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DFA targets 20 000 business connections via fibre

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By March 2016, Dark Fibre Africa hopes to give 20 000 businesses access to its high-speed fibre optic network using a service provider of their choice.

Fibre backbone provider Dark Fibre Africa (DFA) aims to establish 20 000 business connections in its fibre to the business network by March 2016. These connections will provide businesses across South Africa with access to a high-speed fiber optic network via an internet service provider (ISP) of their choice.

There is an increase in demand for fibre optic network connectivity across South Africa, which is partly due to the country playing catch up to other more developed markets around the world. According to Reshaad Sha, Chief Strategy Officer at DFA, “Although there are several drivers leading to increased demand for connectivity, we have identified that globally cloud computing is a critical driver for the adoption of fibre based connectivity. In order for cloud computing to deliver the benefits of cost saving, business continuity and business agility, it requires a secure and super-fast connection that only a fibre network can provide.”

Although cloud adoption in Africa is still in its infancy, demand for cloud services are growing in the private sector across South Africa. Almost half of 100 JSE-listed corporations are using a form of cloud computing as they are looking to use innovative solutions to develop a competitive edge and drive efficiencies across the business. “The challenge that many of these businesses face is that the demand for bandwidth is dependent on availability and ease of access, but the demand is needed to motivate for the investment in this infrastructure,” says Sha.

To address this challenge, DFA will expand its network and simplify the ease of access to this high-speed fibre network for businesses across all major and secondary cities across South Africa. This will complement the work that is being done by various ISPs that have, over the past 18 months, accelerated their enterprise sales activity to increase market penetration and connect customers to fibre based networks.

According to Sha, “This is a step in the right direction to help South Africa to catch up to some of the more developed and even some of the emerging markets around the world that have already invested significantly in fibre connectivity.” The Network Readiness Index 2014 which ranks countries in terms of ICT readiness, digital infrastructures and robust innovation systems, ranks South Africa at number 70 while countries such as Brazil (69), Mauritius (48), Turkey (51) and Saudi Arabia (32) rank higher. In terms of the readiness subindex which looks at infrastructure, affordability and skills, South Africa ranks even lower at 98 out of 144 countries across the globe.

“By investing in our fibre networks, we aim to help address two of the drivers mentioned in the readiness subindex, namely infrastructure availability and affordability. In doing this, we will provide the infrastructure needed for companies to adopt cloud based services, use collaboration tools and leverage technologies that will support their own innovations and business growth,” concludes Sha.

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Low-cost wireless sport earphones get a kickstart

Wireless earphone brands are common, but not crowdfunded brands. BRYAN TURNER takes the K Sport Wireless for a run.

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As wireless technology becomes better, Bluetooth earphones have become popular in the consumer market. KuaiFit aspires to make them even more accessible to more people through a cheaper, quality product, by selling the K Sport Wireless Earphones directly from its Kickstarter page

KuaiFit has an app by the same name which offers voice-guided personal training services in almost every type of exercise, from cardio to weight-lifting. A vast range of connectivity to third-party sensors is available, like heart rate sensors and GPS devices, which work well with guided coaching. 

The app starts off with selecting a fitness level: beginner, intermediate and advanced. Thereafter, one has the ability to connect with real personal trainers via a subscription to its paid service. The subscription comes free for 6 months with the earphones, and R30 per month thereafter. 

The box includes a manual, a USB to two USB Type B connectors, different sized soft plastic eartips and the two earphone units. Each earphone is wireless and connects to the other independently of wires. This puts the K Sport Wireless in the realm of the Apple Earpods in terms of connection style. 

The earphones are just over 2cm wide and 2cm high. The set is black with a light blue KuaiFit logo on the earphone’s button. 

The button functions as an on/off switch when long-pressed and a play/pause button when quick-pressed. The dual-button set-up is convenient in everyday use, allowing for playback control depending on which hand is free. Two connectivity modes are available, single earphone mode or dual earphone mode. The dual earphone mode intelligently connects the second earphone and syncs stereo audio a few seconds after powering on. 

In terms of connectivity, the earphones are Bluetooth 4.1 with a massive 10-meter range, provided there are no obstacles between the device and the earphones. While it’s not Bluetooth 5, it still falls into the Bluetooth Low Energy connection category, meaning that the smartphone’s battery won’t be drastically affected by a consistent connection to the earphones. The batteries within the earphones aren’t specifically listed but last anywhere between 3 and 6 hours, depending on the mode. 

Audio quality is surprisingly good for earphones at this price point. The headset style is restricted to in-ear due to its small design and probable usage in movement-intensive activities. As a result, one has to be very careful how one puts these earphones, in because bass has the potential of getting reduced from an incorrect in-ear placement. In-ear earphones are usually notorious for ear discomfort and suction pain after extended usage. These earphones are one of the very few in this price range that are comfortable and don’t cause discomfort. The good quality of the soft plastic ear tip is definitely a factor in the high level of comfort of the in-ear earphone experience.

Overall, the K Sport Wireless earphones are great considering the sound quality and the low price: US$30 on Kickstarter.

Find them on Kickstarter here.

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Taxify enters Google Maps

A recent update to Taxify now uses Google Maps which allows users to identify their drivers, find public transport and search for billing options.

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People planning their travel routes using Google Maps will now see a Taxify icon in the app, in addition to the familiar car, public transport, walking and billing options.

Taxify started operating in South Africa in 2016 and as of October 2018 operates in seven South African cities – Johannesburg, Ekurhuleni, Tshwane, Cape Town, Durban, Port Elizabeth and Polokwane.

Once riders have searched for their destination and asked the app for directions, Google Maps shares the proximity of cars on the Taxify platform, as well as an estimated fare for the trip.

If users see that taking the Taxify option is their best bet, they can simply tap on the ‘Open app’ icon, to complete the process of booking the ride. Customers without the app on their device will be prompted to install Taxify first.

This integration makes it possible for users to evaluate which of the private, public or e-hailing modes of transport are most time-efficient and cost-effective.

“This integration with Google Maps makes it so much easier for users to choose the best way to move around their city,” says Gareth Taylor, Taxify’s country manager for South Africa. “They’ll have quick comparisons between estimated arrival times for the different modes of transport, as well as fares they can expect to pay, which will help save both time and money,” he added.

Taxify rides in Google Maps are rolling out globally today and will be available in more than 15 countries, with South Africa being one of the first countries to benefit from this convenient service.

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