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The chip that will drive the 5G smartphone era

No less than 15 manufacturers have announced they will use Qualcomm’s new mobile platform to power the first wave of 2020 5G smartphones

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Qualcomm also this week announced a suite of new advanced 5G technology demonstrations, providing a glimpse of its roadmap of 5G technologies. The company said some of these demonstrations underscored its commitment to the ongoing research and development of future 5G technologies. 

“In addition, they show our ability to enable the global mobile ecosystem and new vertical industries, support next-generation services and business models, and create new use cases and experiences.”

John Smee, vice president of engineering at the company, said: “Our R&D work continues to provide breakthrough technologies that help drive the mobile ecosystem forward. We are now in 2020 and it’s the beginning of the 5G era. It’s a great time for us to demonstrate the innovations we’ve been working on in our labs to set the stage for what to expect in the coming year.”

The first phase of 5G has been focused on providing new and better experiences on smartphone devices, but the next phase of 5G, spanning 3GPP Release 16, 17, and beyond, will transform industries and use cases such as Industrial IoT, automotive, augmented reality, and more. 

Qualcomm provided the following information on its research focus areas driving the expansion of 5G:

  • Advanced 5G Massive MIMO OTA test network: This end-to-end system operating in 3.5 GHz highlights key innovations to further improve the network capacity and user experience benefits of multi-user massive MIMO and to enable of wide-area, low-latency services such as augmented reality.
  • 5G wide-area technology evolution: To demonstrate the future of 5G wide-area networks and devices beyond 2020, this demo models the performance of new features such as full-duplex MIMO and accurate device positioning technologies, and introduces new data management approaches for IoT.
  • Real-world experiences over an outdoor mmWave OTA test network: A 28 GHz end-end demonstration of advanced approaches for mmWave mobility, robustness and performance under different real-life operation scenarios, bringing enhanced and new mobile experiences.
  • The evolution of 5G mobile mmWave technology: Models the system performance of new mmWave network and device features coming in Release 16+ that will simplify network densification, elevate system performance, and enhance device efficiency.
  • 5G factory of the future: This live demonstration in our industrial 5G test network showcases the benefits of some of the upcoming 5G capabilities for industrial automation such as time-sensitive networking (TSN) and enhanced ultra-reliable low latency communication (eURLLC).
  • Precise positioning over an indoor 5G network: Demonstration of sub-meter 3D positioning for industrial IoT applications, such as asset tracking and automated guided vehicle control, by utilizing multiple 5G transmission points to measure time difference of arrival.
  • 5G NR Cellular-to-Everything (C-V2X): 3GPP Release 16 brings additional C-V2X capabilities based on 5G NR to complement C-V2X with new and advanced use cases. In this 5G NR C-V2X demonstration, Qualcomm shows how sensor sharing using distance-based reliability can improve reaction time across challenging radio environments, both as an interactive simulation and in an over-the-air Release 16 aligned prototype.

To learn more about these innovations please stay tuned for more information and videos in the coming weeks.

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Vodacom cuts cost of smallest bundle by 40%

The country’s largest mobile operator has kept to a promise made last month to slash the price of entry-level data packages

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Vodacom has cut the data price of its lowest-cost bundle by 40%, reducing the price of a 50MB 30-day bundle from R20 to to R12. This follows from the operator’s promise in March, when it announced a 33% cut in the cost of 1GB bundles, to reduce prices of all smaller bundles by up to 40%.

Vodacom’s various 30-day data bundle prices will be cut across all of its channels, with the new pricing as follows:

30-day bundle size New Price Reduction
50MB R12 40%
150MB R29 33%
325MB R55 33%
500MB R79 21%
1GB R99 34%
3GB R229 23%
5GB R349 14%
10GB R469 22%
20GB R699 31%

Vodacom confirmed it will provide free data to access essential services through Vodacom’s zero-rated platform ConnectU with immediate effect. The value of these initiatives, it says, is R2.7-billion over the next year.

“Vodacom can play a critical role in supporting society during this challenging time and we’re committed to doing whatever we can to help customers stay connected,” says Jorge Mendes, Chief Officer of Vodacom’s Consumer Business Unit. “Since we started our pricing transformation strategy three years ago, our customers have benefitted from significant reductions in data prices and the cost of voice calls. Over the same period, we invested over R26 billion in infrastructure and new technologies, so our customers enjoy wider 2G, 3G and 4G coverage and vastly increased data speeds.”

The latest data reductions will complement the discounted bundle offers that will also be made available to prepaid customers in more than 2,000 less affluent suburbs and villages around the country. For qualifying communities to access further discounted voice and data deals, they need to click on the scrolling ConnectU banner on the platform via connectu.vodacom.co.za

ConnectU – which is a zero-rated platform – also went live this week. It will provide content aimed at social development and offers a variety of essential services for free. Learners and students enrolled in schools and universities can access relevant information for free, with no data costs. The ConnectU portal includes a search engine linked to open sources such as Wikipedia and Wiktionary as well as free access to job portals; free educational content on the e-School platform; free health and wellness information and free access to Facebook Flex, the low data alternative to Facebook that enables customers to stay socially connected.

Vodacom’s popular Just4You platform has been a significant contributor to the approximately 50% reduction in effective data prices over the past two years. Substantial cuts in out-of-bundle tariffs and the introduction of hourly, daily and weekly bundles with much lower effective prices have also driven increased value and affordability, resulting in R2-billion in savings for customers in 2019.

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OneBlade shaves price of electric precision

Electric razors and their blades are usually quite expensive. But the Philips OneBlade shaves the cost, writes SEAN BACHER

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Electric razors come in all shapes and forms and their prices vary as well. When your nearest electronic retail outlet opens again, you will be able to pay a small fortune for a wet and dry razor that cleans itself, shows you when it needs to be recharged, and tells you to replace the cleaning solution – all via a little LCD panel in the handle.

But does everyone want that? Does everyone need that? Surely there must be customers who want an easy-to-use, no-mess, no-fuss razor that gets the job done just as well as a “smart razor”?

With this in mind, Philips has launched its OneBlade wet and dry electric razor. The razor is dead simple to use. It comes with three stubble combs – 1mm, 3mm and 5 mm –  which can be clicked onto the head much like one would with a hair shaver. Should you want a really close shave, simply the combs off. I found this to be the most effective as I don’t have a beard.

The razor’s blade is the size of the striking side of a matchbox and has 90-degree angles all round. This offers precise shaving and, because of its small size, it is able to get just about anywhere on a person’s face.

The blade has a usage indicator that shows when it is time to replace the blade – usually after four months – and an additional blade is included in the box.

The OneBlade’s battery takes up to eight hours to charge, and will give up to 45 minutes shaving time.

Overall, the Philips OneBlade will give a man a comfortable and precise shave. Its battery life, combined with its size, makes it a perfect travel companion as it is no bigger than an electric toothbrush. Its relatively low price compared to other electric razors also counts in its favour.

The One Blade can be bought from most electronic retailers or can be ordered online from websites like takealot.com. The razor retails for R650 and a set of two new blades will cost around R450.

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