I was contacted after my recent post by Skyrove founder Henk Kleynhans. Skyrove is basically a DIY hotspot kit — you buy it, you install it, and suddenly you have a WiFi hotspot which neighbours, customers etc can utilise. This is an innovative South African solution that (if their Website is be believed) has global aspirations and potential.
He therefore corrected me on the practicality issue: in his view, Esther Dyson is spot on, and his company is willing to be the enabler.
Three cheers for him: this is a cool, innovative, compelling product offering. I can’t testify to quality of connectivity, nor do I have any idea how his company has rolled out WiFi connectivity. Many local WiFi efforts are pretty bad when it comes to bandwidth, hopefully his isn’t. Skyrove appears to include a billing model and bandwidth management tools, so no problems being a mini-ISP.
All this being said, to me this isn’t really the point. Even if the practicalities are surmountable (and I’m still not sure they are — why, for example, would I pay my neighbour for something I could just buy myself?), it doesn’t take away from the government’s responsibility to sort out the internet connectivity mess in South Africa. In the context of the Presidential Advisory Council, I still maintain that cheers for consumer activism are misplaced.
Esther Dyson has posted to her blog Release 0.9 her experiences and thoughts on her South African trip, and it’s well worth reading. The American entreprenuerial spirit fills one with enthusiasm, if not faith.
3 thoughts on “But Skyrove is cool”
Great book. I just want to say what a fantastic thing you are doing! Good luck!
Thanks for taking the time, again, to engage with me on this.
I’m not sure I know the answer to what you should and shouldn’t be doing. I’ve spent quite a lot of time in discussion with various people on this, and I must say I’m torn. On the one hand, your emphasis on us getting up and taking control as consumers is worthy and valuable. I must admit I didn’t understand the context of your comments at first.
On the other hand, we in South Africa have in fact picked a wonderful, democratic government with incredible progressive principles. Unlike, say the current US government, we’re not being governed by neo-conservatives intent on war. Which is why the telecommunications issues are particularly frustrating. There is just no good reason why we should be so liberalised and free in every other area, and so regulated on these.
Which brings me back to your points. You’re right, of course, about not expecting government to do everything for us. But you’re wrong, I believe, in emphasising consumer action of this kind as the key to change here. Government has to deregulate first — then consumers need to make the most of that opportunity.
I’ve appreciated this whole discussion and debate, it’s made me think hard, and I think I take back my implication that you shouldn’t be on our Presidential Advisory Council. Actually, I think you’ve added a lot of value. Let’s hope you’ve opened some eyes and ears.
Thanks for linking to my blog… where anyone who really cares can read my take on all this.
But if you think people should leave everything to the government, then who (do you think) should *pick* the government. As far as I’m concerned, it’s the government’s job to sort out only things the people cannot do for themselves. People are likely to make better choices for themselves than the government makes for them. Of course, the situation here is that neither the gov nor the citizens are doing a great job in this area (I mean that politely, but firmly). For what it’s worth, I did give the government some advice on (how I thought) they could improve things, but I also had some advice for what people can do for themselves. Should I be limited to giving advice only to the government?
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