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Vodacom LAA test gets 650Mbps on handset

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Vodacom has launched a Licensed Assisted Access (LAA) site on its live network at its Midrand campus and demonstrated speeds >650 Mbps using a commercial handset.

This is the first speed test on both a commercial LAA site and device in Africa and is also the fastest speed test ever achieved on a commercial LTE network and device in South Africa.

Vodacom’s LAA site is also believed to be the first time in South Africa where 4 component carrier (4CC) aggregation has been deployed on a live LTE network. The LAA site on Vodacom’s campus is configured to use a single 10 MHz carrier of Vodacom’s licensed 1800 MHz spectrum and 3 additional carriers each of 20 MHz unlicensed 5GHz spectrum. In addition to 4CC carrier aggregation, 4×4 MIMO (Multiple Input Multiple Output) technology was used for the 1800 MHz carrier and 256 QAM (Quadrature Amplitude Modulation) was activated on all carriers.

Using this configuration it was possible to achieve a peak download speed of up to 653Mbps on OOKLA using a commercial Motorola Z2 Force handset which is also considered to be the  first commercial LAA device tested in South Africa.

Andries Delport, Vodacom Group’s Chief Technology Officer commented:

“Today’s launch of what we believe to be the continent’s first commercial LAA site and device and the impressive speeds demonstrates that Vodacom continues to lead in technology innovation and enabling new possibilities for our customers. We have managed to launch new technologies such as LAA despite the severe constraints on spectrum that we are facing in the country.  Quite crucially, the latest speeds on the LAA network show that the single biggest contributor to mobile network performance is spectrum. Although we have demonstrated impressive LAA speeds using unlicensed spectrum, Vodacom still requires access to new, licensed spectrum for the practical rollout of similar high speed LTE services across the country. Licensed spectrum is the key to making these higher speeds available to all customers as it can be deployed across our extensive outdoor site footprint and is not limited to indoor and other small area deployments as is the case with LAA”.

LAA enables operators such as Vodacom to use unlicensed spectrum while co-existing with Wi-Fi by fair sharing of the unlicensed spectrum using Listen Before Talk (LBT) Technology. Innovative technologies such as LAA enable Vodacom to improve the network capacity and speeds in important indoor hotspot areas, and in the absence of much needed additional licensed spectrum. It is less suited to wide scale coverage on outdoor macro sites due to the poorer propagation characteristics of the unlicensed 5GHz band.

Vodacom will soon begin rolling out LAA to other sites on its live network, starting with important indoor hotspots such as airports, malls and office buildings. The availability and pricing for LAA capable handsets will be communicated as the rollout has progressed.

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CES: So long, and thanks for all the beer!

Last week, the Las Vegas expo showed off its fun side with state-of-the-art technologies for enjoying beer, writes BRYAN TURNER

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From craft beer-making machines to robots that pour beer, CES had more beer than usual in Las Vegas last week. And even free beer if you found the right stand. Stampede’s saloon-style booth offered beer to visitors who tried out its latest drones, virtual reality, and other gaming products. No beer tech, though.

Here are some of the beer technologies that stood out:

LG HomeBrew – Craft beer made at home

LG’s HomeBrew craft beer-making machine,  debuted at CES 2019, brings the brewing process home thanks to single-use capsules,  a self-cleaning feature, and an algorithm optimised for fermentation. 

Like a Nespresso coffee machine, the beer maker uses capsules, which contain malt, yeast, hop oil and flavouring. At the press of a button, LG HomeBrew automates the whole procedure from fermentation and carbonation to ageing. A companion app lets users check HomeBrew’s status at any time during the process, from their handsets.

The beer machine not only offers a simple way to make craft beer, but also enhances the quality of beer it makes. The fermentation algorithm intelligently controls the fermenting process with precise temperature and pressure control. It automatically sanitises itself, using nothing more than hot water, ensuring everything is hygienically clean for the next batch.

Designed with discerning beer lovers in mind, HomeBrew allows for in-home production of batches of more than 4 litres of beer in a variety of styles. The following five distinctive, flavoured beers are available now: 

  • Hoppy American IPA
  • Golden American Pale Ale
  • Full-bodied English Stout
  • Zesty Belgian-style Witbier
  • Dry Czech Pilsner

The only catch? It takes about two weeks to make, depending on the beer type.

“LG HomeBrew is the culmination of years of home appliance and water purification technologies that we’ve developed over the decades,” said Dan Song, president of LG Electronics Home Appliance & Air Solutions Company. “Homebrewing has grown at an explosive pace, but there are still many beer lovers who haven’t taken the jump because of the barriers to entry, like complexity, and these are the consumers we think will be attracted to LG HomeBrew.”

Click here to read about the party speaker that holds beer and robots that pour beer.

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CES: Alienware gets Legend-ary

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At CES in Las Vegas last week, Dell’s Alienware released a family of high-end, thin, light, and affordable machines for both amateur and professional gamers – and a new identity.

Alienware marked CES 2019 as a brand milestone with the debut of a new design identity, Alienware Legend. It aims to set a new bar of excellence for what gamers want most – performance and function. Alienware says it evaluated multiple concepts and chose one that was the biggest and boldest departure from its current look.

Alienware Legend, says the company, stays true to the brand’s core design tenets, taking cues from its deep roots in sci-fi culture and its early industrial designs, to distinguish the brand from the rest of the industry. The new Legend design is optimised with cutting-edge thermal cooling technology to achieve and sustain overclocking power, improved AlienFX lighting, and ultra-thin screen borders. It also unveiled a new “three-knuckle hinge” design that reduces the overall dimension while creating a stronger assembly, all combining to yield a better gaming experience.

“We’re excited to come to this year’s CES with some truly groundbreaking products, next-gen software and strategic partnerships that will bring more people to experience PC gaming and advance the industry,” said Frank Azor, vice president and general manager of Alienware. “The legend design answers the call for more and better from our gaming community, and the new G Series laptops will make PC gaming even more accessible to those looking for high-performance gaming at a cost they can appreciate.”

Click here to read about Alienware Legend in action with the Area-51m and m-series laptops

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