Clarity is one of the most important attributes of good writing.     This means ensuring that what you are writing is not open to interpretation. It is no good assuming that those reading what you have written will interpret the information as you intended them to. So the fact that the meaning of the […]

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By Jennigay Coetzer During 30 years as a journalist, writer, editor and writing skills trainer I have picked up many tips and tricks and observed many problems that writers encounter. A common mistake with any written communication is to assume the reader will interpret what you are writing as you intend them to. This is one […]

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Don’t be clever, be clear –

As novelist Stephen King once said, people use smart words because they are too ashamed of their simple ones.

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To get the best out of interacting with the media it is important for spokespeople to know the difference between their agendas and the agendas of the media interviewer and how to bridge the gap between the two.

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A major objective when writing an article is to attract the reader’s attention, pull them into the story and keep their attention throughout. To achieve this, it is important to choose a focused topic. This will keep you on track and avoid getting distracted and ending up with too many ideas in the article.

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I hope you like my latest writing tip – on preamble

Get to the point and make strong statements.

– Indulging in preamble will dilute the impact of what you are saying.

PS: You might also enjoy my latest writing tips article I have posted on my website: http://www.jennigay.co.za/blog/essential-tips-for-article-writers/

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Every article should have an objective behind it, it should focus on a clearly defined topic, and it should be written with a specific audience in mind. Without a clearly defined topic, you are likely to end up with too many ideas in your article, which will confuse your audience, and writing it will be a major challenge. Similar problems will arise if you don’t have a clear objective.

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Companies go to great lengths to get media coverage, but often don’t consider the risks associated with the exposure.

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 By Jennigay Coetzer Spokespeople might like to note that the saying “To assume makes an ass out of you and me” is particularly applicable to media interviews.   Human beings in general are notorious at making assumptions. We assume those we are communicating with are on the same wavelength as we are and are receiving […]

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Every press release should have an objective behind it, regardless of whether it is going to be distributed to the media or posted on a website….

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By Jennigay Coetzer 20 tips to remember when interacting with the media.        Interact in conversational terms with journalists and other media interviewers as if you were talking to a customer. After all, the target readers, listeners or viewers you are trying to reach through the media should be your customers and potential […]

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By Jennigay Coetzer The misunderstandings that happen with verbal communication carry through to all forms of writing. This is apparent in articles, emails, promotional material, web content and all other forms of written content. Miscommunication has also become an issue with social media interaction, especially when companies are not very good at responding to negative comments from […]

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20 Writing Tips for 2014

Published on December 29, 2013 by in Articles, Writing tips

Have a clear objective in mind before writing an article. Identify the target audience you are writing for and consider what they would be interested in hearing about and not just what you want to tell them.

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One of the prerequisites of being a good writer is to have an enquiring mind and not take anything on face value. This is the only way to develop a real understanding of what they are writing about.

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Good writers have the target readers in mind when they write an article, as opposed to just focusing on what they want to say. When people read an article they are looking for what’s in it for them, and if they cannot see this quickly they will move on.

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If anyone says they were quoted out of context in the media, there is an 90% chance that it was their fault, due to lack of clarity, assumption, running on from one thought to another, and other factors that boil down to miscommunication during the media interview. Media training helps spokespeople to interact with journalists and other media interviewers more effectively.

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It is impossible to write a good article if the writer does not have a good understanding of the topic. To write an interesting article requires not taking anything on face value, making assumptions, or just regurgitating information found on some obscure blog.

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Most writers suffer from writer’s block at one time or another, but there are ways to overcome this. When I ask participants of the article writing workshops I run what their greatest challenges are with their writing, many of them will say they always get stuck on the opening sentence.

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By Jennigay Coetzer Interacting with the media should create a pull through for business and if it doesn’t then investing in public relations is a waste of money.     But exposing spokespeople to media interviews without proper training can damage a company’s reputation and credibility. The right form of media training will equip spokespeople […]

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Published on: 28th Sep 2012 in Cellular News Physicians and environmentalists alike could soon be using a new class of electronic devices that are small, robust and high performance, but at the same time biocompatible and capable of dissolving completely in water or in bodily fluids. Researchers at the University of Illinois, in collaboration with […]

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By Jennigay Coetzer – Business Day, South Africa, 20 June, 2012 Satellite is becoming an increasingly significant contender as a broadband alternative, especially in under-serviced and unserviced areas where other connectivity services do not reach, and in areas where copper theft is rife. Carlsen, technical director at Maxwell Technology, says in South Africa this includes […]

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By Jennigay Coetzer – Business Day, South Africa, 20 June, 2012 Africa accounts for 20% of the world population, but the fibre infrastructure being deployed on the continent accounts for only 2% of the world market. “The message here is that whatever is being deployed in Africa the rest of the world is doing it […]

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By Jennigay Coetzer – Business Day, South Africa, 20 June, 2012 The abundant international, national and metropolitan fibre capacity that will be available in the next couple of years in South Africa will be of limited value without a high-speed last mile connection, and right now this is the weakest link in the chain. In […]

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By Jennigay Coetzer – Business Day, South Africa, 20 June, 2012 There are mixed feelings in the industry about the unbundling of the local loop that is on the cards in South Africa, which would allow other market players to provide broadband services to their customers over Telkom’s last mile copper wire infrastructure through its […]

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By Jennigay Coetzer – Business Day, 20 June, 2012 The limited wireless spectrum that has been released for commercial use in South Africa is a thorn in the side of industry players, because more is badly needed to ease network bottlenecks and support new services. “The delays in the allocation of the available wireless spectrum […]

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By Jennigay Coetzer – Business Day, South Africa, 20 June, 2012 The current status of the South African broadband infrastructure is that there are now multiple high-speed undersea fibre cables linking the country to the rest of the world, and an abundance of national and metropolitan fibre infrastructure is expected to be completed by the end […]

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By Jennigay Coetzer – Business Day Cloud computing will allow an increasing number of applications and other IT functions to be accessed as a service over the internet or any internet enabled network. Kevin Mortimer, MD of Triple4 says with cloud computing IT suppliers can package services and dish them up like the mobile operators […]

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By Jennigay Coetzer – Business Day Cloud computing will give consumers and businesses the freedom to access IT functions from multiple service providers, using any device and pay for them as and when they need them. But it poses a threat to the technocrats who have built rigid, closely protected IT empires, and they will […]

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By Jennigay Coetzer – Business Day Thousands of cloud-enabled applications and services are already being accessed over the internet. Andrea Lodolo, chief technology officer at CA Southern Africa says these include service desk applications that can be used to log calls and resolve problems, for example by support staff in a call centre. He says […]

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By Jennigay Coetzer – Business Day – 17, May, 2012 World Telecommunications and Information Society Day marks the anniversary of the creation of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) in 1865. The ITU is responsible for many of the electronic communication technology standards in use today, and for countless high-level global initiatives that are aimed at […]

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By Jennigay Coetzer – Business Day The building of all the terrestrial telecommunication infrastructure that is going on to link to the undersea cables on the coast of South Africa should be completed by the end of 2013. Once this happens it will result in a 200-fold increase in data capacity, says Derek Wilcocks, CEO […]

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By Jennigay Coetzer – Business Day There is much activity going on in South Africa with the building of national fibre links and metropolitan fibre infrastructure in major cities, and it is gradually expanding to lesser towns. “We have built fibre links for Dark Fibre Africa in smaller towns like Rustenburg, Polokwane, and East London, […]

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A major objective when writing an article is to attract the reader’s attention and keep it throughout. To achieve this, get to the point quickly without any preamble, and make strong statements that are clear and concise.

Make sure you have not left any questions in the mind of the reader, by applying the “So what?” principal to every statement you write and ensuring this question is answered in the next sentence or two.

Understand the target audience, and consider the lowest common denominator among those who might be reading the article. For example, when writing an article that is going to be published on the internet, remember that anyone might stumble across it while searching for information to enlighten or entertain them.

Have a conversation with the reader as you are writing your article, and try verbalising what you want to say, or visualising how you would say it if you were telling someone about it face to face, before you write it down, instead of trying to think of the smartest words to use.

Three important words to remember when writing articles are clarify, qualify, and quantify. Clarification means making statements that are clear, articulate and complete and cannot be misunderstood or interpreted in different ways by different readers.

If you leave gaps in the information you are writing the reader will make his or her own assumptions as to what you meant, depending on their understanding of the topic, their background, experience, culture, personality, and other human factors.

Using examples is a powerful way to qualify your statements and put them in context by creating a clear picture in the reader’s mind. Quantifying your statements with supporting statistics will clarify what you are writing still further by giving the reader a measure, a point of reference, a place to start.

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Examples are a powerful way to clarify what you are saying when writing any type of article, because human beings don’t think in words. They think in pictures. So making strong statements in your articles and then putting them in context with examples will help to create a clearer picture in the minds of the target readers you are writing for.

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Top Ten Innovations 2011

Published on January 6, 2012 by in Technology

The Scientist Magazine has just published its annual Top 10 Innovations contest, which showcases the coolest life science tools to emerge in 2011. These include a number of the latest advances in microscopy—from a pocket microscope that can be connected to a cell phone’s optics to tools that smash the resolution limitations of traditional scopes, […]

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By Jennigay Coetzer Did you know that Steve Jobs did not invent the latest and greatest Apple products? It was British born Jonathan (Jony) Ive, who is to be knighted by the Queen. Among other things, Ive is credited with designing the iMac, iPod, iPhone, iPad, iMac, and was the lead designer behind various MacBook […]

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In South Africa, progress of fibre infrastructure is being hindered by environmental regulations.

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Video conferencing services available over the internet at a reasonable cost.

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A single undersea cable provides the equivalent capacity to that of all the satellites put together globally.

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The growing popularity of e-readers has sent the book publishing industry into a long-term decline as significant as the changes impacting the music and movie businesses.

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Some 100 wireless access service providers across South Africa are providing connectivity services in areas where other broadband infrastructure is inadequate.

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In South Africa, operators and service providers want to own their infrastructure, but the customer does not care who owns it.

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Companies need to optimise their LANs to benefit from the increased bandwidth capacity that will become available.

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Satellite is a viable broadband communication solution in Africa, writes Jennigay Coetzer, South African journalist and author.

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A lot of activity across South Africa to build high-speed terrestrial fibre infrastructure to join up with the undersea cables.

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Minister says he is aware South Africa is slipping behind other African countries with broadband communication and that this needs to be addressed.

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Half of the undersea cables that were planned to land along the east and west coasts of Africa by 2012 have done so.

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Infraco’s terrestrial network and its links to multiple undersea cables allow it to cross-link data traffic from east coast to west coast of Africa.

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$6bn of investment in terrestrial fibre networks just in East and Southern Africa.

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Mobile operators caught off guard by the rapid growth in the demand for mobile data capacity.

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Mobile operators can restrict access to their networks and bundle content in with their services at prices that make it difficult for anyone else to compete.

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The volume of data produced globally will have increased from 800,000 petabytes in 2009 to 35 zettabytes by 2020.

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Free search engine technologies can be used in conjunction with business intelligence tools

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The volume of data being generated worldwide is estimated to have grown 10-fold over the past five years.

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Moving to a hosted call centre solution can reduce costs by 30% to 40%.

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Organisations are taking a more holistic approach to business process design in their call centres than in the past.

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Many companies are adding a social media customer interaction channel to their call centres to allow them to monitor what is being said about them and their products on the internet and address customer complaints.

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Companies can save up to 50% on their overall IT costs by moving their IT infrastructure to the cloud.

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Plus factor for mobile cloud

Published on April 24, 2011 by in Technology

The mobile device becomes a window onto applications and data, allowing users to interact with them over the internet

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Smaller companies may balance the risks of software as a service against cost.

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Cloud applications cut IT costs

Published on April 24, 2011 by in Technology

Cloud computing encompasses any service that is accessed over the internet that provides near infinite capacity to meet the current demand…

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Small and medium sized companies need a payroll system that is quick to implement and easy to use so they can get up and running in a couple of days.

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It has become more feasible for companies of all sizes to access ERP and payroll applications online on a software as a service or hosted basis.

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Most companies are looking at implementing talent management systems, and will need a mechanism for updating information.

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The days when Windows was the de facto standard platform have gone and more and more operating systems are emerging, which poses challenges for software suppliers.

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ERP solutions are available that will suit the pockets of smaller companies, are simpler and quicker to implement, locally supported, and will produce real returns.

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Being a media spokesperson is often seen as a grudge role that is out on a limb, far removed from priorities like dealing with customers. But if approached in the right way media interaction can complement rather than detract from customer interaction, and vice versa.

For example, by broadening their understanding of the markets in which they operate to give good value in a media interview spokespeople will be able to feed this knowledge back into their customer base. Similarly, they can gather rich market intelligence while interacting with customers that will elevate them to the ranks of sort-after spokespeople.

During the media training workshops I run, I always stress how important it is for  spokespeople to support their viewpoints with key market statistics when discussing trends in media interviews. Journalists like me love statistics, because they quantify and give the audience a reference point, or measure that will enable them to judge for themselves whether a trend is significant to them or not.

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When being interviewed by the media, spokespeople should have some key statistics up their sleeve to support their viewpoints. Journalists love statistics, because they give them and their target audiences a reference point or measure, for example by which to judge the importance and credibility of what the spokesperson is saying.

When I am running media training workshops with three to seven spokespeople, I always ask them what statistic comes to mind when I say the word “most,” and I sometimes get a different answer from each of them, ranging anywhere from 51% to 99%. Interestingly, many people think “majority” and “most” are interchangeable – it’s all about perception.

If a spokesperson makes a vague comment like “Most companies are moving in this direction……” the audience will interpret it in their own way. Meanwhile, the spokesperson had a definite statistic in his mind as to what he meant by “most,” but he omitted to share it, and clarity was lost.

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By Jennigay Coetzer – Business Day, 30 July 2010 By the end of next year almost three times as many consumers globally will use their mobile phones to make person to person payments than those who will use them to conduct traditional banking functions, according to ABI Research. The developing world is embracing mobile payment […]

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By Jennigay Coetzer – Business Day, 30 July 2010 Internet banking is available at all hours of the day and night, from anywhere, and is a cost efficient service to deliver. However, it is vulnerable to malicious practices such as identity theft, phishing, and pharming – whereby a user gets redirected to a bogus website. […]

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By Jennigay Coetzer – Business Day, 30 July 2010 In South Africa the number of internet banking users users has doubled over the past five years to about 3.2-million to 3.5-million, across all the banks. Mobile phone banking is growing even quicker in the country, although off a lower base, with a total of about […]

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By Jennigay Coetzer – Business Day, 30 July, 2010 The use of mobile phone banking is growing across Africa and will continue to do so because a large percentage of the population have cell phones and no formal bank account, and live far away from the nearest bank or ATM. Mobile banking presents a great […]

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By Jennigay Coetzer – Business Day, 29 July 2010 Internet and mobile phone banking is expanding its reach into non-traditional areas. For example, today anyone can transfer money to a recipient anywhere in the world by internet or mobile banking through Absa’s local agreement with Western Union, which provides cross-border payment services across 200 countries, […]

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By Jennigay Coetzer – Business Day, 30 July 2010 Mobile banking offers a convenient way of transacting from anywhere at any time, and can be delivered at a lower cost to the bank. “But if a bank is not offering a good price, customers will move to one that is, especially at the lower end […]

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By Jennigay Coetzer – Business Day, 29 July 2010 The progress of the upgrading of the telecommunications infrastructure in SA is being followed closely by international industry analysts. Will Hahn, principal researcher for communications service provider business strategy at Gartner says it is important to note the changes that have already happened in the market […]

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Filling the phone-line gap

Published on July 29, 2010 by in Technology

By Jennigay Coetzer – Business Day, 29 July Telkom has an installed base of about 5-million residential copper telephone lines that can potentially support ADSL connectivity. But this represents a small portion of the population and not all these lines are of the quality required for ADSL, says Aingharan Kanagaratnam, head of network solutions at […]

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By Jennigay Coetzer – Business Day, 29 July 2010 At this year’s Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, the biggest mobile event in the world, the spotlight was on mobile applications and online application stores as opposed to the usual announcements of new phone models. “This shows suppliers are focusing more on to the experience the […]

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By Jennigay Coetzer – Business Day, 29 July 2010 Broadcast, IT and telecommunication are all moving to the same IP (Internet Protocol) based network delivery platform. This will pave the way for new services such as interactive TV whereby it will be possible for friends to chat on social networks such as Facebook or Twitter […]

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By Jennigay Coetzer – Business Day, 29 July 2010 Frustration abounds in the local telecommunications market about the lack of progress with bandwidth availability and costs. Service fees are perceived as inflated and the stability of the infrastructure is questionable. The situation is expected to improve as more competitive entities build infrastructure in competition with […]

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It is important for media spokespeople to understand the difference between their agendas and those of the journalists that are interviewing them.

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Spokespeople need to have rich knowledge of the topic being discussed to give value in a media interview.

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A free ebook version of A Perfect Press Release – or Not?,  a guide to writing press releases, can now be downloaded from this website.

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Press releases fail due to: lack of information, not enough value for the target audience, lack of focus, superficial views stated…

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Good listening skills are vitally important when being interviewed by the media.

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Most press releases contains the same marketing jargon, so where is the differentiation? To avoid this…

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Good content is like a sculptor’s clay – it can be molded and massaged until it flows properly as you write and rewrite the article.

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As the functionality of smartphones and PCs converge, an increasing number of PC manufacturers will move into this market.

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Mobile applications galore

Published on November 12, 2009 by in Telecommunication

Smartphone handset manufacturers are turning their devices into services platforms, which includes extending users’ desktop tools to the mobile phone

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Those located near to undersea cable landing points will get the best benefits until national fibre network upgrades are more advanced.

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Icasa’s definition of broadband is anything over 128 kilobits per second, while the rest of the world rates anything over 2 megabits per second (Mbps) as broadband.

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Broadband Infraco will become a major wholesale provider of national telecoms capacity, which bodes well for increased competition in South Africa

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Africa is the last continent to be reached with affordable high-speed broadband connectivity

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Across Africa, there are already 60 WiMAX operators

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Three fundamental technology shifts are happening that affect the telecommunications market and relate to bandwidth, computing power and storage capacity.

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Industry players comment on the advent of new Seacom undersea cable.

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Seacom’s open business model is already having an effect on the South African market in terms of the transparency of its wholesale bandwidth prices and the fact that operators and service providers alike can buy bandwidth directly.

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An increasing number of advanced mobile voice recognition applications will be available for downloading on the internet.

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Once WiMAX coverage is broad enough it will provide a viable alternative to 3G and the next generation 4G Long Term Evolution (LTE) for mobile connectivity.

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The number of global mobile connections has exceeded 4 billion, according to the international cellular industry association (GSMA).

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