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MWC: Qualcomm debuts modem-to-antenna tech

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At Mobile World Congress last week, Qualcomm Technologies, announced that the entire Qualcomm RF Front End (RFFE) modem-to-antenna solution and the Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 Mobile Platform with X20 Gigabit LTE, and 4K HDR video capture, are featured in Sony Mobile’s Xperia XZ2 smartphone. 

Qualcomm Technologies is the first company in the semiconductor industry to deliver a comprehensive solution from modem to antenna ports for use in a leading premium smartphone. Utilizing Qualcomm Technologies’ comprehensive solution – including for the first time, the entire Qualcomm RFFE suite – allows Sony Mobile to benefit from system level optimization which facilitates the delivery of global platforms with superior connectivity performance and power efficiency.

The Qualcomm RFFE solution harnesses radio complexity and simplifies the implementation of global Gigabit LTE in mobile devices with a system-level design spanning a suite of RFFE products that utilize modem intelligence and are tightly integrated in a set of comprehensive global RF front end modules. It also helps OEMs to provide superior RF performance and power efficiency to support high data rates in real world networks.

Qualcomm Technologies’ modem-to-antenna solution comprises a suite of RFFE components including:

  • Power Amplifier Modules including Duplexers (PAMiDs). The QPM2621, QPM2632 and QPM2643 PAMiDs support the global low, mid and high bands respectively and integrate our suite of PAs, duplexers/filters including SAW, TC-SAW and BAW technologies, switches and an antenna coupler.
  • QET4100 Envelope Tracker (ET). The envelope tracker utilizes modem intelligence to dynamically adjust the voltage supplied to the radio frequency (RF) amplifier to support peak operating efficiency thereby reducing power consumption and heat.
  • Advanced Antenna Tuning. QAT3550 Impedance Tuner provide advanced adaptive antenna tuning. This technology utilizes modem intelligence to dynamically optimize the antenna match with the active transmit and receive frequencies to mitigate signal degradation from hand blocking, metal back designs and other effects, and is designed to improve throughput, call reliability and reduced power/battery consumption.
  • QDM3620, QDM3630, QDM3640 Diversity Receive Modules. These diversity receive modules combine our switches, BAW and SAW filters and low-noise amplifiers into a highly integrated module that is a user-friendly solution for implementing high-order MIMO and diversity receive paths for global LTE Advanced and Gigabit LTE architectures.

The QPM2621, QPM2632, QPM2643 PAMiDs, QAT3550 antenna impedance tuner, and QDM3620, QDM3630, QDM3640 diversity receive modules are supported for use with the Snapdragon X20 LTE modem and Snapdragon 845 Mobile Platform.

“With the proliferation of 4G frequencies and devices, coupled with 5G devices coming soon, OEMs and operators will be challenged to deliver high-quality user experiences while considering cost- and time-efficiency in developing mobile devices that work around the globe on a variety of networks,” said Christian Block, senior vice president and general manager, Qualcomm’s RF front end business unit. “Sony Mobile’s integration of Qualcomm Technologies’ RFFE modem-to-antenna solution showcases how Qualcomm Technologies works with customers to provide the tools they need to create new devices that can address the requirements and opportunities offered by Gigabit LTE and future 5G networks.”

With increasingly crowded networks, operators are challenged to bring maximum coverage and advanced features to users. Qualcomm RFFE modem-to-antenna solution is engineered to help operators maximize the use of all licensed, shared and unlicensed spectrum assets while delivering superior network coverage, device performance and worldwide roaming. With this solution, device OEMs can scale their products globally with support of hundreds of carrier aggregation and 4×4 MIMO combinations delivering connection speeds up to 1.2 Gigabit per second LTE.

“We are pleased to work closely with Qualcomm Technologies as we continue to introduce innovative smartphones,” said Izumi Kawanishi, director, executive vice president, product business group, Sony Mobile Communications Inc. “Qualcomm Technologies’ enables excellent RF Front End performance across low, mid and high bands, and its comprehensive tightly integrated modem-RFFE interaction, provides the system level optimization we need to deliver the best-in-class mobile experience our customers expect.”

As the radio environment becomes more complex, a well-designed, advanced RFFE system is critical to the mobile experiences end-users demand from their devices and to prepare for the launch of 5G devices. Qualcomm Technologies’ comprehensive modem-to-antenna solutions are optimized to support exceptional connection reliability, blazing-fast data speeds, superior indoor/outdoor coverage, world roaming capability and long battery life.

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VoD cuts the cord in SA

Some 20% of South Africans who sign up for a subscription video on demand (SVOD) service such as Netflix or Showmax do so with the intention of cancelling their pay television subscription.

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That’s according to GfK’s international ViewScape survey*, which this year covers Africa (South Africa, Kenya and Nigeria) for the first time.

The study—which surveyed 1,250 people representative of urban South African adults with Internet access—shows that 90% of the country’s online adults today use at least one online video service and that just over half are paying to view digital online content. The average user spends around 7 hours and two minutes a day consuming video content, with broadcast television accounting for just 42% of the time South Africans spend in front of a screen.

Consumers in South Africa spend nearly as much of their daily viewing time – 39% of the total – watching free digital video sources such as YouTube and Facebook as they do on linear television. People aged 18 to 24 years spend more than eight hours a day watching video content as they tend to spend more time with free digital video than people above their age.

Says Benjamin Ballensiefen, managing director for Sub Sahara Africa at GfK: “The media industry is experiencing a revolution as digital platforms transform viewers’ video consumption behaviour. The GfK ViewScape study is one of the first to not only examine broadcast television consumption in Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa, but also to quantify how linear and online forms of content distribution fit together in the dynamic world of video consumption.”

The study finds that just over a third of South African adults are using streaming video on demand (SVOD) services, with only 16% of SVOD users subscribing to multiple services. Around 23% use per-pay-view platforms such as DSTV Box Office, while about 10% download pirated content from the Internet. Around 82% still sometimes watch content on disc-based media.

“Linear and non-linear television both play significant roles in South Africa’s video landscape, though disruption from digital players poses a growing threat to the incumbents,” says Molemo Moahloli, general manager for media research & regional business development at GfK Sub Sahara Africa. “Among most demographics, usage of paid online content is incremental to consumption of linear television, but there are signs that younger consumers are beginning to substitute SVOD for pay-television subscriptions.”

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New data rules raise business trust challenges

When the General Data Protection Regulation comes into effect on May 25th, financial services firms will face a new potential threat to their on-going challenges with building strong customer relationships, writes DARREL ORSMOND, Financial Services Industry Head at SAP Africa.

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The regulation – dubbed GDPR for short – is aimed at giving European citizens control back over their personal data. Any firm that creates, stores, manages or transfers personal information of an EU citizen can be held liable under the new regulation. Non-compliance is not an option: the fines are steep, with a maximum penalty of €20-million – or nearly R300-million – for transgressors.

GDPR marks a step toward improved individual rights over large corporates and states that prevents the latter from using and abusing personal information at their discretion. Considering the prevailing trust deficit – one global EY survey found that 60% of global consumers worry about hacking of bank accounts or bank cards, and 58% worry about the amount of personal and private data organisations have about them – the new regulation comes at an opportune time. But it is almost certain to cause disruption to normal business practices when implemented, and therein lies both a threat and an opportunity.

The fundamentals of trust

GDPR is set to tamper with two fundamental factors that can have a detrimental effect on the implicit trust between financial services providers and their customers: firstly, customers will suddenly be challenged to validate that what they thought companies were already doing – storing and managing their personal data in a manner that is respectful of their privacy – is actually happening. Secondly, the outbreak of stories relating to companies mistreating customer data or exposing customers due to security breaches will increase the chances that customers now seek tangible reassurance from their providers that their data is stored correctly.

The recent news of Facebook’s indiscriminate sharing of 50 million of its members’ personal data to an outside firm has not only led to public outcry but could cost the company $2-trillion in fines should the Federal Trade Commission choose to pursue the matter to its fullest extent. The matter of trust also extends beyond personal data: in EY’s 2016 Global Consumer Banking Survey, less than a third of respondents had complete trust that their banks were being transparent about fees and charges.

This is forcing companies to reconsider their role in building and maintaining trust with its customers. In any customer relationship, much is done based on implicit trust. A personal banking customer will enjoy a measure of familiarity that often provides them with some latitude – for example when applying for access to a new service or an overdraft facility – that can save them a lot of time and energy. Under GDPR and South Africa’s POPI act, this process is drastically complicated: banks may now be obliged to obtain permission to share customer data between different business units (for example because they are part of different legal entities and have not expressly received permission). A customer may now allow banks to use their personal data in risk scoring models, but prevent them from determining whether they qualify for private banking services.

What used to happen naturally within standard banking processes may be suddenly constrained by regulation, directly affecting the bank’s relationship with its customers, as well as its ability to upsell to existing customers.

The risk of compliance

Are we moving to an overly bureaucratic world where even the simplest action is subject to a string of onerous processes? Compliance officers are already embedded within every function in a typical financial services institution, as well as at management level. Often the reporting of risk processes sits outside formal line functions and end up going straight to the board. This can have a stifling effect on innovation, with potentially negative consequences for customer service.

A typical banking environment is already creaking under the weight of close to 100 acts, which makes it difficult to take the calculated risks needed to develop and launch innovative new banking products. Entire new industries could now emerge, focusing purely on the matter of compliance and associated litigation. GDPR already requires the services of Data Protection Officers, but the growing complexity of regulatory compliance could add a swathe of new job functions and disciplines. None of this points to the type of innovation that the modern titans of business are renowned for.

A three-step plan of action

So how must banks and other financial services firms respond? I would argue there are three main elements to successfully navigating the immediate impact of the new regulations:

Firstly, ensuring that the technologies you use to secure, manage and store personal data is sufficiently robust. Modern financial services providers have a wealth of customer data at their disposal, including unstructured data from non-traditional sources such as social media. The tools they use to process and safeguard this data needs to be able to withstand the threats posed by potential data breaches and malicious attacks.

Secondly, rethinking the core organisational processes governing their interactions with customers. This includes the internal measures for setting terms and conditions, how customers are informed of their intention to use their data, and how risk is assessed. A customer applying for medical insurance will disclose deeply personal information about themselves to the insurance provider: it is imperative the insurer provides reassurance that the customer’s data will be treated respectfully and with discretion and with their express permission.

Thirdly, financial services firms need to define a core set of principles for how they treat customers and what constitutes fair treatment. This should be an extension of a broader organisational focus on treating customers fairly, and can go some way to repairing the trust deficit between the financial services industry and the customers they serve.

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