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R400m for local data centre

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Teraco Data Environments, a vendor neutral colocation data centre operator and Internet exchange point (IXP) has announced that it has increased the size of its medium term funding facility to R400m, secured from Barclays Africa.

“This is a further significant milestone for Teraco. This facility, together with internally generated funds are earmarked for continuing our large scale investments into Data Centre Infrastructure roll-outs,” says Jan Hnizdo, Teraco’s Chief Financial Officer.

Teraco builds and operates colocation data centre facilities that enable clients to deploy telecommunications equipment and other key IT infrastructure in a scalable way. Teraco further provides clients with a secure environment where they are able to easily connect to submarine cable systems, local terrestrial networks, most major African IP backbones and key content aggregation hubs.

“Teraco’s premium data centre services are in high demand, and the demand is set to continue underpinned by strong growth in the Internet and increased cloud adoption,” says Lex van Wyk, CEO of Teraco.

Teraco has seen a rapid expansion in its footprint over the last three years to include three state-of-the-art data centres located in Cape Town, Durban and Johannesburg, which combined, comprise 10 MVA of power plant, powering over 6,000m2 of data centre space. Teraco is also home to NAPAfrica, Africa’s largest neutral layer-two Internet exchange point (IXP), a home to more than 180 peers across sub-Saharan Africa.

Hnizdo says the Barclays Africa funding facility will allow for the construction of a large new data centre in Johannesburg to meet continued client demand. The initial phases in the construction of the JB2 facility are projected to commence in 2015.

“Barclays Africa has been an integral partner to the continued success of Teraco, they have been supportive and flexible with regards to our growth ambitions and understand our unique business model associated infrastructure funding requirements,” concludes Hnizdo.

“This is an exciting sector right now. We are delighted to assist Teraco again in the funding of their new data centre to meet continued client demand and to help them in delivering on their client proposition” says Jason Abt, Head of Leveraged Finance and Corporate Debt, from Barclays Africa.

“Telecommunications is an exciting industry to be in right now – it is at the heart of the explosive innovation and growth centred around the Internet – and Teraco has rapidly evolved into being the internet exchange point (IXP) and connectivity hub for sub- Saharan Africa. The securing of the additional Barclays Capital funding will allow Teraco to remain a significant contributor in the industry,” van Wyk concludes.

 

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Low-cost wireless sport earphones get a kickstart

Wireless earphone brands are common, but not crowdfunded brands. BRYAN TURNER takes the K Sport Wireless for a run.

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As wireless technology becomes better, Bluetooth earphones have become popular in the consumer market. KuaiFit aspires to make them even more accessible to more people through a cheaper, quality product, by selling the K Sport Wireless Earphones directly from its Kickstarter page

KuaiFit has an app by the same name which offers voice-guided personal training services in almost every type of exercise, from cardio to weight-lifting. A vast range of connectivity to third-party sensors is available, like heart rate sensors and GPS devices, which work well with guided coaching. 

The app starts off with selecting a fitness level: beginner, intermediate and advanced. Thereafter, one has the ability to connect with real personal trainers via a subscription to its paid service. The subscription comes free for 6 months with the earphones, and R30 per month thereafter. 

The box includes a manual, a USB to two USB Type B connectors, different sized soft plastic eartips and the two earphone units. Each earphone is wireless and connects to the other independently of wires. This puts the K Sport Wireless in the realm of the Apple Earpods in terms of connection style. 

The earphones are just over 2cm wide and 2cm high. The set is black with a light blue KuaiFit logo on the earphone’s button. 

The button functions as an on/off switch when long-pressed and a play/pause button when quick-pressed. The dual-button set-up is convenient in everyday use, allowing for playback control depending on which hand is free. Two connectivity modes are available, single earphone mode or dual earphone mode. The dual earphone mode intelligently connects the second earphone and syncs stereo audio a few seconds after powering on. 

In terms of connectivity, the earphones are Bluetooth 4.1 with a massive 10-meter range, provided there are no obstacles between the device and the earphones. While it’s not Bluetooth 5, it still falls into the Bluetooth Low Energy connection category, meaning that the smartphone’s battery won’t be drastically affected by a consistent connection to the earphones. The batteries within the earphones aren’t specifically listed but last anywhere between 3 and 6 hours, depending on the mode. 

Audio quality is surprisingly good for earphones at this price point. The headset style is restricted to in-ear due to its small design and probable usage in movement-intensive activities. As a result, one has to be very careful how one puts these earphones, in because bass has the potential of getting reduced from an incorrect in-ear placement. In-ear earphones are usually notorious for ear discomfort and suction pain after extended usage. These earphones are one of the very few in this price range that are comfortable and don’t cause discomfort. The good quality of the soft plastic ear tip is definitely a factor in the high level of comfort of the in-ear earphone experience.

Overall, the K Sport Wireless earphones are great considering the sound quality and the low price: US$30 on Kickstarter.

Find them on Kickstarter here.

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Taxify enters Google Maps

A recent update to Taxify now uses Google Maps which allows users to identify their drivers, find public transport and search for billing options.

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People planning their travel routes using Google Maps will now see a Taxify icon in the app, in addition to the familiar car, public transport, walking and billing options.

Taxify started operating in South Africa in 2016 and as of October 2018 operates in seven South African cities – Johannesburg, Ekurhuleni, Tshwane, Cape Town, Durban, Port Elizabeth and Polokwane.

Once riders have searched for their destination and asked the app for directions, Google Maps shares the proximity of cars on the Taxify platform, as well as an estimated fare for the trip.

If users see that taking the Taxify option is their best bet, they can simply tap on the ‘Open app’ icon, to complete the process of booking the ride. Customers without the app on their device will be prompted to install Taxify first.

This integration makes it possible for users to evaluate which of the private, public or e-hailing modes of transport are most time-efficient and cost-effective.

“This integration with Google Maps makes it so much easier for users to choose the best way to move around their city,” says Gareth Taylor, Taxify’s country manager for South Africa. “They’ll have quick comparisons between estimated arrival times for the different modes of transport, as well as fares they can expect to pay, which will help save both time and money,” he added.

Taxify rides in Google Maps are rolling out globally today and will be available in more than 15 countries, with South Africa being one of the first countries to benefit from this convenient service.

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