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Gear up for esports

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Rush, taking place at the Sandton Convention Centre this weekend will give visitors the chance to meet and greet professional player, watch SA’s top teams compete and offer loads of competitions and prizes.

Want to learn more about esports, meet and talk to pro players, watch SA’s top teams compete, and maybe even enter a competition yourself and win some prizes? Then gear up for Rush this coming weekend.

Designed by the creators of rAge (really Awesome gaming expo), the inaugural Rush event, powered by HP OMEN, is a first for esports in South Africa.

Taking place from 21 to 23 July at the Sandton Convention Centre in Johannesburg, Rush will feature a variety of competitive esports tournaments hosted by leading local organisations across  dedicated esports stages, with live shoutcasting (commentary) by some of South Africa’s top shoutcasters. South Africa’s best competitive gamers and clans will compete for various prizes.

 

Four main stages will be showcasing popular titles such as Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (CS:GO), FIFA 17, League of Legends, and Street Fighter V. Fans, supporters and enthusiasts will be able to watch all the competitions live on big screens, with dedicated seating areas at all the stages. In addition, visitors will also be able to sign to enter tournaments across a range of games like Hearthstone, FIFA 17, Street Fighter V and Metal Slug. There are prizes up for grabs, so anyone with even a passing interest in video games is encouraged to take part.

Rush is an exciting, compelling showcase of everything that South African esports currently has to offer,” said Lauren Das Neves, marketing manager for Rush, NAG and rAge. “We’ve created a unique experience that will appeal to both casual and hardcore gamers, and one that will serve as a visual introduction to anyone who doesn’t know what all this esports fuss is about.

“Having been actively involved in the local gaming industry for the past 20 years through NAG and rAge, Rush is a great platform for us to build, empower and connect with new and existing esports communities.”

Big news for Kaizer Chiefs supporters is that they’ve announced their participation at Rush. The club has partnered with sponsors Vodacom and Nike for the event, giving gamers a chance to battle it out at the Kaizer Chiefs esports stage. Gamers will go head-to-head in the FIFA 17 tournament in a bid to be the ultimate winner. To enter the Kaizer Chiefs tournament at Rush, visit www.acgl.co.za/kaizerchiefs to sign up. Entry to the tournament is free.

For Warcraft and Hearthstone fans, Kwesé will be hosting a Hearthstone Fireside Gathering at Rush. There is R30 000 cash in prizes for winners across the weekend, with the player in the daily top spot walking away with R5 000. Second and third place get R3 000 and R2 000 respectively. There’s also a gaming notebook from MSI up for grabs. In addition, there’s a casual tournament for those keen for arrive-and-play fun.

Other activities include PlayStation VR, arcade cabinets and retail stands, as well as old-school, arcade-style gaming.

Visit the NAG Arcade/Eurasian Entertainment stand to try your hand at Metal Slug. The player with the highest score at the end of the weekend will win an arcade machine that oozes retro coolness.

Matrix Warehouse will be running a fastest-lap challenge on their stand with mystery prizes each day.

Orena is ramping up its Fight Night offering at Rush, with the casual Street Fighter V tournament set for an EFC-sized boost. EFC Worldwide welterweight champion Dricus du Plessis and bantamweight champion Demarte Pena will battle it out in an exhibition match in the OFN octagon at 11:00 on Sunday 23 July, with other EFC athletes waiting in the wings to challenge them. Gamers can enter the Orena Fight Night challenge and stand to win R20 000 at the end of the season.

Orena is also offering the chance to qualify for ESWC for CS:GO on one of the main stages.

“The country’s best esports teams will be fighting it out in a world-class arena, for the opportunity to take on some of the best players on the planet,” says Luca Tucconi, Operating Executive at Orena. “The competition is fierce and the prize is massive – and we have one or two surprises up our sleeves for the winners”.

Alongside this high-adrenaline and hugely entertaining line-up, one of the other exciting features of Rush is South Africa’s first Winter NAG LAN – an opportunity to experience multiplayer gaming with hundreds of likeminded gaming enthusiasts packed into a single venue.  A NAG LAN ticket also gives participants access to the Rush event for the full weekend. Casual competitions for Dota 2 and Rocket League will be hosted in the NAG LAN, with hardware peripheral prizes sponsored by Apex Interactive. A formal competition for Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare will also be hosted in the NAG LAN for 16 teams on PS4 in the NAG LAN,  with a total of R19 000 in prizes.

 Pink-it arrives

Pink-IT will hold its first annual summit at Rush over the course of the three days. Pink-IT is designed to build a supportive and inspiring community for women in technology and foster a culture of sharing, collaboration, discussion and inspiration for female software developers.

The first annual summit will bring together companies interested in hiring female software developers in South Africa, opening up opportunities for women in the industry. The summit will be a jam-packed weekend  for all  female software developers, game developers, UX designers, graphic designers and animators who also want to learn how to build a mobile-based esports game using Blue mix.

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When will we stop calling them phones?

If you don’t remember when phones were only used to talk to people, you may wonder why we still use this term for handsets, writes ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK, on the eve of the 10th birthday of the app.

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Do you remember when handsets were called phones because, well, we used them to phone people?

It took 120 years from the invention of the telephone to the use of phones to send text.

Between Alexander Graham Bell coining the term “telephone” in 1876 and Finland’s two main mobile operators allowing SMS messages between consumers in 1995, only science fiction writers and movie-makers imagined instant communication evolving much beyond voice. Even when BlackBerry shook the business world with email on a phone at the end of the last century, most consumers were adamant they would stick to voice.

It’s hard to imagine today that the smartphone as we know it has been with us for less than 10 years. Apple introduced the iPhone, the world’s first mass-market touchscreen phone, in June 2007, but it is arguable that it was the advent of the app store in July the following year that changed our relationship with phones forever.

That was the moment when the revolution in our hands truly began, when it became possible for a “phone” to carry any service that had previously existed on the World Wide Web.

Today, most activity carried out by most people on their mobile devices would probably follow the order of social media in first place – Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn all jostling for attention – and  instant messaging in close second, thanks to WhatsApp, Messenger, SnapChat and the like. Phone calls – using voice that is – probably don’t even take third place, but play fourth or fifth fiddle to mapping and navigation, driven by Google Maps and Waze, and transport, thanks to Uber, Taxify, and other support services in South Africa like MyCiti,  Admyt and Kaching.

Despite the high cost of data, free public Wi-Fi is also seeing an explosion in use of streaming video – whether Youtube, Netflix, Showmax, or GETblack – and streaming music, particularly with the arrival of Spotify to compete with Simfy Africa.

Who has time for phone calls?

The changing of the phone guard in South Africa was officially signaled last week with the announcement of Vodacom’s annual results. Voice revenue for the 2018 financial year ending 31 March had fallen by 4.6%, to make up 40.6% of Vodacom’s revenue. Total revenue had grown by 8.1%, which meant voice seriously underperformed the group, and had fallen by 4% as a share of revenue, from 2017’s 44.6%.

The reason? Data had not only outperformed the group, increasing revenue by 12.8%, but it had also risen from 39.7% to 42.8% of group revenue,

This means that data has not only outperformed voice for the first time – as had been predicted by World Wide Worx a year ago – but it has also become Vodacom’s biggest contributor to revenue.

That scenario is being played out across all mobile network operators. In the same way, instant messaging began destroying SMS revenues as far back as five years ago – to the extent that SMS barely gets a mention in annual reports.

Data overtaking voice revenues signals the demise of voice as the main service and key selling point of mobile network operators. It also points to mobile phones – let’s call them handsets – shifting their primary focus. Voice quality will remain important, but now more a subset of audio quality rather than of connectivity. Sound quality will become a major differentiator as these devices become primary platforms for movies and music.

Contact management, privacy and security will become critical features as the handset becomes the storage device for one’s entire personal life.

Integration with accessories like smartwatches and activity monitors, earphones and earbuds, virtual home assistants and virtual car assistants, will become central to the functionality of these devices. Why? Because the handsets will control everything else? Hardly.

More likely, these gadgets will become an extension of who we are, what we do and where we are. As a result, they must be context aware, and also context compatible. This means they must hand over appropriate functions to appropriate devices at the appropriate time. 

I need to communicate only using my earpiece? The handset must make it so. I have to use gesture control, and therefore some kind of sensor placed on my glasses, collar or wrist? The handset must instantly surrender its centrality.

There are numerous other scenarios and technology examples, many out of the pages of science fiction, that point to the changing role of the “phone”. The one thing that’s obvious is that it will be silly to call it a phone for much longer.

  • Arthur Goldstuck is founder of World Wide Worx and editor-in-chief of Gadget.co.za. Follow him on Twitter on @art2gee and on YouTube
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MTN 5G test gets 520Mbps

MTN and Huawei have launched Africa’s first 5G field trial with an end-to-end Huawei 5G solution.

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The field trial demonstrated a 5G Fixed-Wireless Access (FWA) use case with Huawei’s 5G 28GHz mmWave Customer Premises Equipment (CPE) in a real-world environment in Hatfield Pretoria, South Africa. Speeds of 520Mbps downlink and 77Mbps uplink were attained throughout respectively.

“These 5G trials provide us with an opportunity to future proof our network and prepare it for the evolution of these new generation networks. We have gleaned invaluable insights about the modifications that we need to do on our core, radio and transmission network from these pilots. It is important to note that the transition to 5G is not just a flick of a switch, but it’s a roadmap that requires technical modifications and network architecture changes to ensure that we meet the standards that this technology requires. We are pleased that we are laying the groundwork that will lead to the full realisation of the boundless opportunities that are inherent in the digital world.” says Babak Fouladi, Group Chief Technology & Information Systems Officer, at MTN Group.

Giovanni Chiarelli, Chief Technology and Information Officer for MTN SA said: “Next generation services such as virtual and augmented reality, ultra-high definition video streaming, and cloud gaming require massive capacity and higher user data rates. The use of millimeter-wave spectrum bands is one of the key 5G enabling technologies to deliver the required capacity and massive data rates required for 5G’s Enhanced Mobile Broadband use cases. MTN and Huawei’s joint field trial of the first 5G mmWave Fixed-Wireless Access solution in Africa will also pave the way for a fixed-wireless access solution that is capable of replacing conventional fixed access technologies, such as fibre.”

“Huawei is continuing to invest heavily in innovative 5G technologies”, said Edward Deng, President of Wireless Network Product Line of Huawei. “5G mmWave technology can achieve unprecedented fiber-like speed for mobile broadband access. This trial has shown the capabilities of 5G technology to deliver exceptional user experience for Enhanced Mobile Broadband applications. With customer-centric innovation in mind, Huawei will continue to partner with MTN to deliver best-in-class advanced wireless solutions.”

“We are excited about the potential the technology will bring as well as the potential advancements we will see in the fields of medicine, entertainment and education. MTN has been investing heavily to further improve our network, with the recent “Best in Test” and MyBroadband best network recognition affirming this. With our focus on providing the South Africans with the best customer experience, speedy allocation of spectrum can help bring more of these technologies to our customers,” says Giovanni.

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