Denis has over 22 years’ direct experience in the telecommunications, IT and electronics industries. His business experience includes the establishment and running of a high technology VLSI chip testing facility, numerous high profile business consulting engagements and the position of Managing Director of BMI-TechKnowledge, a premier technology-focused market and industry research consultancy company in South Africa.
Denis is a widely respected consultant to government and industry. He has provided leadership for over 200 assignments covering business strategy, telecoms policy development, business and market development, commercialisation projects and business case evaluations. Denis Smit was part of the consultative process which produced the Green and White Papers on Telecommunications, which ultimately resulted in the Telecommunications Amendment Act of 2001.
Denis had the vision to start the debate about provincial and municipal broadband through hosting the “Digital Cities” events from 2006 to 2009. International speakers were brought to South Africa in order to share their ideas about government-driven broadband initiatives at municipal and city level. BMI-T also produced the Digital Communities Handbook in 2008, which furthered the knowledge and debate about the need for broadband in South Africa. Denis has extensive experience in broadband project evaluation at provincial, metro and municipal level where BMI-T has assisted provinces such as KwaZulu-Natal and the Western Cape, as well as metros such as the City of Johannesburg with their Broadband Strategies.
- Denis is an acknowledged broadband policy expert and has provide advisory services to the DOC, DPE, National Treasury and the Minister of Communications.
- Denis is an acknowledged specialist in the use of government-initiated broadband networks and infrastructure development and the role that government should play in rolling out broadband.
- Denis has extensive experience with the funding models for government-initiated broadband infrastructure development.
- Denis has been the Managing Director of BMI-T for 24 years during which period the company has completed over 3000 ICT research, advisory and consultancy projects for the private sector as well as the public sector.
Various government broadband policy projects including:
- Was project manager on the telecoms iCT policy review project that formed part of the 2014 Green Paper research project which reviewed the telecommunications sector in depth for the period 1995-2014.
- Provided advisory services to Minister Yunus Carrim iand the DOC in the drawing up of the SA Connect Broadband Policy
- Has provided specialist advisory services in Open Access networks both fixed and wireless to both the private and public sector
- 2011/14 Provided advisory services to the Director General of the Department of Communications (DOC).
- 2012 Lead Advisor on the “Broadband Coverage, Penetration and Speed in South Africa and selected Peer Group Countries” for the DOC. This is the largest government study on broadband yet undertaken in South Africa. This project includes the mapping of broadband infrastructure in South Africa into a GIS. Included in the project were the benchmarking of prices, speeds and coverage of broadband in South Africa. This project will provide key recommendations to the Department of Communications on the development of broadband in South Africa. This project is on-going.
- 2011/2 Lead Advisor to the Provincial Government of the Western Cape on their Provincial Broadband Strategy and network plans. This was the largest and most comprehensive review of a provincial network conducted in South Africa.
- 2011: Lead consultant on the Limpopo Inclusive Information Society Strategy.
- 2010: Lead consultant on the “KZN Provincial Broadband Network Project”. This was a major study detailing the design and development of a provincial broadband network. This project incorporated elements of national, provincial and municipal broadband strategy development.
- 2009: Acted as an advisor to the DOC on national, provincial and municipal broadband, including appropriate Telecoms Policy initiatives to be driven by the SA government.
- 2008: Acted as Lead Consultant on the “Cost of Communications” project for the DOC and the Economic Services and Infrastructure Cluster. This study went to Cabinet and included far-reaching recommendations on policy interventions required to lower the cost of communications in South Africa. This project also provided key guidance on the role of the state in broadband development and how this can enhance private sector investment.
- 2005-2009: Introduced the concept of “Digital Cities” (Municipal and Provincial Broadband) to South Africa, hosting several Digital City events and publishing the Digital Communities Handbook.
- Completed numerous broadband projects for the City of Johannesburg which ultimately resulted in the Johannesburg Broadband Network managed by BWired.
- Acted as advisor in numerous broadband related policy projects.
Brian Neilson is a 25 year veteran of the ICT research and advisory services business and is well known for his insight into ICT industry change, and the impact of those changes on business, industry and society. He has focused on research and consulting within ICT markets since 1987, with specialised involvement in, inter alia, internet and e-commerce, content distribution networks, convergence, mobile solutions, fixed line and mobile data and voice technology markets, telecoms policy and regulatory frameworks, e-readiness, and pan-African telecoms markets.
Over the years, Brian has directed more than 300 ICT research and consulting projects. He has participated in high level consulting and policy studies since 2001 including pan-regional (World Bank funded) and local policy reviews.
He has directed various business case assessments on behalf of project funding arrangers since 2005, four of which were in Nigeria, three submarine cable due diligence projects, various national and metro fibre optic infrastructure projects, and a major market strategy and cost-and-profitability review of a prominent broadband service provider in South Africa.
- Business cases and due diligence assessments
- Market analysis, segmentation and forecasting
- Go-to-market strategy
- Technology strategy review
- Policy review
South Africa: Telecommunications Industry and Policy Expertise
- Brian was principal analyst and market adviser to Tata/VSNL leading up to their investment decision in the South African Second National Operator in 2005, and subsequently played the same role for the company launched as Neotel in their detailed business planning and strategy, and the Lenders’ due diligence.
- Brian headed the team of consultants conducting a 2008 ICT strategy project for the Mpumalanga Provincial Government, and subsequently contributed to various other provincial broadband studies including the market demand assessment and strategy synthesis for the KwaZulu-Natal Provincial Broadband Strategy conducted by BMI-T in 2009/2010, and the Western Cape Broadband Strategy project in 2012.
He has participated in a number of major studies and support activities for the South African Department of Communications and the Economics Cluster including:
- Universal Service and Access review and policy directions for the 2001 South African Telecommunications Policy Directions policy study, as a member of an international team headed by Booz Allen Hamilton.
- International benchmarking study on the status of Communications for People with Disabilities for the SA Department of Communications (Forge Ahead BMI-T).
- Local telecoms market and policy review as part of the 2008 Cost-to-Communicate policy study for the DOC and the Economic Services and Infrastructure Cluster. This study went to Cabinet and included far-reaching recommendations on Policy Interventions required to lower the cost of communications in South Africa. This project also provided key guidance on the role of the state in broadband development and how this can enhance private sector investment.
- International benchmarking study in 2007 into costs of international telecommunications links, for the Department of Trade and Industry, Department of Communications and the Economic Services and Infrastructure Cluster.
Pan-regional studies conducted include:
- 2002: SADC e-Readiness Study (World Bank funded), through the South African Department of Communications.
- 2003: SADC private investment opportunities investigation (for the World Bank).
- 2004: sixteen-country study into existing terrestrial fibre deployments in each country in the COMESA economic grouping.
- Three submarine cable due diligences of multi-national scope.
- End-to-end review of the broadcast environment in East Africa.
Selected Country Experience: South Africa, Botswana, Nigeria, Lesotho, Kenya, pan-Regional African
Due diligence and business planning
- South Africa: Various other business case assessments in South Africa over the past ten years, including:
- Market adviser to Tata/VSNL leading up to their investment decision in the South African Second National Operator in 2005, and the same role in subsequent Lenders’ due diligence reviews of the operational company, Neotel.
- Three investment case reviews for independent carriers’ carrier players to build fibre optic cable on a shared, open access basis in the major metropolitan areas of South Africa, all of which led to successful project funding and rollout
- A major market strategy, cost and profitability review of a prominent broadband service provider in South Africa
- Lesotho: Conducted a large market study in Lesotho in 2007 for a converged fixed and mobile operator to advise on the operator’s broadband strategy, including technical, customer and market demand assessment, competitive environment, evaluation of alternatives, both fixed and mobile, and strategy synthesis and recommendations.
- Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania: Conducted an end-to-end review of the broadcast environment with strategic recommendations for a satellite operator.
- Swaziland: Market reviews and strategic market advisory for mobile operator
- Nigeria: Various business case assessments in Nigeria between 2005 and 2009 on behalf of operators and project funding arrangers, all of which led to successful funding, including:
- a mobile operator second phase expansion investment
- a national fibre optic backbone rollout
- a CDMA fixed wireless voice provider
Tim Parle is a telecommunications professional with 19 years’ experience in telecommunications including nearly 10 years with Lucent Technologies (later Alcatel-Lucent) in Western Europe and Southern Africa, and three years as a telecom consultant covering sub-Saharan Africa. He has an analytical mind with a desire to master the problem at hand, and enjoys interaction with customers and colleagues, particularly through the medium of presentations. His differentiation lies in the ability to bridge technical and commercial matters, while being customer-focused, and to learn rapidly in a changing environment. In his career he has earned a reputation for a dogged determination to get the job done well and to focus on the team and the customer. His technical experience is wide but focus areas include transmission networking (SDH, DWDM, microwave), broadband (FTTx, xDSL) and wireless access (GSM/GPRS/EDGE, 3G/HSPA, WiMAX and CDMA2000) technologies.
- Ability to understand and derive complex logic, interactions and dependencies
- Ability to determine patterns in information
- Appreciation of business fundamentals including finance, marketing and operations
- Conceptualisation of flow, interaction and dependencies
- Creation and interpretation of business models using Microsoft Excel
- Project Management
- Practical experience in deploying telecoms projects including programming, financial control and matrix management of design and deployment teams
- Ability to deal with multiple, coincident projects
- Ability to conceptualise project from inception to completion, and to communicate to others
- Communications Skills
- Customer-facing and customer-focused
- Relationship management theory and practice
- Excellent written, presentation and oral skills
- Competent presenter at internal and public forums
- Advanced user of Microsoft PowerPoint, Excel and Word plus other applications
Recent customised work includes:
- Broadband Coverage, Penetration and Speed in South Africa and selected Peer Group Countries for the DOC, 2012. Project manager Technical Specialist and GIS mapping
- Provincial Broadband Strategy and network plans, for Provincial Government of the Western Cape on their2011/2 . Project Manager and Technical Specialist
- National Broadband Strategy (DSL, WBB, WiMAX, CDMA2000) (Lesotho)
- Development of provincial broadband plan for KwaZulu-Natal including economic impact study and network design (optical, access layer and OAM&P layers)
- East Africa and West Africa wireless VoIP network market assessment and due diligence including analysis of technical plan and financial model
- VoIP over meshed WiFi technical and economic evaluation (South Africa)
- South Africa wireless VoIP network market assessment and due diligence including analysis of technical plan and financial model
- Techno-commercial evaluation of wireless technologies (WiFi, WiMAX) (Regional)
- Technology consulting on CDMA2000, WiFi mesh and WiMAX networking
- VSAT satellite network market assessment (sub-Saharan Africa) (2007 and 2010)
- RF spectrum study (South Africa)
- Technical evaluation, launch planning and financial modelling for voice and data networks for Telecom Africa (Mozambique)
- East Africa mobile network market assessment and due diligence including analysis of financial model and technical due diligence
- South Africa wholesale ISP business plan assessment and due diligence including analysis of technical plan and financial model
- VSAT satellite network market assessment (sub-Saharan Africa)
- Preparation of data set for South Africa spectrum auction
- Sub-sea cable interconnect proposal (terrestrial optical network) (South Africa)
- Other projects involving market assessment, business planning, strategy definition and business modelling
Selected country experience: United Kingdom, South Africa, Lesotho, Eastern Africa, Southern Africa, Spain, Netherlands, Germany, Belgium