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.
Vodafone adds payment cards to mobile wallet

Vodafone wants to bonk you… wait, wants you to bonk

NFC payment tech for phones, aka bonking, is coming to an Android Vodamobe near you. Not put off by the failure of the O2 wallet and Orange CityZi payment systems, Voda has teamed up with payments processing tech company Carta Worldwide to add bonking to its mobile wallet. In the internal war of NFC technologies the new service …
Simon Rockman, 30 Mar 2015
Cell tower, view from below. Image by Shutterstock.com

Ofcom's to-do list: Number porting, sell spectrum, buy milk

Ofcom has set out its objectives for 2015/16, and they're broadly as outlined in the draft report. There is increased interest in consumer number portability to improve the switching providers process, clearer pricing on the previously announced spectrum auctions, as well as the hotly anticipated Strategic Review of Digital …
Simon Rockman, 30 Mar 2015
David Cameron, Prime Minister, meets Ren Zhengfei, founder and CEO of Huawei Technologies, in Downing Street, 11th September, 2012.

Huawei networking kit gets the green light from Blighty's spooks

A board put together to double-check the work of a British government team set up to investigate Huawei has given the Chinese giant a clean bill of health. The Huawei Cyber Security Evaluation Centre (HCSEC) Oversight Board was established in early 2014 on the recommendation of the UK National Security Adviser. The board is …
Simon Rockman, 30 Mar 2015
Jeroen Hoencamp is the boss of Vodafone UK

Voda UK CEO says one thing about not-spots, Minister of Fun says another

Don’t hold your breath for better mobile phone coverage. While Vodafone UK CEO Jeroen Hoencamp is hopeful that the government will do its bit as part of the not-spots agreement, Minister of Fun Ed Vaziey claims he’s already done it. We asked Hoencamp how he felt about having signed up to the not-spots deal when all the …
Simon Rockman, 27 Mar 2015
BT Openreach van

Vodafone: So what exactly is 'ludicrous' about the Frontier report?

Vodafone has struck back at BT’s claim that the Frontier Economics report on Openreach’s apparent profiteering is “ludicrous”, with Matthew Braovac, Vodafone's head of competition and regulatory affairs, writing to his BT opposite number asking for a justification of the claims. “Far from being ludicrous, the report is based …
Simon Rockman, 27 Mar 2015
Derisive laugh

BT slams ‘ludicrous’ Openreach report as Vodafone smirks

BT has labelled a report into its apparently inflated return on broadband investment as "ludicrous", as Vodafone calls on the government to tighten the regulations surrounding Openreach. A confidential November 2014 report from Frontier Economics (seen by El Reg) has claimed that while the historic return on investment, which …
Simon Rockman, 26 Mar 2015
Not as much fun as an angle-grinder to a gatso but a lot more legal

Ford: Our latest car gizmo will CHOKE OFF your FUEL if you're speeding

Ford has announced a new intelligent speed limiter system which reads traffic signs and reduces fuel flow to keep your vehicle within the speed limit. As much as the petrolhead lobby decries the direct correlation the road safety brigade makes between speed and safety, current legislation means that if you're driving too fast, …
Simon Rockman, 25 Mar 2015
Android 5.0 "Lollipop"

Cyanogen finds $80m in collecting tin after busking session

Bloatware-free Android version Cyanogen has some powerful friends. The company has passed around the investors' collecting tin and come up with $80m. Those friends are Twitter Ventures, Qualcomm, Telefónica Ventures, Indonesian telco Smartfren Telecom, Index Ventures, Access Industries (the US-based industrial group headed by …
Simon Rockman, 24 Mar 2015
Mobile phone no service

Treat us like the utilities we believe ourselves to be, say UK operators

Rents on mobile phone masts should drop dramatically, with a pricing model loosely based on that used for utilities, states a report from Deloitte, commissioned by several mobile network operators. The professional services firm says that where a mobile network pays £7,500 yearly in rent for sites in rural areas, and £9,200 in …
Simon Rockman, 24 Mar 2015
Ship in trouble

Standard General bids to save RadioShack from oblivion

Historic retailer RadioShack, currently under Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, will learn its fate today, as its assets go up for auction, although its options for survival look distinctly limited. A $145.5m bid from Standard General LP, a hedge fund which is also one of RadioShack’s lenders, could save 9,000 jobs and 1,723 out …
Simon Rockman, 23 Mar 2015
BT Home Hub 3

Complaints against ISPs and mobe firms are up by a fifth — reports

BT Broadband is one of the most complained about ISPs, according to UK consumer body Which?, scoring particularly poorly in technical support and value for money. Moreover, complaints in general about ISPs and mobile companies are up 20 per cent on the year, according to numbers released by the Ombudsman Services. Consumers …
Simon Rockman, 23 Mar 2015
£1.92bn buys a lot of dog food

GoDaddy float values puppy-bothering hosting company at £1.9bn

Domain name, registration, web and mail hosting company GoDaddy is expected to be valued at $2.87bn (£1.92bn) when it floats to become a PLC with the stock ticker GDDY. The US company manages about 20 per cent of the world’s internet domains and has grown through use of attractive women in its advertising, not least Indy racing …
Simon Rockman, 20 Mar 2015
shutterstock_209016412-faclon

Nesting falcons interrupt £200m Vodafone 4G mast upgrades

Five pairs of nesting falcons have disrupted Vodafone customers' mobile phone signals in London and the south east – because the birds have set up shop on the carrier's masts. The Daily Telegraph reported that Vodafone engineers spotted the birds of prey nesting on and around base stations on a church, a hospital and an office …
Simon Rockman, 20 Mar 2015
Samsung watch uses the bezel as part of the user interface

Samsung puts eight-core processor IN A WATCH

The chip which powers the Galaxy S6 is finding its way into Samsung’s next watch. It’s an eight-core beastie, with four cores running at 2.1GHz and four at 1.5GHz, with an ARM Mali T760 GPU. The Exynos 7420 is a high-performance processor and it seems a little bit over-the-top for a device which has telling the time as its main …
Simon Rockman, 18 Mar 2015
gavel_judgment_channel

Motorola Mobility up before the beak over alleged IP infringment

It’s usually Motorola Mobility which takes companies to court over IP infringements, but the tables were turned this week at the Delaware federal court with Intellectual Ventures flexing its muscles. Intellectual Ventures is a patent portfolio company founded by former Microsoft CTO and occasional chef Nathan Myhrvold, author of …
Simon Rockman, 17 Mar 2015
Starfox

MARIO MOBES: Nintendo hooks up with DeNA, births NX gaming system

Nintendo and DeNA have joined forces in “a business and capital alliance” to bring the Japanese gaming firm's beloved characters to smart gadgetry. There will also be a new hardware system which Nintendo brands as “NX”. Although details of this are sketchy, it’s aimed at the mobile phone space. While Nintendo has previously …
Simon Rockman, 17 Mar 2015
Spam

Aged 18-24? Don't care about voting? Got a phone? Oh dear...

The Electoral Commission has spotted two things: 18-24 year olds don’t vote and 18-24 year olds have smartphones. You'll never guess what's coming next. The commission, which is charged with getting the UK population out to vote, has employed Weve to peddle mobile voter registration to the youth market. Young adults will be …
Simon Rockman, 17 Mar 2015
Clip Art cartoon of smiling sun

Ericsson buys Sunrise Technology

Ericsson, which has just laid off 2,200 people Sweden and which plans more cost cutting around the world has already started spending the savings by buying the IT business services part of Chinese outfit Sunrise Technology. The transaction means Ericsson will take on 1,000 employees at the Guangzhou-based IT services provider, …
Simon Rockman, 17 Mar 2015
Moments of perspiration

Tell us, do you enjoy the thought of BT-EE's sweaty fourplay?

The Competition and Markets Authority has written to telcos and media groups asking for their thoughts as it weighs up the implications of BT swallowing EE. Rivals, notably Vodafone, have already highlighted how much more radio spectrum the combined organisation will have than any of the other mobile phone networks. The telcos …
Simon Rockman, 16 Mar 2015
BBC Testcard

Vodafone Pay TV launch rumoured for November

Vodafone is gearing up to offer a pay TV service, the latest global telco to move into the four-play arena, and the scuttlebutt is that consumer offerings will go on sale in November. Vodafone has offered broadband before but sold the business to BT’s Plusnet in 2007. The mobile phone giant announced that it would re-enter the …
Simon Rockman, 16 Mar 2015

Ofcom: We're going to shake up the digi comms market

UK regulator Ofcom has announced a wide-ranging review of digital communications, looking at infrastructure and competition. The review will examine incentives for efficient investment and effective competition drive good outcomes: coverage, choice, price and quality of service for consumers, citizens and businesses. It will …
Simon Rockman, 13 Mar 2015
GreenPeak senior lifestyle app

Consumers beware! Ofcom's seen a scary new mobe nasty: APPS

Telecoms industry regulator Ofcom has just noticed that there are things called “apps” and has decided that people might like to know about them. “Apps are becoming an increasingly important way to communicate and access the internet through our phones, tablets and TVs”, explains the “Using apps safely and securely on your …
Simon Rockman, 11 Mar 2015
Barney Rubble driving with Fred Flinstone

Cambridge Wireless scoops ex-UKTI man as new top dog

One of the most influential organisations in mobile is a non profit organisation. We are not talking about Sony Mobile but Cambridge Wireless. And it has a new boss: Bob Driver. Cambridge Wireless brings together the great and the good from the mobile industry, mainly from the research side. These include companies such as …
Simon Rockman, 11 Mar 2015
Peril Sensitive Sunglasses - Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy

Life, the interview and everything: A chat with Douglas Adams

Interview Today – March 11th – would have been Douglas Adams' 63rd birthday. To mark this occasion, we are reprinting a lost interview with Douglas Adams. It was focused not on Hitchhiker's, but on Starship Titanic, a text adventure and book. The game had just been released to manufacture and Adams had pulled an all-nighter to get it out …
Simon Rockman, 11 Mar 2015
a coffee cup topped with cappucino foam with a wi-fi symbol sprinkled on top in powdered chocolate

Vodafone: Can't make calls on our network? Use Wi-Fi

Vodafone will launch Wi-Fi Calling and Voice over 4G (VoLTE) this summer. Both services require handsets that support the technologies, and Vodafone is keeping mum as to which ones it will be shipping. Wi-Fi Calling is a UMA (Unlicensed Mobile Access) service and for certain high-end handsets is an alternative to using the …
Simon Rockman, 11 Mar 2015
Williams Mercedes FW37

BT inks deal with Williams F1 for go-faster cloudy goodness

The Williams Formula 1 racing team has sealed a cloud services deal with one-time state telco monopoly BT. This will give the racing team fixed and mobile comms in what they have called a “a multi-year strategic technology partnership”. The deal means BT gets its logos on the headrests of this year's Williams Mercedes FW37 car, …
Simon Rockman, 11 Mar 2015
US spectrum map

Ping-pong sueballs: Bankruptcy dogs LightSquared's chances

Stricken US mobe network LightSquared is wriggling for survival in Chapter 11 bankruptcy. The idea of Chapter 11 is to provide protection for a company so that it can trade through difficulties and hopefully get back to trading normally. The system was to use a combination of 4G (LTE) and satellite to deliver national high- …
Simon Rockman, 10 Mar 2015
typing while standing

Would YOU touch-type on this chunk-tastic keyboard?

The TREWGrip keyboard is designed for butter-fingered mobile users who are keen to touch type as fluidly on their smartphones as they would on a desktop keyboard. The keys are positioned on the back of the pad, piano accordion style, allowing you to depress them with the outstretched fingers of your hand, which is firmly clamped …
Simon Rockman, 10 Mar 2015
gavel_judgment_channel

Microsoft chucks patent sueball at Kyocera over Android phones

Microsoft has filed for an injunction to ban Japanese mobe-maker Kyocera from selling its Duraforce, Hydro and Brigadier phones in the US, alleging a breach of its Android patents. The Redmond-based software giant asked the US federal court in the Western District of Washington to impose an injunction against Kyocera, based on …
Simon Rockman, 09 Mar 2015
Ford Focus 1.5 Zetec. Pic: Simon Rockman

Filthy – but sadly frothy – five door fun: Ford Focus 1.5 Zetec

Vulture at the Wheel The original Ford Focus was an incredible car. The latest generation has a lot to live up to. The man behind the Focus was Richard Parry-Jones, who, with incredible attention to detail, produced a reasonably priced car that handled well. He also got the designers, who were bright young things, to wear ageing suits, gloves and …
Simon Rockman, 08 Mar 2015
Ubisoft Driver San Francisco

United Nations: For pity's sake don't use your iPhone in your car

The International Telecommunications Union (ITU, the telecoms agency of the United Nations) has published a very short whitelist of mobile phones that are properly compatible with car kits. The phones have been tested to an exacting specification which defines the mechanical mouth used, the mechanical ear and brings scientific …
Simon Rockman, 06 Mar 2015
Barcelona brothel takes poster site

GSMA: Er, sorry about that MWC brothel ad with our logo

Mobile World Congress organiser the GSMA has issued an apology for the use of its logo on a website advertising a Barcelona brothel, but has been unable to do anything about a large poster which sits next to a Samsung advert. Visitors to Mobile World Congress are used to the route from the airport to the city imploring the 90, …
Simon Rockman, 06 Mar 2015
she should look alarmed

Virtual reality WHIPLASH CHAIR in shutdown scare

MWC 2015 Incongruous among the mobile marketing solutions and miscellaneous apps in the Spanish section at Mobile World Congress was the VR experience from Spanish company Whiplash. On a stand which was significantly too small, the company demonstrated its two-axis articulated seat tied to binocular displays. As one hapless potential …
Simon Rockman, 05 Mar 2015
a coffee cup topped with cappucino foam with a wi-fi symbol sprinkled on top in powdered chocolate

Why Wi-Fi won't solve mobile telcos' data dilemma

If mobile operators rely upon Wi-Fi to relieve themselves of data traffic they are going to need to find some way to get the data home. Right now they're heading for a data bottleneck. So says Bluwan, which – guess what – has a solution to the problem: its 42GHz point to multi-point backhaul. It sees this as the way Wi-Fi can …
Simon Rockman, 05 Mar 2015
Sagus_V2 Top Spec phone

Saygus aims buffed up V2 Android mobe at Samsung

MWC 2015 At a pre-MWC preview, Utah-based Saygus showed off its V2 Android phone, which turns up a notch all the specs. Samsung customers who have been turned off in the past by the S6's lack of a MicrosSD slot will appreciate the two slots of the V2. This, along with the 64GB on board, would give the well-heeled customer nearly half a …
Simon Rockman, 04 Mar 2015
Woman rides a Ford modePro electric bike

Ford to save you from BIKE FITNESS HORROR

MWC 2015 Ford is looking at electric bicycles as part of an intelligent, integrated future for mobility. The company told El Reg that it had to look at mobility in the round, be it public transport, shared cars, walking or cycling, and not just focus on traditional driving. Ford is not the first car company to look at building bicycles …
Simon Rockman, 04 Mar 2015

SanDisk launches 200GB microSD card

MWC 2015 The new SanDisk 200GB microSD card costs $399, making it more valuable weight-for-weight than blue sapphire. This capacity gives SanDisk's little gem the ability to store up to 20 hours of HD video. Moreover, the company explained to El Reg that the only reason this is a 200GB device and not 256GB is that at 15nm, the die had …
Simon Rockman, 03 Mar 2015
Borg

Internet of Things? Pah! Biz bods, you're wasting your money

Mobile operators could be pissing away $46bn in their excitement over the Internet of Things and wearables. So says Syniverse, the company which forms the glue between mobile networks handling lots of interconnects and things like number portability. Of course being polite and American, it didn’t quite phrase the problem quite …
Simon Rockman, 03 Mar 2015

90% of mobile data eaten by TINY, GREEDY super-user HOTSPOTS

+Comment Usage of mobile data is extremely unevenly distributed. This is the conclusion of a report by the Location Intelligence business unit of a major communications equipment company. JDSU, which makes test equipment for mobile operators, looked at who is using the most mobile data and where they are using it. Its research found …
Simon Rockman, 03 Mar 2015
Sailfish OS

Jolla launches Sailfish 2.0, now with added security

MWC 2015 Jolla, the smouldering platform which was born out of Nokia’s decision to go Microsoft, has announced its new version of the Sailfish OS. The special ingredient in version 2.0 is security, achieved via a deal with Finland's SSH Communications Security, the company which provides internet-based secure end-to-end communications, …
Simon Rockman, 02 Mar 2015

Ericsson, Telstra and Qualcomm up the ante with 600Mbps demo

MWC 2015 Qualcomm, Ericsson and Telstra are set to demonstrate a new tri-carrier LTE-A solution capable of delivering 600Mbps over mobile at this week's Mobile World Congress. Nokia has already managed the same speeds using two carriers with a four-antenna MIMO. However, the Ericsson technology meets the specs of LTE CAT 11, and (so it …
Simon Rockman, 02 Mar 2015
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 possibly go wrong?

MWC 2015 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