Simon Rockman

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Mobile and Motoring Correspondent. The former editor of Amstrad User, Amiga Computing, Personal Computer World, What Mobile and a number of other blast-from-the-past titles, Simon has worked for Motorola, Sony Ericsson and the GSMA. He has great contacts in the mobile industry, where his specialities are phones for seniors and mobile payments. He also covers Bitcoin and 3D printing. Simon regularly reviews the latest and most interesting cars for The Register as the Vulture behind the wheel.
Becks buys Sprint

David Beckham fakes bewilderment to flog mobiles to Yanks. Fakes?

Fashion model and former one-footed footie ace David Beckham walks into a phone shop and finds it all rather confusing, or so a new US television commercial for mobile operator Sprint would have us believe. While he quizzes AT&T, T-Mobile US and Verizon on their offers, he doesn’t ask the Sprint salesperson anything like as …
Simon Rockman, 03 Jul 2015
Samsung Galaxy S6

Samsung ousts Apple as top US smartmobe biz

In figures for the three months to the end of May, Kantar Worldpanel says that Samsung took a bite out of Apple's US market share to overtake the fruity firm. This is as much down to continued strong sales of the Galaxy S5 as to the introduction of the Galaxy S6. Carolina Milanesi, Chief of Research & Head of US Business, told …
Simon Rockman, 01 Jul 2015
You seen him? Hasidim

Orange hurls €90m at Israel's Partner to end political bunfight

Orange has been caught in a political storm after trying to stop Israeli mobile network Partner Communications from using its name. The company uses the brand because it received funding from, but was not owned by, Hutchison Whampoa, which launched the Orange brand in the UK several years ago. When Orange (then the UK's third- …
Simon Rockman, 01 Jul 2015

UH OH: Windows 10 will share your Wi-Fi key with your friends' friends

Updated A Windows 10 feature, Wi-Fi Sense, smells like a security risk: it can share access to Wi-Fi networks with the user's contacts. higglty piggeltey that makes good sense Wi-Fi Sense has been on Windows Phone since 8.1 Those contacts include their Outlook.com (nee Hotmail) contacts, Skype contacts and, with an opt-in, their …
Simon Rockman, 30 Jun 2015
Image from Shutterstock 161369036

Ofcom: We need 5G spectrum planning for the future’s ultramobes

Despite the majority of Reg readers thinking that 5G can wait, there needs to be some planning as to how spectrum will be allocated if the same frequencies are to be made available globally. The need for international harmony on use of millimetre spectrum was the focus of a recent presentation by UK regulator Ofcom to the LTE …
Simon Rockman, 29 Jun 2015

Mobe encryption guru Charles Brookson picks up OBE from the Queen

Charles Brookson – the man behind the encryption algorithms in GSM mobile networks – has collected his OBE from the Queen. Brookson led the team that produced the A5/1, A5/3 and A5/2 algorithms used by countless mobes worldwide to encrypt calls from eavesdroppers. He recently stepped down from his role as chairman of the GSM …
Simon Rockman, 27 Jun 2015
Depth perception

Apple's iPhone 7 to come loaded with depth-sensing camera, supply chain spies claim

Reports coming out of Taiwan claim that the iPhone 7 will have dual rear-facing cameras. It's a move which would see Apple join the ranks of Dell, HTC, Huawei, and Samsung in adding depth-sensing technology to its mobes. A report in the Taiwanese Business Weekly claims Apple has been tinkering with dual-lens tech for three years …
Simon Rockman, 26 Jun 2015
Checking comms at supersonic speeds

Cambridge boffins: STOP the rush to 5G. We just don't need it

+Poll The headlong rush into 5G is an unnecessary technology treadmill, or so the great and the good of the wireless world have concluded. Cambridge Wireless, a network which brings together senior players in the mobile industry, may have moved its annual shindig from the esteemed university to London's Emirates Stadium, but it …
Simon Rockman, 26 Jun 2015
Supermarine Spitfire firing up. SAC Graham Taylor/Crown copyright

Vodafone splashes €2 BEEELLLION to kick German TV sideways

Germany's electricity, gas, telecoms, post and railway regulator, the Bundesnetzagentur, has raised €5.08bn in its latest spectrum auction - including flogging the 700MHz frequencies currently in use by TV channels. The biggest purchaser was Vodafone, which splurged €2.1bn, with the auction going through 181 rounds and …
Simon Rockman, 23 Jun 2015
Virgin Tivo

Virgin Media starts its broadband-of-the-gaps fibre rollout

Virgin Media has started work connecting customers to the fibre broadband infill it announced in February. The £3bn programme significantly larger than anything planned by BT and represents a growing trend among companies to provide higher speed broadband than available with the UK incumbent. Virgin offers a 152Mbps service, …
Simon Rockman, 22 Jun 2015
india

Phone-home service Lebara launches prepaid TV offering

Low-cost mobile virtual network operator Lebara is following the non-virtual operators in a step towards quad-play with a TV offering — and for the moment at least skipping broadband and fixed. As with the existing phone service, Lebara Play will be prepaid, with customers topping up their allocation at a local corner shop. …
Simon Rockman, 22 Jun 2015
shutterstock_206717503

Giganto French telco merger: Altice makes eyes at Bouygues

Despite Margrethe Vestager – the EU’s anti-trust supremo – railing against telco mergers earlier this month, French mega-company Altice has made a €10bn bid for the telco part of rival Bouygues. Altice has made the bid thorough Numericable-SFR, formed when Numerical bought the SFR network from Vivendi last year for €17bn. A …
Simon Rockman, 22 Jun 2015
parcels_shutterstock_648

Post Office launches mobe service for aged greybeards

The Post Office has launched its own mobile phone service. The organisation plays hard on the value for money that its new pre-pay tariffs offer, but in practice the market is so competitive it’s hard to make that stand up. While the headline prices are cheaper, many rivals – notably Tesco Mobile – offer top-up bonuses, which …
Simon Rockman, 22 Jun 2015
top of the bt tower

Tower of BT Bubbly: Fancy nibbling atop a strategic data hub?

The rotating restaurant at the top of the BT Tower will open for two weeks this year to celebrate its 50th anniversary. The GPO Tower, as it was named many decades ago, used to be open to the public, with both a restaurant and a public viewing galley. A 1971 IRA bomb led to the closure of the gallery, with the restaurant closing …
Simon Rockman, 22 Jun 2015
The Alfa 4C needs a small number plate

Buy with your head, drive with your heart: Alfa Romeo 4C Coupe

Vulture at the Wheel The Alfa Romeo 4C is unusual. It’s not, like every other Alfa, “the make or break car for the company’s future” – a tag which has been attached to pretty much every new launch since the 75 in 1985. The 4C is truly head-turning If you buy a 4C, budget for a shorter number plate At £51,500, this is an out-and-out sports car. …
Simon Rockman, 21 Jun 2015
angry_woman_mobile_cropped_648

Vodafone hikes prices to 37.5p/min – and lets angry customers flee

Vodafone loves the price of 37.5p/minute. So much so that pretty much everything which is outside a standard bundle is going to cost exactly that. 37.5p is what Vodafone already charges for excess minutes over and above a subscriber's package. The move to introduce that rate for virtually any non-bundle activity sees some …
Simon Rockman, 16 Jun 2015
Handshake

Huawei and Vodafone saunter to bed together, making eyes at big biz

Vodafone and Huawei have signed a memorandum of understanding to say that they are going to work on fixed and mobile connectivity bonding technology for new products, amongst other enterprise-friendly things. Those things also include working on better in-building coverage solutions, the development of new machine-to-machine …
Simon Rockman, 16 Jun 2015
Motorola Timeport, Nokia 3310, Ericsson T36 and Nokia 6310i

Nokia to LG: You want our smartphone IP? Alright, you got it

Nokia – the bit in Finland, not the bit that belongs to Microsoft – isn’t making mobile phones anymore, but it’s still making money from them. The company will licence its smartphone IP to LG, the first such deal Nokia has done since selling its phone biz to Microsoft. It’s not the first deal like this Nokia has done, though. …
Simon Rockman, 16 Jun 2015
Bright orange Vauxhall

Vauxhall VXR8: You know when you've been tangoed

Vulture at the Wheel I wanted to like the Vauxhall VXR8, but I didn’t and I’m still not entirely sure why not. It’s very fast and has the magic ingredient I look for in a car: exclusivity. Not the you-can’t-afford-it kind of exclusivity, but a special kind of petrol-head, what’s-one-of-those? exclusivity. I used to own a VX220, which was a Vauxhall …
Simon Rockman, 13 Jun 2015
How silicon roundabout will look

No Silicon Roundabout U-Bend U-Turn: Build that peninsula boys

Following a period of consultation, Transport for London has published a report showing that a significant proportion of the 1,300 people who expressed an opinion thought the idea of converting London's so-called Silicon Roundabout into a U-Bend incorporating a "peninsula" was A Good Thing. Under the plan, the amount of space …
Simon Rockman, 11 Jun 2015
Range Rover uses cameras and suspension monotoring to advise other traffic of potholes

Future Range Rovers will report pot-holes directly to councils

Jaguar Land Rover is building an experimental Range Rover which can automatically spot and report potholes. The system is akin to one Volvo and Ericsson have been working on to spot icy patches on roads. The Jaguar Land Rover system uses the MagneRide suspension already offered on the Evoque and Discovery Sport. It records the …
Simon Rockman, 11 Jun 2015
Voda App lets guest use your wi-fi

Fourplay frolics: Vodafone launches landline broadband

As expected, Vodafone has launched Connect, a consumer broadband service - and, as expected, the speeds are disappointing. While AQL and Gigaclear will let you have a gigabit or more, and Virgin Media offers 152Mbps, the new Vodafone service is aimed at BT’s 76Mbps Infinity 2 package. Vodafone claims that it will offer speed …
Simon Rockman, 10 Jun 2015
arsenal_b_dortmund_champions_league_648

HTC reflects on Champions League iPhone cock-up

HTC is recovering from the embarrassment of being unmasked as a user of the iPhone. oh dear watch the reflections To celebrate its involvement as a sponsor of this year's UEFA Champions League, HTC produced a blingtastic limited edition, 24ct gold version of the HTC One M9. And then it obviously had to take to Twitter to …
Simon Rockman, 10 Jun 2015
Sinclar ZX Spectrum+ 128

Qualcomm selling its 1.4GHz spectrum (with a little help from Ofcom)

US chip-making giant Qualcomm is looking to sell a chunk of radio spectrum it found just lying about in the back of a cupboard. The company released a statement saying: The European Commission recently voted for the release of L-Band (1452-1492MHz) spectrum throughout the European Union for use as Supplemental Downlink (SDL …
Simon Rockman, 09 Jun 2015
Dispatchers are vital to co-ordinating on the ground activities

Brit plods' post-TETRA radio omnishambles comes home to roost

The £1.2bn emergency services contract which The Register flagged up as an omnishambles six months ago has now, as we predicted, collapsed. After a year-long bidding process the government had whittled the tenders down to two companies: EE and O2. Now O2 has pulled out as a result of Telefonica selling the network to Three’s …
Simon Rockman, 09 Jun 2015
US cashpoint. Pic: Tax Credits

Cynical Apple says it'll gouge less cash from iTunes strummers' sales

Apple is looking to move from the 30 per cent margin it makes on sales of apps through iTunes, lowering its take to protect the strength of the Apple ecosystem. The Financial Times (paywall) reports that Apple is in discussion with media companies ahead of a launch for Apple’s TV streaming service and curated streaming music …
Simon Rockman, 08 Jun 2015
shutterstock_263560157-nfc

Verizon splits with carrier-led bonking and invests in SimplyTapp

Verizon Ventures has invested in NFC technology company SimplyTapp. What makes this interesting is that SimplyTapp is a cloud-based service using Host Card Emulation (HCE) for the security element in Android phones. Operators have traditionally supported the rival Single Wire Protocol (SWP) standard and Vodafone recently teamed …
Simon Rockman, 08 Jun 2015
Caterham. Pic: Simon Rockman

Caterham 270S: The automotive equivalent of crack

Vulture at the Wheel More power is always good, so the question is: how much better is the Caterham 270S than the Caterham 160 we reviewed a while back? The answer is "not a lot". And the real improvement isn’t the power, it’s the gearbox and the sound. This is surprising. Caterham nomenclature is based on power-to-weight ratios, with the car …
Simon Rockman, 07 Jun 2015
shutterstock_275045957

Jurassic Part: Vertu announces lizard-skin phones

Vertu, makers of super-expensive phones for the insanely rich, has announced two new lizard-skin phones, coming in at a cool £7,600. “Night Forest is a rich dark green and the Dark Scarlet is a beautifully woody chestnut red, both inspired by the canopy of an English woodland," said the UK manufacturer and retailer of luxury …
Simon Rockman, 07 Jun 2015
shutterstock_186568010-troll

New US bill aims to zap patent trolls with transparency demands

The US Senate Judiciary Committee has recommended that the "Protecting American Talent and Entrepreneurship Act 6 of 2015" be accepted. The committee voted 16-4 in favour of the bill (Patent bill S.1137, PDF), which aims to reduce patent trolling and, it is said, uncover who is taking an action and why. The bill stipulates that …
Simon Rockman, 05 Jun 2015
Vittorio Colao (CEO)

Vodafone IS talking to Virgin Media daddy Liberty Global

Rumours of all kinds of talks between Liberty Global, which owns Virgin Media in the UK and Vodafone, have been rumbling for months. Vodafone's now come out and confirmed those rumours are true. Vodafone put out a release this morning saying: “Vodafone Group Plc ("Vodafone") notes the recent media speculation regarding a …
Simon Rockman, 05 Jun 2015
cupid_648

T-Mobile has a network, Dish has spectrum it can't use. Oh, HELLO

T-Mobile US and Dish Networks are in talks about joining forces. Consolidation and quad-play are all the rage between mobile networks, and mobile networks and other networks. The Wall Street Journal reports that the two companies have even decided that Dish boss Charlie Egan would head the beast as Chairman, with the outspoken T …
Simon Rockman, 04 Jun 2015
Telenor Norway CEO Berit Svendsen

Telenor Norway projects 2020 switch-off for its 3G network

Norwegian telco Telenor has outlined plans for switching off 3G, which may be a model for other operators. Norweigians love 4G so much that the Telenor group is looking to ape America in the growth of 4G. CEO Berit Svendsen (pictured) says that the network will follow the raid adoption of 4G found in the US and Asia. Telenor’s …
Simon Rockman, 04 Jun 2015
gavel_judgment_channel

Virgin Media wins ELEVENTH patent case against Rovi

After eleven claims and seven years, Virgin has won an eleventh patent dispute with Rovi over the design of its user interface after Rovi withdrew the claim of patent infringement. The specific claim was for Electronic Programme Guide software using information downloaded from the internet. The patent is now marked as having …
Simon Rockman, 04 Jun 2015
shutterstock_282226826-Internet-of-things

Toshiba-Microsoft IoT collaboration wins at buzzword Bingo

“Internet of Things”, “Cloud”, “SaaS”, “state of the art”, “great user experience”: it’s all in the latest cross-supply agreement between Microsoft and Toshiba. The two companies have signed a memorandum of understanding where Toshiba will supply the hardware and Microsoft the software to build Internet of Things things, …
Simon Rockman, 04 Jun 2015

Your mobile, your car, and you – three become one

Software which enables the screen of your phone to pop up on the screen in your car dashboard has been ported to the (relatively) ancient systems used by automobile manufacturers. The Nucleus operating system was once popular in mobes, a dozen or so years ago, and the car industry is still using it. So, Cambridge tech company …
Simon Rockman, 03 Jun 2015
A bus on fire in Whaddon

Nice 4G-for-plods demo, Samsung. Good luck actually selling it

Samsung has staked its claim towards being an integral part of the emergency services with a demonstration of its public safety solution - the first based on the 3GPP Rel.12 standard - using LTE technology. A post on the official Samsung blog explains how 80 devices were connected to a network to demonstrate PS-LTE, or Public …
Simon Rockman, 02 Jun 2015
Call of Duty 1 screenshot

Nokia declares war on data centres to win back telco customers

The IT world doesn’t understand the telco industry and Nokia is here to save the day, with the launch of its AirFrame Data Centre Solution, which aims to wrest business from traditional data centres. The Nokia designed accelerator cards are aimed at the mobile protocols. This offloads the radio applications from the main CPU and …
Simon Rockman, 01 Jun 2015
Wi-Fi  on the streets of leeds

AQL looks for Ofcom approval, maybe more blue hotspots to come?

Regional telco AQL is looking to get Electronic Communications Code (ECC) approval for installing its services, including free Wi-Fi around Leeds, mobile data services, and very, very fast fibre in the ground. The company has one customer wired up at 100Gbps, lots at 10Gbps and hundreds at 1Gbps, and has applied to Ofcom to have …
Simon Rockman, 01 Jun 2015
Vodafone bird box signal repeater

What sort of tit builds non-bird bird boxes? Vodafone

Vodafone is installing mobile cell sites in bird boxes, although our feathered friends will not be allowed inside. The company has form in providing improved coverage for avians, with special care taken to look after nesting falcons. The new bird box is a signal repeater, something only the licenced networks are allowed to …
Simon Rockman, 01 Jun 2015

Xiaomi gears up for phone-free UK launch

Rising dragon Xiaomi launches its Mi brand and online store in the UK on Tuesday. However, before you rush off to order its cheap-but-good phones, you need to know that only four products are available – and none of them are phones. The initial items are two batteries (10400mAh and 5000mAh), expensive semi-open headphones, and …
Simon Rockman, 01 Jun 2015

It's the Internet of Feet: Lenovo shows smart shoes, projector keyboard phone

Chinese tech giant Lenovo has been showing things it’s making and things it wants to make at Lenovo Tech World in Beijing. Cool gizmos include a display technology for smart watches that produces a virtual screen bigger than the watch. The company calls it “Magic View”. It’s a small screen below the main watch screen that looks …
Simon Rockman, 28 May 2015
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Crafty fingering could let Apple Watch thieves raid your bank account

Updated Deft watch thieves could circumvent the biometric security in an Apple Watch to empty your bank account. The Apple Watch uses the heart rate monitor to tell when it has been taken off your wrist. This locks the watch so that you need to enter a PIN to use the watch again, but means you don’t have to enter a PIN every time you do …
Simon Rockman, 28 May 2015
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Boffins create tiny holographic battery that fits INSIDE a chip

A battery small enough to be mounted inside a chip has been developed at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. The technology to do this combines 3D holographic lithography, 2D photolithography and low-power electroplating – all techniques which are standard in processor production. The special ingredient is the ability to …
Simon Rockman, 27 May 2015

Mozilla: We don't give a damn about cheap smartphones

Browser-turned-OS-institution Mozilla has acknowledged that its $25 phone has failed. Firefox OS was launched with a strategy of not being Google or Apple, into the warm bosom of Telefonica and seventeen other operators at Mobile World Congress in 2013. At the time, we predicted that it would go the way of Symbian, SavaJe and …
Simon Rockman, 27 May 2015
hands waving dollar bills in the air

Mergers scuttle strategy as Ofcom reneges on spectrum promise

Ofcom wants to hold onto the 60MHz of the 190MHz of spectrum it had announced would be for sale, and is floating the idea of scaling things back, citing a change in market conditions for the sale, slated for the end of this year or the beginning of next. In the revision to the proposals, Ofcom said: “Since the publication of …
Simon Rockman, 27 May 2015
Learning how to say Huawei

Cheesy video shows ex-Gooners pronouncing 'Huawei'

John Hartson, Ray Parlour and Nigel Winterburn – a veritable array of ex-Arsenal players – have learned how to say 'Huawei'. The desperate-to-be-European telco is the official smartphone sponsor for Arsenal – a role it took over from Samsung – and sells a special branded version of the Ascend P7 to Gooners. It features “The …
Simon Rockman, 26 May 2015
404bhp of refined fun

Maserati Ghibli S: Who cares what Joe Walsh thinks?

Vulture at the wheel When Joe Walsh sang “My Maserati does 185, I lost my licence so now I don’t drive”, he was lying. In 1978 no Maserati could do that speed. He could have had been talking km/h, in which case it might have been an earlier-generation Ghibli: that did 155mph, or 174mph if he had the Ghibli SS. The Ghibli S reviewed here won’t do 185 …
Simon Rockman, 24 May 2015

Xiaomi greets MediaTek with a handshake, Qualcomm feels awkward

The latest top-of-the-range phone from handset maker and rising dragon Xiaomi will use the ambitious ten core Helio X20 processor from semiconductor company MediaTek. A surprise move, given that the Chinese Apple-wannabe has already put Qualcomm's Snapdragon 810 in its Note-series smartphones. The move is also bad news for …
Simon Rockman, 22 May 2015

Nokia getting there with HERE as rivals talk up price

Nokia HERE, its mapping and location businesses, might be worth more than the former handset giant thought, as rival companies talk up the value, and a consortium of car companies square up to an alliance of Uber and China’s Baidu. Nokia bought Navteq for $8.1bn and renamed it HERE, and then fell on hard times and sold its phone …
Simon Rockman, 22 May 2015