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Interference: the great connectivity challenge

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As more users connect to the Internet, frequencies become congested causing data interference. However, MARCO DE RU, CTO of MiRO, believes that there are still ways companies can ease interference allowing users to connect to the Internet without any hassles.

Many of the factors affecting the potential for interference between wireless operators have been accelerated by industry trends that include the development of new broadband and multi-channel technologies. In a nutshell, as technology becomes more readily available, more users connect to the Internet, resulting in more congested frequency bands and hence more interference on data links.

According to MiRO’s CTO Marco de Ru, in 2008 the entire market was geared up to adopt 5.8 GHz as the new silver bullet ISM frequency on which to operate. This was a result of the fact that the 2.4 GHz frequency was no longer regarded as viable for fixed broadband usage, since there was very little spectrum available and interference was increasing.

“Since there was a much wider spectrum available in the unlicensed 5.8 GHz band, it was the obvious answer. Furthermore, the necessary equipment was readily available and inexpensive. However, 10 years later we find ourselves in a similar situation, with the 5.8 GHz frequency being overcrowded and interference being a serious issue. Although the 17 GHz ISM frequency is available, products are not easily obtainable, the range is limited, it is expensive and it is only point-to-point,” says De Ru.

Although not new, implementing Prism Filtering, GPS synchronisation, shielded and slanted antennas together with other strategically selected technologies in one combined solution, is one of the factors that differentiates Ubiquiti from the pack with regard to problem solving in this space.

De Ru explains that even though electronic filtering has been available for some time, technology has improved drastically and with its airPrism technology Ubiquiti has taken this to a new level of interference mitigation. “There have been up to three times greater TCP/IP throughput levels when using airPrism, in comparison with other Wi-Fi technologies for a typical case of co-located interference. It is a robust solution for this issue and requires no communication between radios. In fact, it functions very effectively despite noise from other vendors’ radios and it enables greater system capacity and overall throughput by further reducing out-of-band energy.”

Ubiquiti also recently launched GPS Sync for the AirMAX ac series of products. This delivers over 90% higher throughput than competing synchronised systems. It also provides consistent latency and jitter, which is great for VoIP providers that run their service over wireless links. GPS Sync allows users to synchronise their network and achieve more throughput with much less spectrum, by leveraging spectrum re-use (see figures 2, 3 and 4).

On typical tower installations, an antenna frequently ‘hears’ co-located devices as loudly, or even more loudly, than the intended CPE (customer premises equipment) or PtP (point-to-point) radio. Ubiquiti’s airMAX ac high-isolation antennas help to alleviate this problem by reducing the energy received by nearby radios.

“Further developments around isolation/horn antennas have also taken this to new levels. Asymmetrical horn antennas are ideal for cluster sector installations with high co-location requirements. They also improve beam-shaping for specific deployment and environment needs. They similarly offer the best front-to-back ratio in the industry and the lowest side lobe radiation,” says De Ru.

The bottom line is that the market needs to make smart decisions with respect to the spectrum that is currently available, using products that are affordable. “MiRO aligns itself with forward-thinking suppliers like Ubiquiti, who constantly seek solutions to industry-derived issues. This is evident in the enhancement of a number of pre-existing technologies to address the challenges faced with interference,” De Ru adds.

Arts and Entertainment

Deezer to host Hotstix’s Mandela tribute playlist

Deezer is celebrating Nelson Mandela on the centenary of his birthday by hosting a tribute playlist created by music legend Sipho “Hotstix” Mabuse.  

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Mabuse, a legendary figure in African music, first rose to prominence in the 1970s with his band Harari and later developed a name for himself as a solo artist. One of his best known songs was the global hit BurnOut in the 1980s.

The playlist takes the listener on a captivating musical journey through the life of Nelson Mandela.  It was compiled by Mabuse, who consulted with Mandela’s family and friends to ensure that the music would be relevant and accurate. The playlist also features commentary by Mabuse, which was recorded in his Soweto home.  

“I have tried to tell the story of the music that Madiba loved,” says Mabuse. “The Playlist excludes the time in prison obviously, as Madiba would not have had exposure to music in that time.  We have focused on the music we know he loved before and after that period. This recording was really an emotional journey for me, but an incredible opportunity to document these memories.”

The playlist features the music the young Mandela loved, such as The Manhattan Brothers, Solomon Linda, Brenda Fassie and Miriam Makeba.  It includes struggle songs from Chicco, Johnny Clegg, Hugh Masekela and Yvonne Chaka Chaka.  The playlist also includes Mandela by Zahara, one of the younger artists who caught Madiba’s ear.

Mabuse also offers stories of his own songs, such as Shikisha, a song greatly beloved by the former President.

“I was delighted to share my thoughts and hope the listeners enjoyed the musical journey,” says Mabuse. “Madiba did enjoy music immensely and we all have a purpose wherever we are in the world to celebrate culture and to learn from different cultures and music forms and styles.”

This playlist was inspired by the Nelson Mandela 100 campaign, calling on corporates and individuals to act as sources of inspiration and engage in conversation and action.

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Sports streaming takes off

Live streaming of sports is coming of age as a mainstream method of viewing big games, as the latest FIFA World Cup figures from the UK show. Africa isn’t yet at the same level when it comes to the adoption of sports streaming, but usage is clearly moving in the right direction.

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England’s World Cup quarter-final against Sweden was watched by just under 20 million viewers in the UK via BBC One. While this traditional broadcast audience was huge, it was streaming that broke records: the game was the BBC’s most popular online-viewed live programme ever, with 3.8 million views. In Africa, the absolute numbers are lower but the trend towards streaming major sports events on the continent is also well under way.

According to DStv, live streaming of sports dominates the usage figures for its live and recorded TV streaming app, DStv Now. The number of people using the app in June was five times higher than a year ago, with concurrent views peaking during major football and rugby games.

Since the start of the World Cup, average weekday usage of DStv Now is up 60%. The absolute peak in concurrent usage for one event was reached on 26 June, during the Nigeria vs Argentina game. The app’s biggest ever test was on 16 June with both Springbok Rugby and World Cup Football under way at the same time, resulting in concurrent in-app views seven times higher than the peaks seen in June last year.

The World Cup has also been a major reason for new users to download and try out the app. First-time app user volumes have tripled on Android and doubled on iOS since the start of the tournament.

“While we expected live sports streaming to take off, it’s also been pleasing to see that the app is really popular for watching shows on Catch Up,” says MultiChoice South Africa Chief Operating Officer Mark Rayner. “Interestingly, some of the most popular Catch Up shows are local, with Isibaya, Binnelanders, The Queen and The River all getting a significant number of views.”

With respect to app usage, the web and Android apps are the most popular way to watch DStv Now, with Android outpacing iOS by a factor of 2:1.

“We’re continuing to develop DStv Now, with 4k streaming in testing and smart TV and Apple TV apps on their way shortly,” says Rayner. “The other key priority for us is working with the telcos to deliver mobile data propositions that make watching online painless and worry-free for our customers.”

The DStv Now app is free to all 10 million DStv customers in Africa. The app streams DStv live channels as well as supplying an extended Catch Up library. Two separate streams can be watched on different devices simultaneously, and content can also be downloaded to smartphones and tablets. The content available on the app varies according to the DStv package subscribed to.

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