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FTTH comes to Sunninghill

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Residents of Sunninghill in Johannesburg have selected Metrofibre Networx as the preferred fibre supplier for the area.

Working with the local Sunninghill ratepayers association, Metrofibre was selected as the area’s preferred FTTH supplier, enabling residents access to high-speed fibre and data services right to the home. The first estate in Sunninghill went live in June 2015, subsequently a further six have been completed, with 14 more to follow suit, and further construction happening in excess of 10 additional estates.

All in all, the over 6000 residential properties within the area will all be able to tap into the Metrofibre fibre network by the middle of 2016. As a consequence of the agreement reached with Sunninghill, the company has also extended network access to include Barbeque Downs.

“Until recently high-speed data has been an expensive luxury only afforded to a select few who could shoulder the costs of uncapped DSL and LTE services, but fibre changes all of this,” states Jacques de Villiers  at Metrofibre Networx. “With fibre consumers and businesses can now ensure that their browsing is never slowed down, making services such as live streaming television, music and even gaming a qualified option for South African customers. It is fast and cost effective – truly levelling the Internet connectivity playing fields for local businesses and consumers.”

Working hand in glove with the Sunninghill Ratepayers Association, Metrofibre will also be providing fibre access for the security cameras in Sunninghill , at no cost to the residents.

“After extensive research into the various FTTH suppliers in a process that extended almost a year, we at the Sunninghill Community Ratepayers Association elected to appoint Metrofibre Networx as our preferred supplier of fibre to homes and businesses within the Sunninghill area,” states Linda Gildenhuys, chairman of the Sunninghill Ratepayers Association.

Of the reasons initially listed by the selection team as to why they selected Metrofibre as their partner included the fact that when dealing with the company they were provided with a single point of contact to address questions and assist with service delivery. The company’s ability to deliver symmetrical broadband speeds, as well as uncapped and unshaped Internet, and the fact that its network had stood the test of independent user testing and came out with flying colours, also ranked highly on the selection criteria.

Another attractive offering to customers who elect to make use of Metrofibre for their fibre needs in the area is that the company does not hold the association to any contract terms. In fact, once the network is installed, individual customers can freely contact Metrofibre of their own accord at any stage.

The project encompasses two forms of fibre, namely trenched fibre, which is fibre that is laid underground, and aerial fibre for already established and built up areas where trenching could pose a problem. To this end the company recently ran a highly successful aerial project in the Glenferness area, proving the robustness and accessibility of its aerial offering.

According to de Villiers, this ensures that customers are afforded the option to select what they prefer with as little disruption to the existing environment as possible.

Established in 2010, Metrofibre owns and manages South Africa’s first globally compliant Carrier Ethernet 2.0 (CE 2.0) open access fibre network and connects in excess of 60 cloud, application, voice and Internet service providers with their customers. Its network has been built in line with the highest global standards, making use of only superior networking products, providing customers with a carrier class open access fibre network that offers ultra-high speed and low latency connections.

New estates and new businesses in the area are urged to contact Metrofibre , while they are in the development phase of the project should they wish to elect to partner with the company on their fibre needs.

“The quality of our network speaks for itself. Our customers who are residents in these areas, and sign up for access to the Metrofibre network, can now leverage key benefits such as symmetrical broadband speeds as well as real open access where customers can either make use of Metrofibre or a service provider of their choice to access the network. Fibre is, and will, continue to change how businesses and consumers the world over connect with each other,” ends de Villiers.

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Smart home arrives in SA

The smart home is no longer a distant vision confined to advanced economies, writes ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK.

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The smart home is a wonderful vision for controlling every aspect of one’s living environment via remote control, apps and sensors. But, because it is both complex and expensive, there has been little appetite for it in South Africa.

The two main routes for smart home installation are both fraught with peril – financial and technical.

The first is to call on a specialist installation company. Surprisingly, there are many in South Africa. Google “smart home” +”South Africa”, and thousands of results appear. The problem is that, because the industry is so new, few have built up solid track records and reputations. Costs vary wildly, few standards exist, and the cost of after-sales service will turn out to be more important than the upfront price.

The second route is to assemble the components of a smart home, and attempt self-installation. For the non-technical, this is often a non-starter. Not only does one need a fairly good knowledge of Wi-Fi configuration, but also a broad understanding of the Internet of Things (IoT) – the ability for devices to sense their environment, connect to each other, and share information.

The good news, though, is that it is getting easier and more cost effective all the time.

My first efforts in this direction started a few years ago with finding smart plugs on Amazon.com. These are power adaptors that turn regular sockets into “smart sockets” by adding Wi-Fi and an on-off switch, among other. A smart lightbulb was sourced from Gearbest in China. At the time, these were the cheapest and most basic elements for a starter smart home environment.

Via a smartphone app, the light could be switched on from the other side of the world. It sounds trivial and silly, but on such basic functions the future is slowly built.

Fast forward a year or two, and these components are available from hundreds of outlets, they have plummeted in cost, and the range of options is bewildering. That, of course, makes the quest even more bewildering. Who can be trusted for quality, fulfilment and after-sales support? Which products will be obsolete in the next year or two as technology advances even more rapidly?

These are some of the challenges that a leading South African technology distributor, Syntech, decided to address in adding smart home products to its portfolio. It selected LifeSmart, a global brand with proven expertise in both IoT and smart home products.

Equally significantly, LifeSmart combines IoT with artificial intelligence and machine learning, meaning that the devices “learn” the best ways of connecting, sharing and integrating new elements. Because they all fall under the same brand, they are designed to integrate with the LifeSmart app, which is available for Android and iOS phones, as well as Android TV.

Click here to read about how LifeSmart makes installing smart home devices easier.

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Matrics must prepare for AI

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students writing a test

By Vian Chinner, CEO and founder of Xineoh.

Many in the matric class of 2018 are currently weighing up their options for the future. With the country’s high unemployment rate casting a shadow on their opportunities, these future jobseekers have been encouraged to look into which skills are required by the market, tailoring their occupational training to align with demand and thereby improving their chances of finding a job, writes Vian Chinner – a South African innovator, data scientist and CEO of the machine learning company specialising in consumer behaviour prediction, Xineoh.

With rapid innovation and development in the field of artificial intelligence (AI), all careers – including high-demand professions like engineers, teachers and electricians – will look significantly different in the years to come.

Notably, the third wave of internet connectivity, whereby our physical world begins to merge with that of the internet, is upon us. This is evident in how widespread AI is being implemented across industries as well as in our homes with the use of automation solutions and bots like Siri, Google Assistant, Alexa and Microsoft’s Cortana. So much data is collected from the physical world every day and AI makes sense of it all.

Not only do new industries related to technology like AI open new career paths, such as those specialising in data science, but it will also modify those which already exist. 

So, what should matriculants be considering when deciding what route to take?

For highly academic individuals, who are exceptionally strong in mathematics, data science is definitely the way to go. There is, and will continue to be, massive demand internationally as well as locally, with Element-AI noting that there are only between 0 and 100 data scientists in South Africa, with the true number being closer to 0.

In terms of getting a foot in the door to become a successful data scientist, practical experience, working with an AI-focused business, is essential. Students should consider getting an internship while they are studying or going straight into an internship, learning on the job and taking specialist online courses from institutions like Stanford University and MIT as they go.

This career path is, however, limited to the highly academic and mathematically gifted, but the technology is inevitably going to overlap with all other professions and so, those who are looking to begin their careers should take note of which skills will be in demand in future, versus which will be made redundant by AI.

In the next few years, technicians who are able to install and maintain new technology will be highly sought after. On the other hand, many entry level jobs will likely be taken care of by AI – from the slicing and dicing currently done by assistant chefs, to the laying of bricks by labourers in the building sector.

As a rule, students should be looking at the skills required for the job one step up from an entry level position and working towards developing these. Those training to be journalists, for instance, should work towards the skill level of an editor and a bookkeeping trainee, the role of financial consultant.

This also means that new workforce entrants should be prepared to walk into a more demanding role, with more responsibility, than perhaps previously anticipated and that the country’s education and training system should adapt to the shift in required skills.

The matric classes of 2018 have completed their schooling in the information age and we should be equipping them, and future generations, for the future market – AI is central to this.

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