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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.

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Earth 2050: memory chips for kids, telepathy for adults

An astonishing set of predictions for the next 30 years includes a major challenge to the privacy of our thoughts.

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Buy 2050, most kids may be fitted with the latest memory boosting implants, and adults will have replaced mobile devices with direct connectivity through brain implants, powered by thought.

These are some of the more dramatic forecasts in Earth 2050, an award-winning, interactive multimedia project that accumulates predictions about social and technological developments for the upcoming 30 years. The aim is to identify global challenges for humanity and possible ways of solving these challenges. The website was launched in 2017 to mark Kaspersky Lab’s 20th birthday. It comprises a rich variety of predictions and future scenarios, covering a wide range of topics.

Recently a number of new contributions have been added to the site. Among them Lord Martin Rees, the UK’s Astronomer Royal, Professor at Cambridge University and former President of the Royal Society; investor and entrepreneur Steven Hoffman, Peter Tatchell, human rights campaigner, along withDmitry Galov, security researcher and Alexey Malanov, malware analyst at Kaspersky Lab.

The new visions for 2050 consider, among other things:

  • The replacement of mobile devices with direct connectivity through brain implants, powered by thought – able to upload skills and knowledge in return – and the impact of this on individual consciousness and privacy of thought.
  • The ability to transform all life at the genetic level through gene editing.
  • The potential impact of mistakes made by advanced machine-learning systems/AI.
  • The demise of current political systems and the rise of ‘citizen governments’, where ordinary people are co-opted to approve legislation.
  • The end of the techno-industrial age as the world runs out of fossil fuels, leading to economic and environmental devastation.
  • The end of industrial-scale meat production, as most people become vegan and meat is cultured from biopsies taken from living, outdoor reared livestock.

The hypothetical prediction for 2050 from Dmitry Galov, security researcher at Kaspersky Lab is as follows: “By 2050, our knowledge of how the brain works, and our ability to enhance or repair it is so advanced that being able to remember everything and learn new things at an outrageous speed has become commonplace. Most kids are fitted with the latest memory boosting implants to support their learning and this makes education easier than it has ever been. 

“Brain damage as a result of head injury is easily repaired; memory loss is no longer a medical condition, and people suffering from mental illnesses, such as depression, are quickly cured.  The technologies that underpin this have existed in some form since the late 2010s. Memory implants are in fact a natural progression from the connected deep brain stimulation implants of 2018.

“But every technology has another side – a dark side. In 2050, the medical, social and economic impact of memory boosting implants are significant, but they are also vulnerable to exploitation and cyber-abuse. New threats that have appeared in the last decade include the mass manipulation of groups through implanted or erased memories of political events or conflicts, and even the creation of ‘human botnets’. 

“These botnets connect people’s brains into a network of agents controlled and operated by cybercriminals, without the knowledge of the victims themselves.  Repurposed cyberthreats from previous decades are targeting the memories of world leaders for cyber-espionage, as well as those of celebrities, ordinary people and businesses with the aim of memory theft, deletion of or ‘locking’ of memories (for example, in return for a ransom).  

“This landscape is only possible because, in the late 2010s when the technologies began to evolve, the potential future security vulnerabilities were not considered a priority, and the various players: healthcare, security, policy makers and more, didn’t come together to understand and address future risks.”

For more information and the full suite of inspirational and thought-provoking predictions, visit Earth 2050.

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SAFTA awards get first streaming video nominees

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The 2019 nominations for The South African Film and Television Awards (SAFTAs) were announced late last week, and for the first time in the 13-year history of the awards, a TV series produced for a video-on-demand service was in contention. The result was a surprise boost to streaming service Showmax.

The comedy series Tali’s Wedding Diary, which premiered in December 2017, represented a major step for the then two-year old streaming service. It was the debut Showmax Original, the first time Showmax ventured into producing its own content. The gamble paid off, with the show becoming the most watched of any series on its first day on Showmax, and now Tali’s Wedding Diary has been further recognised with seven SAFTA nominations, making it this year’s most nominated comedy.

“When we first floated the idea of Tali’s Wedding Diary, we joked about winning awards,” says Candice Fangueiro, Showmax’s head of content. “At that point, just getting our first Showmax Original off the ground was already a major challenge and it was more than we could hope for to actually hit it out of the park. I was stunned when I heard the news about the nominations – it’s amazing to be considered in the same company as these other shows and thanks to this we’re already seeing a fresh spike in Tali views.”

Tali’s Wedding Diary was also a first for co-creator and star Julia Anastasopoulos, who until then was best known as YouTube star SuzelleDIY. “I am so thrilled about the SAFTA nominations for Tali’s Wedding Diary,” says Julia, who is up for Best Actress – TV Comedy and Best Achievement in Scriptwriting – TV Comedy, along with her husband Ari Kruger and Daniel Zimbler. 

“It was such a big and daunting step to create a full TV comedy series and intro a brand-new character. I really didn’t know how it would be received and am so happy to have received such positive feedback for the show and the Tali Babes character, along with the nominations. It feels so good to be recognised for something we poured our hearts into. None of it would have been possible, of course, without the incredible hard work and vision of my husband Ari and the incredible team, cast and crew that were part of the show. And a huge thank you to Showmax of course for making it all possible. Congratulations and best of luck to the entire team and to all the other nominees.”

Tali’s Wedding Diary is a mockumentary that follows Tali, a self-obsessed Joburg princess who’s moved to Cape Town and is planning her wedding to property-agent fiancé Darren (Anton Taylor). The series was inspired by Julia’s own wedding to Ari, her SuzelleDIY and Tali’s Wedding Diary co-creator, who is also up for Best Achievement In Directing – TV Comedy.  

In addition to Julia and Ari’s nominations, Tali’s Wedding Diary is up for Best TV Comedy, Art Direction (Keren Setton),  Cinematography (James Adey), and Editing (Richard Starkey). Winners will be announced on 2 March 2019 at Sun City Superbowl.

Following the success of Tali’s Wedding Diary, the second Showmax Original, The Girl From St Agnes, was released earlier this month. A third Showmax Original, Trippin With Skhumba, is slated for release at the end of February.

“With three Showmax Originals now under our belt and more on the way, we’d like to think this is the start of many more SAFTA nominations for shows from a streaming service,” concludes Candice.

South African content currently on Showmax has 110 nominations and includes the most nominated movie (Five Fingers With Marseilles), telenovela (The River), drama (Lockdown) and soap (Isibaya), with more SAFTA nominees scheduled for the coming months.

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