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Smart data will dominate mobile SA

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A recent Cisco report has revealed that the worldwide shift from feature phones to smartphones, a revival in laptops with tablet-like capabilities, as well as expanding machine-to-machine applications are key factors supporting the increasing smart traffic trend.

According to the latest annual update of the Cisco Visual Networking Index Global Mobile Data Traffic Forecast for 2014 to 2019, the ongoing adoption of more powerful mobile devices and machine-to-machine (M2M) connections combined with broader access to faster cellular networks are key contributors to significant mobile traffic growth. In 2014, 82% of South African mobile data traffic was “smart” traffic, with advanced computing/multi-media capabilities and a minimum of 3G connectivity, but that figure is expected to rise to 98% by 2019.

The worldwide shift from basic-feature phones to smartphones – combined with the continued growth in tablets, a resurgence in laptops with tablet-like capabilities, as well as expanding machine-to-machine (M2M) applications – are key factors supporting the increasing smart traffic trend.

“The remarkable uptake and adoption of mobile devices will be a key contributor to the country’s transformation, impacting industries like education, healthcare and government services therefore reaching all aspects of the society. The ongoing adoption of more powerful mobile devices and wider deployments of emerging M2M applications, combined with broader access to faster wireless networks is not limited to South Africa but across Africa as a whole. The findings of Cisco’s Mobile VNI 2015 comes as no surprise given the phenomenal growth of mobile traffic. This mobile-friendly environment will give service providers in South Africa a new landscape of challenges and opportunities to innovatively deliver a variety of mobile services and experiences to consumers and business users as the Internet of Everything (IoE) continues to take shape,” says Vernon Thaver, Chief Technology Officer, Cisco Systems South Africa

Key Highlights from South Africa

In South Africa, mobile data traffic is expected to grow 11-fold from 2014 to 2019, a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 63% – two times faster than expected fixed IP traffic growth. This will be driven by the projected 48.2 million mobile users (88% of the population) by 2019, up from 43.4 million in 2014.

·         Data explosion: South African mobile data traffic will grow 2 times faster than fixed IP traffic from 2014 to 2019, and will account for 32% of South African fixed and mobile data traffic by 2019, up from 13% in 2014.

·         Smarter connections: In South Africa, 62% of mobile connections will be ‘smart’ connections by 2019, up from 21% in 2014.

·         Smarter traffic: In South Africa, 98% of mobile data traffic will be ‘smart’ traffic by 2019, up from 82% in 2014.

·         More traffic: Mobile traffic per South African user will reach 7,217 megabytes per month by 2019, up from 710 megabytes per month in 2014, a CAGR of 57%.

 

 Key Mobile Data Traffic Drivers in South Africa

From 2014 to 2019, Cisco anticipates that South African mobile traffic will grow at 63% CAGR. Trends driving mobile data traffic growth include:

·         More mobile users: By 2019, there will be 48.2 Million mobile users (up from 43.4 Million in 2014), a CAGR of 2.1%. The number of mobile-connected devices will grow at a compound annual growth rate of 6% from 2014 to 2019. In 2014 there were 43.4 Million mobile users, nearly 82% of South Africa’s population, up 5% from 41.2 Million in 2013.

·         More mobile connections: By 2019, there will be approximately 112 million mobile-connected devices. In 2014, 6.9 million smartphones were added to the mobile network and there were 84 million mobile-connected devices in 2014.

·         Faster mobile speeds: The average mobile connection speed will grow 2.1-fold (16% CAGR) from 2014 to 2019, reaching 3,639 kbps by 2019.

·         More mobile video: By 2019, mobile video will represent 71% of South African mobile data traffic (compared to 51% at the end of 2014).

Impact of Mobile M2M Connections (and Wearable Devices) in South Africa

M2M refers to applications that enable wireless systems to communicate with similar devices to support global positioning satellite (GPS) navigation systems, asset tracking, utility meters, security and surveillance video. Wearable devices are included as a sub-segment of the M2M connections category to help project the growth trajectory of the Internet of Everything (IoE).

·         In South Africa the number of wearable devices will reach 2.4 million in number by 2019, up from 0.6 million in 2014, at 30% CAGR.

·         In South Africa, traffic from wearable devices is expected to fuel 20-fold growth in mobile traffic from wearable devices between 2014 and 2019.

·         In South Africa the average wearable device will generate 391 megabytes of mobile data traffic per month by 2019, up from 73 megabytes per month in 2014.

 

Growth of Mobile Cloud Traffic in South Africa

Cloud applications and services such as Netflix, YouTube, Pandora, and Spotify allow mobile users to overcome the memory capacity and processing power limitations of mobile devices.

·         In South Africa, mobile cloud traffic will grow 12.7-fold from 2014 to 2019 at 66% CAGR.

·         Cloud applications will account for 89% of total mobile data traffic by 2019, compared to 80% at the end of 2014.

* Follow Gadget on Twitter on @GadgetZA

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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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