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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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Low-cost wireless sport earphones get a kickstart

Wireless earphone brands are common, but not crowdfunded brands. BRYAN TURNER takes the K Sport Wireless for a run.

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As wireless technology becomes better, Bluetooth earphones have become popular in the consumer market. KuaiFit aspires to make them even more accessible to more people through a cheaper, quality product, by selling the K Sport Wireless Earphones directly from its Kickstarter page

KuaiFit has an app by the same name which offers voice-guided personal training services in almost every type of exercise, from cardio to weight-lifting. A vast range of connectivity to third-party sensors is available, like heart rate sensors and GPS devices, which work well with guided coaching. 

The app starts off with selecting a fitness level: beginner, intermediate and advanced. Thereafter, one has the ability to connect with real personal trainers via a subscription to its paid service. The subscription comes free for 6 months with the earphones, and R30 per month thereafter. 

The box includes a manual, a USB to two USB Type B connectors, different sized soft plastic eartips and the two earphone units. Each earphone is wireless and connects to the other independently of wires. This puts the K Sport Wireless in the realm of the Apple Earpods in terms of connection style. 

The earphones are just over 2cm wide and 2cm high. The set is black with a light blue KuaiFit logo on the earphone’s button. 

The button functions as an on/off switch when long-pressed and a play/pause button when quick-pressed. The dual-button set-up is convenient in everyday use, allowing for playback control depending on which hand is free. Two connectivity modes are available, single earphone mode or dual earphone mode. The dual earphone mode intelligently connects the second earphone and syncs stereo audio a few seconds after powering on. 

In terms of connectivity, the earphones are Bluetooth 4.1 with a massive 10-meter range, provided there are no obstacles between the device and the earphones. While it’s not Bluetooth 5, it still falls into the Bluetooth Low Energy connection category, meaning that the smartphone’s battery won’t be drastically affected by a consistent connection to the earphones. The batteries within the earphones aren’t specifically listed but last anywhere between 3 and 6 hours, depending on the mode. 

Audio quality is surprisingly good for earphones at this price point. The headset style is restricted to in-ear due to its small design and probable usage in movement-intensive activities. As a result, one has to be very careful how one puts these earphones, in because bass has the potential of getting reduced from an incorrect in-ear placement. In-ear earphones are usually notorious for ear discomfort and suction pain after extended usage. These earphones are one of the very few in this price range that are comfortable and don’t cause discomfort. The good quality of the soft plastic ear tip is definitely a factor in the high level of comfort of the in-ear earphone experience.

Overall, the K Sport Wireless earphones are great considering the sound quality and the low price: US$30 on Kickstarter.

Find them on Kickstarter here.

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Taxify enters Google Maps

A recent update to Taxify now uses Google Maps which allows users to identify their drivers, find public transport and search for billing options.

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People planning their travel routes using Google Maps will now see a Taxify icon in the app, in addition to the familiar car, public transport, walking and billing options.

Taxify started operating in South Africa in 2016 and as of October 2018 operates in seven South African cities – Johannesburg, Ekurhuleni, Tshwane, Cape Town, Durban, Port Elizabeth and Polokwane.

Once riders have searched for their destination and asked the app for directions, Google Maps shares the proximity of cars on the Taxify platform, as well as an estimated fare for the trip.

If users see that taking the Taxify option is their best bet, they can simply tap on the ‘Open app’ icon, to complete the process of booking the ride. Customers without the app on their device will be prompted to install Taxify first.

This integration makes it possible for users to evaluate which of the private, public or e-hailing modes of transport are most time-efficient and cost-effective.

“This integration with Google Maps makes it so much easier for users to choose the best way to move around their city,” says Gareth Taylor, Taxify’s country manager for South Africa. “They’ll have quick comparisons between estimated arrival times for the different modes of transport, as well as fares they can expect to pay, which will help save both time and money,” he added.

Taxify rides in Google Maps are rolling out globally today and will be available in more than 15 countries, with South Africa being one of the first countries to benefit from this convenient service.

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