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Africa data demand drives Wi-Fi

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The wireless market is seeing a massive transformation and at the centre of this shift is the demand for constant connectivity which is driving innovation in areas like the IoT and Smart Cities, writes RIAAN GRAHAM, sales director for Ruckus Wireless sub-Saharan Africa.

Like the businesses it supports, the wireless market is seeing a massive transformation. At the centre of this shift is the demand for constant connectivity which is driving innovation in areas like the Internet of Things, Smart Cities, data consumption and how people, companies and machines view connectivity. Wi-Fi is the gateway to unlocking this next wave of technology in Africa.

For Africa, the biggest challenge and opportunity is still connectivity. In fact, the potential for digital-driven growth is massive. Just look at the growth of mobile on the continent. According to the GSMA at the end of 2015, 46% of the African population subscribed to mobile services which is equivalent to more than half a billion people. Over the next 5 years an additional 168 million people will be connected by mobile – reaching 725 million unique subscribers by 2020. And this is exactly where Wi-Fi comes in. Wi-Fi has an important role to play here. Wi-Fi is already connecting millions of people in Africa and represents one of the most expedient and cost-effective ways to increase both capacity and coverage of cellular networks with a tight focus on where traffic is heaviest.

Large-scale ICT investment can also play a crucial role in fuelling the growth of the continent’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) through increased economic activity, innovation and productivity. Organisations who want to take a stance on digital disruption and are looking to future-proof their business with better network speed, coverage and capacity and Governments are recognising that old infrastructure and Wi-Fi technology isn’t going to cut it if they want to move to smarter ways of operation and customer delivery.

While Africa is already using ICT investment to power its economy to reap more benefits, government and the private sector need to take bolder steps to fast track the process. The good news is that there is solid foreign direct investment into key ICT initiatives across Africa and, given the nature of the continent, home-grown innovation and new disruptive models fuelled by Wi-Fi and connectivity are opening opportunities – and Africa’s opportunity is now.

Demands are changing. Expectations are shifting. Wi-Fi and mobile-connected devices will generate 68% of all internet traffic by 2017 where more than 9 billion Wi-Fi enabled devices are expected to be in use. What’s more, the world Wi-Fi market is expected to grow to $33.6 Billion by 2020 and as an emerging market, who better than to take advantage of the opportunities it brings? Africa’s opportunity is now!

 

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Huge appetite for foldable phones – when prices fall

Samsung, Huawei and Motorola have all shown their cards, but consumers are concerned about durability, size, and enhanced use cases, according to Strategy Analytics

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Foldable devices are a long-awaited disrupter in the smartphone market, exciting leading-edge early adopters keen for a bold new type of device. But the acceptance of foldable devices by mainstream segments will depend on the extent to which the current barriers to adoption are addressed.

Major brands have been throwing their foldable bets into the hat to see what the market wants from a foldable, namely how big the screens should be and how the devices should fold. Samsung and Huawei have both designed devices that unfold from smartphones to tablets, each with their own method of how the devices go about folding. Motorola has recently designed a smartphone that folds in half, and it resembles a flip phone.

Assessing consumer desire for foldable smartphones, a new report from the User Experience Strategies group at Strategy Analytics has found that the perceived value of the foldable form does not outweigh the added cost.

Key report findings include:

  • The idea of having a larger-displayed smartphone in a portable size is perceived as valuable to the vast majority of consumers in the UK and the US. But, willingness to pay extra for a foldable device does not align with the desire to purchase one. Manufacturers must understand that there will be low sell-through until costs come down.
  • But as the acceptance for traditional smartphone display sizes continues to increase, so does the imposed friction of trying to use them one-handed. Unless a foldable phone has a wider folded state, entering text when closed is too cumbersome, forcing users to utilize two hands to enter text, when in the opened state.
  • Use cases need to be adequately demonstrated for consumers to fully understand and appreciate the potential for a foldable phone, though their priorities seemed fixed on promoting ‘two devices in one’ equaling a better video viewing experience. Identification and promotion of meaningful new use cases will be vital to success.

Christopher Dodge, Associate Director, UXIP and report author said: “As multitasking will look to be a core selling point for foldable phones, it is imperative that the execution be simplified and intuitive. Our data suggests there are a lot of uncertainties that come with foldable phone ownership, stemming mainly from concerns with durability and size, in addition to concerns over enhanced use cases.

“But our data also shows that when the consumers are able to use a foldable phone in hand, there is a solid reduction of doubt and concern about the concept. This means that the in-store experience may more important than ever in driving awareness, capabilities, and potential use cases.”

Said Paul Brown, Director, UXIP: “The big question is whether the perceived value will outweigh the added cost; and the initial response from consumers is ‘no.’ The ability for foldable displays to resolve real consumer pain-points is, in our view critical to whether these devices will become a niche segment of the smartphone market or the dominant form-factor of the future. Until costs come down, these devices will not take off.”

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New exploit exposes credit cards on mobile phones

Check Point Security has found that handsets using Qualcomm chipsets that hold credit and debit card credentials are at risk of a new exploit.

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Now it’s more important than ever to update your phone.
Check Point security has found a vulnerability in mobile devices that run Android, which allows credit card details to be accessed by hackers.

Mobile operating systems like Android offer a Rich Execution Environment (REE), providing a hugely extensive and versatile runtime environment, which allows apps to run on the device. However, while bringing flexibility and capability, REE leaves devices vulnerable to a wide range of security threats. A Trusted Execution Environment (TEE) is designed to reside alongside the REE and provide a safe area on the device to protect assets and to execute trusted code. Qualcomm makes use of a secure virtual processor, which is often referred to as the “secure world”, in comparison to the “non-secure world”, where REE resides. 

But Check Point “fuzzed” a “hole” into this secure world 

In a 4-month research project, Check Point researchers attempted and succeeded to reverse Qualcomm’s “Secure World” operating system. Check Point researchers leveraged a “fuzzing” technique to expose the hole. Fuzz testing (fuzzing) is a quality assurance technique used to discover coding errors and security loopholes in software, operating systems or networks. It involves inputting massive amounts of random data, called fuzz, to the test subject in an attempt to make it crash.

Check Point implemented a custom-made fuzzing tool, which tested trusted code on Samsung, LG, and Motorola devices. Through fuzzing, Check Point found 4 vulnerabilities in trusted code implemented by Samsung (including S10), 1 in Motorola, 1 in LG, but all code sourced by Qualcomm itself. To address the vulnerability, the runtime of Android needs to be protected from both attackers and users. This is typically achieved by moving the secure storage software to a hardware-supported TEE.

Check Point Research disclosed its findings directly to the companies and gave them time to patch vulnerabilities. Samsung patched three vulnerabilities and LG patched one. Motorola and Qualcomm responded, but have yet to provide a patch, and there is no confirmation of a release date yet.

Check Point Research has urged mobile phone users to stay vigilant and check their credit and debit card providers for any unusual activity. In the meantime, they are working with the vendors mentioned to issue patches.

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