Tag: phone

Huawei denies having secrets

GodSilenceHuawei’s UK and Ireland chief security officer told its UK and Ireland partner summit that it had no secrets from anyone.

David Francis admitted some partners’ customers might not be sure about the red flag outside Huawei’s headquarters but they should have confidence in the security of Huawei product and services.

Huawei gave up on the US market after it and fellow Chinese vendor ZTE were banned from bidding for US government contracts due to concerns over espionage. Some UK government departments were told to stop using Huawei’s videoconferencing systems in internal meetings.

Francis said that Huawei was committed to openness and collaboration and when it spoke about security, it need to differentiate between real security, which is based on facts, evidence and analysis, and the illusion of security, which is whatever you fancy talking about in the pub.

Francis claimed Huawei was the first company to publicly publish how it addresses cybersecurity.

He said that the company was committed to working collaboratively with the industry and sharing information with no secrets.

Nokia denies it wants its mobile phone business back

shoe phoneThe former maker of rubber wear for those cold Finnish nights, Nokia, has denied reports in Chinese media that it planned to return to manufacturing phones.

Nokia sold its mobile phone business to Microsoft and claimed it was quietly getting on with networking and other more lucrative things.

However the Chinese press was all abuzz with the news that Nokia was going to manufacture consumer handsets out of a R&D facility in China.

Nokia said that the reports are false. It even put it on its website, so the denial must be true.

“Nokia reiterates it currently has no plans to manufacture or sell consumer handsets.”

But Nokia has said it is looking into returning to the smartphones business by brand licensing, which is a little odd, but then there are a lot of things which are a little odd about Nokia lately

Soon after Nokia sold its phone business to Microsoft, it launched a new brand licensed tablet computer, produced under licence by Taiwan’s Foxconn, with an intention to follow up with more devices.

Nokia has agreed with Microsoft that it will not enter the mobile phone business before 2016.

Sebastian Nystrom, the head of products at Nokia’s Technologies unit, told Reuters in November that Nokia would be crazy if it did not look at mobile phone production eventually.

Nokia this month announced a takeover of France’s Alcatel-Lucent, a bid to boost its mainstay network equipment business, and also said it could hive off its map business.

All this suggests that Nokia sold off its mobile business with the long term aim of building a new leaner and meaner one, from scratch. Of course the denials might be true, for now, but if we look back this time next year the plans might have firmed up a little more.


Singtel buys US security outfit

history-of-headphones-1895Singapore Telecommunications, or Singtel, is buying US-based cyber-security firm Trustwave for $810 million.

The move is the outfit’s biggest acquisition outside the main telecoms sector and is being touted as a Singtel moving away from being a pure-play telecoms company.

Apparently it wants to be involved in something analysts are calling “digital life”, which includes mobile video and digital advertising, and cyber security through partnerships with FireEye and Akamai, among others. Failing that it wants to be lumberjack.

Even if Singtel had no cunning plans, there is money to be made in the managed security services industry according to Gartner Group. Managed security will grow 15 percent annually from 2014 to reach $24 billion in 2018.
That growth potential has already stoked other acquisitions in the cyber-security business, including BAE’s $232.5 million deal to buy SilverSky and FireEye’s $1 billion takeover of Mandiant, both in 2014.

Singtel, which owns stakes in regional operators including India’s Bharti Airtel and Thailand’s Advanced Info Service, will buy a 98 percent equity stake in the company from a group of investors assembled by Trustwave’s chairman and chief executive officer, Robert McCullen. He will hold the remaining 2 percent.

Trustwave will continue to operate as a stand-alone business unit, Singtel said.
Trustwave, which has over 3 million business subscribers, offers a range of services, including scanning of databases, risk identification and payment compliance. Singtel declined to provide names of specific clients.


Legal challenges mount against US net neutrality

1920s-telephone-advertUS Telcos and ISPs have started their first wave of legal attacks against the US’s attempts at net neutrality.

In the US the telcos have done all they can to make sure that they can charge their customers twice by insisting that the big internet users have to give them more money to use their tubes. The government has said twice that they can’t and asked the FCC to regulate ISPs and telcos which setup such schemes.

On Monday, US Telecom — a group that includes some of the nation’s largest Internet providers — filed suit in Washington, while Alamo Broadband sued the Federal Communications Commission in New Orleans.

US Telecom President Walter McCormick said in a statement that he did not believe the Federal Communications Commission’s move to utility-style regulation invoking Title II authority is legally sustainable.

Alamo alleges that the FCC’s net neutrality rules apply onerous requirements on it.

“Alamo is thus aggrieved by the order and possesses standing to challenge it,” the company’s lawyers wrote in the petition, a copy of which was obtained by The Washington Post.

The challenges were expected, and it looks like any battle will be a show down between a democratically elected government and the bit corporates who really run things in the US.

However the legal challenges are coming much sooner than expected. Many analysts believed that Internet providers would have to wait until the FCC’s rules were officially published in the Federal Register before being eligible to appeal.

In a statement, the FCC called the petitions “premature and subject to dismissal.” It is unclear whether the FCC will be immediately asking for the cases to be thrown out.
Consumer advocacy groups that had pushed hard for the strong new rules said Title II was “the right law” and insisted that the FCC has a strong case.

Direct phone connections to Cuba on way

1920s-telephone-advertAn agreement to build a direct telephone connection between the United States and Cuba has been inked, Cuba’s national telecom provider announced.

The US-based IDT reached an agreement with Cuba’s Empresa de Telecomunicaciones de Cuba (ETECSA) to provide direct international long distance telephony.

This marks the first finalised agreement between companies from the two countries since the joint December 17 announcement by U.S. President Barack Obama and his Cuban counterpart Raul Castro that they would restore diplomatic relations.

“The re-establishment of direct communications between the United States and Cuba will help offer greater ease and quality of communications between the people of both nations,” ETECSA said in a statement.

Phone communication between the two countries was only possible with with calls passing through third countries.

Obama used his executive authority to ease some of the travel and trade restrictions on Cuba and has asked the Congress to lift the embargo completely. Such legislation was introduced in the Senate but has been opposed by the Republicans, hoping to pick up the dissident Cuban ex-pat vote in Florida.


Circular Devices invents new use for old phones

history-of-headphones-1895 Circular Devices thinks that corporations can use discarded computing modules and smartphones to build supercomputers.

The outfit is working a modular smartphone concept, Puzzlephone, and hopes to ship working products before the end of the year. The idea is to increase the longevity of smartphones and reduce waste in the process.

The plan is to create a Puzzlecluster platform made out of the old phones and use it as a company supercomputer.

Alejandro Santacreu, CEO at Circular Devices, said that the Brain module includes the CPU, which will help power the clusters. The plan is also to reuse old battery modules for back-up power. Drawings of the Puzzlecluster architecture show a chassis with slots for the reused modules, which can then be interconnected with others to create the cluster. Just one unit could also be used as a desktop computer.

The first CPU modules should be available for reuse by 2017 so we are talking a long way into the future. But the goal is to deliver a scalable product which can be used by small and medium enterprises, public institutions and data centres. Potential applications include rendering and data analytics, according to Circular Devices. If the cost is low enough, hobbyists and students could use it to learn more about programming for parallel computing.

While corporates might be the only one which have enough old smartphones to create clusters, the work builds on the popularity of the Rasberry Pi single-board computer which is being built into supercomputer clusters as the moment.


Apple takes on Ericsson in phone row

handsetFruity cargo cult Apple has sued the Swedish phone outfit Ericsson in an attempt to break the patent deadlock between the pair.

Apple said that Ericsson’s LTE wireless technology patents are not essential to industry mobile standards and that it is demanding excessive royalties for them.

Jobs’ Mob insists that it has not infringed on the patents and does not owe Ericsson a cent for them.

Ericcson wants cash for the LTE technology calculated as a percentage of the price of the entire smartphone or tablet. However, Apple said that the royalties should be based on the value of the processor chip that includes the technology.

If Ericsson’s patents are deemed essential and the court rules Apple has infringed on them, Apple said it wants the court to assign a reasonable royalty rate.

Apple spokeswoman Kristin Huguet said that Apple was always willing to pay a fair price to secure the rights to standards essential patents covering technology in its products. However Apple can’t agree with Ericsson on a fair rate for their patents so, as a last resort, we are asking the courts for help.

Apple and Ericsson currently have a license agreement that covers many of Ericsson’s allegedly standard-essential patents. The agreement was signed in 2008 soon after Apple launched the iPhone, according to the court filing.

Facebook feature stuffs up your phone bill

shockThe phone companies are rubbing their hands with glee thanks to Facebook’s decision to autorun movies on their news feeds.

Facebook introduced a system where your films of cute cats, guilty dogs, pigglets being thrown into sausage machines and people being beheaded play automatically as you scroll down.

While that is not a problem for those on home broadband, it has been a major killer for mobile users.  Reports are coming in from the US where smartphone users are maxing out their data plans because their phones are downloading movies they are probably not even looking at.

Consumer finance site MoneySavingExpert.com, said it had “seen many complaints from people who have been stung with data bills after exceeding their monthly allowance and who believe it to be because of Facebook autoplaying videos”.

It is not that difficult to fix as the autoplay feature can be switched off but it is not as if Facebook, or anyone else is rushing to tell users.Tap your “Settings” button and then scroll down and click “Facebook.” From there, click “Settings,” “Auto-play,” and then choose “Wi-Fi only” or “Off.” On Android, bring up the Facebook app and go to your account settings. Click “App Settings,” and then choose ‘Auto-play only on Wi-Fi’ or ‘Off.’


LG is back from the dead

return-of-draculaThe troubled smartphone maker LG is apparently back from the dead and reporting a a record quarter for mobile phone sales.

LG said that it sold 14.5 million handsets over the last quarter, its highest total ever and 20 percent more than last year. More than a third of those were LTE models.

Most of the success was due to the well-reviewed top-of-the-line G3 handset, along with strong sales of its mid-range L products.

LG’s mobile division earned $3.5 billion and put an end to a hat trick of three straight quarters of losses. Home entertainment also performed well, climbing 3 percent on the strength of higher-margin UltraHD 4K sets. All that resulted in an operating profit of $599 million.

Analysts think that LG is taking advantage of a slump in the fortunes of Apple and Samsung to claw its way back into favour. For a while there it did look like LG was about to go the way of Blackberry as a mobile phone company whose days were limited.

While the company is not generating the sorts of numbers that Samsung and Apple can, its sales figures are going up and not down.

Brits don’t care about 4G

PhoneCompanies hoping to make big bucks on the back of 4G might be a bit upset to discover that brits don’t really care about the technology.

YouGov SixthSense conducted a survey which found consumers wanted the ease and speed provided by a 4G connection, but most did not know enough about it to get excited.

Of the 1,456 British adults surveyed, more than half said they were looking to surf the web at speeds nearer to those at home, and over a third wanted their maps applications to load more quickly.

While 80 percent said that they were aware of 4G, only 21 percent said they were confident in knowing the benefits it actually holds for them.

Almost half  said they had a ‘vague understanding’ of what it was, with one in three admitting they had ‘no idea’.

The cross sample was also concerned about the extra cost of 4G, with the average increase in costs currently standing at £14.70 per month.

Russell Feldman, Technology & Telecoms Director at YouGov said the survey highlighted the challenges faced by network providers in making customers interested in 4G access.

Only 23 percent claimed to be actually excited by the prospect of using it, and one in three say none of 4G’s features held any interest for them, he said.

This means that consumers will be wary at the thought of the cost of upgrading their contracts so their phones and tablets qualify to connect to the improved service, and 66 pe cent said they were reluctant to shell out money on new devices.

It will make it harder for O2, for example, to have 98 percent of the population on 4G up to two years before Ofcom’s 2017 deadline.

Fieldman said that networks need to be savvy when selling it to consumers showing not just that it exists but also what it does. Take-up is likely to be a slow burn as consumers hold off making decisions until they see it in action, he added.

4G was officially launched in the UK during August last year after Ofcom gave EE, owner of Orange and T-Mobile, the go ahead to create fourth-generation mobile services.

Last week it was announced that the speed of 4G connections through EE would rise to 30Mbps, compared to the average speed of 12Mbps.

OECD: BYOD is ugly

SmartphonesChanges in phone acquisition models might be about to contribute to the slowdown of smartphone sales in some markets, as well as BYOD adoption rates. An OECD report found that most markets are still heavily relying on subsidised phones and bundles, available on two-year plans.

However, in many countries most mobile plans include an entitlement to a handset discount, which makes BYOD unattractive with costlier mobile plans. In spite of that the report found that in some big markets, such as France and the US, bundled phones actually end up $10 to $20 more expensive than the BYOD option. What’s more, the differences aren’t even evident to most consumers, which isn’t the case in some countries which mandate operators to disaggregate the cost of the device in monthly bills, revealing the actual cost of bundled phones.

The report found that operators in the UK are still trying to push two-year contracts, as they help create a stable customer base. One month contracts are used by about 17 percent of British consumers and the number has been more or less stable since 2007. However, two-year contracts accounted for 68 percent of sales in the first quarter of 2011, up from just 2 percent in Q1 2008. At the same time the number of 12-month or 18-month contracts is decreasing.

It is evident that the vast majority of high-end smartphone sales are coming from two-year plans and that this won’t change anytime soon. However, it is an inherently risky approach. Although two-year contracts with fancy bundles can help maintain a stable customer base, smartphones aren’t evolving nearly as fast as they did two or three years ago. The upgrade cycle is slowing down and the model might not work a few years from now, since Vodafone, O2 and EE aren’t offering subsidies anymore.

Consumers aren’t about to ditch bundled phones in favour of unlocked devices and cheaper plans, but the protracted economic downturn might prompt them to do so in the future.

However, having a good customer base and heaps of new devices sold every year allows carriers to invest more in infrastructure. Smartphones are driving 3G and 4G growth and without two-year bundle deals development would be much slower.

The OECD report concluded that consumers can benefit from reduced lock-in by simply buying a pricey smartphone through monthly instalments and using a cheaper plan. Increased transparency, such as disaggregating the cost of the phone in the monthly bill would help as well, along with more unlocked phones. It all comes down to the consumers, but most of them don’t appear to be well informed and savvy to compare competing mobile plans, or the cost of getting an unlocked phone and a separate plan.

HTC plans to pull its nadgers out of the fire with direct marketing

htc-isntHTC is turning to marketing as the Viagra to restore its flaccid brand image and it will not rely on its telecom businesses partners so much.

Peter Chou, chief executive officer of HTC, said some of the problems his company had were from overly relying on partnerships with telecom operators.

The new marketing strategy, targeted particularly in Europe, will focus on “pushing the brand” and “driving demand,” Chou said at a press conference in London.

He said that HTC and its partners would see major changes this year as the company attempts to communicate with consumers more directly.

In the good old days HTC led the industry in technology innovation but the marketplace has changed. HTC needs to change in terms of its “market positioning and execution”. Market positioning is low and someone will have to be executed.

HTC unveiled its new HTC One smartphone in London and New York on Tuesday with revamped camera and audio.

Chou did not say why he felt that the company had been let down by its business partners. But there was a feeling that the company had suffered from poor marketing as the telcos pushed phones from Samsung and Apple instead.

The cunning plan seems to be for HTC to take a more direct marketing approach, although this might create a backlash against the company from business partners who feel left out of the loop.

Undercover report shows shops shift Samsung, Samsung, Samsung

wifepresRetailers and salespeople in the UK prefer to recommend Samsung devices over other brands because they get a better commission off the sale, an analyst outfit claims.

Researchers from Informa Telecoms and Media went undercover to a variety of large British retailers and found that salespeople were recommending Samsung’s Galaxy S3 and Note 2 more than other devices.

Informa’s Julian Jest said that, despite the fact that Apple, Nokia and HTC had released newer handsets, the sales people were not even mentioning them to customers.

One store showed off the Galaxy SIII and the Galaxy Note II, despite having been on the market longer than the latest handsets from Apple, Nokia and HTC.

Apple would be gutted as it had spent a fortune on an in-store campaign at some of these stores and it still could not get sales people to recommend its iPhone 5.

The researchers visited John Lewis, Everything Everywhere, O2, 3, Maplins, PC World, Carphone Warehouse and Phones 4U. The mystery shoppers scored manufacturers based on whether they were advertised in the store window or in-store. They then asked a sales assistant to recommend three smartphones or tablets.

While Apple and Samsung were just as likely to be promoted by advertising in the store or the shop window, sales assistants were far more likely to recommend Samsung.

Informa said in a statement it was “likely that sales assistants see the Samsung devices as a safe bet to earn greater commissions”.

Speaking to Channel EYE  Jest said  Samsung devices have been extremely well received by the consumer market, so sales assistants naturally assumed that the Mystery Shopper would likewise be satisfied with a Samsung product.