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SA broadband catching up

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In the past Africa and South Africa have lagged behind Europe and the US in terms of network speeds. Fast forward to now, and a better picture is emerging, showing that we are fast closing the gap when it comes to 3G and 4G connectivity.

A slew of research papers in recent years from Europe and the United States (US) have shown that Africa, including South Africa (SA), have lagged behind in network quality and data speeds when compared to networks in developed economies. But a better picture is emerging where SA is fast narrowing the gap and is doing much better against the best in the world when it comes to 3G and 4G mobile networks coverage.

For instance, a comparison of the results of recent tests done by PC Magazine, a leading global technology magazine, testing data speeds of the top four cellphone network providers in 30 cities in the US, shows that SA has better upload and download speeds on 3G than the US and is almost on par in terms of 4G download speeds.

This is a clear demonstration that the hundreds of billions of rands that have been invested by the local cellphone network providers in broadband infrastructure over the last 20 years are yielding positive results.

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The latest results also show that Vodacom SA’s 35 million customers benefit from superior 3G and 4G download speeds than their counterparts in the US.

Andries Delport, Vodacom’s Chief Technology Officer at Vodacom commented:

“This is testament to the fact that our network investment efforts are paying off. We have always maintained that our networks are our key point of differentiation, and as such, it is in our interest to invest in them to increase data speeds, reduce dropped-called rates and deliver the best service to our customers. This year alone we invested R12.9 billion in our networks in South Africa, targeted primarily at expanding our 2G, 3G and 4G coverage, enhancing our network performance and improving customer experience.”

“If we factor in inflation, we have invested R142 billion in our network infrastructure in SA since our inception. By enhancing access to voice and data, our network and service offerings are helping to transform lives and stimulate economic growth in these emerging markets.”

A 2009 World Bank study found that low-income and middle-income countries experienced a 1.38 percentage point increase in GDP for each 10 percent increase in broadband penetration.

In South Africa, Vodacom’s 2G network now covers 99% of the country’s population, wider than any other service provider. Vodacom’s 3G network covers around 98.9% and 4G close to 70% of the population, well ahead of its competitors.

“Vodacom is committed to ensuring that we continue to extend our network coverage in South Africa. In particular our strategy includes doing a lot more to extend coverage in the remotest parts of SA but in order to do this, we need additional spectrum. There is no doubt that greater access to spectrum will give South Africans faster speeds, wider access to LTE coverage and, inevitably, lower data pricing,” Delport says.

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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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