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How 5G will change everything

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The next big shift in mobile network technology is upon us. MATT BRANDA, Qualcomm’s director of technical marketing, explains how it will change the way we connect.

Mobile networks have been redefined once before in their 30+ year history. From primarily voice networks with 1G/2G, to high-speed data networks with 3G/4G LTE which mobilized the Internet and ushered in the era of the smartphone. And now, as we progress toward 5G, a new kind of mobile network sits on the horizon. A network that will connect new industries, enable new services, and empower new user experiences. A network that will rise up to meet the significantly expanding connectivity needs of today and tomorrow.

At Qualcomm, we are working on a rich roadmap of 4G LTE technologies that has begun this transformation. Pushing the boundaries and capabilities of LTE toward 5G is just one more way Qualcomm is bringing the future forward faster. These new technologies are not only vastly enhancing mobile broadband performance and efficiency, but also expanding LTE to new frontiers such as unlicensed spectrum, device-to-device communications, the Internet of Things, and much more. Introducing LTE Advanced Pro—part of the global 3GPP standard starting with Release 13 and beyond.

Propelling your mobile broadband experience to the next level

LTE Advanced Pro is evolving existing LTE technologies, as well as introducing new features, to make your mobile broadband services faster, more reliable, and more responsive.

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1. Delivering fiber-like speeds by evolving Carrier Aggregation (first introduced with LTE Advanced) to aggregate across more carriers, diverse spectrum types and different cells.

2. Extending LTE to unlicensed spectrum globally with Licensed Assisted Access (LAA) to make the best use of the vast amounts of unlicensed spectrum available.

3. Driving significantly lower latency by evolving the LTE TDD and FDD frame structure for faster, more responsive connections.

4. Increasing flexibility of the LTE TDD and FDD frame structure such as allowing dynamic configuration of uplink and downlink capacity based on traffic conditions.

5. Enabling many more antennas at the basestation (up to 64-antenna elements) to exploit 3D beamforming (FD-MIMO)—significantly increasing capacity and coverage.

Proliferating LTE to connect new use cases and services

LTE Advanced Pro is also introducing new technologies that push the boundaries of LTE to support the proliferation of connected cars, smart cities, smart homes and wearables—connecting the world around us. This includes enabling new classes of LTE services that open up new opportunities for the entire mobile ecosystem.

6. Connecting the Internet of Things (IoT) by delivering advanced techniques (LTE-M, NB-IOT) to significantly extend battery life, reduce device costs, and deepen coverage—optimizing LTE for the communication needs of remotely gathering small amounts of data periodically from machines, wearables, and sensors.

7. Building the connected car of the future by delivering new LTE device-to-device and multicast capabilities (LTE V2X) to connect cars to each other, to pedestrians, and to everything around them—making your driving experience safer and more autonomous.

8. Creating a converged digital TV network by evolving LTE Broadcast to enable a single network for Digital TV services for both your mobile and fixed devices (e.g., your home television/STB).

9. Empowering new proximity services by expanding the LTE Direct device-to-device platform to give your mobile devices and apps the ability to passively discover and interact with the world around you—for example, social networking and local search applications.

10. Delivering robust public safety communications by using LTE technologies and the LTE ecosystem for robust public safety services such as Mission-Critical Push-to-Talk communications.

If you want to learn more about the ways LTE Advanced Pro is redefining mobile networks, check out our upcoming webinar with FierceWireless: Leading the Path to 5G with LTE Advanced Pro. You can get further information on both LTE Advanced Pro and 5G from our website. And finally, don’t forget to check us out at MWC2016 where we will be demonstrating LTE Advanced Pro and 5G technologies at the Qualcomm booth. See you then!

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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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