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5G gets WIVE boost

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Several groups in Finland have established the WIreless for VErticals which is designed to make new industries to gain competitive advantages from the latest wireless technologies, especially 5G.

An industry group led by Nokia Bell Labs and including several academics in Finland has established a collaboration project called WIVE (WIreless for VErticals) to make it possible for new types of industries to gain competitive advantage from the latest wireless technologies, especially 5G. The project, co-funded by the Finnish Funding Agency for Innovation (Tekes), involves several industry, research institute and academic partners such as Nokia, Teleste, Telia, ABB, Cargotec Kalmar, Finnish Broadcasting Company (Yle), Digita, regulator FICORA, key Finnish universities as well as VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland.

Over the next 10 years, tens of billions of connected devices are expected to converge into intelligent and programmable systems that will improve lives in a vast number of areas. Transportation and resource consumption, learning and work, and treatment of health and wellness will all be affected by this change, which will bring massive opportunities for these industries but also new capacity requirements for networks.

The WIVE project, which is planned to run for 2 years, will focus on the needs of the following vertical sectors.

· Media and entertainment (M&E)

· Machine-type connectivity for application areas, including:

·Ultra Reliable Low Latency Communications (URLLC), serving sectors like smart grids and remotely controlled machines

· Massive Machine Type Connectivity (mMTC), allowing a high number of devices to be connected with limited cost and energy consumption.

WIVE aims to develop concepts and enable technologies, as well as to test and experiment new vertical services offered by 5G, especially for URLLC, mMTC, and media content delivery. These new communication services have versatile requirements for reliability, latency, data rates, security and availability. The WIVE project aims to demonstrate that these requirements can be fulfilled with future 5G networks with improved flexibility and cost-efficiency.

The WIVE project implements vertical service pilots based on industry driven use cases on the top of 5GTNF testbeds (e.g. TAKE-5 and 5GTN+), and tests new vertical services and applications in a realistic testing environment (out of the laboratory) to discover possible technical and business opportunities and constraints associated with new technologies to speed up the roll out of new 5G vertical services.

Spectrum is one of the key enablers for the exploitation of the full innovation potential of 5G. Therefore, WIVE is taking an active role in investigating and promoting flexible spectrum policies and spectrum management schemes to unlock new spectrum assets for 5G.

A vital part of WIVE is also the focus on users and identifying business opportunities for different verticals. 5G enables innovative service concepts and business cases across industries, as devices and machines are increasingly connected, paving the way for new business models and markets to emerge in the connected world. WIVE takes content consumption patterns and routines among end-users into account when exploring new business opportunities and scenarios for 5G.

“Industry collaboration is essential in fostering innovation around 5G, and for enabling different industries to take full advantage of the faster connections that 5G promises. Nokia Bell Labs has a strong focus on ultra reliable, low latency communications targeting new wireless communication systems for verticals, and the WIVE project provides us with greater insight into the requirements and opportunities for experimentation to test our solutions,” said the industrial coordinator of the project, Mikko Uusitalo, head of wireless advanced technologies research at Nokia.

“Deep understanding of the needs of different verticals and the variety of 5G user contexts is in the core of our business. We are looking at evolving media consumption patterns and developing revolutionary spectator experiences, for example at Telia 5G Arena in Helsinki and as part of our agreement for Finnish Ice Hockey League media rights. Machine-type connectivity and ultra-reliable communications are just as crucial for building smarter traffic, manufacturing solutions and other digitalization initiatives, which are topical for our B2B customers,” said Janne Koistinen, director of Telia 5G program in Finland.

“The number of connected devices in the Internet of Everything era will pose new challenges to future networks from interoperability, scalability and reliability perspectives. WIVE has a lot to contribute here as part of, and in collaboration with, the 5G Test Network Finland – on top of the media business transformation activities bridging the work from preceding research activities in the FUHF (Future of UHF) project,” said program manager Mika Klemettinen from Tekes.

“A substantially higher level of automation, together with reliable, low-latency communication between nodes in a power distribution grid, are prerequisites to improving the reliability of supply and integrating a large amount of distributed, renewable and intermittent generation. The development of energy policies, legislation and regulation all drive smarter and greener grids, and the transition will be facilitated by new technologies, such as 5G,” said Dick Kronman, manager of ABB’s Grid Automation Solutions business. “We will adapt our most advanced smart grid applications to a 5G test network as a benchmark. Collaboration within the consortium and practical tests will give us a comprehensive understanding of the Ultra Reliable Low Latency Communication (URLLC) capabilities of 5G and new business opportunities,” said Petri Hovila, program manager at ABB’s Medium Voltage Products unit in Finland.

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VoD cuts the cord in SA

Some 20% of South Africans who sign up for a subscription video on demand (SVOD) service such as Netflix or Showmax do so with the intention of cancelling their pay television subscription.

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That’s according to GfK’s international ViewScape survey*, which this year covers Africa (South Africa, Kenya and Nigeria) for the first time.

The study—which surveyed 1,250 people representative of urban South African adults with Internet access—shows that 90% of the country’s online adults today use at least one online video service and that just over half are paying to view digital online content. The average user spends around 7 hours and two minutes a day consuming video content, with broadcast television accounting for just 42% of the time South Africans spend in front of a screen.

Consumers in South Africa spend nearly as much of their daily viewing time – 39% of the total – watching free digital video sources such as YouTube and Facebook as they do on linear television. People aged 18 to 24 years spend more than eight hours a day watching video content as they tend to spend more time with free digital video than people above their age.

Says Benjamin Ballensiefen, managing director for Sub Sahara Africa at GfK: “The media industry is experiencing a revolution as digital platforms transform viewers’ video consumption behaviour. The GfK ViewScape study is one of the first to not only examine broadcast television consumption in Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa, but also to quantify how linear and online forms of content distribution fit together in the dynamic world of video consumption.”

The study finds that just over a third of South African adults are using streaming video on demand (SVOD) services, with only 16% of SVOD users subscribing to multiple services. Around 23% use per-pay-view platforms such as DSTV Box Office, while about 10% download pirated content from the Internet. Around 82% still sometimes watch content on disc-based media.

“Linear and non-linear television both play significant roles in South Africa’s video landscape, though disruption from digital players poses a growing threat to the incumbents,” says Molemo Moahloli, general manager for media research & regional business development at GfK Sub Sahara Africa. “Among most demographics, usage of paid online content is incremental to consumption of linear television, but there are signs that younger consumers are beginning to substitute SVOD for pay-television subscriptions.”

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New data rules raise business trust challenges

When the General Data Protection Regulation comes into effect on May 25th, financial services firms will face a new potential threat to their on-going challenges with building strong customer relationships, writes DARREL ORSMOND, Financial Services Industry Head at SAP Africa.

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The regulation – dubbed GDPR for short – is aimed at giving European citizens control back over their personal data. Any firm that creates, stores, manages or transfers personal information of an EU citizen can be held liable under the new regulation. Non-compliance is not an option: the fines are steep, with a maximum penalty of €20-million – or nearly R300-million – for transgressors.

GDPR marks a step toward improved individual rights over large corporates and states that prevents the latter from using and abusing personal information at their discretion. Considering the prevailing trust deficit – one global EY survey found that 60% of global consumers worry about hacking of bank accounts or bank cards, and 58% worry about the amount of personal and private data organisations have about them – the new regulation comes at an opportune time. But it is almost certain to cause disruption to normal business practices when implemented, and therein lies both a threat and an opportunity.

The fundamentals of trust

GDPR is set to tamper with two fundamental factors that can have a detrimental effect on the implicit trust between financial services providers and their customers: firstly, customers will suddenly be challenged to validate that what they thought companies were already doing – storing and managing their personal data in a manner that is respectful of their privacy – is actually happening. Secondly, the outbreak of stories relating to companies mistreating customer data or exposing customers due to security breaches will increase the chances that customers now seek tangible reassurance from their providers that their data is stored correctly.

The recent news of Facebook’s indiscriminate sharing of 50 million of its members’ personal data to an outside firm has not only led to public outcry but could cost the company $2-trillion in fines should the Federal Trade Commission choose to pursue the matter to its fullest extent. The matter of trust also extends beyond personal data: in EY’s 2016 Global Consumer Banking Survey, less than a third of respondents had complete trust that their banks were being transparent about fees and charges.

This is forcing companies to reconsider their role in building and maintaining trust with its customers. In any customer relationship, much is done based on implicit trust. A personal banking customer will enjoy a measure of familiarity that often provides them with some latitude – for example when applying for access to a new service or an overdraft facility – that can save them a lot of time and energy. Under GDPR and South Africa’s POPI act, this process is drastically complicated: banks may now be obliged to obtain permission to share customer data between different business units (for example because they are part of different legal entities and have not expressly received permission). A customer may now allow banks to use their personal data in risk scoring models, but prevent them from determining whether they qualify for private banking services.

What used to happen naturally within standard banking processes may be suddenly constrained by regulation, directly affecting the bank’s relationship with its customers, as well as its ability to upsell to existing customers.

The risk of compliance

Are we moving to an overly bureaucratic world where even the simplest action is subject to a string of onerous processes? Compliance officers are already embedded within every function in a typical financial services institution, as well as at management level. Often the reporting of risk processes sits outside formal line functions and end up going straight to the board. This can have a stifling effect on innovation, with potentially negative consequences for customer service.

A typical banking environment is already creaking under the weight of close to 100 acts, which makes it difficult to take the calculated risks needed to develop and launch innovative new banking products. Entire new industries could now emerge, focusing purely on the matter of compliance and associated litigation. GDPR already requires the services of Data Protection Officers, but the growing complexity of regulatory compliance could add a swathe of new job functions and disciplines. None of this points to the type of innovation that the modern titans of business are renowned for.

A three-step plan of action

So how must banks and other financial services firms respond? I would argue there are three main elements to successfully navigating the immediate impact of the new regulations:

Firstly, ensuring that the technologies you use to secure, manage and store personal data is sufficiently robust. Modern financial services providers have a wealth of customer data at their disposal, including unstructured data from non-traditional sources such as social media. The tools they use to process and safeguard this data needs to be able to withstand the threats posed by potential data breaches and malicious attacks.

Secondly, rethinking the core organisational processes governing their interactions with customers. This includes the internal measures for setting terms and conditions, how customers are informed of their intention to use their data, and how risk is assessed. A customer applying for medical insurance will disclose deeply personal information about themselves to the insurance provider: it is imperative the insurer provides reassurance that the customer’s data will be treated respectfully and with discretion and with their express permission.

Thirdly, financial services firms need to define a core set of principles for how they treat customers and what constitutes fair treatment. This should be an extension of a broader organisational focus on treating customers fairly, and can go some way to repairing the trust deficit between the financial services industry and the customers they serve.

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