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Township business to be boosted by 5G and Amazon

At the Soweto launch of the first 5G pilot network in South Africa, Gauteng’s Premier revealed an Amazon townships initiative, writes ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK.

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Vilakazi Street in Soweto may soon be the first location in South Africa with a live 5G network – and will also benefit from a partnership between the Gauteng government and global tech giant Amazon.com.

On Friday, wireless infrastructure provider Comsol Networks, in partnership with Samsung South Africa, switched on a 5G pilot network at Uncle Tom’s Community Centre down the road from the iconic street.

Gauteng Premier David Makhura said at the launch that the provincial government has invested heavily in changing the face of the townships, and there was “no better place to launch the future”.

He revealed that he had been in discussions with Amazon.com, which had agreed to create a platform geared to the specific needs of businesses in South Africa’s townships.

“Amazon Townships is a unique program to work with townships and get township businesses to work with Amazon, to launch their own businesses. through the Amazon platform,” said Makhura. “We don’t want Soweto to go to Sandton. We want to bring Sandton to Soweto.

“The nature of work is going to be changed as much as the way we live. The countries and cities that don’t prepare for it are going to be left behind.  If we are not ready, we are going to produce young people who look for the type of work that no longer exists.”

Turning to emerging technologies like artificial intelligence and the Internet of things, he said: “If it can’t happen in Gauteng, Africa will be left behind. And if it can’t happen in the townships, millions of people will be left  behind.”

Comsol CEO Iain Stevenson said the choice of site for the 5G launch was obvious: “Vilakazi Street is the family home to two Nobel Prize laureates, and one of our nation’s boldest symbols of transformation and progress,” said . “In our own way, we want to play a role in South Africa’s future as we embrace the digital economy, showcasing just what’s possible with advanced 5G networks.”

Comsol has access to the largest tranche of contiguous 28GHz in South Africa, making it the local front-runner for 5G services. The pilot network draws on the combined strengths of Samsung’s 5G solutions, Dark Fibre Africa providing fibre backhaul, and MWeb as the ISP.

Stevenson said Comsol planned to launch commercial 5G services to businesses and consumers before the end of 2019.

While 5G broadly defines the forthcoming evolution of mobile networks over a wide range of frequencies, he said, this specific pilot network is 5G Fixed Wireless Access (5G-FWA). 5G-FWA utilises the kind of network technology that we’ll come to associate with the 5G era – terms like beamforming and high-frequency millimeter wave spectrum such as 28GHz – to provide an exponential performance boost to wireless broadband services. The companies will demonstrate the potential of 5G-FWA, which will deliver high-quality, high-speed bandwidth services and low latency to complement existing fibre deployments.

“For the 5G pilot network service, Samsung provides 5G End-to-End FWA solutions, consists of 5G outdoor routers (CPEs) and 5G Radio comprised of a compact mmWave RFICs technologies and ASIC-based 5G modems developed by leveraging Samsung’s in-house expertise and assets. With these technical advancements, Samsung has been able to bring one of the smallest 5G Radio (radio base stations) and 5G routers (CPEs) to market, which are the world’s first 5G-FWA end-to-end solutions certified by the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in the first half of 2018.”

Peak downlink speeds of 1.75gigabit per second (Gbps) were reported. Gadget noted speeds of up to 1.73Gbps.

“This opens the doors to a new world, one where ubiquitous, high-speed networks deliver digital services to millions of citizens at low-cost. 5G will support everything from self-driving cars, to remote medical surgery, new immersive virtual realities, drone deliveries, AI robots, intelligent agriculture, connected cities, smart logistics and more.”

Comsol Chairman Andile Ngcaba said that the ultimate promise of 5G is the way it could extend to areas that, until now, have remained underserved due to the high costs of deploying today’s generation of fixed or wireless networks.

“Research indicates a clear correlation between the quality and breadth of a nation’s digital infrastructure, and its overall economic output,” he said. “5G represents our biggest opportunity yet: to re-energise our economy and to become a winner in the fourth industrial revolution.”

Sung Yoon, President and CEO of Samsung South Africa, said: “We believe that this is another game changing initiative for the network industry in South Africa and we will continue to collaborate with Comsol to ensure successful deployment”.

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New iPhone pricing for SA

The iStore has announced that the latest iPhones, the Xs and Xs Max, can now be pre-ordered at www.myistore.co.za , and will be available in stores starting 28 September 2018.

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iPhone Xs and iPhone Xs Max feature 5.8-inch and 6.5-inch Super Retina displays that offer remarkable brightness and true blacks while showing 60 percent greater dynamic range in HDR photos. iPhone Xs and iPhone Xs Max have an improved dual camera system that offers breakthrough photo and video features, A12 Bionic chip with next-generation Neural Engine, faster Face ID, wider stereo sound, longer battery life, splash and water resistance,

Pre-orders will be open for cash purchases and on iStore’s revised payment plan in partnership with FNB Credit Card, allowing customers to pay off their iPhone at a reduced interest rate. However, the contract period is 37 months rather than the usual 24 months.
*FNB Credit Card Payment Plan, price per month over 37 months, a 40% trade-in value after 24 months

How to pre-order – Pre-ordering online for either cash or the FNB payment plan gives customers the benefit of reserving their purchase without having to queue and the added convenience of having purchases delivered directly to their door. Pre-orders of iPhone Xs and Xs Max are completed online by visiting www.myistore.co.za.
FREE iCare Plus – Exclusive to iStore, all customers can get its 2-year extended warranty, which includes one Apple Certified screen repair, that normally sells for R1 999, for FREE. To qualify, customers should secure a voucher online now at www.myistore.co.za , and subsequently redeem it when they upgrade their contract or purchase any new iPhone at iStore (iPhone 8 and newer) between now and 31 December 2018. Offer is limited, secure your voucher now.

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Accenture opens Fjord design centre in Johannesburg

Accenture has launched its first design and innovation studio on African soil, Fjord Johannesburg.

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The company says the move significantly expands its design capabilities and demonstrates its commitment to unlocking Africa’s innovation potential through the creation of experiences that redefine industries in our constantly evolving digital era.

The new studio, opening in November, will be located at Accenture’s new 3875m² offices in Waterfall. It will be led by Marcel Rossouw, design director and studio lead for Fjord Johannesburg.

Said Rossouw, “Brands are constantly asking, ’how does one take a business need or problem, build that out into a definition of a service experience, and then bring it to market?’ It’s about re-engineering existing service experiences, identifying customer needs, prototyping rapidly, iterating often and proving or disproving assumptions. But it’s also about getting feedback from customers. The combination of these factors helps companies advance towards the ultimate service experience.”

Fjord is the design and innovation consultancy of Accenture Interactive. The Johannesburg location marks its 28th design studio globally, solidifying its position as the world’s leading design powerhouse.

Working in the same location as Accenture Interactive will allow Fjord to fuse its core design strategy DNA with the digital agency’s expertise in marketing, content and commerce to create and deliver the best customer experiences for the world’s leading brands. Accenture Interactive Africa‘s blend of intelligent design and creative use of technology has already been used by some of South Africa’s largest and most prominent brands, including Alexander Forbes, Discovery, MultiChoice and Nedbank. The digital agency has also earned industry accolades for its innovative and compelling business results, most notably two gold awards in the Service Design category at the 2017 and 2018 Loeries awards.

“Great design tells great stories,” says Wayne Hull, managing director of Accenture Digital and Accenture Interactive lead in Africa. “It unifies a brand, drives innovation and makes the brand or service distinctive and hyper-relevant in both the digital and physical worlds. This is critical to achieving results. Having Fjord Johannesburg as part of Accenture Interactive, and collaborating with all of Accenture Africa, will provide unique experiences and forward-thinking capabilities for our clients.”

“Businesses in South Africa are becoming more design-aware and are looking to take greater advantage of design skills to compete with the rest of the world,” said Thomas Müller, head of Europe, Africa and Latin America at Fjord. “We’re excited to open our first design studio on the continent and to be part of an emerging market that is ripe for design and innovation, and open for business. Developing markets like South Africa are challenging assumptions and norms about what digital services and products are meant to be, and we’ll strive to put design at the heart of the innovation being produced there.”

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