Vat Vas Vodacom Vhinking? Software & Sites 03 JUL 2008

Vodacom MeerkatYou’ve got to wonder just what in the world the tech boys at Vodacom central were thinking when they quietly updated their proxy through which all Vodacom mobile Internet subscribers are by default routed through last week. Obviously this was a decision pushed through by the big boys in marketing, because as any developer would tell you – messing with someone else’s network traffic and functionality is looking for bad publicity by the thousandfold.

For those of you who don’t know what I am referring to, last week Vodacom made a change to their proxy server for mobile data connections, which now reformats all incoming streams according the way in which they want it, and in the process injects a little self-righteous advertising by displaying big Vodafone Live red and black banners at the top and bottom of your now ‘Vodacom formatted’ screens.

Vodacom is pushing this new ‘technology’ as a user-friendly and convenient tool which makes browsing the Internet on your mobile phone so much easier now that everything is being automatically reformatted to best fit your phone’s screen – What Vodacom don’t admit to is that in the process they managed to disable most 3rd party web applications and services like Instant messaging, Online banking, YouTube and Twitter for example, which has resulted in a huge public backlash, at the forefront of which is of course SA’s rapidly growing and rather vocal blogging community.

The problem here is essentially that Vodacom have pushed an ‘alpha state’ technology straight onto its customer base without first properly testing the system, and secondly they are injecting some very underhanded advertising by means of their banner advert which is now appearing on the top of websites who would probably not have let them advertise there in the first place!

In any event, if you are a mobile system developer, the only way you can get around this is by directly contacting Vodacom and requesting that your site gets put on their ‘white list’ (as Ryan has already been forced to do for the products that he runs) which then effectively stops Vodacom’s proxy from processing requests to your sites.

And of course, if you are an actual end user suffering the effects of Vodacom’s insidious Telkom-like move, then the best option to get around this problem is to remove Vodacom’s proxy setting from your phone completely by following these steps on your phones’ menu:

1) Go to ‘Tools’
2) Go to ‘Settings’
3) Go to ‘Connection’
4) Go to ‘Access points’
5) Open the Vodacom access point (it is often named ‘Internet.GPRS’)
6) Go to ‘Options > Advanced Settings’
7) Remove the Proxy server address

That should then nip the problem right in the bud. If it doesn’t, then it might be time to start making use of the nifty little Opera Mini browser at last.

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About Craig Lotter

South African software architect and developer at Touchwork. Husband to a cupcake baker and father to two little girls. I don't have time for myself any more.