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Smart lockers, tutors, building plan app, win #HackJozi

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Smartlockers for chronic medication, a tutoring app and an app for submitting building plans to municiplaties have come out as the most innovative digital ideas in the 2016 #HackJozi Challenge.

The #HackJozi Challenge is a project of the Joburg Centre for Software Engineering (JCSE) at Wits University and the City of Johannesburg, designed to accelerate early stage ICT start-ups. Three winners were chosen from a shortlist of ten finalists that best utilised technology solutions to meet and solve every day challenges.

Professor Barry Dwolatzky, Director of the JCSE says the conclusion of the challenge isn’t the end of the journey for the winners and finalists.

“The JCSE will work with each of the ten businesses, and the wonderful entrepreneurs behind them, for the next year with the support from the City of Johannesburg to help drive their future success,” he says.

The top ten will enjoy a one-year free membership at the well-known ICT Tshimologong Precinct in Braamfontein, a Wits University initiative under the leadership of Professor Dwolatzky.

“#HackJozi gives the JCSE a great opportunity to work with local government to help launch ten new ideas into the world,” says Dwolatzky. “Through the finalists’ success, we feed the digital economy with new business start-ups, where each new start-up means new jobs. #HackJozi is so important because it creates jobs, economic activity and the opportunity to build a tech ecosystem based on meaningful partnerships.”

This year’s winner TechnoVera, which uses smart lockers to reduce the average waiting time for patients collecting chronic medication at primary healthcare collection facilities, will receive R1 million in funding. While second runner up Tuta-Me, a mobile app that connects tutors with students for tutoring services, and third runner up eSubmit, an online platform for submitting building plan applications to municipalities, will each receive R350 000.

In addition to building capacity and skills within the sector, Dwolatzky says each of the finalists contributed to finding solutions for some of South Africa’s most pressing challenges, particularly within education and health.

“The winners and finalists also addressed a third challenge in that they each contributed to developing entrepreneurship. What South Africa needs is for more people to believe they can create their own future, and #HackJozi helped foster that spirit in participants.”

Now in its second successful year, Dwolatzky is confident #HackJozi will continue to grow from strength to strength.

“Year on year we’ve seen a step change and even more great businesses come through. I’m so optimistic that next year we’ll see a similar change, and that is a mark of great progress. #HackJozi is about making innovation happen and we’re doing something better every year.”

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Rain, Telkom Mobile, lead in affordable data

A new report by the telecoms regulator in South Africa reveal the true consumer champions in mobile data costs

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The latest bi-annual tariff analysis report produced by the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA) reveals that Telkom Mobile data costs for bundles are two-thirds lower than those of Vodacom and MTN. On the other hand, Rain is half the price again of Telkom. 

The report focuses on the 163 tariff notifications lodged with ICASA during the period 1 July 2018 to 31 December 2018.

“It seeks to ensure that there is retail price transparency within the electronic communications sector, the purpose of which is to enable consumers to make an informed choice, in terms of tariff plan preferences and/or preferred service providers based on their different offerings,” said Icasa.

ICASA says it observed the competitiveness between licensees in terms of the number of promotions that were on offer in the market, with 31 promotions launched during the period. 

The report shows that MTN and Vodacom charge the same prices for a 1GB and a 3GB data bundle at R149 and R299 respectively.  On the other hand, Telkom Mobile charges (for similar-sized data bundles) R100 (1GB) and R201 (3GB). Cell C discontinued its 1GB bundle, which was replaced with a 1.5GB bundle offered at the same price as the replaced 1GB data bundle at R149. 

Rain’s “One Plan Package” prepaid mobile data offering of R50 for a 1GB bundle remains the most affordable when compared to the offers from other MNOs (Mobile Network Operators) and MVNOs (Mobile Virtual Network Operators).  

“This development should have a positive impact on customers’ pockets as they are paying less compared to similar data bundles and increases choice,” said Icasa.

The report also revealed that the cost of out-of-bundle data had halved at both MTN and Vodacom, from 99c per Megabyte a year ago to 49c per Megabyte in the first quarter of this year. This was still two thirds more expensive than Telkom Mobile, which has charged 29c per Megabyte throughout this period (see graph below).

Meanwhile, from having positioned itself as consumer champion in recent years, Cell C has fallen on hard times, image-wise: it is by far the most expensive mobile network for out-of-bundle data, at R1.10 per Megabyte. Its prices have not budged in the past year.

The report highlights the disparities between the haves and have-nots in the dramatically plummeting cost of data per Megabyte as one buys bigger and bigger bundles on a 30-day basis (see graph below).

For 20 Gigabyte bundles, all mobile operators are in effect charging 4c per Megabyte. Only at that level do costs come in at under Rain’s standard tariffs regardless of use.

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Qualcomm wins 5G as Apple and Intel cave in

A flurry of announcements from three major tech players ushered in a new mobile chip landscape, wrItes ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK

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Last week’s shock announcement by Intel that it was canning its 5G modem business leaves the American market wide open to Qualcomm, in the wake of the latter winning a bruising patent war with Apple.

Intel Corporation announced its intention to “exit the 5G smartphone modem business and complete an assessment of the opportunities for 4G and 5G modems in PCs, internet of things devices and other data-centric devices”.

Intel said it would also continue to invest in its 5G network infrastructure business, sharpening its focus on a market expected to be dominated by Huawei, Nokia and Ericsson.

Intel said it would continue to meet current customer commitments for its existing 4G smartphone modem product line, but did not expect to launch 5G modem products in the smartphone space, including those originally planned for launches in 2020. In other words, it would no longer be supplying chips for iPhones and iPads in competition with Qualcomm.

“We are very excited about the opportunity in 5G and the ‘cloudification’ of the network, but in the smartphone modem business it has become apparent that there is no clear path to profitability and positive returns,” said Intel CEO Bob Swan. “5G continues to be a strategic priority across Intel, and our team has developed a valuable portfolio of wireless products and intellectual property. We are assessing our options to realise the value we have created, including the opportunities in a wide variety of data-centric platforms and devices in a 5G world.”

The news came immediately after Qualcomm and Apple issued a joint announced of an agreement to dismiss all litigation between the two companies worldwide. The settlement includes a payment from Apple to Qualcomm, along with a six-year license agreement, and a multiyear chipset supply agreement.

Apple had previously accused Qualcomm of abusing its dominant position in modem chips for smartphones and charging excessive license fees. It ordered its contract manufacturers, first, to stop paying Qualcomm for the chips, and then to stop using the chips altogether, turning instead to Intel.
With Apple paying up and Intel pulling out, Qualcomm is suddenly in the pound seats. It shares hit their highest levels in five years after the announcements.

Qualcomm said in a statement: “As we lead the world to 5G, we envision this next big change in cellular technology spurring a new era of intelligent, connected devices and enabling new opportunities in connected cars, remote delivery of health care services, and the IoT — including smart cities, smart homes, and wearables. Qualcomm Incorporated includes our licensing business, QTL, and the vast majority of our patent portfolio.”

Meanwhile, Strategy Analytics released a report on the same day that showed Ericsson, Huawei and Nokia will lead the market in core 5G infrastructure, namely Radio Access Network (RAN) equipment, by 2023 as the 5G market takes off. Huawei is expected to have the edge as a result of the vast scale of the early 5G market in China and its long term steady investment in R&D. According to a report entitled “Comparison and 2023 5G Global Market Potential for leading 5G RAN Vendors – Ericsson, Huawei and Nokia”, two outliers, Samsung and ZTE, are expected to expand their global presence alongside emerging vendors as competition heats up.

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