Retail music specialist, Music Now, which has entertained millions of shoppers for over 25 years, has used the Covid-19 lockdown to fine tune an innovative content delivery mechanism that will help solve one of the biggest problems faced by learners and educators right now – sending information to those without internet connections or funds to pay for data.
David Yapp, managing director of Music Now, says that a new entrepreneurial subsidiary called Noda Net has been set up to facilitate the creation of networks that will allow individual servers installed at central facilities to relay anything from videos and eBooks to audio files to end users’ smartphones without users needing internet connections.
“Any kind of content – and especially educational material - can be disseminated to the whole of South Africa via Noda. It will be housed on all the local servers installed at the various schools and higher learning institutions. A client must have an internet connection to access the central Noda Net Server. The remote server then sits online the entire time and all updates are sent to the server via the internet. End users need access to the internet just once to logon and create a profile. After that, all content can be transferred to a smart phone using Wi-Fi,” he explains.
Yapp says that, while it is possible to transfer large amounts of information via the internet, this usually only applies to those who are wealthy enough to cope with the high cost of data in South Africa.
“For more than 50% of South Africans, this is NOT possible. With Noda, the end user does not require data outside of the initial logon. Heavy video files and eBooks can be transferred to their devices at NO cost to them. They can download for off line play back at any stage.”
Using the example of a school or TVET college, he says that Noda supplies an onsite server and, in the absence of Wi-Fi, will supply a Wi-Fi network as well. All servers are provisioned and content ready before shipping to the installation destination.
Noda requires a power connection and an active internet connection of a minimum 1meg/s data line. If this is not in place, Noda can provide a solution in the form of a 4G router or more permanent fibre/copper connection.
Noda manages all content. The client supplies this content via url, YouTube link or transfer.
Onsite installation can be carried out within a week to 10 days of date of order depending on the location and size of order. Content is uploaded and available within an hour of upload.
Yapp says that the only expense over and above the monthly license of R99/per user per month is the cost of the installation which is paid for by the client. This is quoted per site. The client never owns or pays for any of the equipment installed which may include a server, Wi-Fi AP, Switch and router (4G). All equipment maintenance and replacement is incorporated into the monthly charge. The client must take responsibility for and insure installed equipment against theft, abuse and damage.
Noda Net is invoiced monthly up front with the initial payment including a 20% deposit that is held as a security deposit to cover any additional licenses required over and above the initial 100 licenses that are issued.
Yapp believes that Noda Net will ultimately grow beyond serving just the education sector which is the greatest need at this point.
“Any kind of content can be sent to the Noda Net servers, not just educational material but also health advice, voter information and more. Plus, once an end user is logged on and a profile created Noda Net can report on each user. The client will have access to a full report that will show where and when end users logged on, what content they accessed and how long they stayed logged on for. Details of the user, name, address, contact details and location can also be reported.”
Yapp says that communication to the user data base could be broadened through Noda, allowing for the relay of information beyond educational materials.
Noda Net can also be utilized by companies, especially those operating from rural sites. Here, communication can be white labelled to take on the client’s branding.
Looking forward, Yapp says that this form of “smart licensing” is a win for all. “With over 16 000 potential users, it could become quite costly to license each user. The smart licensing pool manages traffic flow amongst remote servers (sites) directing licenses where the demand requires it rather than licensing the potential number of users at each site. The savings here are around 30%,” he points out.