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Fixed broadband in Africa to treble in next 5 years

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Fixed broadband subscriptions in Sub Saharan Africa are estimated to be 6.6 million. This market is expected to grow by up to three-fold by 2023 according to Ovum, a London based global technology research and advisory firm.

This brings increased opportunities for Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to fill the connectivity void and to benefit commercially by driving up data usage and growing revenues on their networks with Fixed-Wireless Access (also known as fixed-wireless broadband or WTTx).

Fixed wireless access has emerged as one of the most significant growth drivers around the world, as explosive user growth is seen in both developed markets like Japan, Germany and Italy as well as Emerging countries like South Africa, Philippines and Mexico. Many believe that eventually 5G FWA will have a significant impact on fixed broadband just as 2G had on fixed voice more than 20 years ago. Case in point, according to a financial report issued by Telkom in South Africa, its WTTx new subscriber base increased by 340 thousand in the fiscal year 2018, beating 35 thousand new fibre users.

The Ovum report, titled Fixed-Wireless Access Drives Broadband Development in Sub-Saharan Africa, finds that Sub-Saharan Africa’s (SSA) legacy of poor fixed-network coverage represents a significantly large and untapped market for broadband service providers. However, strong demand for broadband connectivity in SSA is not being adequately addressed by wireline technologies such as XDSL and fiber.

In addition to providing internet connectivity for remote and rural populations, FWA can do much to support the growth of digital media, provide the wider population with access to government services and meet the demands of businesses for high-quality broadband services.

Julian Bright, a senior analyst at OVUM and the author of the report says Sub-Saharan Africa’s legacy of poor fixed-network coverage represents a significantly large and untapped market for broadband service providers.

“Coupled with the speed of growth and the clear appetite for new digital-media and internet-based services among consumers, among businesses and the public sector, this calls for broadband solutions that are cost-effective and can be quickly deployed. Where the economics are favorable, FWA provides an effective complement to or even substitute for, fixed wireline connectivity. Further opportunities for FWA will continue to open up as operators and service providers in the region realize the benefits of LTE-based FWA.”

FWA advantages

Fixed-wireless access can provide a low-cost, shorter time-to-market, practical and high-performance alternative. Deployment of FWA is less complex and less costly than wireline and subscribers can be brought onto the network more quickly than with fiber, which can lead to a fast return on investment for ISPs.

FWA meets many of the criteria for affordable broadband connectivity, particularly when compared to less economic options such as fiber and copper. It provides ISPs with incentives to invest in covering sparsely populated or remote areas as well as suburban environments, by lowering the cost and shortening the payback period.

According to industry intelligence, more than 40 carriers in SSA have launched FWA service in partnership with suppliers like Huawei, Ericsson and Nokia Siemens. The number of subscribers of FWA service in SSA has reached 3.5 million.

In South Africa, Telkom has been working with Huawei since 2015 and has seen rapid business growth driven by WTTx. Telkom’s interim results for the six months ended September 30, 2018 , shows a dramatic increase in mobile broadband subscribers (66.8%), traffic (120%), and Average Revenue Per User (12.8%). Its fixed-wireless access and Wi-Fi continues to perform well, with a 22.1% growth to over 962,000 subscribers. The report attributes the increase to the “Deal of the month”, improved quality and the footprint expansion of its LTE network.

“WTTx gives carriers fast access to home broadband markets, allows them to quickly build up their coverage and enable them to offer triple play services,” says David Chen, Vice President Huawei Southern Africa.

“We are excited by the findings of this report as it gives credence to what we see as a quick win for operators in SSA,” Chen adds.

Price Flexibility is Key

Home broadband networks, whether fiber, DSL, or FWA are subject to the same limiting factors; population density, subscriber take rates, Average Revenue Per User, CPE device cost and availability, network contention or oversubscription rate and labor costs.

The Ovum report emphasizes that key for operators to make FWA services more accessible and affordable for users are, the application of flexible tariff choices and manageable CPE costs. A high-end terminal leads to an increase in user acquisition costs, despite the fact that it increases the FWA capacity and reduces the cost per line. Low-cost, low-end terminals are more suitable to bring down the cost for consumers for the popularity of FWA services.

In addition, an operator offering lower-priced FWA packages with more affordable CPE is also targeting mobile customers who currently use their 4G service to provide a home broadband connection.

Speaking to Huawei’s WTTx offerings, Bright says, “Huawei has built its WTTx fixed wireless access business into a key component of its wireless broadband portfolio. Huawei’s FWA strategy also differs from that of its competitors in that it places WTTx as part of its mobile products line rather than part of its fixed broadband offering.”

Huawei’s WTTx solution has been recognized by the International Telecommunications Union as an innovative technical solution that improves global ICT indexes and speeds up the development of broadband connections.

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Gaming gets rad at Rand Show

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With the opening of the 125th Rand Show at Nasrec, south of Johannesburg, today, gamers and cosplayers have a new destination to strut their stuff.

A new addition to the show, the Gaming Entertainment Pavilion, is offering anything from gaming and cosplay to dance-offs and  science displays.

The organisers provided the following information (although several million exclamation marks and exaggerations have been removed!):

Fortnite Tournament

There was a time when Gaming was a considered a solitary pastime, confined to single player consoles; but that truly is a thing of the past with a fully immersive Fortnite Tournament open to all Fortnite afficionados and even those just starting out. Players can battle it out over both show weekends, including a final on each weekend. Family fan clubs can also get in on the action with live broadcasts of the game as it happens across screens – a full-on Fortnite family affair. Sponsored by PlayStation, gamers are truly going to be spoiled and should get in on the action as fast as they can because R 100 000 in cash prizes is up for grabs.

Smart Technology Centre will deliver a super-fast FibreMAX 500Mbps fibre link, wholly dedicated to the gaming pavilion to ensure that absolutely nothing ruins the thrill of the National Fortnite Tournament. 

“As the exclusive connectivity provider, we have gone all out to ensure an amazing experience for gamers,” says Dillynn Els of Smart Technology Centre (STC), an internet service provider (ISP) and IT technology partner. “When it comes to gaming and the best experience possible, it’s all about ensuring we provide a dedicated, uncapped, unshaped connection that makes every second count.”

Keen players can come along and enter on the day, but don’t delay because space is limited.

Fortnite Inspired Dance Off

Visitors can come along and be entertained by the finalists in the Fortnite inspired dance-off. There will be daily dances to enjoy for the entire duration of the show.

Come and play – Cosplay, to be exact.

The stage is set for a celebration of creativity and imagination that is going to be literally out of this world. Super hero heavy weights and masters of the mysterious will be letting their creative vision loose and take part in various Cosplay Tournaments and a visually stunning Cosplay Masquerade. Come see what all the fuss is about and get lost in this world costumes, colour and creative talent.

Games, Games and Science

For those wanting to get their gaming on, there will be three free play areas sponsored by Xbox with a host of games available to play. Xbox will be giving away 3 Xbox 1’s and an awesome Xbox 1X, but you truly have to be in it to win it, so make sure you don’t miss out.

The Kalahari Scientist will be onstage delighting visitors with his explosive displays that are guaranteed to up the ooh and aah factor with audiences young and old.

But wait, there’s more

Along with the larger-than-life gaming entertainment offering, visitors will also get to be the first gamers on SA soil to get a sneak peak of PlayStation’s brand new Mortal Kombat 11. Don’t miss your chance to experience the continuation of this epic saga through a new cinematic story that is more than 25 years in the making. The iconic showcasing brutal battles like never before, along with a host of customisable fighters with enhanced graphics and animations.

Other activities at the Pavilion include VR Experiences, a full-on NAG Nerf Arena, Gaming vendors with awesome gaming content, retailers selling gaming related products and software, and tutorials and workshops on how to improve your gaming skills, Celebrity Fortnite match off for charity.

With huge sponsors such as PlayStation, Xbox, MMS, NAG, SABC 2 and Smart Technology, the Gaming Entertainment Pavilion is geared up to become a hot zone of entertainment.

Win big

In case the entertainment offering just doesn’t get the heart beats racing fast enough, an all-expenses paid trip to TwitchCon USA, sponsored by PlayStation, in conjunction with 94.7 Highveld Stereo, is waiting for one lucky visitor to grab it. Every ticket purchased into the Entertainment Gaming Pavilion qualifies as an entry, so bring the whole family along for the ride.

Tickets to the Gaming Entertainment Pavilion can be purchased at the show for R 20 which gives the ticket holder access for  two hours.

The pavilion will be open from 14h00 to 19h00 weekdays and 10h00 to 19h00 on weekends from 19 to 28 April 2019.

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Riaad Moosa show debuts on Vodacom Video Play

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Riaad Moosa’s comedy special, Life Begins, will be the first major local title to be released on Vodacom’s video-on-demand service, Video Play.

As an award-winning comedian, actor, writer and presenter, Riaad Moosa is one of South Africa’s most renowned funny men. His one-man show is available for download on the platform from today, 26 April 2019. Life Begins is rated PG-16L

Vodacom’s says its affordable video-on-demand service, Video Play, has had an incredible uptake since its launch in August 2018, with over 2-million subscribers. 

“But with a proliferation of affordable video-on-demand platforms available to the South African market, what is it that gives Video Play the competitive edge?” it asked in a release this week. “Recognising the consumer’s need for flexibility and freedom of choice, Vodacom has ingeniously developed an adaptable subscription model that puts the power in consumers’ hands. Forget being tied down to a monthly subscription. Video Play gives consumers the liberty of choosing a daily, weekend or even monthly package. 

“Blockbuster movies can even be viewed for a once off cost, without subscription. Furthermore, these bundles can be purchased according to niche categories and genres, from Bollywood movies to gospel music.”

Consumers are able to pay for movies and series by using their airtime or adding it to their bill, eliminating the need for a credit card. Subscribers are also able to purchase video-specific data at a fraction of the regular price to consume constant content without overspending. Daily subscriptions start from R5 a day.

Zunaid Mahomed, Group Digital and Fixed Services Officer, says: “Video Play has enabled the company to provide a seamless and enjoyable customer experience. With the addition of Riaad Moosa’s Life Begins, we’re excited to offer consumers even more quality content and a wider variety of entertainment on demand than ever before. We’re putting quality entertainment, into the hands of anyone with a mobile device and an internet connection.”

Riaad Moosa describes his show as “very philosophical and existential”.

“It involves the normal issues of getting older while at the same time experiencing, at a maturity where I’m supposed to be wise, a world that is completely turned on its head.  It’s about how I negotiate all these things happening around me while trying to maintain a positive attitude. Through my comedic lens, I hope to put a different spin on that and hopefully I can enter my next 40 years with renewed vigour and excitement.”

To access Riaad Moosa’s Life Begins comedy special, register for Video via the Video Play website (www.videoplay.co.za).

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