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Smart home is with us

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fridges, TVs and in some cases, full automation, they are becoming more and more realistic, writes RIAAN GRAHAM, Sales Director for Ruckus, sub-Saharan Africa.

In today’s crazy technology age, we are seeing many developments being incorporated into the home from smart fridges, lighting, CCTV cameras, smart TVs and mirrors. In some parts of the world, we are even seeing automation being fully integrated into the home.

Residents are connecting more devices in their home from laptops to smartphones, gaming systems, and other smart home devices. They want a connected home where wireless services link every aspect of their work and play together, and property owners are looking at ways to ensure this is all provided to the home owner.

While full home automation has not been high on the average house hunter’s priority list, things are about to change – just look at the stats.

In 2016, 80 million smart home devices were delivered world-wide – a 64% increase from 2015, according to IHS Markit. What’s more, the global smart home market was valued at around USD $24.10 billion in 2016 and is expected to reach approximately USD $53.45 billion in 2022, growing at a CAGR of slightly above 14.5% between 2017 and 2022. The Middle East and Africa is also expected to be one of the fastest growing regional markets for smart homes in the coming years, where the major growth drivers include awareness among consumers for energy consumption, on-demand services and rising disposable income. This is changing expectations all round.

Property Developers Have their Work Cut Out for Them 

As a property developer or investor, you invest a lot of resources to provide a great living experience in your multi-dwelling units (MDUs). But whether it’s student housing, luxury apartment complexes, assisted living or other properties, your residents expect more today. They no longer see you as just the landlord, they also want you to be their network service provider. That means supporting a large number of smart devices, demanding video and gaming services, and other high-bandwidth wireless applications. This means making the network experience just as reliable as residents’ water, heat and electricity.

That’s a lot of technical challenges to overcome. But your residents don’t want to hear about how hard it is to provide great Wi-Fi in places with thousands of devices, large indoor/outdoor coverage areas and multi-story buildings. All they know is that the property down the street offers free Wi-Fi. Does yours?

Network access rolled into the rent sounds great to residents. This is becoming a major driving decision for people to determine if they would like to move or stay in their current residence. However, wireless dreams can quickly turn to nightmares – for both residents and the business – if the Wi-Fi isn’t simple, reliable and secure. A resident’s love for Wi-Fi will quickly turn to hate if connecting their devices is a chore, or if they have to constantly provide credentials to log back onto the network. If residents are relying on the property owner for Wi-Fi, it needs to be protecting their sensitive traffic.

As a (property owner) Wi-Fi provider, one should look at the following:

  • To deliver high-performance across hundreds of units and thousands of users – even in environments with mixed indoor/outdoor spaces and varying construction material
  • To deploy access points and wireless solutions that support more simultaneous devices and higher-bandwidth applications, even in challenging residential environments. Patented BeamFlex+ antenna technology adapts for interference and other wireless challenges automatically to provide consistent connections to every device and user
  • To look for simple, secure on-boarding management so that Wi-Fi doesn’t have to be more complicated than any other utility on your property. Find a solution where residents can connect any device, anywhere on the property in seconds, through a branded self-service portal. They can log on once and never have to do anything again. And they can do it all through a platform that protects every connection with the strongest wireless encryption

In the multi-dwelling housing market, amenities are king! This message is consistent across the board within condos, student housing and assisted living management organisations where everyone understands that potential tenants want one thing: amenities. In today’s world, the number one tenant amenity is Wi-Fi. Whether it is a young professional who works from home, a student accessing course content, or senior citizens needing to communicate with health care providers, they all have one thing in common: the need to stay connected.

Arts and Entertainment

Deezer to host Hotstix’s Mandela tribute playlist

Deezer is celebrating Nelson Mandela on the centenary of his birthday by hosting a tribute playlist created by music legend Sipho “Hotstix” Mabuse.  

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Mabuse, a legendary figure in African music, first rose to prominence in the 1970s with his band Harari and later developed a name for himself as a solo artist. One of his best known songs was the global hit BurnOut in the 1980s.

The playlist takes the listener on a captivating musical journey through the life of Nelson Mandela.  It was compiled by Mabuse, who consulted with Mandela’s family and friends to ensure that the music would be relevant and accurate. The playlist also features commentary by Mabuse, which was recorded in his Soweto home.  

“I have tried to tell the story of the music that Madiba loved,” says Mabuse. “The Playlist excludes the time in prison obviously, as Madiba would not have had exposure to music in that time.  We have focused on the music we know he loved before and after that period. This recording was really an emotional journey for me, but an incredible opportunity to document these memories.”

The playlist features the music the young Mandela loved, such as The Manhattan Brothers, Solomon Linda, Brenda Fassie and Miriam Makeba.  It includes struggle songs from Chicco, Johnny Clegg, Hugh Masekela and Yvonne Chaka Chaka.  The playlist also includes Mandela by Zahara, one of the younger artists who caught Madiba’s ear.

Mabuse also offers stories of his own songs, such as Shikisha, a song greatly beloved by the former President.

“I was delighted to share my thoughts and hope the listeners enjoyed the musical journey,” says Mabuse. “Madiba did enjoy music immensely and we all have a purpose wherever we are in the world to celebrate culture and to learn from different cultures and music forms and styles.”

This playlist was inspired by the Nelson Mandela 100 campaign, calling on corporates and individuals to act as sources of inspiration and engage in conversation and action.

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Sports streaming takes off

Live streaming of sports is coming of age as a mainstream method of viewing big games, as the latest FIFA World Cup figures from the UK show. Africa isn’t yet at the same level when it comes to the adoption of sports streaming, but usage is clearly moving in the right direction.

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England’s World Cup quarter-final against Sweden was watched by just under 20 million viewers in the UK via BBC One. While this traditional broadcast audience was huge, it was streaming that broke records: the game was the BBC’s most popular online-viewed live programme ever, with 3.8 million views. In Africa, the absolute numbers are lower but the trend towards streaming major sports events on the continent is also well under way.

According to DStv, live streaming of sports dominates the usage figures for its live and recorded TV streaming app, DStv Now. The number of people using the app in June was five times higher than a year ago, with concurrent views peaking during major football and rugby games.

Since the start of the World Cup, average weekday usage of DStv Now is up 60%. The absolute peak in concurrent usage for one event was reached on 26 June, during the Nigeria vs Argentina game. The app’s biggest ever test was on 16 June with both Springbok Rugby and World Cup Football under way at the same time, resulting in concurrent in-app views seven times higher than the peaks seen in June last year.

The World Cup has also been a major reason for new users to download and try out the app. First-time app user volumes have tripled on Android and doubled on iOS since the start of the tournament.

“While we expected live sports streaming to take off, it’s also been pleasing to see that the app is really popular for watching shows on Catch Up,” says MultiChoice South Africa Chief Operating Officer Mark Rayner. “Interestingly, some of the most popular Catch Up shows are local, with Isibaya, Binnelanders, The Queen and The River all getting a significant number of views.”

With respect to app usage, the web and Android apps are the most popular way to watch DStv Now, with Android outpacing iOS by a factor of 2:1.

“We’re continuing to develop DStv Now, with 4k streaming in testing and smart TV and Apple TV apps on their way shortly,” says Rayner. “The other key priority for us is working with the telcos to deliver mobile data propositions that make watching online painless and worry-free for our customers.”

The DStv Now app is free to all 10 million DStv customers in Africa. The app streams DStv live channels as well as supplying an extended Catch Up library. Two separate streams can be watched on different devices simultaneously, and content can also be downloaded to smartphones and tablets. The content available on the app varies according to the DStv package subscribed to.

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