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Bringing Wi-Fi to Africa

Yesterday marked the inaugural World Wi-Fi Day – a day celebrated around the globe to recognise the significant role Wi-Fi has played in getting the world connected. RIAAN GRAHAM, sales director for Ruckus Networks sub-Saharan Africa, takes a look at why Africa should widely adopt Wi-Fi.

Some industry pundits see a dim future for Wi-Fi. They cite the rise of “unlimited” LTE cellular data plans and competition from technologies, like LTE-U. However, if you take an in-depth look at these new developments, you will understand why Wi-Fi is actually experiencing an upsurge.

Let’s take a look at why Africa should widely adopt Wi-Fi.

Unlimited mobile data plans and easy-to-access communications with no passwords are what consumers want. However, “unlimited” is never, truly, “unlimited.” If you look closely, you’ll discover that full-speed service may be guaranteed only during the billing period and up to a certain data capacity. After that capacity, has been exceeded, which happens quickly on multi-user family plans, customers experience throttling—the method where bandwidth is reduced and performance slows down noticeably.

The promise of high-performance access to unlimited data is also an unsustainable business model for carriers. As demand grows, carriers find that they need to expand their networks. Building a single LTE cell tower can cost millions. While these towers provide great coverage, capacity is limited, not making it a viable solution. Wi-Fi, a cost-effective and widely adopted solution, becomes the technology of choice in these situations.

In fact, it is anticipated that over 20 billion Wi-Fi chipsets will ship between 2016 and 2021. Wi-Fi devices are also more cost effective to develop because chipsets require less silicon, in higher volumes. Additionally, chipsets for LTE devices can cost 5 to 10 times more, with licensing fees added on top of the development costs.

Riaan Graham

Riaan Graham

Even more, enterprises in various sectors depend on Wi-Fi for their local area networks (LANs). Wi-Fi is designed to service LANs, while LTE is best used in wide-area networks (WANs). Additionally, with the advent of 802.11ac Wave 2 and 802.11ax, Wi-Fi is making rapid improvements in performance, security, seamless hotspot connections, and the ability to handle more users in high-density environments.

According to market research, the world Wi-Fi market size is expected1 to grow to $33.6 billion by 2020, with an estimated CAGR of 17.8% from 2015. This statistic makes South Africa (SA) and Africa an optimal region to adopt Wi-Fi at a more rapid pace. Currently in SA, there is 1 hotspot for every 6160 people. The global average is 1 hotspot for every 150. As Wi-Fi continues to be one of the most viable and cost-effective connectivity solutions to meet Africa’s increasing bandwidth demands, there are initiatives to increase the adoption of Wi-Fi in the region.

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Africa is already using Information and Communication Technology (ICT) investment to power its economy to reap more benefits. In fact, government and private sectors are taking bold steps to fast track the process. There are also direct foreign investments into key ICT initiatives across Africa. Additionally, home-grown innovation and new disruptive models, fueled by Wi-Fi and connectivity, are opening new opportunities.

Demands are changing. Expectations are shifting. The time for Wi-Fi time is now.

Happy World Wi-Fi Day!

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Veeam passes $1bn, prepares for cloud’s ‘Act II’

Leader in cloud-data management reveals how it will harness the next growth phase of the data revolution, writes ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK

Veeam Software, the quiet leader in backup solutions for cloud data management,has announced that it has passed $1-billion in revenues, and is preparing for the next phase of sustained growth in the sector.

Now, it is unveiling what it calls Act II, following five years of rapid growth through modernisation of the data centre. At the VeeamON 2019conferencein Miami this week, company co-founder Ratmir Timashev declared that the opportunities in this new era, focused on managing data for the hybrid cloud, would drive the next phase of growth.

“Veeam created the VMware backup market and has dominated it as the leader for the last decade,” said Timashev, who is also executive vice president for sales and marketing at the organisation. “This was Veeam’s Act I and I am delighted that we have surpassed the $1 billion mark; in 2013 I predicted we’d achieve this in less than six years. 

“However, the market is now changing. Backup is still critical, but customers are now building hybrid clouds with AWS, Azure, IBM and Google, and they need more than just backup. To succeed in this changing environment, Veeam has had to adapt. Veeam, with its 60,000-plus channel and service provider partners and the broadest ecosystem of technology partners, including Cisco, HPE, NetApp, Nutanix and Pure Storage, is best positioned to dominate the new cloud data management in our Act II.”

In South Africa, Veeam expects similar growth. Speaking at the Cisco Connect conference in Sun City this week, country manager Kate Mollett told Gadget’s BRYAN TURNER that the company was doing exceptionally well in this market.

“In financial year 2018, we saw double-digit growth, which was really very encouraging if you consider the state of the economy, and not so much customer sentiment, but customers have been more cautious with how they spend their money. We’ve seen a fluctuation in the currency, so we see customers pausing with big decisions and hoping for a recovery in the Rand-Dollar. But despite all of the negatives, we have double digit growth which is really good. We continue to grow our team and hire.

“From a Veeam perspective, last year we were responsible for Veeam Africa South, which consisted of South Africa, SADC countries, and the Indian Ocean Islands. We’ve now been given the responsibility for the whole of Africa. This is really fantastic because we are now able to drive a single strategy for Africa from South Africa.”

Veeam has been the leading provider of backup, recovery and replication solutions for more than a decade, and is growing rapidly at a time when other players in the backup market are struggling to innovate on demand.

“Backup is not sexy and they made a pretty successful company out of something that others seem to be screwing up,” said Roy Illsley, Distinguished Analyst at Ovum, speaking in Miami after the VeeamOn conference. “Others have not invested much in new products and they don’t solve key challenges that most organisations want solved. Theyre resting on their laurels and are stuck in the physical world of backup instead of embracing the cloud.”

Illsley readily buys into the Veeam tagline. “It just works”. 

“They are very good at marketing but are also a good engineering comany that does produce the goods. Their big strength, that it just works, is a reliable feature they have built into their product portfolio.”

Veeam said in statement from the event that, while it had initially focused on server virtualisation for VMware environments, in recent years it had expanded this core offering. It was now delivering integration with multiple hypervisors, physical servers and endpoints, along with public and software-as-a-service workloads, while partnering with leading cloud, storage, server, hyperconverged (HCI) and application vendors.

This week, it  announced a new “with Veeam”program, which brings in enterprise storage and hyperconverged (HCI) vendors to provide customers with comprehensive secondary storage solutions that combine Veeam software with industry-leading infrastructure systems. Companies like ExaGrid and Nutanix have already announced partnerships.

Timashev said: “From day one, we have focused on partnerships to deliver customer value. Working with our storage and cloud partners, we are delivering choice, flexibility and value to customers of all sizes.”

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‘Energy scavenging’ funded

As the drive towards a 5G future gathers momentum, the University of Surrey’s research into technology that could power countless internet enabled devices – including those needed for autonomous cars – has won over £1M from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) and industry partners.

Surrey’s Advanced Technology Institute (ATI) has been working on triboelectric nanogenerators (TENG), an energy harvesting technology capable of ‘scavenging’ energy from movements such as human motion, machine vibration, wind and vehicle movements to power small electronic components. 

TENG energy harvesting is based on a combination of electrostatic charging and electrostatic induction, providing high output, peak efficiency and low-cost solutions for small scale electronic devices. It’s thought such devices will be vital for the smart sensors needed to enable driverless cars to work safely, wearable electronics, health sensors in ‘smart hospitals’ and robotics in ‘smart factories.’ 

The ATI will be partnered on this development project with the Georgia Institute of Technology, QinetiQ, MAS Holdings, National Physical Laboratory, Soochow University and Jaguar Land Rover. 

Professor Ravi Silva, Director of the ATI and the principal investigator of the TENG project, said: “TENG technology is ideal to power the next generation of electronic devices due to its small footprint and capacity to integrate into systems we use every day. Here at the ATI, we are constantly looking to develop such advanced technologies leading towards our quest to realise worldwide “free energy”.

“TENGs are an ideal candidate to power the autonomous electronic systems for Internet of Things applications and wearable electronic devices. We believe this research grant will allow us to further the design of optimized energy harvesters.”

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