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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.
Sky Anytime+

Sky ponders 200,000-customer MVNO 'trial'. Soft launch, anyone?

Rupert Murdoch’s Sky is looking to become a mobile network in partnership with Vodafone, which would help tout services to the telly company’s five million customers. 200,000 customers were contacted to see if they would like to take part in a “trial”, which seems like at least 100 times as many people as you’d want on a trial …
Simon Rockman, 31 Oct 2014
Galaxy

Samsung launches 'perfect pair' of skinny mid-range phones

The world’s biggest mobile phone manufacturer has unveiled two new Galaxy devices aimed at halting its falling market share and plummeting profits. The Samsung Galaxy A3 is 130.1 x 65.5 x 6.9mm, and 110g with a 4.5-inch screen, while the A5 is 139.3 x 69.7 x 6.7mm and 123g with a 5-inch screen. For comparison, the flagship …
Simon Rockman, 31 Oct 2014

EE launches 150Mbps '4G+' in Central London

Mobile network EE has announced that higher speed LTE-A is now available in select areas. This will give speeds of up to 150Mbps. While EE has had “double speed” LTE for some while and Vodafone has recently launched a similar service, the new LTE-A uses a lot more spectrum and so gives much higher speeds. Specifically it is …
Simon Rockman, 30 Oct 2014
Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos

Amazon sells Fire Phone in UK ... on CONTRACT

Hasn’t Amazon sold mobile phones before? Wasn’t the first third party deal Amazon did in Europe with Carphone Warehouse back in 2001? The answers are no... and yes. Amazon UK has been selling mobile phones for more than a decade and there are lots of resellers who will sell you anything from a Samsung Alpha to a Sony Z3, but …
Simon Rockman, 28 Oct 2014
Seventh Heven

Caterham Seven 160 review: The Raspberry Pi of motoring

When I took my seatbelt off, the Caterham 160 didn’t beep at me. I didn’t get electronically reprimanded when I got out and left the headlights on and I didn’t have any problems bluetoothing my phone to the radio because it doesn’t have Bluetooth. Or a radio. An interactive photo of the Caterham. Click on a spot and the …
Simon Rockman, 25 Oct 2014

Win a year’s supply of chocolate (no tech knowledge required)

There is no techie angle to this competition, so we're not going to pretend there is. Everyone loves chocolate, though, so who cares? One of the makes of chocolate Cocoa Runners sells is Pump Street, which is made in Orford The prize is a one-year subscription to Cocoa Runners chocolate service. Each month you get a box of …
Simon Rockman, 18 Oct 2014
TomTom Top Gear satnav

Auntie hires API firm to manage new online BBC Store

API company Apigee has been brought in to pull together all the suppliers of BBC Worldwide’s "direct-to-consumer retail platform". The software will be used as a traffic manager. In the world of inclined playing fields, little beats your TV licence fee going towards setting up an online store to compete with online stores that …
Simon Rockman, 16 Oct 2014

Vodafone does it in two places at once: Carrier aggregation to boost 4G

Vodafone has to followed EE’s lead and launched carrier aggregation – which potentially doubles data bandwidth. One of the clever things about 4G is that it can combine the bandwidth from different bits of spectrum and use them as a single pipe. EE has been selling this for some time and in our testing we found that it made a …
Simon Rockman, 15 Oct 2014
Drissa-Coulibaly,-GWS-Opera

Coughing for 4G, getting 2G... Networks' penny-pinching SECRETS REVEALED

Top 4G? Shockingly, the team that completed the London commuter train connectivity study we covered yesterday has reported the use of half-rate codecs among UK mobile providers. Half-rate codecs were developed as an economy measure and their use shows penny-pinching on the part of the networks. According to the study, O2 used …
Simon Rockman, 15 Oct 2014
You'd need to be a wizard to make a call

Mobile coverage on trains really is pants

Mobile survey coverage company GWS, the company behind The Reg's awesome Monopoly test, has numbers to back up what we’ve always suspected: mobile coverage on trains is pants. In what it claims is the most rigorous train connectivity study ever conducted, GWS has dubbed Three best for voice, Vodafone best for 3G and predictably …
Simon Rockman, 14 Oct 2014
Don't Panic towel

GSMA places operators' towel on Internet of Things deckchair

The Internet of Things is coming and the GSMA wants all the things to play nicely on the networks. A set of guidelines (PDF) has been published by the association, which represents the interests of mobile operators, in a bid to prevent the massive congestion issues which were caused by smartphones. In the report, the GSMA says …
Simon Rockman, 13 Oct 2014

Vanmoof Electrified Bike: Crouching cyclist, hidden power

The Vanmoof electric bike is the future of cycling; OK, maybe not of all cycling, but certainly of my cycling. Vanmoof is a utilitarian city bike designed for getting Dutch people from home to work and back again. I use a Ridgeback mountain bike to cycle into Vulture central and it’s not a particularly appropriate bike, so the …
Simon Rockman, 13 Oct 2014
Jaguar Sportsbrake

Jaguar Sportbrake: The chicken tikka masala of van-sized posh cars

I had a rationale behind reviewing the Jaguar XF Sportbrake. Imagine you are an IT consultant. Now imagine you’ve done pretty well for yourself. Still with me? Good. Narrow that down to being the type of consultant who still does real things with hardware. Not just org charts, “strategy” and managing resources. Jaguar …
Simon Rockman, 11 Oct 2014

WIN a CHANCE to RECORD your WORLD in 3D

Youtube Video There are lots of devices which allow you to turn your mobile phone into a 21st century Viewmaster, but the Poppy is special. While the Google Cardboard, Durovis Dive and VRase all let you experience side-by-side video in 3D, only the Poppy will also let you record it. Available from Firebox, it’s a device where …
Simon Rockman, 11 Oct 2014

Beardie Branson backs Blockchain's Bitcoin bandwagon

British business beardie Richard Branson has invested in Blockchain. Not the Bitcoin ledger, but a custom Bitcoin wallet that functions through an iOS app. The blockchain, in Bitcoin terms, is the master ledger of all Bitcoin transactions. For all the brouhaha about Bitcoin being anonymous, the blockchain is downloaded – and …
Simon Rockman, 10 Oct 2014

Qualcomm, Ericsson, SingTel hit 260Mbps in live FDD/TDD demo

Ericsson, Qualcomm, and Singtel have demonstrated the first carrier aggregation of FDD and TDD to achieve speeds of up to 260Mbps, meaning networks have more choice over which 4G standards to employ, as several can be used at the same time. Standards are great, everyone should have one. And 4G has loads, so it’s sometimes tough …
Simon Rockman, 07 Oct 2014
Fraud image

BIG trouble in Big China: Samsung cops it RIGHT in the wallet

Competition from Chinese smartphone makers has mashed Samsung's China sales, resulting in a warning from the Korean company that its third quarter earnings would drop by 60 per cent when compared with the previous year. We’ve seen how Xiaomi, whose CEO fashions himself on Steve Jobs, is more of a threat to Samsung than Apple. …
Simon Rockman, 07 Oct 2014
Cleeve Hill aerial masts - Arqiva site 36223

£150m, three years... TWO base stations. Gov.uk? You guessed it

A government project funded with £150m of taxpayers money to improve rural broadband with mobile coverage has managed to erect just two base stations in three years. The project needed EU approval to ensure that it wasn’t the UK government unfairly subsidising the mobile networks. The plan was to provide basic voice and data – …
Simon Rockman, 07 Oct 2014
Sprint WiMax Coverage map

Sprint will KILL OFF WiMax in 2015 – report

Third-ranked US mobile network Sprint appears to be poised to kill off its implementation of its less-regarded 4G technology, WiMax. According to a newsletter from the wireless provider leaked to Android Central, the date for the closure of the service is 6 November 2015. The spectrum it frees up – along with the spectrum …
Simon Rockman, 06 Oct 2014
BellSouth IBM Simon

‘This is 2LO calling’: Marconi transmitter, IBM Simon and more at the Science Museum

The BBC's flagship tech programme, Click, will host a lecture on the history of communications technology at the new Information Age gallery, which opens at the end of the month at the Science Museum. The gallery is divided into six zones, each representing a different information and communication technology network: The Cable …
Simon Rockman, 06 Oct 2014
Fiat 500S

Fiat 500S: So pleasingly sporty we didn't want to give it back

As I wound the 900cc turbo up to 5,000 rpm, my teenage son noted that while it didn't have the look of a powerful car, “it’s got balls”, in a line describing the Fiat 500S to an absolute T. One of the reasons for his surprise was the colour. Fiat call it “Electronica blue” and it’s only available on the 500S. It's a convertible …
Simon Rockman, 05 Oct 2014

TalkTalk and Three want to make it easier to switch mobe networks

TalkTalk and Three want to make it easier for mobile customers to switch networks – but they're going about it in a very odd way. TalkTalk boss Dido Harding and Dave Dyson of Three, along with Chris Pateman, chief executive of the Federation of Communications Services and Sarah Willingham, founder of LetsSaveMoney.com, have not …
Simon Rockman, 02 Oct 2014

One million people have bonked on London public transport

It seems that travellers on the London Underground are much more likely to pay by bonk with their contactless credit card than those on the buses. On the first day of accepting contactless credit cards on the tube, TfL saw 128,000 journeys from over 600 of the 652 stations which take Oyster cards. That number has now reached …
Simon Rockman, 01 Oct 2014
BlackBerry Passport

Vodafone to stock BlackBerry Passport – on sale tomorrow

The new, interesting and really rather good Blackberry Passport will soon be available to Brits on Vodafone. That is to say “will” rather than “is” as Vodafone isn’t taking pre-orders for the device, which will go on sale tomorrow, and there is currently no pricing information. Two attempts to order an upgrade – online and over …
Simon Rockman, 30 Sep 2014

You like jumping out of planes? Try the new GoPro 4. Short walks? There's a Hero instead

GoPro, the maker of video cameras for those who like to mix danger with their hobbies, has added two new models to its range: the GoPro 4 and and the GoPro Hero. The GoPro 4 follows the GoPro 3, and is available in black and silver editions. Like a posh credit card, the black version is better than the silver one. The black …
Simon Rockman, 29 Sep 2014
Ben Heck's Spectrum Hack

Reg hands portable Sinclair ZX Spectrum to lucky compo winner

The lucky winner of the unique portable Spectrum is Martin Ryan. He gets the device built by elite hardware hacker Ben Heck, a Sinclair ZX Spectrum that has been taken apart, modified and put back together again in a way that none of the original designers could have prophesied*. This means Martin will be able to play Manic …
Simon Rockman, 29 Sep 2014
Beautiful landscape picture of Kenya, with a man cycling past an acacia tree against a yellow sandy background

Kenyan court case could sound death knell for mobile money

Kenya is pretty much the only place where mobile money works. Now, it seems, the banks want to wreck it. Vodafone-owned mobe operator Safaricom runs M-Pesa, the poster child for mobile payments. It has revolutionised the lives of people who were so poor that the banks were not interested in serving them. However, having become …
Simon Rockman, 29 Sep 2014

Renault Twingo: Small, sporty(ish), safe ... and it's a BACK-ENDER

Forget the Renault Twingo. That was not the car you were looking for. The new Twingo, on the other hand, now that’s a different matter. The original Twingo has a strong place in French affection. Pic: Simon Rockman You see, when Renault initially launched the Twingo, it had a bit of a 2CV vibe going: it was cute, Gallic and …
Simon Rockman, 28 Sep 2014
Maybe it won't look like this

Move over, Apple Pay: Tesco trials PayQwiq phone-flash pay app

Supermarket, virtual mobile network and bank that is very bad at accounting Tesco has new way for you to pay for your box of Celebrations: a digital wallet called PayQwiq. The service, which uses QR codes, is being trialled in Farringdon, the nearest branch to Vulture Central and 15 other Express stores in London as well as 26 …
Simon Rockman, 24 Sep 2014
This is the patriotic edition because it's red and white

Range Rover to fit trendy new SUV with FRIKKIN' LASER HUDs

Yummy Mummies of Chelsea, rejoice. No more getting lost taking the nanny back to the station when you are visiting the country cottage. Keep your eyes on the road Range Rover is to fit frikkin' lasers to its cars. The iconic car company claims its new Heads Up Display to be the first to have used lasers and says it will …
Simon Rockman, 24 Sep 2014

Huawei buys Cambridge Internet of Things pioneer Neul

Thirty-person company Neul has been bought by Huawei for a reported $25m to turn the UK into a centre of excellence for Internet of Things. The deal will have proved to be hugely profitable for the lead investors DFJ Esprit and IQ Capital as well as a long tail of smaller investors. CEO Stan Boland – whose CV includes stints at …
Simon Rockman, 22 Sep 2014
Samsungs_Mitchinson

Huawei's top UK mobile man walks out in shock resignation

Mark Mitchinson, executive veep of Huawei's UK and Ireland consumer devices division, will leave the Chinese firm at the end of the month. Mitchison headed the consumer devices division for three years, but trade magazine Mobile reports that he is to leave on 30 September. Mobile speculates that he will be returning to his alma …
Simon Rockman, 22 Sep 2014
eyeofSauron

Ericsson follows Broadcom to modem Mordor

Ericsson, once the major manufacturer of modems, is planning to leave the business. The move will see 1,000 redundancies and 500 people moving to other Ericsson projects, such as small cells. In February 2009, Ericsson entered into a joint venture with ST-Microelectronics – itself a merger of SGS-Thomson and NXP – in a bid to …
Simon Rockman, 22 Sep 2014
Index image

A spin of roulette in the sporty Ford Fiesta Black

A car is either a head or a heart purchase. If you look at numbers and depreciation, you buy a BMW. Emotion and passion, on the other hand, stereotypically leads to an Alfa Romeo. The new Fiesta Red and Black editions try to be both. It comes it the two colours favoured by roulette, so we took it for a spin. The car we tested …
Simon Rockman, 20 Sep 2014
Apple iPhone 6

Buying memory in an iPhone 6: Like wiping your bottom with dollar bills

So, Apple charges £539 for a 16GB iPhone, £619 for a 64GB device and £699 for a 128GB jeesus! Phone. Which means that if you buy your memory in the form of a more expensive iPhone, you pay something on the order of £1.60 for a gigabyte. Which, in turn, might just be why the Jesus mobe doesn’t come with an SD slot. A little eBay …
Simon Rockman, 19 Sep 2014
A small spectrum

Your chance to WIN the WORLD'S ONLY HANDHELD ZX SPECTRUM

Youtube Video Many of you reading this will have had a Sinclair ZX Spectrum as their first computer [or second, anyway. And it was the first one that really worked. - Ed]. With 16k or 48k RAM and a Z80 processor it was the first mass market colour home computer. Now you can win a one-off portable Spectrum built by legendary …
Simon Rockman, 19 Sep 2014
Apple iPhone 6

Bonking with Apple has POUNDED mobe operators' wallets

Weve, the bonk-tastic joint venture between EE, O2 and Vodafone to “create and accelerate the development of mobile marketing and wallet services in the UK”, has abandoned plans to launch a digital wallet. This follow on the heels of having lost £25m, on revenues of £13m in its first year, doing the mobile marketing stuff – as …
Simon Rockman, 16 Sep 2014
Cheap kit kat

Get your Indian Landfill Android One handsets - they're only SIXTY QUID

Three Indian manufacturers have signed up to make Android One budget handsets in India and the devices have been launched today. The Karbon Sparkle V is 6399 rupees (£64), runs KitKat 4.4, has a 1,700mAh battery, 1700mAh removable battery, 5MP rear and 2MP front cameras, quad core 1.3GHz CPU, 1GB of RAM with a slot for up to …
Simon Rockman, 15 Sep 2014

Gaming supremo creates maps that turn real world into Sim City

Ian Hetherington, formerly of games companies Realtime Worlds and Psygnosis - yes, the company responsible for '90s legend Lemmings - and has applied games technology to mapping, making your 3D navigation feel like a trip to Sim City. eeGeo's maps can show weather conditions – so you can make it snow – and time of day, with …
Simon Rockman, 10 Sep 2014
Vodafone on Piccadilly

Shades of Mannesmann: Vodafone should buy T-Mobile US

When Deutsche Telekom bought One 2 One on the 6th August 1999 I sat in the press conference at the Dorchester hotel and heard the company say “We are the Germans. Today Europe, tomorrow the world”. The boss also reprimanded a journalist for switching off a ringing phone. “Answer it, where do you think our money comes from?” …
Simon Rockman, 10 Sep 2014
Seond screen is one thing at home, but watching one game while visiting another is obessive

Ericsson punts superfast picocell... for indoor not-spots

Ericsson is big on little cells. The new RBS 6402 is an indoor cell aimed at giving mobile coverage within what Ericsson calls “smaller buildings and venues”, but you might think of as still being pretty big – around 5,000 square metres. What makes it special is that it’s the first picocell to support carrier aggregation, which …
Simon Rockman, 09 Sep 2014
Photo of the Amazon Fire Phone

O2 breathes life into Amazon Fire: Mobe to hit Blighty in WEEKS

The Amazon Fire phone has failed to set the world alight, so now it seems that Amazon is looking to O2 for help. There were great hopes for the 3D Fire phone when details leaked ahead of the launch but when it transpired that the 3D was only head tracking that enthusiasm evaporated and it failed to find the traction of the …
Simon Rockman, 08 Sep 2014
Checking london streets

Who us, SHARE infrastructure? Networks reject gov proposal

A governmental proposal that would require the UK mobile phone networks to share infrastructure has been shot down in flames. The idea proposed by culture secretary Sajid Javid, which would remove any need for competition between the mobile networks on the basis of coverage, has been rejected as “unworkable” according to a …
Simon Rockman, 08 Sep 2014
Monopoly testing

Vodafone calls for pan-European testing standards

Petek Ergul, head of networks at Vodafone, doesn't just have big plans for better mobile coverage. She claims Voda is actually rolling them out across the UK, with specific team working on “World Class London”. While The Register Monopoly Pub Crawl surveyed 28 locations in London, Ergul wants to see a pan-European standard. She …
Simon Rockman, 08 Sep 2014

3D scanning made easy: Reg man ponders terrifying Xmas pressie

Something I determined some time ago is that the key to 3D printing is the modelling. The new scanner from Fuel3D makes this significantly less painful. Quick and easy scanning using the Fuel 3D The little black square is used for registration While there is an increasing number of desktop scanners what makes the Fuel 3D …
Simon Rockman, 08 Sep 2014
Countach, Gullwing, F40, Miura, 959, 911RS, Zonda, E-Type

Ferraris, Zondas and ... er, a bike with a 500hp V10 under the saddle

There is a joke which runs along the lines of "Sainsburys exists to keep the riff-raff out of Waitrose". In car events, the amazing, upmarket Goodwood festival of Speed is Sainsburys... and Salon Privé is Waitrose. And it isn't just the rival events which filter out those who might sully the place. It's the ticket prices, which …
Simon Rockman, 06 Sep 2014
14.7, that's a lot of pixels

Size matters – how else could Dell squeeze 15 million pixels into this 27" 5K monitor?

When it comes to pixel size, monitor designers boast about who has the smallest. The new Dell UltraSharp 27-inch display has the smallest of the lot. The ultra HD 5K monitor is the world’s first screen with a 5120 x 2880 pixel resolution. That’s 218 pixels per inch. That may sound a way off the LG G3 phone which offers 534 PPI, …
Simon Rockman, 06 Sep 2014
Cellular basestation antenna

Snooptastic US CELL TOWERS pose man-in-the-middle THREAT

A significant number of cell towers in the US are not what they seem to be. In fact, at least according to a recent report, it’s likely they are snooping on your calls. One of the impressive things about GSM is that despite being a standard that was devised nearly a quarter of a century ago, it’s still pretty secure. If you're …
Simon Rockman, 03 Sep 2014
iPhone forensics beaten image

Vodafone pay-by-bonk launch may signal iPhone 6 NFC plans

Vodafone has announced that its SmartPass technology will work with TfL’s systems when the London Underground starts accepting mobile pay-by-bonk on 16 September – but bigger things are planned. The existing SmartPass platform uses a system where a phone apes a contactless credit card. It’s tied to the customers’ card and doesn’ …
Simon Rockman, 02 Sep 2014
Cellular antenna. Source: Vxla/Flickr

Ericssson-LG jumps on South Korean cloud to make 5G rain

Ericsson-LG – a joint venture company between the two communications giants – has jumped into bed with Korean telco SKT to build software to control 5G networks. Of course no one really knows what 5G is yet, but we do know that it will have to handle an awful lot of data and so the software will have to live on servers. This is …
Simon Rockman, 02 Sep 2014