What is data speed?

Popular Mechanics (South Africa) - - How Your World Works -

Data speed is the rate at which me­dia is trans­ferred from one de­vice to an­other. The trans­fer rate is mea­sured in mul­ti­ples of bits: the ba­sic unit of mea­sure­ment in com­put­ing and dig­i­tal com­mu­ni­ca­tions. The in­cre­ments are kilo­bits per sec­ond, megabits per sec­ond, gi­ga­bits per sec­ond and ter­abits per sec­ond.

Al­though data speed is dic­tated by tech­no­log­i­cal ca­pa­bil­i­ties, things like the op­ti­mal trans­fer rates and tech­nol­ogy used, etc are reg­u­lated.

a com­pany that spe­cialises in world­wide map­ping mo­bile cov­er­age and per­for­mance, in its third quar­ter of 2015 re­port. Last year the Sin­ga­pore-based telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions op­er­a­tor Starhub recorded the high­est 4G LTE down­load speed at 38 Mbps.

Mo­bile data speed in South Africa

By the third quar­ter of 2015 lo­cal mo­bile com­mu­ni­ca­tion com­pa­nies ranked be­low the global av­er­age, re­ports Opensignal. Vo­da­com's LTE speed ranked 144th glob­ally, with an av­er­age down­load speed of 10 Mbps; MTN ranked at 173rd, with an av­er­age 4 Mbps down­load speed.

It's worth not­ing that poor data speed is not only the fault of net­work providers. For net­work providers to in­crease data speed, they need ac­cess to in­creased broad­band spec­trum. Spec­trum is a range of elec­tro­mag­netic fre­quen­cies that wire­less de­vices use to trans­fer data, and this is reg­u­lated by Icasa, the In­de­pen­dent Com­mu­ni­ca­tions Au­thor­ity of South Africa. Icasa hopes to auc­tion spec­trum to net­work providers to en­sure fair com­pe­ti­tion, In­de­pen­dent On­line re­ported in Fe­bru­ary.


Near-field com­mu­ni­ca­tion, com­monly known as NFC, is used for short-dis­tance data re­lay. It en­ables por­ta­ble de­vices such as smart­phones to com­mu­ni­cate at a dis­tance of up to 4 cen­time­tres. NFC data speeds range be­tween 106 and 424 Kbps.

Al­though NFC tech­nol­ogy has not be­come pop­u­lar in SA, in some coun­tries banks have adopted it as a method for mo­bile trans­ac­tions.


Blue­tooth Core Spec­i­fi­ca­tion, or sim­ply Blue­tooth, is the smart­phone con­nec­tion tech­nol­ogy of choice for hands-free com­muni- cation in ve­hi­cles and wire­less con­nec­tiv­ity be­tween com­put­ers and pe­riph­er­als. It al­lows com­mu­ni­ca­tion be­tween de­vices up to 10 me­tres apart. Lat­est-gen­er­a­tion Blue­tooth 4.0-ca­pa­ble de­vices can trans­fer data at up to 24 Mbps.

Wi-fi Di­rect

De­vel­oped as a method for de­vices to com­mu­ni­cate with­out the use of a wire­less ac­cess point such as a router, Wi-fi Di­rect al­lows for data trans­fer at speeds of up to 250 Mbps. The tech­nol­ogy was first adopted by In­tel in 2008, and has steadily grown in pop­u­lar­ity in re­cent years. Ease of user can set it up.

At the mo­ment a lim­ited range of mo­bile de­vices and pe­riph­er­als come with Wi-fi Di­rect as a fea­ture, but the mo­bile in­dus­try firmly be­lieves its pop­u­lar­ity will grow.

4G now, 5G soon?

Not quite. Glob­ally coun­tries are still ac­tively adopt­ing 4G and LTE, and in­creas­ing ex­ist­ing cov­er­age of these tech­nolo­gies. And al­though much of the world is abuzz with the po­ten­tial 5G could have on con­nec­tiv­ity be­tween de­vices and even ve­hi­cles, the re­al­ity is that the tech­nol­ogy is at least four years away. The ITU-R re­cently pub­lished a time­line out­lin­ing the steps to­wards the 5G stan­dard, with 2020 be­ing the es­ti­mated year for the roll­out of next-gen­er­a­tion spec­i­fi­ca­tions.


To make Mowgli's rid­ing mo­tions look re­al­is­tic, vis­ual-ef­fects su­per­vi­sor Rob Le­gato in­vented a rig that could sim­u­late the mus­cle move­ments of ac­tual an­i­mals. Legacy Ef­fects, which cre­ated hy­draulics for Juras­sic Park, built the ma­chine, and the staff nick­named it the Faverator. “The com­puter an­i­ma­tors mimic the way the an­i­mals move,” Le­gato says. “Then you pro­gram that to the rig and the com­puter fig­ures out what the pis­tons have to do to cre­ate the same mo­tion.” The idea came from pinart toys – on which a kid can place his hand un­der nails to make shapes – which is def­i­nitely the first time those have ever been use­ful.

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