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.
Galaxy S6

Phabba-dabba-do: Samsung hypes up Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge

MWC 2015 The grandeur of today's Samsung S6 phabgasm in Barcelona reminded your correspondent of the scene in The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy when the day dawned for the announcement of the Answer (to life the universe and everything). Think pop concert, complete with glowing wristbands, dramatic music with drums and a stage the …
Simon Rockman, 01 Mar 2015
Power lines

Ikea to start making electrified furniture. What could go wrong?

MWC Ikea, having successfully branded Sweden as a country associated with family disputes and cupboards with wonky doors, has now taken on the challenge of improving how we all live through Qi wireless charging technology. From 15 April, American and European Ikea customers will be able to buy flat-pack furniture which integrates a …
Simon Rockman, 01 Mar 2015
Mobile phone mast

Ministry of Fun tries again on mobile mast planning permission

The Department of Culture, Media and Sport has announced a consultation (PDF) on reforming the Electronic Communications code. This is crucial ingredient to the “landmark” not-spots deal announced at the back end of last year. Most of the parts of the package in the deal were things which were going to happen anyway, but one …
Simon Rockman, 27 Feb 2015
This black phone is a rival to Blackphone

Paranoid Android Kaymera smartmobe takes on Blackphone

MWC2015 Security specialist Kaymera – based in Herzliya, Israel – has launched a mobile security platform aimed at paranoid corporations. The Kaymera 360° software consists of a secure build of Android and accompanying MDM functions. The company describes it as a three-layer approach of protection, prevention and detection. Using a …
Simon Rockman, 27 Feb 2015

Visa: One million bonks a month for Europeans from next year

There is a quote attributed to Visa International that NFC has had “more pilots than the RAF”. Well, that may or may not be true, but what's beyond doubt right now – according to Jeremy Nicholds, Executive Director, Mobile, Visa Europe – is that people will soon be using mobile phones to tap to pay. And he’s prepared to put a …
Simon Rockman, 26 Feb 2015
Long exposure shot showing patterns made my moving lightsabers

Small cells are like DRUNKS. They don't use lamp posts for light, they use 'em for support

A new design of mobile cell site that sits on top of an existing street light has been developed British design company The Technology Partnership (TTP). Street lights are an obvious place to put mobile network infrastructure. They're erected in the places where there are lots of people and they have a power supply. While …
Simon Rockman, 26 Feb 2015

Nokia blasts Ericsson out of water, demos 600Mbps data speeds

In the arms race for faster data speeds, Nokia Networks has pulled out 600Mbps over Ericsson’s 450Mbps by using 4X4 Multiple-Input Multiple-Output (MIMO) technology. A demo with South Korean mobile operator SK Telecom started with a mere 300Mbps using 20MHz of contiguous spectrum and then using carrier aggregation with LTE-A …
Simon Rockman, 25 Feb 2015

Not even GCHQ and NSA can crack our SIM key database, claims Gemalto

SIM card manufacturer Gemalto has given more details of what it understands is behind the reports that GCHQ and the NSA got their mitts on the encryption keys for its SIM cards. As we reported earlier, the company says it detected intrusions and prevented them, and that at no time were the systems which held information on the …
Simon Rockman, 25 Feb 2015
iPhone forensics beaten image

Apple: 100,000 lucky people can test our flaky iOS 8.3 code – report

In a shock falling-in-line-with-industry-practice move, Apple is to conduct a public beta test for iOS 8.3. It’s the first time Apple has run a public beta for iOS, although there is precedent in that Apple ran a scheme for a million users with desktop operating system OS X Yosemite last year. Rumours from 9to5Mac have it that …
Simon Rockman, 23 Feb 2015
Megane Renaultsport 275. Pic: Simon Rockman

Mégane Renaultsport 275 Trophy: Hands-on gizmo-packed motoring

Vulture at the Wheel There used to be a fashion for wearing Nike trainers with smart business suits. It’s a vibe which fits the Renault Mégane Renaultsport 275 Trophy to a tee. This is a car which will happily do the supermarket run and which won’t shame itself on a track day around Croft. More importantly it won’t shame you, because despite the …
Simon Rockman, 22 Feb 2015

Carphone Warehouse, RootMetrics ink data deal, declare customer love

Carphone Warehouse will use RootMetrics data – essentially network performance information – to help customers choose which networks they should be on. A deal between the high street super-power and the frozen frothy coffee-led research organisation will see staff in the shop look up the places where customers want to use their …
Simon Rockman, 20 Feb 2015
Ericsson's pole dancer

We don't need no steenkin' cabinet: Ericsson hangs base stations off masts

A new design of mobile base station by Ericsson aims to do away with the traditional cabinet on the ground connected by a thick wire to an antenna on a pole. The Ericsson Radio System puts the gubbins behind the antenna into modules, which can be swapped in and out. The aim is to save operators the cost of having to buy or rent …
Simon Rockman, 19 Feb 2015
The SAMSUNG GALAXY ALPHA lies on a white background, displays Home screen icons.

Samsung buys LoopPay ... to be better at bonking than Apple

Just as rumours that Samsung is about to move into the mobile payments space at next week’s Mobile World Congress were reaching their peak, the South Korean firm announced the acquisition of LoopPay. The LoopPay technology uses Magnetic Secure Transmission technology to turn point-of-sale terminals where you'd normally swipe a …
Simon Rockman, 19 Feb 2015
Ofcom has great power over mobiles

Ofcom: We got it right, but let’s have a licence consultation anyway

Ofcom has announced a consultation, revisiting the revisiting of the revised fees for the most-used mobile radio spectrum. The conclusion of the consultation document is that Ofcom got it right last August and fees should be increased by 247 per cent. This is a smack in the face for the networks which shook hands with the …
Simon Rockman, 19 Feb 2015
Photo of Jonathan Ive

Apple design don Jony Ive: Build-your-own phone is BOLLOCKS

Analysis Apple deity Sir Jony Ive claims that companies which offer mass customisation are "abdicating responsibility" for their design. While he hasn’t named names, Motorola appears to have taken umbrage and asked: “Are you looking at me?” In a long interview in The New Yorker, Ive says of an unnamed rival, “Their value proposition was …
Simon Rockman, 19 Feb 2015
F-Type photography by <a target="_blank" href="http://www.swarbrick.photography/">Guy Swarbrick</a>

Jaguar F-Type: A beautiful British thoroughbred

Vulture at the Wheel The Jaguar F-Type Coupe is beautiful. It looks good in our pictures here but in the aluminium it’s even more wonderful. Before I got the car for review I saw one in traffic and my heart just sang. Designer Ian Callum is a genius and there are no bad angles, but front on and particularly three quarter rear it’s exceptional. There …
Simon Rockman, 14 Feb 2015
Slick looking picture of  xiaomi's Mi3 Android smartphone

Show me the money, America! It's time to learn how to pronounce 'Xiaomi'

Xiaomi, the Chinese electronics upstart trumpeted as the David to Apple's Goliath (but is instead sticking it to Samsung) is planning a gentle entry into the US. At a showcase in San Francisco, Xiaomi announced it was going to start selling gadgets and gizmos Stateside – and certainly not phones nor TVs. It will instead start …
Simon Rockman, 13 Feb 2015
Works with gloves

Kyocera: Torque among yourselves on our unbreakable ruggedmobe

Japanese mobile phone manufacturer Kyocera is looking to re-enter the European mobile phone market with an exceptionally rugged phone called Torque. It won’t be the first time there have been Kyocera phones on sale in the UK: the company sold GSM devices here 15 years ago with the TG200 and there were dual-mode Iridium/GSM …
Simon Rockman, 13 Feb 2015
Tesla Model X e-SUV dashboard

Tesla loses $100 million after Chinese problems

Elon Musk was expecting it, but a little trouble in big China has hit Tesla's bottom line hard. The company lost $107.6m in Q4 2014, up from a loss of $74.7m for the previous quarter. Musk blames this on a weak market in China and delays with getting the new P85D to customers “We built 11,627 vehicles in Q4, thus achieving our …
Simon Rockman, 12 Feb 2015

FACEBOOK even from BEYOND the GRAVE: CHOOSE your Legacy

A new feature from the brobdingnagian jabbercontent ad platform Facebook allows its users to bequeath control of their accounts to loved ones or other selectees when they die. It tries to tread the line between handing over full control and helping those who have lost someone use their memories and contacts to grieve. For some …
Simon Rockman, 12 Feb 2015

Meerkats helped Ofcom unlock White Space spectrum-hopping

A trial at London Zoo has paved the way for Ofcom guidelines on using the unused “White Space” parts of the radio spectrum in the 470 to 790 MHz frequency band. Three webcams were set up: two in the meerkats' home and one in the otters' enclosure. All three were linked to a web server using White Space radio as TVWS – TV White …
Simon Rockman, 12 Feb 2015
The radio dot uses CAT5/6/7 to link to the radio unit

Ericsson and Qualcomm in BONKERS 450Mbps 4G test lab demo

Combining frequencies to get more bandwidth is part of the LTE (4G) specification. Wireless boffins have now demonstrated the concept, achieving blazingly fast speeds in a test lab. Qualcomm and Ericsson say they aggregated licensed frequencies and unlicensed 5GHz spectrum to achieve very high bandwidths. Use of spectrum across …
Simon Rockman, 12 Feb 2015
Paul Graham installs a Parallel Networks cell for EE in Cumbria

EE 'best' of the UK mobile network bunch, but how good is that?

Mobile network testing company RootMetrics has again hailed EE as the best network for speed, reliability, calls and text. Three comes second in all tests. Vodafone and O2 swapped third and fourth spots in various categories but O2 came out ahead overall. The latest figures cover the second half of 2014, so may well under-rate …
Simon Rockman, 10 Feb 2015
Wide angle image makes the moon look much bigger than the earth

BEHOLD the magnificent lunar backside in our MOON VIDEO

Vid NASA has stitched together images from the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter to produce a stunning video showing what the moon looks like from The Other Side. NASA video - A View From The Other Side It shows that there are many more, and larger craters than on the side which faces the Earth. What it doesn’t have is the large dark …
Simon Rockman, 09 Feb 2015
ARMteaser

ARM grabs Dutch 'SSL of Things' biz Offspark

ARM has strengthened its security portfolio by buying Offspark, the company whose PolarSSL secure communications is widely used in Internet of Things devices. The purchase is not about organic growth for ARM, while the company isn’t giving out a figure for the value of purchase, a spokesman told El Reg it was well below anything …
Simon Rockman, 09 Feb 2015

Alibaba splurges $590m on mobile-maker Meizu. Xiaomi the money?

Alibaba, which held the largest IPO in history after raising $25bn, has bought a minority stake in Meizu, the Chinese manufacturer of Android-based smartphones. While recent releases such as the eight core Meizu M1note run standard Kit-Kat (with Lollipop to come), it is expected that Alibaba will want to see devices with its …
Simon Rockman, 09 Feb 2015

UK mobile networks LOSE to France and Germany on data speeds

Mobile internet speeds are slower in the UK than in France and Germany, says yet another mobe coverage survey. This survey is crowdsourced by Aalto University and it has to be read with a little caution, as while the research has 1,250,020 data points, 1,144,213 of them were captured in Finland and only 10,298 in the UK. It …
Simon Rockman, 09 Feb 2015

Crap mobile coverage costs UK biz £30m a week, reckons survey

Comment Indoor mobile coverage is pants, says ip.access, a company which makes kit to improve indoor coverage. To quantify just how pants it is the Cambridge-based company commissioned a poll from survey outfit OnePoll. They carried out research in the form of an online survey, and then did some sums to come up with the claim, “UK …
Simon Rockman, 09 Feb 2015

Calling a friend? Listen to an advert. You lucky, lucky thing

Do you ever think that the time you spend listening to a phone ringing is wasted? ChannelVAS does. It wants to use that time to sell you things. The idea the company has had is that instead of listening to a ringing sound you could be listening to an ad. The mobe network could then make money from selling that time to …
Simon Rockman, 08 Feb 2015

Swap your keyless key for keyless key-less key. You'll need: a Tesla S and Apple Watch

An experiment to control a Tesla Model S using an Apple Watch has been documented by UK/Ukrainian global technology company and developer Eleks. With the Eleks app you can mimic the functions of the Tesla keyless key. This effectively allows you to used your Cupertino Watch as a keyless key-less, er, key, with which you may lock …
Simon Rockman, 05 Feb 2015

4G Mobile data suck stiffens Vodafone revenues

Vodafone has seen an increase in its UK revenues of almost one per cent during the fourth quarter of 2014, prompted by users gradually moving to 4G and spending more on data. Revenue in the fourth quarter of 2013 was £1,518m, rising to the princely sum of £1,532m for the end of 2014, the mobile giant's first UK revenue rise for …
Simon Rockman, 05 Feb 2015
EE 4G banner

BT coughs £12.5 billion for EE as fourplay frolics pay off

BT has agreed terms with the French company Orange and Deutsche Telekom to buy their joint venture EE to form a quad-play superpower. The £12.5bn deal will be a combination of cash and new BT ordinary shares issued to both Deutsche Telekom and Orange. Average cost savings of £360m a year over the next four years will include “ …
Simon Rockman, 05 Feb 2015
germany

German 700MHz auction signals start of Euro spectrum flogoffs

Germany is to be the first country in Europe to flog off the 700MHz frequency band, with auctions taking place in May and June this year. The Teutonic auction will take place seven years ahead of the date Ofcom proposes for the frequency to be made available to mobile operators in the UK. The lower frequencies are more valuable …
Simon Rockman, 04 Feb 2015

TalkTalk boasts of fourplay-loving customers, extreme growth

While the battle lines are being drawn up between BT-EE and Vodafone over selling you great big lumps of TV, broadband, fixed and mobile phones, TalkTalk has been in the quadplay game for ages. The telco, which was spun out of Carphone Warehouse in 2010, has announced its last quarter (third quarter, full year 2015) figures, and …
Simon Rockman, 03 Feb 2015
IBM Headquarters, Armonk, NY

IBM's research arm grabs BIG CHIP BRAINS from systems team

A team of 220 big-brained chip designers are to shift from IBM's Systems & Technology Group to its Research arm as the company continues the process of selling off its chip division and dishing out the cash to CEO Virginia Rometty. The engineers and scientists will work on an IBM Research scheme funded by Big Blue at State …
Simon Rockman, 03 Feb 2015

Samsung snub sends Qualcomm into a spin over Snapdragon 810

Comment Breaking news from Qualcomm: it has sent out a press release. The news is not the contents of the press release, but that it was sent out at all. There is no Qualcomm news in the email we received, which had the subject line “Qualcomm Snapdragon 810 Processor Powers Premium Tier Mobile Experiences of 2015.” It’s a response to …
Simon Rockman, 03 Feb 2015
Doomsday clock

UK not-spot deal: When we said '2017’, we meant 1 DAY BEFORE 2018

Opinion While the initial “not-spots” deal looked vague and woolly, the latest communication from Ofcom shows that there is at least some engineering nous in the background. The crux of the matter is that the operators have now been given some actual numbers (PDF) to define coverage: The Licensee shall, by no later than 31 December …
Simon Rockman, 03 Feb 2015
<a href="http://www.shutterstock.com/gallery-519892p1.html?cr=00&pl=edit-00">Chad Zuber</a> / <a href="http://www.shutterstock.com/editorial?cr=00&pl=edit-00">Shutterstock.com</a>

You heard this Chicago electro underground sound? ... Yeah, it's 4G

The Chicago subway system is to become the biggest transport system in North America to be completely blessed with 4G mobile broadband coverage. The $32.5m project will use a next-gen distributed antenna system rather than the leaky feeders employed by other underground networks. The estimated 18-month project was brought …
Simon Rockman, 03 Feb 2015
Pistol cartridges and a pistol

Dixons Carphone clings to EE, Three in Phones 4U bullet dodge

Analysis Electrical retail Goliath Dixons Carphone has announced deals with mobile networks EE and Three to head off the scenario that killed Phones4u. Phones4U folded when it failed to negotiate contracts to sell mobile network airtime. Dixons Carphone has now announced a multi-year contract with EE and a new range of custom tariffs …
Simon Rockman, 02 Feb 2015
Think golf buggy meets milk float

Living with a Renault Twizy: Pah! Bring out the HOVERCRAFT

VULTURE AT THE WHEEL If you saw the Top Gear where James May drove a Renault Twizy to win a city commuting challenge, you might get the impression that it’s a fun little car. Renault Twizy by Simon Rockman Sensible is NOT the first word that comes to mind when you see this dorky 'leccy little 'un. If you’ve read our review of the Tesla S, you …
Simon Rockman, 31 Jan 2015
Overcharging? That'll be because electric cars are expenisive

Tesla bumps up Model S P85D acceleration – with software update

Vid An over-the-air software update to the dual-motor Tesla Model S P85D will cut its zero to 60MPH time from 3.2 to 3.1 seconds. Elon Musk took to Twitter to announce the upgrade: Tesla P85D 0 to 60mph acceleration will improve by ~0.1 sec soon via over-the-air software update to inverter algorithm — Elon Musk (@elonmusk) January …
Simon Rockman, 30 Jan 2015
Tim Cook as Mr T

Apple CEO: Fandroids are BINNING Android in favour of IPHONES

Apple is wolfing down KitKats and Lollipops for lunch after it emerged that most iPhone 6 users have come from Android. iBling salesman Tim Cook told the Wall Street Journal that only 15 per cent of iPhone 6 customers have upgraded from other iPhones. It’s the first time he’s given a number for this trend, and although he’s …
Simon Rockman, 30 Jan 2015

Wheeee! BT preps for FIVE HUNDRED MEGABIT broadband trial

BT has announced that it wants to roll out G.fast and fibre to the home to provide internet speeds of up to 500Mbps and 1Gbps. G.fast is a technology that gets fibre closer to the home and leaves traditional copper twisted pair to the last leg, so that drives and gardens don’t have to be dug up, but uses interference cancelling …
Simon Rockman, 30 Jan 2015
Starry_night_tech_bed_3

Sky sidles up to O2, whispers: 'Fancy a little FOUR-PLAY?'

As we predicted, Sky is to launch an MVNO and get competitive against the other networks' four-play offerings. What we got wrong in our prediction was that the deal would be with Vodafone; Sky has instead jumped into bed with O2. The deal will allow Sky to offer a Four-play service of TV, Broadband, fixed and mobile phones, the …
Simon Rockman, 30 Jan 2015
Xbox 360 Wireless Controller

NXP flings sueball at Marvell over Xbox NFC chips

NXP Semiconductors, the chipmaker which was once part of Philips, has filed a patent infringement lawsuit against Marvell Electronics, alleging that its patented wireless technology has been used in the Microsoft Xbox. NXP claims that Marvell's Avastar chips infringe on four NXP patents, including three related to getting …
Simon Rockman, 29 Jan 2015
Checking comms at supersonic speeds

Supersonic Bloodhound car techies in screaming 650mph comms test

Engineers from the Bloodhound supersonic car world record attempt have been testing their radio comms gear as plans to stream the 1,000mph (1,610kmph) event live come together. Live-streaming the car's record-breaking run is no trivial matter. Given that you can’t even maintain a phone call on a London train, trying to maintain …
Simon Rockman, 29 Jan 2015

EE squashes Orange UK: France Telecom's been 'destroying it for years'

With BT now expected to complete the deal to buy EE, it has been reported that EE will kill off the T-Mobile and Orange brands in the UK. The mix of brands from BT, EE, T-Mobile and Orange is all a bit confusing. Nobody will mourn T-Mobile, and it was always a bit uncomfortable after the success of the One2One brand which …
Simon Rockman, 28 Jan 2015
Allows signals to reack those difficult places

Post-modem Ericsson wobbles thanks to flat sales and falling profits

Ericsson's flat sales last year were the result of its disappointing fourth quarter, especially in America, its latest financial results show. The Swedish company is still the biggest supplier of mobile network infrastructure in the world, and in the fourth quarter it saw strong sales growth in the Middle East, Asia and Europe …
Simon Rockman, 27 Jan 2015
ip.wireless picocell

Euro mobile standards chiefs eye tiny beauty: It's the KEY to 5G

The European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI), which sets the standards for mobile comms, has just started work on five specifications for millimetre Wave Transmission – the 30GHz to 300GHz range. The new Industry Specification Group on millimetre Wave Transmission (ISG mWT) held its first meeting last week and will …
Simon Rockman, 27 Jan 2015
Keyboard where return key is marked communication and to its left is a key with the Cuban flag. Copyright: xtock, Photo via Shutterstock

Cubans defy government's home internet ban with secret home-made network

Cubans are fighting back against restrictions on their use of internet with SNet, a secret network. Also known as StreetNet, it pools the resources of citizens, who are effectively prohibited from using the internet. The Washington Post reports that while the full fat internet in Cuba is government-controlled – home internet is …
Simon Rockman, 26 Jan 2015