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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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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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