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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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Opera launches built-in VPN on Android browser

Opera has released a new version of its mobile browser, which features a built-in virtual private network service.

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Opera has released a new version of its mobile browser, Opera for Android 51, which features a built-in VPN (virtual private network) service.

A VPN allows users to create a secure connection to a public network, and is particularly useful if users are unsure of the security levels of the public networks that they use often.

The new VPN in Opera for Android 51 is free, unlimited and easy to use. When enabled, it gives users greater control of their online privacy and improves online security, especially when connecting to public Wi-Fi hotspots such as coffee shops, airports and hotels. The VPN will encrypt Internet traffic into and out of their mobile devices, which reduces the risk of malicious third parties collecting sensitive information.

“There are already more than 650 million people using VPN services globally. With Opera, any Android user can now enjoy a free and no-log service that enhances online privacy and improves security,” said Peter Wallman, SVP Opera Browser for Android.

When users enable the VPN included in Opera for Android 51, they create a private and encrypted connection between their mobile device and a remote VPN server, using strong 256-bit encryption algorithms. When enabled, the VPN hides the user’s physical location, making it difficult to track their activities on the internet.

The browser VPN service is also a no-log service, which means that the VPN servers do not log and retain any activity data, all to protect users privacy.

“Users are exposed to so many security risks when they connect to public Wi-Fi hotspots without a VPN,” said Wallman. “Enabling Opera VPN means that users makes it difficult for third parties to steal information, and users can avoid being tracked. Users no longer need to question if or how they can protect their personal information in these situations.”

According to a report by the Global World Index in 2018, the use of VPNs on mobile devices is rising. More than 42 percent of VPN users on mobile devices use VPN on a daily basis, and 35 percent of VPN users on computers use VPN daily.

The report also shows that South African VPN users said that their main reason for using a VPN service is to remain anonymous while they are online.

“Young people in particular are concerned about their online privacy as they increasingly live their lives online,” said Wallman. “Opera for Android 51 makes it easy to benefit from the security and anonymity of VPN , especially for those may not be aware of how to set these up.”

Setting up the Opera VPN is simple. Users just tap on the browser settings, go to VPN and enable the feature according to their preference. They can also select the region of their choice.

The built-in VPN is free, which means that users don’t need to download additional apps on their smartphones or pay additional fees as they would for other private VPN services. With no sign-in process, users don’t need to log in every time they want to use it.

Opera for Android is available for download in Google Play. The rollout of the new version of Opera for Android 51 will be done gradually per region.

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Future of the car is here

Three new cars, with vastly different price-tags, reveal the arrival of the future of wheels, writes ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK

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Just a few months ago, it was easy to argue that the car of the future was still a long way off, at least in South Africa. But a series of recent car launches have brought the high-tech vehicle to the fore in startling ways.

The Jaguar i-Pace electric vehicle (EV), BMW 330i and the Datsun Go have little in common, aside from representing an almost complete spectrum of car prices on the local market. Their tags start, respectively, at R1.7-million, R650 000 and R150 000.

Such a widely disparate trio of vehicles do not exactly come together to point to the future. Rather, they represent different futures for different segments of the market. But they also reveal what we can expect to become standard in most vehicles produced in the 2020s.

Jaguar i-Pace

The i-Pace may be out of reach of most South Africans, but it ushers in two advances that will resonate throughout the EV market as it welcomes new and more affordable cars. It is the first electric vehicle in South Africa to beat the bugbear of range anxiety.

Unlike the pioneering “old” Nissan Leaf, which had a range of up to about 150km, and did not lend itself to long distance travel, the i-Pace has a 470km range, bringing it within shouting distance of fuel-powered vehicles. A trip from Johannesburg to Durban, for example, would need just one recharge along the way.

And that brings in the other major advance: the i-Pace is the first EV launched in South Africa together with a rapid public charging network on major routes. It also comes with a home charging kit, which means the end of filling up at petrol stations.

The Jaguar i-Pace dispels one further myth about EVs: that they don’t have much power under the hood. A test drive around Gauteng revealed not only a gutsy engine, but acceleration on a par with anything in its class, and enough horsepower to enhance the safety of almost any overtaking situation.

Specs for the Jaguar i-Pace include:

  • All-wheel drive
  • Twin motors with a combined 294kW and 696Nm
  • 0-100km/h in 4.8s
  • 90kWh Lithium-ion battery, delivering up to 470km range
  • Eight-year/160 000km battery warranty
  • Two-year/34 000km service intervals

Click here to read about BMW’s self-driving technology, and how Datsun makes smart technology affordable.

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