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Microwave your connection

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As the wait for fibre-to-business gets wearisome, some customers are looking for alternatives. One such is microwave, which ECKART ZOLLNER of Jasco, believes is a viable last mile stand-in.

Microwave technology for data transmission has advanced considerably. As the long wait for fibre-to-the-business gets wearisome and begins to hamper productivity and operational effectiveness for some, and customers begin to move to the competition, microwave is becoming a viable last mile stand-in.

It’s not always possible or desirable to put fibre in the ground. It can be costly, so there needs to be a big enough demand before operators will invest. In addition, even with overhead fibre transmission, permissions need to be obtained and regulations met, which can be time consuming and painstaking. Microwave, a point to point technology that works well over short distances, provides an ideal alternative, especially as the technology has become more robust and mobile solutions make it easy for operators to ‘drive and park’ microwave equipment wherever they need it.

The biggest challenge in the past has been the shortcomings of the technology. Vulnerability to atmospheric interference – other frequencies and heavy downpours, for example — can result in degraded transmission. Microwave technologies were also not robust enough to reliably transmit high speed data. In addition, setting up the point-to-point connections was difficult. New advances have improved these weaknesses including new software to auto recognise focal points and troubleshoot, and new technologies that make microwave less prone to interference.

This makes microwave very relevant to companies in remote areas or with challenging geography that require the throughput; for remote or rural towns that need a high speed link to centres of commerce; and to operators dealing with growing traffic and customer bases, as an inexpensive backhaul solution or for additional redundancy.

How easy is it to implement?

Microwave is a high frequency solution requiring line of site to the next tower to transmit data, with a range of anything from 1 to 100km. The cost of the implementation is usually integrated into and spread across the period of the subscription period – e.g. 24 to 36 months – while monthly costs will vary from a couple of thousand rand to tens of thousands of Rand depending on the bandwidth and the traffic utilised.

While users can make use of a common unlicensed frequency for their solution, in certain areas it can be crowded and noisy and quality of service cannot be guaranteed. A number of large South African operators have the required licensed frequency spectrum and have created a microwave network that their clients can leverage. To connect, a microwave dish needs to be installed at the client site within line of site of the operator’s microwave tower/s, or the closest microwave dish.

The service provider will provide the resources to do the planning and installation. They make use of specialist providers to get the job done well within budget and deadlines. Over the next three to five years as fibre slowly grows, demand for microwave technologies is expected to continue to grow. It may be an alternative, backup solution or interim solution worth considering.

* Eckart Zollner, Head of Business Development at the Jasco Group

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Password managers don’t protect you from hackers

Using a password manager to protect yourself online? Research reveals serious weaknesses…

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Top password manager products have fundamental flaws that expose the data they are designed to protect, rendering them no more secure than saving passwords in a text file, according to a new study by researchers at Independent Security Evaluators (ISE).

“100 percent of the products that ISE analyzed failed to provide the security to safeguard a user’s passwords as advertised,” says ISE CEO Stephen Bono. “Although password managers provide some utility for storing login/passwords and limit password reuse, these applications are a vulnerable target for the mass collection of this data through malicious hacking campaigns.”

In the new report titled “Under the Hood of Secrets Management,” ISE researchers revealed serious weaknesses with top password managers: 1Password, Dashlane, KeePass and LastPass.  ISE examined the underlying functionality of these products on Windows 10 to understand how users’ secrets are stored even when the password manager is locked. More than 60 million individuals 93,000 businesses worldwide rely on password managers. Click here for a copy of the report.

Password managers are marketed as a solution to eliminate the security risks of storing passwords or secrets for applications and browsers in plain text documents. Having previously examined these and other password managers, ISE researchers expected an improved level of security standards preventing malicious credential extraction. Instead ISE found just the opposite. 

Click here to read the findings from the report.

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MWC: Next generation of inflight connectivity to be unveiled

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Next week at Mobile World Congress, the Seamless Air Alliance will reveal progress on its mission towards enabling the next generation of inflight connectivity. This follows a significant start for the Alliance, which has seen membership increase five-fold since the first meeting in June of last year. The Alliance has a new research laboratory setup and continues progress through its three working groups, writing specifications for the technology, requirements, and operations.

These developments represent a huge leap towards the goal of making connectivity as easy and enjoyable in the skies as it is on the ground. Appearing as part of the Airbus stand (Hall 6, stand 6G34), the Seamless Air Alliance will reveal specification topics that have been completed and published to its membership.

“The passenger experience with inflight connectivity remains one of the great technology challenges. From Day One we have been determined to deliver on our mission to bring industries and technologies together to make the inflight internet experience simple to access and a delight to use,” said the Alliance’s Chief Executive Officer, Jack Mandala.

“I have been tremendously encouraged by the enthusiastic and committed response we have seen and the widening areas of expertise we can call upon as more and more companies and organisations continue to join us,” he added.

Announced during MWC 2018, the Seamless Air Alliance has since grown to twenty-three membercompanies with more than one-hundred key personnel from across the membership participating in its three working groups, with numbers continuing to increase.

The Seamless Air Alliance was created by founding members Airbus, Airtel, Delta Air Lines, OneWeb and Sprint, and quickly joined by Air France KLM, Aeromexico, and GOL Linhas Aereas Inteligentes and global technology leaders including Astronics, Collins Aerospace, Comtech, Cyient, iDirect, Inmarsat, Intelsat, Latecoere, Nokia, and Panasonic. 

Today, the Alliance is pleased to announce five additional new members: Adaptive Channel, Etihad Airways, GlobalReach Technology, Safran, and SITAONAIR.

“We are extremely pleased to have these companies join and be a part of the companies driving the next generation of connectivity.” said Mr Mandala.

The Seamless Air Alliance will enable travelers boarding any flight, on any airline, anywhere in the world, to use their own devices to automatically connect to the Internet with no complicated login process nor paywall to scramble over.

The Alliance is also announcing the release of a new research study on the economic benefit of standardization on the inflight connectivity market at Mobile World Congress. This report is available for download at https://www.seamlessalliance.com/publications/

The Alliance is moving rapidly towards an expected demonstration of the technology later in 2019 and anticipates massive interest in Barcelona from the whole communications eco-system.

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