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Bringing Wi-Fi to Africa

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Yesterday marked the inaugural World Wi-Fi Day – a day celebrated around the globe to recognise the significant role Wi-Fi has played in getting the world connected. RIAAN GRAHAM, sales director for Ruckus Networks sub-Saharan Africa, takes a look at why Africa should widely adopt Wi-Fi.

Some industry pundits see a dim future for Wi-Fi. They cite the rise of “unlimited” LTE cellular data plans and competition from technologies, like LTE-U. However, if you take an in-depth look at these new developments, you will understand why Wi-Fi is actually experiencing an upsurge.

Let’s take a look at why Africa should widely adopt Wi-Fi.

Unlimited mobile data plans and easy-to-access communications with no passwords are what consumers want. However, “unlimited” is never, truly, “unlimited.” If you look closely, you’ll discover that full-speed service may be guaranteed only during the billing period and up to a certain data capacity. After that capacity, has been exceeded, which happens quickly on multi-user family plans, customers experience throttling—the method where bandwidth is reduced and performance slows down noticeably.

The promise of high-performance access to unlimited data is also an unsustainable business model for carriers. As demand grows, carriers find that they need to expand their networks. Building a single LTE cell tower can cost millions. While these towers provide great coverage, capacity is limited, not making it a viable solution. Wi-Fi, a cost-effective and widely adopted solution, becomes the technology of choice in these situations.

In fact, it is anticipated that over 20 billion Wi-Fi chipsets will ship between 2016 and 2021. Wi-Fi devices are also more cost effective to develop because chipsets require less silicon, in higher volumes. Additionally, chipsets for LTE devices can cost 5 to 10 times more, with licensing fees added on top of the development costs.

Riaan Graham

Riaan Graham

Even more, enterprises in various sectors depend on Wi-Fi for their local area networks (LANs). Wi-Fi is designed to service LANs, while LTE is best used in wide-area networks (WANs). Additionally, with the advent of 802.11ac Wave 2 and 802.11ax, Wi-Fi is making rapid improvements in performance, security, seamless hotspot connections, and the ability to handle more users in high-density environments.

According to market research, the world Wi-Fi market size is expected1 to grow to $33.6 billion by 2020, with an estimated CAGR of 17.8% from 2015. This statistic makes South Africa (SA) and Africa an optimal region to adopt Wi-Fi at a more rapid pace. Currently in SA, there is 1 hotspot for every 6160 people. The global average is 1 hotspot for every 150. As Wi-Fi continues to be one of the most viable and cost-effective connectivity solutions to meet Africa’s increasing bandwidth demands, there are initiatives to increase the adoption of Wi-Fi in the region.

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Africa is already using Information and Communication Technology (ICT) investment to power its economy to reap more benefits. In fact, government and private sectors are taking bold steps to fast track the process. There are also direct foreign investments into key ICT initiatives across Africa. Additionally, home-grown innovation and new disruptive models, fueled by Wi-Fi and connectivity, are opening new opportunities.

Demands are changing. Expectations are shifting. The time for Wi-Fi time is now.

Happy World Wi-Fi Day!

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Android Go puts reliable smartphones in budget pockets

Nokia, Vodacom and Huawei have all launched entry-level smartphones running the Android Go edition, and all deliver a smooth experience, writes BRYAN TURNER.

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Three new and notable Android Go smartphones have recently hit the market, namely the Nokia 1, the Vodafone Smart Kicka 4 and the Huawei Y3 (2018). These phones run one of the most basic versions of Android while still delivering a fairly smooth user experience.

Historically, consumers purchasing smartphones in the budget bracket would have a hit-and-miss experience with processing speed, smoothness of user interface, and app stability. The Google-supported Android Go edition operating system optimises the user experience by stripping out non-important visual effects to speed up the phone. Thish allows for more memory to be used by apps. 

Google also ensures that all smartphones running Android Go will receive feature and security updates as they are released by Google. This is a major selling point for these smartphones, as users of this smartphone will always be running the latest software, with virtually no manufacturer bloatware.

Vodafone Smart Kicka 4

At the lowest entry-level, the Vodafone Smart Kicka 4 performs well as a communicator for emails and WhatsApp messages. The 4” screen represents a step up for entry-level Android phones, which were previously standardised at 3.5”.

The display is bright and very responsive, while the limited screen real estate leaves the navigation keys off the screen as touch buttons. It uses 3G connectivity, which might seem like an outdated technology, but is good enough to stream SD videos and music. Vodacom has also thrown in some data gifts if the smartphone is activated before the end of September 2018. 

Its camera functionalities might be a slight let down for the aspirant Instagrammer, with a 2MP rear flash camera and a 0.3MP selfie snapper. Speed wise, the keyboard pops up quickly, which is a huge improvement from the Smart Kicka 3. However, this phone will not play well with graphics-intensive games. 

Nokia 1

Next up is the Nokia 1, which adds a much better 5MP camera, improved battery life and a bigger 4.5” screen. It supports LTE, which allows this smartphone to download and upload at the speed of flagships. It also sports the Nokia brand name, which many consumers trust.

Although the front camera is 2MP, the quality is extremely grainy, even with good lighting. This disqualifies this smartphone for the social media selfie snapper, but the 5MP rear camera will work for the landscape and portrait photographer. 

The screen also redeems this smartphone, providing a display which represents colours truly and has great viewing angles. Xpress-on back covers allows the use of interchangeable, multi-coloured back covers, which has proven to be a successful sales point for mid-range smartphones in the past. 

Huawei Y3 (2018)

The most capable of the Android Go edition competitors, the Huawei Y3 (2018) packs an even bigger screen at 5”, as well as an improved 8MP rear camera and HD video recording. The screen is the brightest and most vibrant of the three smartphones, but seems to be calibrated to show colours a little more saturated than they actually are. 

Nevertheless, the camera outperforms the other smartphones with good colour replication and great selfie capabilities via the 2MP front camera – far superior to the Nokia 1 despite the same spec. LTE also comes standard with this smartphone and Vodacom throws in 4G/LTE data goodies until the end of September 2018. The battery, however, is not removable and may only be replaced by a warranty technician.

Comparing the 3

All three smartphones have removable back covers, which provide access to the battery, SIM card and SD card slots. The smartphones have Micro USB ports on the bottom with headphone jacks on the top. The built-in speakers all performed well, with the Y3 (2018) housing an exceptionally loud built-in speaker. 

Although all at different price points, all three phones remain similar in performance and speed. The differentiators are apparent in the components, like camera quality and screen quality. It would be fair to rank the quality of the camera and battery life by respective market prices. The Vodafone Smart Kicka 4 performed well, for its R399 retail price. The Nokia 1, on the other hand, lags quite a bit in features when compared to the Huawei Y3 (2018), bwith oth retailing at R999.

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SA gets digital archive

As the world entered the centenary of Nelson Mandela’s birth on Mandela Day, 18 July 2018, South Africa celebrated the launch of a digital living archive. 

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The southafrica.co.za  site carries content about the country’s collective heritage in South Africa’s eleven official languages.

Designed as a nation building,  educational and brand promotion web based tool, the free-to-view platform features award-winning photographic and written content by leading South African photographers, authors, academics and photojournalists.

The emphasis is on quality, credible, factual content that celebrates a collective heritage in terms of the following: Cultural Heritage; Natural Heritage; Education; History; Agriculture; Industry; Mining; and Travel.

At the same time as reflecting on the nation’s history, southafrica.co.za celebrates South Africa’s natural, cultural and economic assets so that the youth can learn about their nation in their home language.

Southafrica.co.za Founder and CEO Hans Gerrizen conceptualised southafrica.co.za as a means for youth and communities from outlying areas to benefit from the digital age in terms of the web tool’s empowering educational component.

“We can only stand to deepen our collective experience of democracy and become a more forward planning nation if we know facts about our nation’s past and present in everyone’s home language,” he says.

Southafrica.co.za, with sister company Siyabona Africa, is the organiser and sponsor of the Mandela: 100 Moments photographic exhibition that runs until 30 September at Cape Town’s V&A Waterfront-based Nelson Mandela Gateway to Robben Island.  The 3-month exhibition, which runs daily from 08h00 until 15h00, is showcasing one hundred iconic Nelson Mandela images taken by veteran South African photojournalist and self-taught lensman Peter Magubane.

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