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Ruckus plus Wi-Fi into future

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Ruckus Wireless has unveiled the Ruckus ZoneFlex R710 access point (AP), a WiFi AP that allows twice the number of mobile devices to connect to it without a decrease in performance.

It is the first Wi-Fi access point to support major technical advances in the 802.11ac standard that allow the simultaneous transmission of multiple client streams to different devices over the same frequency, a highly anticipated new capability called multi-user multiple input/multiple output (MU-MIMO). This enables over two times the density of mobile devices versus Wave 1, and aggregate data rates exceeding two gigabits per second.

Among the first organisations to deploy the ZoneFlex R710 within a production environment, the City of San José, CA sees big value in the migration to new 802.11ac Wave 2 technology.

“We are at an inflection point in the industry as we deal with insatiable demand for wireless capacity and speed,” said Vijay Sammeta, Chief Information Officer for the City of San José. “We need to be able to plan and prepare for devices and services we haven’t even seen yet. Wave 2 represents an investment in a platform that not only meets our current needs, it will also meet those in the future that we can’t even predict. Delivering our Wickedly Fast Wi-Fi service has become a distinct competitive advantage for the City of San José. The Ruckus ZoneFlex R710 helps us take this to the next level.  It’s simply the best performing Wi-Fi access point we’ve ever deployed, even without multi-user MIMO clients.”

According to Sammeta, after installing the Ruckus ZoneFlex R710, the City was able to achieve dramatic performance improvements, reaching over 445 megabits per second speed with two-stream-capable laptops, and over 200 megabits per second with single-stream mobile smart phones.

“The R710 is an extraordinary feat of engineering that marks a new era for our industry,” said Selina Lo, president and CEO of Ruckus Wireless. “The work and innovation we’ve put into the R710 reflects our leadership in delivering the world’s best in class wireless products that stand the test of time.”

Ruckus Delivers Unique Advantage with BeamFlex

Within a sleek and elegant new design, the Ruckus ZoneFlex R710 access point supports up to four spatial streams and 500 concurrent clients.  Additionally, each ZoneFlex R710 access point integrates Ruckus-patented BeamFlex+ adaptive antenna technology, designed to enhance the operation of Wave 2 802.11ac technology by optimising antenna coverage on a per client, per transmission basis.

With four discrete, dual-band smart antenna arrays, the ZoneFlex R710 is capable of dynamically creating over 4,000 unique directional antenna patterns per radio, mitigating up to 15dB of RF interference while also reducing co-channel interference. Dual-polarised smart antennas also allow the R710 to automatically adapt to the changing physical orientation of mobile client devices such as smartphones and tablets, thereby helping to maximise uplink performance and offer unmatched reception of weak mobile client signals.

With BeamFlex+, the ZoneFlex R710 also offers a significant increase in performance and range, delivering up to 5dB of signal gain and aggregate data rates of over two gigabits per second (Gbps), 1,733 Mbps (@ 5 GHz) and 800 Mbps (@ 2.4 GHz).  Backwards compatible with existing Wi-Fi clients, the ZoneFlex R710 can operate as a standalone Wi-Fi access point or part of a centrally managed Ruckus Smart Wireless LAN (WLAN).  Additionally, the ZoneFlex R710 is equipped with dual gigabit Ethernet ports that can be aggregated to satisfy peak throughput requirements for maximum investment protection.  The ZoneFlex R710 is also unique in its ability to support spatial multiplexing, adaptive antenna switching and transmit beamforming—designed to ensure that Wi-Fi performance and reliability are never compromised. The ZoneFlex R710 maintains full 4×4:4 802.11ac functionality with standard 802.3af Power over Ethernet (PoE), eliminating the need for costly and cumbersome wired switch upgrades.

Monetising Wi-Fi

The ZoneFlex R710 has a built-in USB port to accommodate Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) beacons and other Internet of Things (IoT) devices. This, combined with Ruckus SPoT location-based services (LBS) and analytics, enable opportunities for enterprises and Service Providers to monetise their Wi-Fi investment in public venues through rich analytics and location-based user engagement.

* Follow Gadget on Twitter on @GadgetZA

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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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