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Vodacom meets out-of-bundle rate demands halfway

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Vodacom has announced that it will significantly reduce out-of-bundle prices for all customers from mid-October. 

However, it is now merely matching the rate charged by MTN and Cell C, namely 99c per Megabyte for prepaid customers. The calls for the high cost of data to fall include demands that MTN and Cell C cut their rates to an affordable level. This means that, while Vodacom has halved its peak rate, it still remains unaffordably high.

For pre-paid and customers on top-up packages, the out-of-bundle rate will drop by as much as 50% once the new 99c per megabyte tariff comes into effect on 15 October. The out-of-bundle rate for post-paid customers was reduced from R1 per megabyte to 89c on 1 October.

“Over the last few years, we’ve significantly brought down the cost of voice tariffs and moved customers to more affordable plans,” said Shameel Joosub, Group CEO of Vodacom. “We undertook to reduce out-of-bundle rates, and we’ve now delivered on that too. This saving on data costs follows our reducing data prices by 18.9% over the last year alone.”

He acknowledged, however that this was not enough.

“More needs to be done. We need to expand 4G coverage still further, and keep pace with an increase of more than 45% in sustained data traffic demand. Both of these come at a cost, and we have invested some R32.7 billion over the last four years. However, lack of access to spectrum is hampering our ability to drive down infrastructure costs and in turn, enable us to pass savings to the consumer.”

Vodacom has recently introduced a series of measures to encourage in-bundle adoption and minimise out-of-bundle usage. These include sending in-bundle data usage notifications which include personalised Just4You offers, which provide better value, and sending customers out-of-bundle data usage reminders which carry the actual rand value. All customers receive the first notification once R10 has been spent out-of-bundle, and depending on the customer profile, they can be sent up to 10 trigger notifications to encourage in-bundle data usage.

“Our Just4You platform provides personalised offers for customers and helps to drive down costs. More than 40% of our customers used voice or data bundles in the past financial year, an increase of around 25%, and our aim is to increase usage still further. Accelerating price reductions for data creates greater value for customers.”

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Earth 2050: memory chips for kids, telepathy for adults

An astonishing set of predictions for the next 30 years includes a major challenge to the privacy of our thoughts.

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Buy 2050, most kids may be fitted with the latest memory boosting implants, and adults will have replaced mobile devices with direct connectivity through brain implants, powered by thought.

These are some of the more dramatic forecasts in Earth 2050, an award-winning, interactive multimedia project that accumulates predictions about social and technological developments for the upcoming 30 years. The aim is to identify global challenges for humanity and possible ways of solving these challenges. The website was launched in 2017 to mark Kaspersky Lab’s 20th birthday. It comprises a rich variety of predictions and future scenarios, covering a wide range of topics.

Recently a number of new contributions have been added to the site. Among them Lord Martin Rees, the UK’s Astronomer Royal, Professor at Cambridge University and former President of the Royal Society; investor and entrepreneur Steven Hoffman, Peter Tatchell, human rights campaigner, along withDmitry Galov, security researcher and Alexey Malanov, malware analyst at Kaspersky Lab.

The new visions for 2050 consider, among other things:

  • The replacement of mobile devices with direct connectivity through brain implants, powered by thought – able to upload skills and knowledge in return – and the impact of this on individual consciousness and privacy of thought.
  • The ability to transform all life at the genetic level through gene editing.
  • The potential impact of mistakes made by advanced machine-learning systems/AI.
  • The demise of current political systems and the rise of ‘citizen governments’, where ordinary people are co-opted to approve legislation.
  • The end of the techno-industrial age as the world runs out of fossil fuels, leading to economic and environmental devastation.
  • The end of industrial-scale meat production, as most people become vegan and meat is cultured from biopsies taken from living, outdoor reared livestock.

The hypothetical prediction for 2050 from Dmitry Galov, security researcher at Kaspersky Lab is as follows: “By 2050, our knowledge of how the brain works, and our ability to enhance or repair it is so advanced that being able to remember everything and learn new things at an outrageous speed has become commonplace. Most kids are fitted with the latest memory boosting implants to support their learning and this makes education easier than it has ever been. 

“Brain damage as a result of head injury is easily repaired; memory loss is no longer a medical condition, and people suffering from mental illnesses, such as depression, are quickly cured.  The technologies that underpin this have existed in some form since the late 2010s. Memory implants are in fact a natural progression from the connected deep brain stimulation implants of 2018.

“But every technology has another side – a dark side. In 2050, the medical, social and economic impact of memory boosting implants are significant, but they are also vulnerable to exploitation and cyber-abuse. New threats that have appeared in the last decade include the mass manipulation of groups through implanted or erased memories of political events or conflicts, and even the creation of ‘human botnets’. 

“These botnets connect people’s brains into a network of agents controlled and operated by cybercriminals, without the knowledge of the victims themselves.  Repurposed cyberthreats from previous decades are targeting the memories of world leaders for cyber-espionage, as well as those of celebrities, ordinary people and businesses with the aim of memory theft, deletion of or ‘locking’ of memories (for example, in return for a ransom).  

“This landscape is only possible because, in the late 2010s when the technologies began to evolve, the potential future security vulnerabilities were not considered a priority, and the various players: healthcare, security, policy makers and more, didn’t come together to understand and address future risks.”

For more information and the full suite of inspirational and thought-provoking predictions, visit Earth 2050.

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Pizoelectrics: Healthcare’s new gymnasts of gadgetry

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Healthcare electronics is rapidly deploying for wellness, electroceuticals, and intrusive medical procedures, among other, powered by new technologies. Much of it is trending to diagnostics and treatment on the move, and removing the need for the patient to perform procedures on time. 

Instruments become wearables, including electronic skin patches and implants. The IDTechEx Research report, “Piezoelectric Harvesting and Sensing for Healthcare 2019-2029”, notes that sensors should preferably be self-powered, non-poisonous even on disposal, and many need to be biocompatible and even biodegradable. 

We need to detect biology, vibration, force, acceleration, stress and linear movement and do imaging. Devices must reject bacteria and be useful in wearables and Internet of Things nodes. Preferably we must move to one device performing multiple tasks. 

So is there a gymnast material category that has that awesome versatility? 

Piezoelectrics has a good claim. It measures all those parameters. That even includes biosensors where the piezo senses the swelling of a biomolecule recognizing a target analyte. The most important form of self-powered (one material, two functions) piezo sensing is ultrasound imaging, a market growing at 5.1% yearly. 

The IDTechEx Research report looks at what comes next, based on global travel and interviewing by its PhD level analysts in 2018 with continuous updates.  

Click here to read how Piezo has been reinvented.

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