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‘Wi-Fi everywhere’ is now a business priority

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Ruckus Networks, an ARRIS company, and World Wide Worx, today released the results of their “2018 Wi-Fi in South Africa” study which highlights the usage, priorities, intentions and attitudes regarding Wi-Fi technology and its deployment in Smart Cities.

“The research reveals the growing importance of Wi-Fi for both business use and local Smart City project roll-outs,” said Arthur Goldstuck, managing director at World Wide Worx. “While the need for Wi-Fi is growing, there are still a few hurdles that South Africa need to overcome if we are to truly reap the benefits of pervasive connectivity.”

Wi-Fi is Critical in Corporations

The research shows that 97% of corporations and 95% of small businesses use Wi-Fi internally, with over half of these respondents stating the need for Wi-Fi access everywhere as very important. This statistic indicates that Wi-Fi has become critical to employee activity and further demonstrates the trends for small businesses are in line with larger enterprises.

However, despite the enthusiasm for pervasive Wi-Fi, large businesses in South Africa limit out-of-office use, solely depending on in-house use.

  • Half of the respondents said their entire staff are using Wi-Fi internally, with the rest reporting a sliding scale
  • External use, on the other hand, flipped this trend around, with 59% saying they did not allow external use of Wi-Fi to access the corporate network, with a sliding scale declining to 13% saying they allowed all staff to access the network from external Wi-Fi.

 Wi-Fi Quality is More Important than Cost

It is a common misconception that, when making a purchasing decision, businesses consider the low cost of a provider’s service above all else. This study shows that this is untrue for Wi-Fi services. Here are our findings for cost, quality, speed and constant connectivity for Wi-Fi:

  • 94% of respondents ranked quality of Wi-Fi connection to be the most important factor, followed by speed and constant connectivity ranked both at 92%
  • Cost ranked last out of the four options – at 81%
  • 93% of respondents said all four factors, quality of connection, speed, constant connectivity and cost were equally important

Our findings for uses of Wi-Fi indicated the following:

  • 86% of large businesses predominantly use Wi-Fi for IoT security and monitoring, 80% for connection to the intranet and 70% for cloud integration and adoption
  • Small businesses use Wi-Fi predominantly for connection to the Internet and Intranet (95%), followed by cloud adoption and IoT integration

These findings suggest that larger enterprises have more clearly defined needs and uses for Wi-Fi.

Respondents were also given the option to rank from 1-10 (with 10 being highest) the level of importance for various features when selecting a service provider. Here are our findings:

  • The most important criteria was Quality of Service at 94%
  • This was followed by Maintenance and Support at 92%
  • 83% of respondents ranked price as important, but it was only seventh on the overall list

These findings suggest the criticality of quality and service for Wi-Fi deployments. It is clear that most large businesses would rather pay more for a better service, underlining the fact that Wi-Fi has become mission-critical in the corporate environment.

Recognising the Value of Smart Cities

While South Africa is still a long way from having a true Smart City, business decision-makers have a strong awareness of its benefits and 95% believed that wider availability of Wi-Fi would contribute to a Smart City strategy. When asked what the major benefits are of Smart Cities, more than a third cited boosting the economy, while a similar proportion saw it attracting new businesses. Just under a third said it would reduce operating costs.

However, a significant proportion (75.5%) of businesses don’t feature Smart City projects in their budgets. Since Smart Cities is a relatively new concept and no South African city has a clear programme in place to achieve this, the 24.5% proportion of businesses who budget for Smart Cities can be considered relatively high. Even more, a substantial proportion (37.8%) of companies expect to have a budget for Smart City projects in the future.

Barriers to Smart Cities

Our findings for Smart Cities barriers include:

  • 76% of respondents indicated that fibre infrastructure is the biggest tech barrier to Smart Cities roll-out. This was followed by the lack of an IoT eco-system, no unified view for the city and infrastructure stability
  • Approximately 20% of respondents found the barrier to Smart Cities were non-technology related with the lack of funding cited by 71% of respondents
  • This was followed by the cost of access at 40%

These findings suggest that financial issues are the core challenge facing Smart Cities.

“This research indicates that a strong reliable Wi-Fi network is critical for South African businesses and Smart City deployments,” said Riaan Graham, sales director for Ruckus Networks, sub-Saharan Africa. “Although there are still several hurdles to overcome, it is reassuring to see a widespread belief that Smart Cities can provide value to the economy and citizens, with Wi-Fi as the ‘glue’.”

A Smart City requires strong, reliable information and communication technology infrastructure to support the latest iterations of connectivity. This does not mean fixed-line should fall by the wayside. Instead, being smart requires a cross-platform approach that combines the best of class with the best infrastructure to deliver digital services catering for business and consumer needs.

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Huge appetite for foldable phones – when prices fall

Samsung, Huawei and Motorola have all shown their cards, but consumers are concerned about durability, size, and enhanced use cases, according to Strategy Analytics

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Foldable devices are a long-awaited disrupter in the smartphone market, exciting leading-edge early adopters keen for a bold new type of device. But the acceptance of foldable devices by mainstream segments will depend on the extent to which the current barriers to adoption are addressed.

Major brands have been throwing their foldable bets into the hat to see what the market wants from a foldable, namely how big the screens should be and how the devices should fold. Samsung and Huawei have both designed devices that unfold from smartphones to tablets, each with their own method of how the devices go about folding. Motorola has recently designed a smartphone that folds in half, and it resembles a flip phone.

Assessing consumer desire for foldable smartphones, a new report from the User Experience Strategies group at Strategy Analytics has found that the perceived value of the foldable form does not outweigh the added cost.

Key report findings include:

  • The idea of having a larger-displayed smartphone in a portable size is perceived as valuable to the vast majority of consumers in the UK and the US. But, willingness to pay extra for a foldable device does not align with the desire to purchase one. Manufacturers must understand that there will be low sell-through until costs come down.
  • But as the acceptance for traditional smartphone display sizes continues to increase, so does the imposed friction of trying to use them one-handed. Unless a foldable phone has a wider folded state, entering text when closed is too cumbersome, forcing users to utilize two hands to enter text, when in the opened state.
  • Use cases need to be adequately demonstrated for consumers to fully understand and appreciate the potential for a foldable phone, though their priorities seemed fixed on promoting ‘two devices in one’ equaling a better video viewing experience. Identification and promotion of meaningful new use cases will be vital to success.

Christopher Dodge, Associate Director, UXIP and report author said: “As multitasking will look to be a core selling point for foldable phones, it is imperative that the execution be simplified and intuitive. Our data suggests there are a lot of uncertainties that come with foldable phone ownership, stemming mainly from concerns with durability and size, in addition to concerns over enhanced use cases.

“But our data also shows that when the consumers are able to use a foldable phone in hand, there is a solid reduction of doubt and concern about the concept. This means that the in-store experience may more important than ever in driving awareness, capabilities, and potential use cases.”

Said Paul Brown, Director, UXIP: “The big question is whether the perceived value will outweigh the added cost; and the initial response from consumers is ‘no.’ The ability for foldable displays to resolve real consumer pain-points is, in our view critical to whether these devices will become a niche segment of the smartphone market or the dominant form-factor of the future. Until costs come down, these devices will not take off.”

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New exploit exposes credit cards on mobile phones

Check Point Security has found that handsets using Qualcomm chipsets that hold credit and debit card credentials are at risk of a new exploit.

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Now it’s more important than ever to update your phone.
Check Point security has found a vulnerability in mobile devices that run Android, which allows credit card details to be accessed by hackers.

Mobile operating systems like Android offer a Rich Execution Environment (REE), providing a hugely extensive and versatile runtime environment, which allows apps to run on the device. However, while bringing flexibility and capability, REE leaves devices vulnerable to a wide range of security threats. A Trusted Execution Environment (TEE) is designed to reside alongside the REE and provide a safe area on the device to protect assets and to execute trusted code. Qualcomm makes use of a secure virtual processor, which is often referred to as the “secure world”, in comparison to the “non-secure world”, where REE resides. 

But Check Point “fuzzed” a “hole” into this secure world 

In a 4-month research project, Check Point researchers attempted and succeeded to reverse Qualcomm’s “Secure World” operating system. Check Point researchers leveraged a “fuzzing” technique to expose the hole. Fuzz testing (fuzzing) is a quality assurance technique used to discover coding errors and security loopholes in software, operating systems or networks. It involves inputting massive amounts of random data, called fuzz, to the test subject in an attempt to make it crash.

Check Point implemented a custom-made fuzzing tool, which tested trusted code on Samsung, LG, and Motorola devices. Through fuzzing, Check Point found 4 vulnerabilities in trusted code implemented by Samsung (including S10), 1 in Motorola, 1 in LG, but all code sourced by Qualcomm itself. To address the vulnerability, the runtime of Android needs to be protected from both attackers and users. This is typically achieved by moving the secure storage software to a hardware-supported TEE.

Check Point Research disclosed its findings directly to the companies and gave them time to patch vulnerabilities. Samsung patched three vulnerabilities and LG patched one. Motorola and Qualcomm responded, but have yet to provide a patch, and there is no confirmation of a release date yet.

Check Point Research has urged mobile phone users to stay vigilant and check their credit and debit card providers for any unusual activity. In the meantime, they are working with the vendors mentioned to issue patches.

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