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Four more Joburg suburbs sign up for Fibre to Home

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The Johannesburg suburbs of Victory Park, Linden, Blairgowrie and Bryanston South have endorsed Vumatel to bring fibre to their suburbs, bringing to 11 the number of suburbs becoming “fibrehoods”.|The Johannesburg suburbs of Victory Park, Linden, Blairgowrie and Bryanston South have endorsed Vumatel to bring fibre to their suburbs, bringing to 11 the number of suburbs becoming “fibrehoods”.

The Vumatel Fibre-To-The-Home (FTTH) network expansion continues unabated with news that residents of Victory Park, Linden, Bryanston South and Blairgowrie have unanimously endorsed the company to provide fibre services to their suburbs. Residents can expect trenching operations to commence in the final quarter of the year.

The newly announced suburbs join a growing list of “fibrehoods” in the Johannesburg area. Already benefiting from FTTH are the suburbs of Parkhurst, Greenside and Parktown North.  Joining these VUMA enabled suburbs within a few months are Killarney, Riviera, Saxonwold and Parkwood, where construction is planned to commence during July 2015.

Niel Schoeman, CEO of Vumatel, says: “Together with the newly announced suburbs, this brings the tally to eleven confirmed ‘fibrehoods’ within the relatively short time since announcing the Parkhurst endorsement in July 2014.

Work from home entrepreneurs and SME’s in particular in connected suburbs have seen their productivity increase substantially while families are celebrating the new-found speeds that make music streaming, video on demand (VOD), online video sites and more a world class experience.

The FTTH rollout in South Africa has been met with great interest from not only residents and business, but technology commentators too.

“With Vumatel expanding its reach from one suburb to the next, to cover an ever-increasing expanse of suburban Johannesburg, we are seeing nothing less than the emergence of an alternative communications network in the city,” says technology commentator and Victory Park resident Arthur Goldstuck.

The open-access VUMA FTTH network offers real consumer choice through the provision of not only competitively priced services, but choice of service providers too. Within the context of a 24-month contract driven environment, the ability to sign up on a month-to-month basis is a highly desirable benefit offered to potential consumers.

“The expanse of both our installed and planned network clearly reflects the demand for world class broadband connectivity. We see an increasing number of suburbs pledging their support for VUMA, and we look forward to bringing the benefits of fibre not only to the newly announced suburbs, but to all those that will be joining us on our journey in the near future,” concludes Schoeman.

Over 40 suburbs are in a race against each other to become the next VUMA ‘fibrehood’. Consumers are encouraged to pledge their support on VUMA’s website at www.vumatel.co.za by simply checking their address to ensure it falls within one of the planned suburbs identified as a possible future ‘fibrehood’.

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Low-cost wireless sport earphones get a kickstart

Wireless earphone brands are common, but not crowdfunded brands. BRYAN TURNER takes the K Sport Wireless for a run.

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As wireless technology becomes better, Bluetooth earphones have become popular in the consumer market. KuaiFit aspires to make them even more accessible to more people through a cheaper, quality product, by selling the K Sport Wireless Earphones directly from its Kickstarter page

KuaiFit has an app by the same name which offers voice-guided personal training services in almost every type of exercise, from cardio to weight-lifting. A vast range of connectivity to third-party sensors is available, like heart rate sensors and GPS devices, which work well with guided coaching. 

The app starts off with selecting a fitness level: beginner, intermediate and advanced. Thereafter, one has the ability to connect with real personal trainers via a subscription to its paid service. The subscription comes free for 6 months with the earphones, and R30 per month thereafter. 

The box includes a manual, a USB to two USB Type B connectors, different sized soft plastic eartips and the two earphone units. Each earphone is wireless and connects to the other independently of wires. This puts the K Sport Wireless in the realm of the Apple Earpods in terms of connection style. 

The earphones are just over 2cm wide and 2cm high. The set is black with a light blue KuaiFit logo on the earphone’s button. 

The button functions as an on/off switch when long-pressed and a play/pause button when quick-pressed. The dual-button set-up is convenient in everyday use, allowing for playback control depending on which hand is free. Two connectivity modes are available, single earphone mode or dual earphone mode. The dual earphone mode intelligently connects the second earphone and syncs stereo audio a few seconds after powering on. 

In terms of connectivity, the earphones are Bluetooth 4.1 with a massive 10-meter range, provided there are no obstacles between the device and the earphones. While it’s not Bluetooth 5, it still falls into the Bluetooth Low Energy connection category, meaning that the smartphone’s battery won’t be drastically affected by a consistent connection to the earphones. The batteries within the earphones aren’t specifically listed but last anywhere between 3 and 6 hours, depending on the mode. 

Audio quality is surprisingly good for earphones at this price point. The headset style is restricted to in-ear due to its small design and probable usage in movement-intensive activities. As a result, one has to be very careful how one puts these earphones, in because bass has the potential of getting reduced from an incorrect in-ear placement. In-ear earphones are usually notorious for ear discomfort and suction pain after extended usage. These earphones are one of the very few in this price range that are comfortable and don’t cause discomfort. The good quality of the soft plastic ear tip is definitely a factor in the high level of comfort of the in-ear earphone experience.

Overall, the K Sport Wireless earphones are great considering the sound quality and the low price: US$30 on Kickstarter.

Find them on Kickstarter here.

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Taxify enters Google Maps

A recent update to Taxify now uses Google Maps which allows users to identify their drivers, find public transport and search for billing options.

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People planning their travel routes using Google Maps will now see a Taxify icon in the app, in addition to the familiar car, public transport, walking and billing options.

Taxify started operating in South Africa in 2016 and as of October 2018 operates in seven South African cities – Johannesburg, Ekurhuleni, Tshwane, Cape Town, Durban, Port Elizabeth and Polokwane.

Once riders have searched for their destination and asked the app for directions, Google Maps shares the proximity of cars on the Taxify platform, as well as an estimated fare for the trip.

If users see that taking the Taxify option is their best bet, they can simply tap on the ‘Open app’ icon, to complete the process of booking the ride. Customers without the app on their device will be prompted to install Taxify first.

This integration makes it possible for users to evaluate which of the private, public or e-hailing modes of transport are most time-efficient and cost-effective.

“This integration with Google Maps makes it so much easier for users to choose the best way to move around their city,” says Gareth Taylor, Taxify’s country manager for South Africa. “They’ll have quick comparisons between estimated arrival times for the different modes of transport, as well as fares they can expect to pay, which will help save both time and money,” he added.

Taxify rides in Google Maps are rolling out globally today and will be available in more than 15 countries, with South Africa being one of the first countries to benefit from this convenient service.

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