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There is a perception that because of cell phones and a plethora of computers and smart devices, that there is no longer an interest in amateur radio. However this is not so. Every year there are many who write the amateur radio examination to qualify for an amateur radio licence… (more)

Long term evolution (LTE) has been the talk of the communications industry for some time. MTN piloted LTE at the beginning of the year but when it starting making noises about launching commercially, albeit in only a few areas, the other telcos were quick to make their announcements. We invited them, and vendors as well, to participate in a virtual panel discussion on this technology… (more)

Just over 15 months ago Eaton acquired the three ACTOM Low Voltage Equipment (ALVE) business units: CHI Control, Meissner Uninterruptible Power and Norsa Electronics, bringing them all under the Eaton brand umbrella. To bring known and trusted brands together and give them a new name is not an easy task! I had a conversation with the man whose responsibility it is to make it work. He is Shane Kilfoil, MD of Eaton South Africa… (more)

Regulatory stagnation, indecision and misplaced ideologies are some of the reasons why broadband for all will likely remain a pipe dream for some time to come. Looking back over the past year, 2012 started with a promise from the Minister of Communication that she would intervene to get the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA) to speed up the process… (more)

Presentations by students from the various Telkom Centres of Excellence at the annual Southern Africa Telecommunications Networks and Applications (SATNAC) 2012 conference were, as always, of a high standard. The Telkom Centres of Excellence form a joint venture by Telkom, the telecommunications industry and the Technology and Human Resources for Industry Programme (THRIP)… (more)

Cloud technology has taken off in South Africa, although there are still those who believe that it is still early days. Perhaps the reluctance to move business into the cloud is because they are not convinced that sufficient security and safeguards are in place. This prompted us to ask four experts to share their experiences and views… (more)

I recently had the privilege to have a conversation with Prof. Mervyn King SC – a few hours before he was due to jet off to Europe to attend international meetings in various European capitals. He is probably known to most of our readers as chairman of the King Committee on Corporate Governance in South Africa, which produced the King I, II and III reports on corporate governance… (more)

USB flash drive as a key ring; The world’s smallest 3G and WiFi personal hotspot; Logitech iPad speaker stand; Ultrabook performance at a fraction of the cost with an SSD upgrade kit… (more)

Information technology research and advisory company Gartner defines Software as a Service (SaaS) as applications delivered as cloud services. It is in many ways the most mature of the cloud types. It is important for companies to align themselves with the SaaS adoption curve. Cloud computing is having a major impact on business operations, yet SaaS is not taking off in South Africa as is seen elsewhere in the world… (more)

EngineerIT invited a group of experts representing a number of companies to contribute a virtual panel discussion on security issues in supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) systems, including a debate aound the Air Gap principle… (more)

In August 2012 the Department of Communications (DoC) published the Electronic Communications Amendment (ECA) Bill 2012 with the aim of creating a parallel organisation that will be responsible for the management of the radio spectrum. The Bill proposes a sizeable structure to manage what everyone understood to be the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA)’s role. So if the amendments are accepted and the Bill becomes law more money will have to be allocated to the DoC… (more)

Dr. Martin recently addressed the Invensys User Conference “Change 2012” about one of the most pressing questions in industry – downsizing versus empowerment… (more)

“South Africa is not in a recession, maybe you are talking yourself into one,” said Kim Anderson, principal analyst and CxO adviser, Ovum when he addressed the recent 2012 Cloud Africa summit. “But you are not!”… (more)

The Mobility 2012 research study, conducted by World Wide Worx with the backing of First National Bank, revealed some interesting trends both in term of cellphone banking and general use of cellphones… (more)

The Department of Communications is planning to create another body, additional to ICASA, to take over spectrum management. One of the many changes proposed in the Electronic Communications Amendment Bill, 2012 is the establishment of a Spectrum Management Agency within the portfolio of the Minister of Communications, Dina Pule, with the overall responsibility for the country’s spectrum as contemplated in the White Paper on Broadcasting Policy, 1998… (more)

For many years data centres were the domain of telcos –until 2009, when Teraco opened the first vendor-neutral data centre in Rondebosch, Cape Town. EngineerIT received the following responses to questions posed to various players in the field… (more)

Traditional methodologies for monitoring the data centre environment are no longer sufficient. This is the view of Christian Cowan and Chris Gaskins of Schneider Electric’s Data Centre Science Centre in their White Paper on the subject… (more)

Most electric cars run on rechargeable lithium-ion batteries – a pricey technology that accounts for more than half of the vehicle’s total cost. One promising alternative is the lithium-sulphur battery, which can theoretically store five times more energy at a much lower cost… (more)

For emergency communication such as services offered by the South African Radio League HAMNET, it is important that high frequency (HF) coverage is available at all times. This is currently not possible with the frequencies available to radio amateurs… (more)

  • Sitecom high speed USB hub
  • Logitech tablet keyboard
  • Now your watch keeps time as you cross continents
  • Don’t let load shedding upset your computing equipment
  • APC’s Back-UPS 650 provides enough battery backup power
  • Aspire S3 Ultrabook wakes from sleep in 1,5 seconds… (more)

 

In this monthly feature, Hans van de Groenendaal ZS6AKV, executive chairman of the South African Amateur Radio Development Trust (SAARDT), looks at various technologies and activities that drive amateur radio… (more)

It has finally arrived – internet in the sky!  Mango airline has introduced internet on its flights and other airlines are likely to follow… (more)

Co-chairman of the WACS consortium, Dr. Angus Hay and GM Strategic Business Development at Neotel, said at the switching-on of the WACS cable system, that the success of the project and the fast implementation was greatly facilitated by the excellent cooperation of the consortium partners… (more)

While regulatory processes in the communications industry are important, these processes should not get in the way of new developments. This means that regulatory authorities like the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA) should be proactive and be agile enough to develop regulatory frameworks, adjust fee structures and promulgate regulations that keep track of the pace of technological developments… (more)

Virtualisation is now high on the priority list of many companies and is frequently the subject of conferences. It is one thing talking about virtualisation, it is quite another thing implementing it. We invited a number of experts to participate in our virtual panel discussion… (more)

In this monthly feature, Hans van de Groenendaal ZS6AKV, executive chairman of the South African Amateur Radio Development Trust (SAARDT), looks at various technologies and activities that drive amateur radio. SAARDT is dedicated to the development of amateur radio in South Africa with a special interest in the youth. The organisation is funded by donations and supports the South African Radio League and SA AMSAT… (more)

Today’s world is about broadband, convergence and collaboration. When terrestrial trunked radio (Tetra) was developed as a secure mobile audio communication system aimed at the public safety market, there was no talk about broadband or sharing images and video. Over the past few years that has all changed. Public safety agencies now use video: sharing images and video of accidents or disaster scenes with the control room for analysing the situation and sharing advice on how to proceed. There is currently no mobile technology available to handle broadband which means that Tetra and other voice and narrowband data systems are the systems of choice… (more)

Many organisations have a number of security systems in place to protect their investments, but the problem is that these systems usually operate independently. The obvious answer is the integration of the various individual systems to create one converged system which will reduce costs and be more effective than several individual systems… (more)

The West Africa Africa Cable System (WACS) consortium has inaugurated the highest capacity submarine cable system ever to land in sub-Saharan Africa. The 17 200 km cable has unleashed a new wave of broadband capacity on the African continent, linking 14 countries. Adrian Moss, chairman of the WACS management committee, said at the official switch-on on 11 May 2012 that the sheer volume of capacity will contribute to further fostering broadband development; giving impetus to African economies and helping to increase the standard and quality of life of its citizens… (more)

Safety is the number one priority in mining operations. When an accident happens underground the chances are that many miners will lose their lives. South Africa has had its share of terrible accidents of which the Coalbrook disaster was one of the worst in our mining history. At 19h30 pm on 21 January 1960, there was a catastrophic collapse underground. Over 400 miners died at the Clydesdale colliery at Coalbrook, 22 km from Vereeniging… (more)

After nine years of sweat and tears by the South African and Australian SKA site bid teams, the independent SKA Site Advisory Committee (SSAC), composed of world-renowned experts, carried out an objective technical and scientific assessment of the sites in South Africa and Australia, and by consensus identified Africa as the preferred site. But their recommendation was overturned by the SKA Organisation after complaints by the Australians… (more)

One just has to Google LED to learn that the concept of a light emitting diode has a long history but was slow to develop beyond the replacement of panel and indicator lights. It was only when the cost of energy became an issue that major developments took place in a very short space of time. Reading today’s technical literature, one can only come to one conclusion – the potential of light emitting diode technology is relatively untapped… (more)

In February 2012, at the World Radiocommunication Conference (WRC) of the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) a new world-wide frequency band for amateur radio was born: 472 – 479 kHz, destined to be known as the 630 kHz band… (more)

Due to potential interference, the TV band usually has unused spectrum inbetween any two stations which seems a waste of valuable spectrum that could be utilised to provide broadband connectivity, particularly in rural areas. In July 2011 the IEEE accepted the IEEE 802.22 standard which is aimed at using cognitive radio (CR) techniques to allow sharing of geographically unused spectrum allocated to the television broadcasting services on a non-interference basis… (more)

While in some quarters fibre is being touted as the be all and end all, if there are any myths and misconceptions about satellites, then top of the list would be “satellites are a dying breed” and “satellites are expensive.” I agree that sub-marine and terrestrial fibre has brought broadband to the masses in the metropolitan areas but those on the “platteland” are sadly passed by. For them there must be other solutions – satellites being one. If satellites are a dying breed, where would pharmacies and chain stores in rural areas be? Many rural pharmacies rely on VSat networks to check medical aid benefits when dispensing medicine, chain stores need access to customer accounts and ATM facilities and banks in rural areas rely on VSats… (more)

South Africa’s new Astronomy Geographic Advantage Act protects 12,5-million hectares in the Northern Cape as a radio astronomy reserve to ensure the future of radio astronomy in the region. The question is – how will it affect people living in the area? Will they still have acces to TV, radio, cellphones and to the internet? According to Adrian Tiplady, Square Kilometre Arra (SKA) site characterisation manager, great efforts are being made to ensure that people in the area will have access to telecommunications and broadcasting, with full co-operation from the various role-players… (more)

Conventionally, expanding the capacity of mobile networks has been achieved mainly by adding more base stations to the existing infrastructure. However, it is a relatively slow and costly way to roll out capacity and this has impeded the expansion of mobile broadband, which in today’s highly competitive market is challenging. Although smaller cells have been enabled to provide a more cost-effective and faster way to add capacity in selected hot spot areas and to fill coverage gaps, especially indoors, small cell deployment will not replace, but rather, will complement the macro layer as a key provider of capacity and coverage… (more)

In the automotive industry robots have been used for many years but in some other sectors their use has been slow to take off. We asked a number of people from the automation industry to participate in a virtual panel discussion on robotics. Hopefully we take the lid off some of the mysteries that many believe surround these useful combinations of electronics, metal and software. Our point of departure was to explore the deployment of robotics in modern day plants… (more)

On 31 March 2011, the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA) published the new Radio Frequency Spectrum Regulations in the Government Gazette. The ink had hardly dried on the document when ICASA received a flurry of complaints about mistakes and inaccuracies… (more)

Franck Cohen, president of SAP Europe, Middle East and Africa, recently visited South Africa as part of the company’s 40th anniversary. While most companies were still in the recovery stage when new dark clouds started gathering – mainly driven by the debt crisis in several euro zone countries – SAP celebrated its 40th anniversary with a 25% growth during 2011. In its annual results the euro zone’s financial woes are clearly reflected by a flat European market… (more)

Is intelligent building automation (IBA) just about being green, or is it a business imperative, given the climate of ever-increasing energy costs, and worse, a dwindling supply? It is a point of debate that is surely appearing on many boardroom meeting agendas. Some still argue that it is about being green, others will say it is about reducing cost, and yet another group believes that it is about saving the environment… (more)

With fuel prices at an all-time high and airfares skyrocketing, telepresence, video conferencing and teleconferencing should be taking off. Every vendor tells prospective clients how much their companies can save on travel costs and time and increase productivity, but as yet the market has not seen large scale adoption… (more)

A few years ago there were only a handful of data centres in South Africa, now they seem to be everywhere. The growth is obviously driven by demand, migration to the cloud and more companies outsourcing their IT services. In many respects data centres offer better business continuity as many of them have a large amount of redundancy and redundant connectivity built-in, which is often not affordable by small and medium sized companies. Security is another major consideration… (more)

Many South African-engineered and -manufactured products find their way overseas, yet we seldom read about it in our local media. One example is a tunnel FM radio system designed and manufactured by Broadcast Solutions Electronics in Cape Town. The company was created by the management buyout from Plessey in 2000… (more)

Scientists agree that radio wave propagation requires ongoing research as there are still many unanswered questions particularly when it comes to propagation on frequencies above 30 MHz. Radio amateurs are well known for their passion to explore the vagaries of the ionosphere, partially driven by the fact that they generally only have access to low power transmitters and moderate antennas but also for their passion for experimentation… (more)

SA AMSAT (Southern African Amateur Radio Satellite Association) announced a CubeSat building project in 2011. I caught up with Hannes Coetzee ZS6BZP to track the progress so far. Designing and building a satellite measuring only 10 x 10 x 10 cm and weighing just over 1 kg is not an easy task… (more)

A R126-million Centre for High Resolution Transmission Electron Microscopy has opened at the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University (NMMU) in Port Elizabeth. This will enable our scientists to analyse materials right down to atomic level. The newly completed centre puts South Africa on a par with international peers in terms of cutting-edge research facilities… (more)

PCB design has comes a long way since the dot and tape era – having moved from PCAD to the latest Altium software.  EDA has designed boards for the space industry including for SA’s own satellite, SumbandilaSat. Altium provides design solutions that break down barriers inherent in electronic designs by unifying the separate processes, all within a single design environment, working off a single data model which links all aspects of product design into one process… (more)

There are a large number of communication services in the cloud and new ones are being added almost daily. In this article we look at a couple of interesting services that operate in the cloud – one of them being printing in the cloud. Epson has expanded its mobile and cloud printing services for mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets… (more)

Visual, mechanical and cognitive distractions while driving are legion, but systems are now being developed that will revolutionise in-car communication. Patrick Tchankue Sielinou, a student in the Department of Computing Sciences at the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University (NMMU), Port Elizabeth presented a paper last year  at  Automotive UI 2011 in Salzburg, Austria, covering the usability and the safety of in-car communication… (more)

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