uMhlanga Sands dramatically improves in-room digital TV-viewing

Optic-fibre connectivity, Internet-powered high-definition smart TVs, and nearly two-and-a-half times as many DSTV channels as before – these are some of the various in-room amenities and value-adds being rolled out at Umhlanga Sands, a resort where innovation is the name of the game and a best-quality timeshare experience always the objective.

Derek McKillop, General Manager, said the recent soft refurbishment of our apartments had set the scene for many a hi-tech improvement, some in place already, others under way at the moment, and others yet in planning for next year.

One of the key changes made during the soft refurb was the introduction of 43-inch smart TVs into all 237 of the resort’s timeshare units. The new TVs are not only bigger than the previous ones but better, transcending the limitations of conventional TVs and utilising state-of-the-art digital technology. They offer a powerful platform for the next logical move – bringing in bigger, better viewing choices.

‘We’re delighted to announce that we’re increasing the number of TV channels we offer guests from 18 channels to 50 channels,” Derek said. “This is more than double the current number, and means that guests have a dramatically expanded viewing spectrum of everything from news and premier sports to blockbuster movies and series and general entertainment.”

What’s more, it’s also easier than ever for guests to enjoy their own media they bring with them, or videos and photos they take while on holiday. The smart TVs allow for screen-mirroring in which content on your phone, laptop or tablet can be displayed wirelessly on them. Clips of the family’s adventures on the beach that day, the favourite shows you’ve saved to your devices – all can be enjoyed seamlessly and with big-screen comfort in your home from home.

To support the expanded offering, Umhlanga Sands is busy with two interrelated upgrade projects– first, installing new head-end equipment to handle incoming TV broadcast signals, and, secondly, putting in fibre-optic cabling to feed all this data into each of the apartments and onto the screens.

In layperson’s terms, the head-end system is a relay-point between the outside world and the resort. Signals are received via satellite dish, and from there lead to a dedicated room in the building that contains the hardware and software needed to decode them. This is the nerve centre of our broadcast telecommunications and the focus of the head-end upgrade.

The final step is to conduct information from the head-end system to the individual apartments. So, in an interlinked project, Umhlanga Sands is replacing the existing copper cabling with fibre optics, using conduiting which was fitted in an earlier upgrade in anticipation of serving this purpose.

Optic-fibre cabling has well-known advantages over copper wiring, the main ones being its high speed and consistency of transmission and its ability to carry much larger data loads. Franco Seaman, Deputy General Manager, said a specific aim of the upgrade is to get the most out of the smart TVs by making sure that the cabling that feeds them is strong enough to match their capabilities. If you don’t do this, he explained, “it’s like having a Ferrari but putting diesel in it”.

Derek said the fibre-optic cabling will complement the resort’s Wi-Fi network, working hand-in-hand with it to boost the state of digital connectivity at Umhlanga Sands. As a result, one of the further value-adds timeshare owners can look forward to is the introduction of Wi-Fi phones, which is due to happen in 2020.

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