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MTN gets OpenSignal vote for video streaming

MTN has taken the “best video streaming experience” crown from Vodacom, writes BRYAN TURNER.

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OpenSignal, the wireless coverage quality assessment company, has released a new South African mobile network report which shows MTN overtaking Vodacom in mobile video streaming experience.

In the same category, Cell C and Telkom Mobile moved closer to MTN and Vodacom, compared to OpenSignal’s other measurement categories.

MTN also took the “4G availability” award, which refers to the network with the largest amount of quality 4G/LTE covering South Africa. However, Vodacom is close behind in terms of ratings.

OpenSignal’s latest video experience analysis measures streaming of video over a mobile network against several factors. Using these factors, it describes the quality of the network on a scale from 0 to 100, where 100 is the best video experience possible. MTN won with 2.35 scale points over Vodacom, while both scored in the 55-65 range or “Good” on OpenSignal’s scale.

The company defines “Good” as streamed video rendering at both low and high resolutions on the mobile device, “but exhibiting some loading time before playback begins and some stalling, especially at HD resolutions”.

Cell C and Telkom Mobile scored 50.18 and 46.72, respectively, placing these mobile telcos in the 40-55 or “Fair” band on the scale. This band is defined as a user typically experiencing longer loading times with “frequent stalling” at higher resolutions.

Netflix ISP ratings note something different, however, with MTN being slower than Vodacom in download speed from Netflix’s video servers since June of this year. While this is only one streaming service, it provides a sense of how different companies measure video service quality.

OpenSignal made it clear the relationship between its video streaming measurement and network speed isn’t as strong as one would think.

“Surely the faster an operator’s download speed, the better the video experience, right? Not necessarily,” it says in the report. “We tracked a fairly close correlation between video experience and overall download speed measurements at the lower end of the table, but this relationship became much less obvious as scores improved.”

For this reason, Vodacom holds the title of best network based on download speed, while MTN holds the title of the best network for good video streaming experiences.

In the global video experience category, South Africa scored mid-table, while ahead of developed countries like France, Ireland and Russia. The Czech Republic holds the top spot for video streaming while South Korea holds the top spot for download speed.

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Arts and Entertainment

Netflix to make SA series

The world leader in streaming movies has announced the first South African production to join its Originals roster.

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World leader in entertainment streaming services Netflix this week announced its first Original series in Africa, with South African series Queen Sono.

The news comes immediately in the wake of local rival Showmax announcing it’s first original drama production. In this context, it heralds a new phase in the evolution of streaming video-on-demand in South Africa.

The action-packed series follows Queen Sono, the highly trained top spy in a South African agency whose purpose is to better the lives of African citizens. While taking on her most dangerous mission yet, she must also face changing relationships in her personal life. The series will be created by Director, Kagiso Lediga and Executive producer Tamsin Andersson.

South African actress, Pearl Thusi, will star as Queen Sono, with the character having been created with her in mind. Thusi is also known for her performance in the romantic dramedy, Catching Feelings, available on Netflix.

Pearl Thusi stars as Queen Sono in Netflix’s first original series in Africa.

“We are excited to be working with Kagiso and Pearl, to bring the story of Queen Sono to life, and we expect it to be embraced by our South African users and global audiences alike.” said Erik Barmack, Vice President of International Original Series at Netflix.

“We are delighted to create this original series with Netflix, and are super excited by their undeniable ability to take this homegrown South African story to a global audience. We believe Queen Sono will kick the door open for more awesome stories from this part of the world” added the director and executive producer of the series, Kagiso Lediga.

The series is due to start production in 2019.

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Microsoft adds Chrome to Edge

Microsoft is working to build a new version of its Edge browser on the open-source version of Google Chrome, writes BRYAN TURNER.

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After 20 years of backing Internet Explorer and its underlying software technologies, Microsoft has chosen to integrate Chromium, the open source version of Google Chrome. This announcement comes just three years after launching Microsoft Edge, the refreshed version of Internet Explorer.

“We intend to adopt the Chromium open source project in the development of Microsoft Edge on the desktop to create better web compatibility for our customers and less fragmentation of the web for all web developers,” said Joe Belfiore, corporate VP at Windows, in a blog post on 6 December.

The change affects the back-end elements of the browser that run in the background to make the web pages work for the user. The shift includes scrapping Microsoft’s EdgeHTML rendering engine in favour of Chrome’s Blink.

Utilising the Blink engine will allow Microsoft to support versions of new Edge on Windows 7, 8 and 10, as well as a version for macOS. Belfiore said that the company had also started contributing to the Chromium open source project: “We’ve begun making contributions to the Chromium project to help move browsing forward on new ARM-based Windows devices.”

Microsoft’s move to Chrome has shifted the “browser wars” in favour of Google Chrome, as Opera and Edge will now both be using Chrome’s rendering engine.

“If you’re a Microsoft Edge customer, there is nothing you need to do, as the Microsoft Edge you use today isn’t changing. If you are a web developer, we invite you to join our community by installing preview builds when they’re available and staying current on our testing and contributions.” said Belfiore.

Edge’s project manager, Kyle Alden, confirmed in a Reddit thread that Chrome extensions will be compatible with the new version of Edge. It is expected to launch in a preview build in early 2019.

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