secure connection, require registration and generate a unique online wallet for each new victim, making it harder to track the money.

Judging by the content of the fake websites, it appears they may have common ownership. For example, several have the exactly the same ‘Our Team’ section.

“ICOs are a fairly risky investment and many people don’t yet fully understand how they work, so it is not surprising that high quality fake websites, with seemingly reassuring features such as a secure connection and registration are successful at luring people in. People wishing to invest in an ICO would do well to check with the company behind it and make sure they know exactly who they are giving their money to, or they may never see it again,” said Nadezhda Demidova, Lead Web-Content Analyst, Kaspersky Lab.

Kaspersky Lab offers the following advice for users considering investing in an ICO:

  • Check for warning signs: for example, some of the fake Telegram ICO websites had the same wrong image next to the name of Telegram’s Chief Product Officer.
  • Do your homework: always check with the brand’s official site to verify the legitimacy of the investment site and, if necessary contact the company’s ICO teams before investing any money or currency.
  • Use reliable security solutions such as Kaspersky Internet Security and Kaspersky Internet Security for Android, which will warn you if you try to visit fake internet pages.

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