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Vumatel offers free uncapped fibre to schools

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After a successful pilot with three schools, Vumatel will roll out free uncapped open access fibre optic infrastructure to every school they pass during the deployment of their network.

Each school will be provided with a dedicated 1 Gigabit per second line and will be able to choose from a variety of internet service providers for free uncapped internet connectivity. The Internet Service Providers currently on board with the project include Cell C, Cool Ideas and Vox Telecoms with others soon to join the initiative.

VUMA piloted this initiative with Greenside High, Hoërskool Linden and Parkhurst Primary. The response has been overwhelmingly positive.

Pieter Hugo, parent and tech specialist on the governing body at Hoërskool Linden, beams with pride and excitement as he speaks about how the introduction of fibre has benefitted his school, “the bandwidth provided by Vuma is making a big difference. It is an enabler.”

The new and improved connectivity means the school can migrate away from locally hosted services and move their systems into the cloud. They have plans to increase the reach of connectivity beyond their computer centres and have introduced an e-learning tablet system to the grade 8 class.

Hugo says that the financial impact is also significant. “Schools are financially constrained and cannot afford computer-trained IT professionals, infrastructure maintenance and hardware costs. Cloud migration will save time, effort and money, and these savings are made possible because we have fibre.”

Schools are lagging behind in the digital age because the cost of bandwidth has traditionally been so prohibitive. The systems in place at these schools will seem archaic to those in business who take connectivity for granted. It is ironic that in these educational facilities where access could make such an impact, it is so lacking. Niel Schoeman, CEO of Vumatel, argues that “our children are the future and it is vital that we connect them to the information age. We challenge other broadband providers to follow our lead and work together as the private sector in addressing one of South Africa’s key challenges. The incremental cost for telcos to do this for schools are negligible when compared to the potential and fundamental impact it can have.”

Sanjeev Maharaj, the Principal of Parkhurst Primary, speaks of the massive impact that VUMA fibre has had in his school. In 2014, The Click Foundation introduced the Reading Eggs e-learning literacy programme to the school at a time when the school only had access to an ADSL connection. Due to the extensive lag on the connection, instruction lacked flow, resulting in learners getting distracted and not enjoying the full benefit of the programme.

“Since introducing the fibre connection we have found that the learners are getting through a greater number of lessons, much quicker than previously experienced on ADSL,” notes Maharaj.

As a result of the success of the programme at Parkhurst Primary due to improved connectivity, the Click Foundation have donated an additional 20 computers to the school and are currently using Parkhurst Primary as a flagship site to demonstrate the benefits of their literacy programme.

“Without adequate connectivity,” says Maharaj, “none of this would be possible.”

This programme contributes to the enrichment of learning English at the school. Most of the learners do not speak English at home and are only exposed to it at school. The majority of the learners are from Alexandra and Soweto with the remaining children coming from the inner city and surrounding suburbs. The ability for the learners to access this literacy platform is extremely enriching in terms of their English language education. The Click Foundation has also found that when comparing children of the same level and demographics, those attending Parkhurst Primary are able to get through their lessons faster and more seamlessly.

“The introduction of this e-learning tool has also changed the way children learn computer skills,” says Maharaj. “Previously, the focus was on computer literacy, while now the focus is on learning, and computer literacy comes naturally as a byproduct.”

Vumatel has already started introducing fibre to additional schools and aims to provide free high speed connectivity to approximately 80 schools this year, positively affecting around 65,000 learners. The telecoms company is committed to moving South Africa forward and contributing to the objectives of the national broadband strategy – SA Connect. Providing broadband connectivity to schools is one way in which the company is giving back to the communities in which they deploy their network; and they encourage other telecoms companies to do the same.

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Prepare for Digital TV migration

The deadline for the digital migration is fast approaching. JACQUES BENTLEY, Skyworth Southern Africa Sales Manager, lets us know what we can expect.

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By now you’ve probably heard about the impending digital migration for South African broadcasting. Initially, this shift from old-school, analogue technology to newer, more efficient digital technology was set to take place in 2015 but the deadline for a national migration has been pushed out several times. With our neighbours Namibia and Botswana blazing ahead with their own digital transformations, the pressure is on for our own government to push forward to a fully digital South Africa.

But what does this overdue switch really mean for you and me?

What is digital migration?

Basically, the process involves moving over from an analogue transmission to a Digital Terrestrial Television/Transmission (DTT). We currently use analogue technology, transmitting video and audio through analogue signals. The drawback of this traditional broadcasting format is that the colours, sound and brightness are heavily impacted by the quality of the signal, resulting in a less-than-ideal snowy effect, and your TV deciding to randomly fade or ghost.

Digital TV, on the other hand, boasts crystal-clear image quality and excellent sound without interference because of its land-based network of TV transmitters that broadcast digital signals. This kind of technology also allows viewers to access a wider range of channels with different programmes.

Why is it happening?

Apart from the fact that everyone wants clearer sound, more channels and an enhanced viewing experience, the conversion to digital TV also has a far-reaching goal that ultimately

aids developing nations like our own. According to the International Telecommunications Union (ITU), the objective of Broadcast Digital Transition (BDT) work is to help developing countries with their smooth journey from analogue to digital broadcasting, including terrestrial TV, mobile TV and sound broadcasting. In turn, this means that we can enjoy new broadcasting services as well as an allocation of the digital dividend.

When is it taking place?

June 2019 is D-Day for all countries to have completed their digital migration. Our Communications department is determined to meet this international deadline and has implemented a specific DTT war room to ensure that all the boxes are ticked, and they can deliver on time.

The first province to undergo the digital migration was the Free State back in August, where digital Set-Top Boxes (STBs) were launched in Senekal. Essentially, STBs decode digital signals for old, box-style TV sets and the government aims to distribute these devices to about 5-million poor households, so that all citizens can enjoy prime TV, despite their financial situation. In fact, Skyworth is one of the chosen suppliers of these set-top boxes and is proud to be a core part of an all-inclusive transition to digital.

What can you do about it?

While the government has agreed to subsidise cash-strapped consumers with STBs, the only guarantee is that the digital migration is upon us and it is our responsibility to digitally transform our homes in order to meet the requirements. This means that you’ll either need to invest in a digital-ready TV or purchase your own STB to work with your current TV’s analogue signal. Whichever route you decide to go, you can look forward to exceptional viewing entertainment in the comfort of your own home.

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5 things you should ask about buying a new TV

With so many technological advancements that cater to various needs, and endless options on the market, buying a new TV for your home can be pretty daunting. JACQUES BENTLEY, Southern African Sales Manager at Skyworth, offers a few tips when buying a new TV.

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Given the role a TV occupies in the home – providing entertainment, relaxation and a window to the world for the whole family – it’s not a purchasing decision to be made lightly. Not to mention the fact that you’re likely to spend a rather large sum of hard-earned dough in the process. Fear not – we’re here to help you decide. Here are five important things to think about before you swipe that plastic to ensure your new TV will bring nothing but joy into your home (ok, and maybe a couple of disagreements on what to watch).

  1. Size matters

If you’re a fan of action-packed movies or nail-biting sporting events, you already know how important the size of the screen is. Consider the space into which your new TV will fit, and take measurements of the wall area or cabinet it’s going to sit on to make sure that you’re being practical about its size. How many people will be watching the TV at the same time? Now opt for the largest screen size that will fit comfortably in your lounge (and your budget). Generally, anything between 55 and 65 inches is a great all-round pick according to price, performance and how close most families sit to the TV.

  1. Is it digital-ready?

South Africa’s digital migration is upon us and by June 2019, you’ll either need a digital-ready TV that can transmit digital signals or a Set-Top Box to decode digital signals for your old, box-style analogue TV set. The benefits of investing in a digital TV include crystal-clear image quality, excellent sound and a wider range of channels. Ask the sales assistant to show you their range of digital ready TVs when making your selection.

  1. Does it have a 4K screen resolution?

Resolution refers to the sharpness of the TV picture, usually in terms of horizontal lines of pixels. Ultra HD/ 4K sets have four times more pixels than current Full HD screens. That’s as many as 2 160 horizontal lines, or 3 840 x 2 160 pixels. The result? Super-sharp, detailed and lifelike images, even on large screen sizes. For this reason, a 4K resolution is becoming increasingly popular because it’s a much better choice if you want to future-proof your investment – Skyworth’s G6 model was created with this in mind; it’s basically an Android TV made for the future.

  1. What will you be using your TV for?

Apart from the obvious activity of chilling out to watch your favourite shows, what else do you want to be able to do with your TV? Will your kids be using it to play games? Will you be streaming shows on it? All of these preferences will impact the specific features that will attract you to buy a certain model over another one, so it’s wise to do your research, either online or in store, before you say ‘yes’ to the device. Also, look out for at least four HDMI ports at the back of the set as these tend to get used up very quickly, especially if you are using accessories like a sound bar.

  1. Does it include cutting-edge technology?

From Google Voice Assist, allowing you to speak to your TV, to rich connectivity via Bluetooth, selecting a TV that has advanced capabilities makes for a smarter TV and one you aren’t likely to need to replace in a few years’ time. With Android System 6.0, an easily updatable operating system, the G6 TV is your best bet when it comes to constantly upgrading your TV without forking out money every time.

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