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Cell C places R8bn LTE bet

Cell C has announced that it will be spending R8-billion over the next three yeas to build its LTE network in key areas around South Africa.

Cell C will invest R8 billion over the next three years to build its LTE network that will see high-speed broadband technology brought to its customers in targeted areas across the country.

“Our LTE strategy will be focused and strategic, targeting metropolitan areas where people work and live. The primary commuting areas that fall outside the major metros will remain covered by HSPA+,” says Cell C CEO Jose Dos Santos.

The company has signed supply agreements with both Huawei and ZTE, which are Cell C’s primary partners in the rollout of LTE and entails the rollout of more than 4000 LTE sites. “We are pleased to partner with both these businesses. Huawei and ZTE have both proved exceptional vendors in delivering quality service and technology to Cell C over the years,” says Dos Santos.

The first targeted areas for LTE rollout will be in Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal and the Western Cape. “Gated communities and high-density residential areas where there is a great demand for high speed data will be one of our priorities.”

In a phased approach, Cell C will upgrade sites starting in the central Gauteng areas from Rosebank and Sandton across the northern Johannesburg areas. This will be followed by the northern Gauteng areas, including Pretoria and Centurion and finally the eastern and western parts of Gauteng to include Benoni, Boksburg, Johannesburg proper, Soweto, Lenasia and Roodepoort.

“We have a comprehensive plan and strategic reasoning behind the specific tower rollout route we have chosen and are working tirelessly to ensure that every LTE site is linked to our fibre backbone to provide the highest level of quality and speed to our customers,” says Dos Santos.

In KwaZulu-Natal, Cell C will start the rollout in areas from Hillcrest through to the Dolphin Coast, as well as, the Umhlanga area. Areas surrounding Durban, including Chatsworth and Durban South, will follow. Pietermaritzburg, Umlazi and surrounding areas will be next on the roadmap.

Rollout in the Western Cape will begin from SeaPoint to Durbanville, the Airport and Stellenbosch. Simon’s Town through Constantia to Brakenfell and Somerset West will be included in the second wave of the Western Cape rollout. While Mitchells Plain and Paarl are planned to follow.

“These are just some of the areas that will be covered by LTE over the next three years.  Limpopo, Mpumalanga and other provinces are planned, and details of these rollouts will be unveiled at a later stage,” says Dos Santos.

Cell C already has LTE sites on air in Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal and the Western Cape with a select group of customers trialling the service.  Full coverage maps will be available in due course and will be updated closer to commercial launch.

The LTE rollout will complement Cell C’s continued investment into its existing network and the rollout of additional towers to improve HSPA+ performance and increase coverage and capacity across the country.

An additional 1353 3G sites are planned across the country over the next few years to ensure that Cell C stays above the curve. Additional projects are also underway in various provinces to enhance network quality and stability following the successes the company experienced in the Gauteng improvement projects.

“The significant investment in our network further confirms our shareholders’ commitment to Cell C and confidence in the company’s continued strong performance,” says Dos Santos.

“We have worked hard to ensure the best possible quality and service experience for our customers and we will continue to put quality at the top of the agenda. We are excited to now be able to add LTE to our roadmap.”

Cell C plans to launch a commercial offering in the latter part of 2015 and will reveal its LTE suite of products and services in due course.

* Follow Gadget on Twitter on @GadgetZA

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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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