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MTN launches fibre brand

MTN has launched a new fibre to the home offering under the brand name süpersonic, acting as an independently run company.

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Going live on now, the service is based on what the company calls a commitment to “delivering the best customer experience in a fibre market still being held back by a general lack of service delivery and customer satisfaction”.

“Complaints of too much complexity, network instability and poor after-sales services continue to plague the fibre industry and we aim to change that,” says supersonic CEO, Calvin Collett. “Our focus is on meeting customer needs and expectations by using skilled technicians trained by us, innovative user-friendly apps and before and after-sale service expertise and channels to ensure customers receive speedy service off the back of the country’s fastest and most stable network.”

According to MTN SA CEO Godfrey Motsa, improved digital access is the future of unlocking the full potential of the local economy.

“Our commitment is to deliver high-quality end-to-end solutions that connect more people and businesses and this exciting new initiative is one more important step in that direction,” he says.

“We are excited to be able to harness a fresh, invigorated fibre offering within our open access network model to deliver an uncapped, reliable and cost-effective solution to many more homes across the country. We look forward to seeing this expanded to entrepreneurs and businesses next year. Of course, it is essential the solution always meets the high standards of customer-centric support and service we are known for.”

süpersonic’s focus is on consumers this year and then next year to make a wholesale offering available to businesses. MTN’s fixed-line LTE solution will still be made available to those in areas where fibre may not yet be available.

MTN bought SmartVillage from Multichoice in late 2015 to make inroads in the fibre to the home (FTTH) market. The fibre business has been placed under new management, rebranded as süpersonic, and has a new and more efficient operational structure. süpersonic has its own executive team, employing 120 people, of which 25 are trained technicians.

“It has taken five months for us to solidify our business structure to ensure we can do things differently and add more value to the lives of consumers” says Collett. “We are focusing on the main metros first, but will be expanding this further and, where we can’t deliver a service, we will also assist in providing access to MTN’s fixed-line LTE service.”

To differentiate itself from the ISPs already existing in the SA market, the new proposition is hinged on simplicity, reliability, stability and agility. A simple, web-based, five-step sign-up process is followed by the guarantee of a call-back in under 30 minutes.

The süpersonic installation and full configuration at home can take as little as four days – but within a minimum of 14 days – and trained technicians provide a full turnkey solution. They configure all facets of the system, on premise, and ensure it is working and connected to all the required apps in the home before they leave.

“Life is complex, but fibre shouldn’t be,” says Collett. “The lack of good service has been one of the main bugbears with FTTH generally and we intend plugging that gap. On top of that, our major competitive advantage is we harness the stable, reliable and powerful MTN network. While speed is ubiquitous in the fibre space the true differentiator comes with service and the stability and reliability of the network.”

A customisable user app includes a dashboard which ensures users can track important details along with their service line, including where their technician is and how long it will take to arrive.

All the fibre options are uncapped, with an initial price point from R658.

“In our view, fibre should not have any limitation in terms of capacity so our solution is uncapped with no shaping,” says Collett. “Fibre, of course, is already much faster than traditional copper-based lines and is free from the risks of damage caused by rain, or theft. We believe our solution will ensure more people can benefit and we plan to become the number one ISP in the country in 5 years.”

MTN will allow other ISPs, with valid electronic communications services licences, to integrate the services they provide to end-users.

süpersonic has an initial target of connecting 25% of the fibre market – which comprises 800,000 homes but is projected to pass as many as 2.2m by 2022.

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Here is 2019’s tech

From AI to flexible displays, this is the tech that will shape 2019, writes CY KIM, MD of LG SA

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2018 was incredibly exciting for the technology sector which has seen myriad advancements. These include the fundamentals of artificial intelligence (AI) being established, robots helping around the house and consumer electronic innovations such as TVs that are so thin, they might be mistaken for windows, or paintings.

2019 promises to be another significant year as people’s attitudes are changing and technology becomes embedded in our lives. Smart electronics manufacturers will ensure their plans for the future match evolving consumer needs with suitable technology.

We take a look at the biggest innovations for 2019 from AI to lightning-fast internet speeds and flexible viewing surfaces, and we shed some light on how these evolving technologies will impact on how we live and work.

AI will come of age

AI has experienced a marked increase in investments and according to Forbes, 80% of enterprises are investing in AI while 30% are planning to expand their AI investments in the next three years. It’s estimated that during 2017, venture, corporate and seed investors put about $3.6-billion into AI and machine learning companies.

This investment trend has given rise to innovation in deep learning products that have the potential to change the world for the better.

Yes, AI has been around since the 1950s, but its consumer benefits weren’t visible until recently and 2019 will be the year when AI starts to really take off and become a necessity, not just in the home, but in every facet of our lives.

The potential of AI is endless as this technology goes into everything from small watches to cars and even gigantic, connected smart cities. AI is also starting to find its way into TVs, washing machines, refrigerators, speakers, mobile phones and even air cons as products adapt to human behaviour.

Lightning-fast internet speeds

Faster internet speeds enable quicker response times for business tools that we all rely on to get the job done. It will increase the efficiency of workers and will provide reliable communication tools for companies that rely on remote workers.

Given that the so-called gig economy has grown exponentially in recent years, the expectation is that the evolving workforce will contain a higher percentage of employees, or contractors who do not work in a central office.

5G has the potential to change the world the way the internet did a few decades ago. The fifth generation of wireless technology will take internet connectivity to a new level as the internet of things (IoT), will bring about the potential for everything to be connected to everything.

However, 5G is not just about faster internet speeds. It will create new possibilities in numerous sectors, including medicine, transportation and manufacturing.

A smarter world through IoT and AI isn’t possible without 5G’s speed and capacity as the system is able to carry large numbers of connections simultaneously, and is therefore crucial to the development of smart cities, autonomous cars and smart homes.

Life-enriching smart technology

Much like technological innovations, consumer habits and preferences are changing drastically when it comes to home appliances and particularly, home entertainment.

Most consumers believe that advancements in home entertainment tech is life-enriching and that their life is better with the latest tech at their fingertips as it allows them to stay indoors and enjoy quality time with friends and family.

The value of home entertainment tech lies in how it allows loved ones to share experiences, thereby bringing them closer together, particularly during big events such as major sporting events and holiday celebrations.

The potential of flexible viewing surfaces will not only change home entertainment, but also marketing techniques in shopping malls, city centres and shop fronts. With the ability to curve around any environment, this technology creates the perfect platform for signage and consumer engagement that stands out from the crowd.

LG Electronics is an established market leader in innovation and has already started to incorporate these futuristic technologies into its products, which are designed to make consumers lives more convenient. We will continue to release amazing products that utilise smart tech to connect with consumers while staying ahead of the evolutionary curve.

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AI will power IoT

A simple gesture. A world built from accessible assets that drive human convenience and interaction. This is the future that’s powered by the Internet of Things (IoT) and artificial intelligence (AI), two of the planet’s hottest topic trends right now for a very good reason. They work, says PHATHIZWE MALINGA, managing director of SqwidNet.

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They are also the fuel driving digital transformation in 2019. These are the technologies revolutionising performance, process and productivity. They are also transforming industry challenges across agriculture, retail, health and the public sector and are set to continue on this path well into 2019.

IoT has become the central nervous system of technology, allowing users to make intelligent decisions without feeling overwhelmed by choice or technology. Its ability to make life easier on every level – business, consumer, public sector – is the next step of the IoT evolution as it improves quality of life using AI and machine learning to analyse past behaviour and the insights it gleans to change the future.

This is the vision of the perfect IoT and AI future. The two technologies so intertwined and connected that they are influencing one another’s growth, development and adoption. IoT provides the ability to generate data from the changing circumstances of an asset and the infrastructure required to transport that data to where it can be accessed and analysed. Considering the sheer volume of data generated, it is impossible for a human being to analyse it at the speed required for real-time decision making. And this is why AI has become so important.

Today, it is possible to write code that can read the data generated by IoT and identify meaningful patterns at the right speed. This code can also be written in such a way that it can learn from the results it found the last time it ran. It is code that can learn, an algorithm that can self-educate. In this way, AI requires the power of IoT to generate the data it needs to learn and IoT needs AI to ensure that this data can be made meaningful, in time.

Over the next six to 12 months, it is very likely that the potential of IoT will see numerous small players emerge across all industries. They will be focused on servicing those who have yet to experience the full benefits of IoT and they will use technology to deliver solutions that are just ‘good enough’. This could potentially see the more established players being disrupted but most will likely be using the same technology to innovate and to create solutions that don’t just meet customer expectations but transcend them.  Of course, there will be some companies that will remain complacent and they will be the ones battling for customer attention out on the IoT playing field with the small, fresh players.

While on the topic of the customer, the next year is likely to introduce a lot more variety and scalability. The consistent drop in the cost of technology will allow for more choice in solution and capability and this will have a knock-on effect with regards to quality of life and the choices customers make when it comes to solution and service provider.

On the business frontier, the growth of IoT and AI offer an interesting bouquet of choices and opportunities. They allow for investment into solutions that generate better insights that, in turn, generate better products and services. Organisations that ignore this potential or think they can sidle on past what IoT and AI bring to the business are likely to be the ones that are left behind. It’s a cliché for a reason. A single look back at the companies that have emerged as big players in industries previously perceived as impenetrable proves the point. Innovation isn’t optional, it’s an essential part of business DNA and both IoT and AI are critical parts of the ability to innovate at speed, with relevance, and on time.

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