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1-Billion get broadband fix

There are now more than one billion fixed broadband subscribers worldwide, the Broadband Forum revealed at Broadband World Forum 2018.

The achievement – which has been confirmed by leading market analysis firm Point Topic – follows the release of Point Topic’s World Broadband Statistics Q2 2018 report which saw the number of fixed broadband subscribers grow by 2.5 per cent from Q1 2018, the highest surge in the last six quarters.

“This is a truly outstanding achievement, led by the communications industry, that has resulted in a major leap forward for humankind,” said Broadband Forum CEO Robin Mersh. “Broadband connectivity is a cornerstone of modern life, and a catalyst for innovation and progress globally – I am proud of the key role that the Broadband Forum has played in facilitating this accomplishment. For broadband service providers, a billion installations represent an enormous opportunity for building new value on top of this foundation with new cloud-based services, enhanced efficiencies driven by virtualization and artificial intelligence, and sensational new experiences.

“That said, passing this milestone also means that the industry is now chipping away at the remaining one billion plus potential subscribers in the world that have a thirst for broadband but have yet to be connected. This represents another area of huge potential opportunity and growth – both for operators seeking new markets, as well as for improvements to the quality of life of these potential subscribers.”

Point Topic’s Q2 2018 report reveals the majority of new subscribers are now coming from less developed regions and countries. However, according to the report, growth in ARPU is being seen in developed markets, driven by improved offerings and services supported by gigabit-capable broadband.

The research also highlights that around 80% of global connections are fiber-based – including Fiber-to-the-Home/Business/Cabinet connections – or cable-based, while ADSL connections are continuing to decline, having dropped eight per cent in the last year.

“There is no doubt that we have now hit one billion broadband subscribers, with the growth over 2018 being quite rapid,” said Oliver Johnson, CEO, Point Topic Ltd. “In more saturated broadband markets, operators are focusing on upgrades to support gigabit broadband as they prepare to meet the requirements of new technologies such as IoT and the needs of more demanding consumers.

“What is also interesting is that the number of broadband subscribers nearly exactly correlates with installations of the Broadband Forum’s TR-069 protocol, which currently sits at nearly one billion deployments. This shows how critical broadband standards are and the important role TR-069 has played in fostering the ecosystem and creating the mass market that stimulated broadband innovation and subscriber adoption.”

The Broadband Forum announced the milestone during its Executive Workshop which is taking place on the opening day of Broadband World Forum 2018. It will also demonstrate its evolution of TR-069 for the IoT world, User Services Platform (USP), and its ‘open source’ initiative, Open Broadband – Broadband Access Abstraction (OB-BAA), at the Broadband World Forum’s Interop Pavilion.

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Time is running out for Microsoft SQL Server 2008

Companies are urged to update from the dated database management software as end-of-support looms, writes BRYAN TURNER.

The 11-year-old Microsoft SQL Server 2008 database management software is reaching the end of its support on 9 July. The applications that use databases running on this software will be at risk of security and stability issues.

On self-managed databases, upgrading to the latest database version comes with a lot of risks. Many IT departments within companies go by the motto: “If it’s not broken, don’t fix it”.

Microsoft made it very clear that it would not be updating SQL Server 2005 after its extended support date and even left it vulnerable to Spectre and Meltdown by not releasing patches for the dated version.

Updating SQL Server versions may seem daunting, but the benefits far outweigh the effort it takes for a migration. In the last major version update, SQL Server 2016 introduced simpler backup functionality, database stretching, and always-encrypted communications with the database, to name just three features.

While backing up the database may be the last thing on the typical database administrator’s mind, it’s become increasingly important to do so. In SQL Server 2008, it’s clunky and causes headaches for many admins. However, in SQL Server 2016, one can easily set up an automated backup to Azure storage and let it run on smart backup intervals. Backing up offsite also reduces the need for disaster recovery for onsite damage.

Database stretching allows admins to push less frequently accessed data to an Azure database, automatically decided by SQL Server 2016. This reduces the admin of manually looking through what must be kept and what must be shipped off or deleted. It also reduces the size of the database, which also increases the performance of the applications that access it. The best part of this functionality is it automatically retrieves the less accessed records from Azure when users request it, without the need for manual intervention.

Always-encrypted communications are becoming more and more relevant to many companies, especially those operating in European regions after the introduction of GDPR. Encryption keys were previously managed by the admin, but now encryption is always handled by the client. Furthermore, the keys to encrypt and decrypt data are stored outside of SQL Server altogether. This means data stored in the database is always encrypted, and no longer for the eyes of a curious database manager. 

The built-in reporting tools have also vastly improved with the addition of new reporting metrics and a modern look. It includes support for Excel reports for keeping documentation and Power BI for automated, drag-and-drop personalised reporting. Best of all, it removes the dreaded Active X controls, which made the reporting in a webpage feel very clumsy and bloated in previous versions.

A lot has changed in the past ten years in the world of SQL Server database management, and it’s not worth running into problems before Microsoft ends support for SQL Server 2008.

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Local apps to feature in Huawei’s App Gallery

Huawei’s mobile app store, the HUAWEI AppGallery, will soon feature a multitude of apps and designs by local developers. The company says this is part of its drive to promote South African digital talent and include more useful apps for Huawei smartphone users. HUAWEI AppGallery and HUAWEI Themes are pre-installed on all the latest Huawei and Honor devices.

“South African consumers are increasingly wanting more apps that are relevant to their unique circumstances, addressing issues they experience regularly – such as load shedding or safety concerns – but also apps that celebrate South Africa’s multitude of cultures and this vibrant country,” says Lu Geng, director of Huawei Consumer Cloud Service Southern Africa Region.

Akhram Mohamed, chief technology officer of Huawei Consumer Business Group South Africa, says: “Huawei is committed to catering to the needs of South African consumers, but we also know that we do not have all the answers. For this reason, we aim to work closely with South African developers so that we can give our users everything that they need and want from their devices. At the same time, we also hope to create an open ecosystem for local developers by offering a simple and secure environment for them to upload content.”

Huawei Mobile Services was launched in South Africa in June last year. Since then, both the HUAWEI AppGallery and HUAWEI Themes – which features tens of thousands of themes, fonts and wallpapers that personalise user’s handset – have become increasingly popular with the local market. Even though it is a relatively new division of Huawei, there has been a great increase in growth; at the end of 2018 Huawei Mobile Services had 500 million users globally, representing a 117% increase on the previous year.

Explaining what differentiates the HUAWEI AppGallery from other app stores, Mosa Matshediso Hlobelo, business developer for Consumer Cloud Service Southern Africa says: “We use the name ‘HUAWEI AppGallery’ because we have a dedicated team that curates all the apps in terms of relevance and ease of use and to ensure that there are no technical issues. Importantly, all apps are also security-checked for malware and privacy leaks before being uploaded on to the HUAWEI AppGallery.”

Huawei recently held a Developers’ Day where Huawei executives met with South African developers to discuss Huawei’s offering. 48 developers registered their apps on the day, and Huawei is currently in discussions with them with the eventual aim of featuring the best apps and designs on HUAWEI AppGallery or HUAWEI Themes. The Consumer Cloud Service Southern Africa Team at Huawei plans on making Developers’ Day a quarterly event and establishing a local providers’ hub, where developers can regularly meet with Huawei for training on updates to programmes and offerings.

“We have a very hands-on approach with our developers, and hope to expand that community so we can become an additional distribution channel for more developers and expose them to both a local and a global audience,” says Geng. “For example, we regularly feature apps and designs from local developers on our Huawei social media pages, and do competitions and promotions. We want to do everything we can to make our Huawei users aware of these local apps and upload them. This will encourage the growth of the developer community in South Africa by giving developers more opportunities to generate revenue from in-app purchases.”

* Developers who would like their apps featured on the HUAWEI App Gallery, or designs featured on HUAWEI Themes, should visit https://developer.huawei.com or email Huawei Mobile Services on sacloud@huawei.com.

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