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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.
LG re-invents the pen thing

LG pokes G3 Stylus at Samsung's Galaxy Note

The mobile phone company once known as "Lucky Goldstar" has taken a trip back into the past and will launch a phablet with a stylus at German phonefest IFA. The G3 Stylus may have the same name as the wonderful G3 phone, but despite having a similarly sized screen at 5.5 inches, it’s a significantly lower specification. Notably …
Simon Rockman, 26 Aug 2014
A fake tattoo on the leg of Canberra Raiders footballer Sandor Earl, sent by Huawei as an April Fool

Huawei: 'Tizen has no chance', Windows Phone is 'difficult'... it's Android all the way

Richard Yu, the head of Huawei's consumer business group, has said that he sees an Android future for the company. The Chinese company has huge global ambitions to capitalise on its standing as a major infrastructure supplier and to become a consumer brand and is particularly looking to The Middle East and Africa. It’s a policy …
Simon Rockman, 26 Aug 2014
Monopoly testing

You, El Reg and a doctor walk into a Monopoly Pubcrawl chinwag

You've no doubt been enjoying El Reg's scintillating coverage of our magnificent 3G/4G data Monopoly pub crawl, so now's your chance to quiz GWS chief Dr Paul Carter on the whole shebang. On Friday 29 August, we held a live chat with the man himself, to explain the decisions that were made in testing and to look at some of the …
Simon Rockman, 25 Aug 2014
Ford Mondeo has an LED headlight

Bright lights, affordable motor: Ford puts LED headlights onto Mondeo

Ford has announced its first car with dynamic LED headlights, which apparently provide as much light as Xenon bulbs – and last for the lifetime of the vehicle. Because LEDs are very much smaller than traditional bulbs, they can affect the whole design of the front end of a car. Ford is trumpeting the freedom it gives them in …
Simon Rockman, 25 Aug 2014

The Register Monopoly Pubcrawl Mobile Map: VODAFONE VICTOR in LONDON

Get a load of our fabtabulous interactive mobile Monopoly map - now complete with 3G/4G data results - right here If you think “data” is what you do with your girlfriend then move on, probably to another website: there is nothing to see here. But if you think mobile data in London is interesting you need to read this. Jasper …
Simon Rockman, 23 Aug 2014
Cheap LG androids

LG takes on Nokia X, Moto G: These are the cheapie 'droids you've been looking for

Nokia's X and Motorola's G now have two new rivals to compete for the reals, pesos and quetzals as LG targets emerging markets with landfill Androids. The New LG L Fino and L Bello, to be launched at IFA in Berlin, will go on sale in South America first but will also be launched in Europe, Asia, and CIS soon after. The budget 3G …
Simon Rockman, 22 Aug 2014

The Register Monopoly Pubcrawl Mobile Map: VODAFONE WINS VOICE

Check out the Register's interactive mobile coverage Monopoly map (voice only for now) right here. While all the sexy stuff these days in mobile phones is web, apps and tweeting, voice calls are still the major thing people use mobile phones for. The Register and mobile network survey experts GWS took to the London streets to …
Simon Rockman, 22 Aug 2014
Testing at Marble Arch

Roll up for El Reg's 3G/4G MONOPOLY DATA PUB CRAWL

In January I was in the pub with Richard, an old school friend I hadn’t seen for 30 years and whom I was keen to impress. Then he asked one of those seemingly simple questions. “Simon,” he said. “You’ll know which 4G network I should be on”. Just 10 words but a whole heap of trouble. And like any good pub conversation, it led to …
Simon Rockman, 21 Aug 2014
Fight Night Champion

EE: STILL Blighty's best mobe network, says 'Frappucino' Moore

EE is still the best mobile network in the UK, but the others are catching up and Three is the one to watch. This is the conclusion of the latest report from RootMetrics the mobile survey company which regularly looks at UK mobile coverage and is headed by Bill ‘Frappuccino’ Moore. The previous survey descended into a war of …
Simon Rockman, 19 Aug 2014

Top Gun display for your CAR: Heads-up fighter pilot tech

Car-display manufacturer Navdy has refuted claims that its new device is dangerous, saying there are plenty of precedents for the technology. Navdy connects a mobile phone to a small projector and provides a “pilot's eye” heads-up display, using a transparent screen. This avoids the issues of multiple images which you get if you …
Simon Rockman, 16 Aug 2014
Tesco Hudl

Giving your old Tesco Hudl to Auntie June? READ THIS FIRST

UK supermarket Tesco’s Hudl tablet will offer up data from past users – even if it’s been factory reset. The Register spoke to Ken Munro from security firm Pen Test Partners, who said he'd bought 17 Hudls and AllWinner tablets from eBay and found that not only does the reset process not wipe all the data, it’s possible to …
Simon Rockman, 15 Aug 2014

UK mobile coverage is BETTER than EVER, networks tell Ofcom

All of Blighty's mobile phone networks are providing great coverage and you can make a successful voice call nearly 100 per cent of the time. And the source of this wonderful news? Why, it's … er, the mobile phone networks themselves. Oh. The latest report (PDF) from telecoms regulator Ofcom shows that all the mobile phone …
Simon Rockman, 13 Aug 2014

Tech city types developing 'Google Glass for the blind' app

A new app and service aimed at people with sight impairments is being cooked up on Silicon Roundabout. The service, called Eyebridge, is being put together by Guy Curlewis and Andrew Law, who believe that a smartphone camera linked to a call centre could be of use to blind and poorly sighted people. Versions of Eyebridge are …
Simon Rockman, 12 Aug 2014
3 In Hong Kong has launched a sailfish phone

Three floats Jolla in Hong Kong: Says Sailfish is '3rd option'

Dented Linux mobile OS Sailfish has taken a new route to market as Three in Hong Kong prepares to start selling the smartphone-that-could-have-been from Jolla. The Linux-based OS has had a tortuous history. The open source OS, based on the MeeGo operating system, was first developed, and then dropped, by Nokia. Since then it has …
Simon Rockman, 12 Aug 2014
Woman throttling man

Don't call it throttling: Ericsson 'priority' tech gives users their own slice of spectrum

Ericsson and SoftBank in Japan have demonstrated a system which lets the network control not just how much bandwidth you have but how much spectrum each user gets to play with. Throttling heavy users and giving more capacity to those on higher tariffs usually takes place at an IP level, but now Ericsson and SoftBank have shown …
Simon Rockman, 12 Aug 2014
Dell Chromebook 11

Chromebooks to break out of US schools: Netbook 2.0 comeback not just for children

It may be a niche, but the market for Chromebooks will grow, according to research company Gartner. The analyst has predicted 5.2 million of the Google OS-powered laptops will be sold this year. Not only that, but the number-crunchers also reckon sales will nearly triple by 2017. That growth will come from Chromebooks breaking …
Simon Rockman, 11 Aug 2014
Spam

Ancient pager tech SMS: It works, it's fab, but wow, get a load of that incoming SPAM

The infrastructure for text messaging is creaking. Not only does it need to be fixed, but it seems mobile operators don’t understand enough about their own systems to do it themselves. This is according to Louise O'Sullivan, CEO of mobile solutions firm Anam Technologies. She maintains that the problem that needs fixing lies in …
Simon Rockman, 11 Aug 2014
GCHQ as seen on Google Earth

O2 vs Vodafone: Mobe firms grab for GCHQ, gov.uk security badge

Both Vodafone and O2 are claiming to be the best mobile phone network for people, particularly government people, who are worried about security. O2 is crowing about achieving the secure and government-approved network certification known as CAS(T), which stands for CESG Assured Service (Telecommunications), O2 being the first …
Simon Rockman, 11 Aug 2014

Wait, an actual QR code use case? TGI Friday's builds techno-restaurant

The good burghers of TGI Friday’s have cooked up a plan to get you in and out of their eateries faster: using mobile tech. The restaurant's Manchester Piccadilly Station branch is the first Fast Track TGI Friday's, which aims to serve you within ten minutes and help you pay quickly and leave by using your mobile phone. This is …
Simon Rockman, 08 Aug 2014
Running lights and headlights in one unit

Stalwart hatchback gets a plug-in: Volkswagen e-Golf

Of all the electric cars I've driven, the latest eco-friendly VW Golf is the one that feels most like a normal auto – that just so happens to be silent and has a stack of batteries where the spare wheel would go. Volkswagen e-Golf Goodbye GTI, hello Volkswagen e-Golf While the vast majority of electric cars make a feature of …
Simon Rockman, 08 Aug 2014
cloud

BT offers vanilla mobile deal to biz bods

The latest deal for small businesses from BT is part of its move to become a mobile phone network again. The deal from BT Business includes a bundle of resold EE airtime and Wi-Fi – with or without hardware. The hardware bit includes a range of Android and Windows Phones and Apple, Android and Windows tablets. It's also offering …
Simon Rockman, 05 Aug 2014
US soldiers fire a Javelin missile. Credit: US Army

Google pulls Gaza games from Play store

Google has removed the games Bomb Gaza and Gaza Assault: Code Red from its Play app store. The games tasked players with destroying Hamas combatants and rockets without killing civilians, and have been criticised as glorifying violence. Unlike Apple, which pre-approves all games on iTunes, Google does not have a rigorous …
Simon Rockman, 05 Aug 2014

Operators get the FEAR as Ofcom proposes 275% hike in mobile spectrum fees

Ofcom has “rethought” the fees that UK mobile networks pay for their 900MHz and 1800MHz spectrum, based on the industry's reaction to its latest proposal. Previously Ofcom decided to hike the annual fee that the networks pay for access to spectrum from £65m to £309m – a relative rise of 375 per cent. That’s now been modified to …
Simon Rockman, 01 Aug 2014
Fiat Panda Cross

Fiat Panda Cross: 'Interesting-looking' Multipla spawn hits UK

The new FIAT Panda Cross comes to the UK in September, just in time for a “64” numberplate, and is looking to add a bit of fashion pizazz to the utilitarian nature of the original Panda 4x4. Fiat's Panda Cross: out in the wild but not on sale until September Everyone agrees on the looks. They are “interesting” and “brave”. …
Simon Rockman, 01 Aug 2014

Speak your brains on SIGNAL-FREE mobile comms

Our previous article about goTenna, a new device which allows mobile phones to communicate without signal, stirred up a lot of interest from readers and fellow journalists. goTenna CEO Daniela Perdomo and her brother, CTO Jorge Perdomo, held a live chat on El Reg this Friday, 1 August, at 3pm BST. Daniela Perdomo has worked in …
Simon Rockman, 30 Jul 2014
Bletchley Park Manor House, photo: Gavin Clarke

Trying to sell your house? It'd better have KILLER mobile coverage

Young property buyers see mobile coverage as a more important when it comes to choosing a location – rating it as more important than proximity to schools and transport or local crime rates, says a report commissioned by mobile survey company RootMetrics. It’s long been known that the main reason people change mobile networks is …
Simon Rockman, 30 Jul 2014

Apple and Samsung UNDER THREAT from local brands – study

A recent study by Netbiscuits has seen growth in locally made devices. While Samsung and Apple dominate globally – LG and HTC get something of a look-in, which is more than Sony, Nokia or Motorola manage – there is an interesting underlying trend of consumers becoming patriotic in their buying habits. The strength of Xiaomi is …
Simon Rockman, 30 Jul 2014

Feel free to BONK on the TUBE, says Transport for London

From 16 September you will be able to pay for your journey on the London Underground with your pay-by-bonk contactless card or NFC-enabled phone. This won’t come as a surprise to anyone who uses the London Underground regularly and will have heard the announcements (and seen the posters) warning people to keep their Oyster and …
Simon Rockman, 25 Jul 2014
Euro notes

Termination charges drop smacks Vodafone and EE in the WALLET

The reduction in how much mobile networks receive for handling incoming calls has hit both Vodafone and EE so hard that they have both separated out the charges in interim financial reports. Brit multinational Vodafone announced a global drop in its revenue of 4.2 per cent for the quarter while UK mobile firm EE's financials saw …
Simon Rockman, 25 Jul 2014
Photograph 13

Seeking LTE expert to insert small cells into BT customers' places

BT is recruiting an expert on 4G small cells. What are they up to? The job ad reads: BT is seeking a talented principal engineer who can drive the technical specification and design of LTE small cell products for our consumer Customer Premises Equipment. You will be implementing BT’s mobility strategy alongside the team of …
Simon Rockman, 24 Jul 2014

BT: Hey guys, we've developed NEW MOBE TECH! It’s called... 2G

BT has fallen through a timewarp and introduced a system based on GSM technology – and even resurrected a name used in the last millennium to christen it. OnePhone is a system aimed at companies with between 20 and 250 employees to give them a single phone that works in both the office and outside. It uses a 2G mobile network …
Simon Rockman, 24 Jul 2014
June Whitfield shows old people how to use Twitter to complain

June Whitfield and EE to old folk: Would you like a nice cup of tea and some internet, dear?

EE has realised that while the vast majority of their target market has at least one phone, there is a whole untapped business opportunity in older people. So the company is inviting loads of them around for a cuppa to try and sell them a phone and internet connection. On September 9th EE will be devoting the morning to hosting …
Simon Rockman, 23 Jul 2014
Workers in a Foxconn plant, credit: Steve Jurvetson from Menlo Park, USA

iThing builder Foxconn applies to be mobile network operator in China

Foxconn, maker of Apple's iPhone, wants to own a mobile phone network in China and has applied for an MVNO licence. Under Chinese law Foxconn, formally known as Hon Hai Precision Industry Co. Ltd, cannot own an MVNO itself and so is partnering with an unnamed Chinese internet company, according to an MVNO Dynamics report. That …
Simon Rockman, 21 Jul 2014
Gotenna offers secure communications

GoTenna: How does this 'magic' work?

You may have been hearing about a well-nigh miraculous device called GoTenna lately - a gadget which, apparently, lets your phone work even if there's no network coverage to be had. GoTenna is a two-way radio for mobile phones: it pairs with an Android or iOS device using Bluetooth and uses 151-154 MHz radio to communicate with …
Simon Rockman, 21 Jul 2014

Orange unleashes API assets, hires San Fran firm to lure in devs

Orange has released a bunch of APIs into the world and has inked a deal with some Bay Area tech types to help convince developers on the idea of building mobile and web applications using Orange core networks and services. Apigee’s digital platform will power the APIs for Orange Partner, the telco's biz hub for developers, …
Simon Rockman, 18 Jul 2014

US freemium mobile network eyes up Europe

Freemium mobile network FreedomPop has set its sights on Europe. The LA-based company has signed a deal with BASE, a subsidiary of Dutch telco and MVNO-lover KPN. It will launch in Belgium and then plans to expand to the UK, Germany, France and Spain. In the US FreedomPop’s model starts with a base price of $0 for 200 minutes of …
Simon Rockman, 16 Jul 2014
BlackBerry bleeding

If BlackBerry killed off its social gaming platform, would anybody notice?

Sticking to its knitting, BlackBerry is closing Scoreloop - the German social gaming platform and tools company it acquired in 2011 for $71m. The Canadian mobile phone company once known as RIM told the Wall Street Journal that this was in line with its focus on enterprise. When BlackBerry bought Scoreloop, it was at the height …
Simon Rockman, 16 Jul 2014

Google Nest, ARM, Samsung pull out Thread to strangle ZigBee

Nest Labs, the connected thermostat upstart acquired by Google for $3.2bn, is leading the charge of tech companies launching a new wireless protocol for Internet of Things devices. The Google-owned Internet of Things biz has, in effect, turned up the heat on a standards war. The major difference between the new low-power Thread …
Simon Rockman, 15 Jul 2014

Barclays Bank counter staff to become iPad-toting 'community bankers'

Barclays Bank is following the lead of London Underground and replacing counter staff with machines and people loitering around to show customers how to use them. The move will affect all 6,500 cashiers, who will be renamed “community bankers” and will be armed with iPads. Barclays already has 37 counterless branches, but the …
Simon Rockman, 15 Jul 2014
management regulation1

LightSquared backer sues FCC over spectrum shindy

US hedge fund Harbinger Capital Partners is suing the US government - and specifically the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) - according to the Wall Street Journal (paywall), for its part in the demise of optimistic wireless broadband network LightSquared. The network filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy last May after the FCC …
Simon Rockman, 14 Jul 2014
Cellular basestation antenna

Rural mobile coverage: Tweeting twits to join chirping tits in UK's national parks

The Mobile Operators Association has signed an accord with National Parks England to improve coverage over the 10 per cent of the UK which falls under the category of the national parks. Youtube Video The organisations are predictably keen to emphasise that this will be done without compromising any natural beauty. The move is …
Simon Rockman, 14 Jul 2014
Microsoft campus

Will Microsoft devices sit happily on a single platform?

The world can be a confusing place. Often a one-size-fits-all solution looks to be just the thing but ultimately it turns out that it fits no one. Microsoft is touting a single development environment for desktops, laptops, tablets, phablets, mobiles and the Xbox. Can this deliver? The platform for PC, phone and tablet comes …
Simon Rockman, 11 Jul 2014

Telefonica inks deal with mobile ads platform: Find your customer? There's an API for that

Spanish telco Telefonica has looked to Brainstorm Mobile to supply it with a platform to roll out its global marketing strategy. The Brainstorm platform is also behind Weve, which is the UK consortium of mobile operators working in mobile marketing. By working directly with Brainstorm, Telefonica can use the service outside the …
Simon Rockman, 11 Jul 2014

Samsung rebrands store as Galaxy Apps, eyes up Google Play customers

Samsung has changed the name of its apps store from “Samsung Apps” to “Samsung Galaxy Apps”, which essentially competes against Google's Play. The term “Galaxy” – which was once solely the high end brand in the Samsung range – now embraces all of its Android phones, with the Ace and Grand Neo now becoming the Galaxy Ace and …
Simon Rockman, 11 Jul 2014

New Bluetooth tech lets you control 4 BILLION lightbulbs at once

Are you in charge of 4.1 billion lightbulbs? Do you need to control each one of them individually? Yes? Then get your hands on the latest development from Cambridge Silicon Radio (CSR). The CSR mesh protocol uses Bluetooth low energy with device-to-device communications to allow one bulb to speak to the next. The technology is …
Simon Rockman, 09 Jul 2014
Xbox_baby

What the world needs now is... a Bluetooth-enabled baby's dummy

UK startup Blue Maestro is about to solve the spit-the-dummy-out-of-the-crib problems forever with Pacifi, a toddler’s dummy that comes with a Bluetooth connection. The device combines silicon and silicone to measure the child’s temperature and can provide a level of monitoring which is not possible even with regular checking. …
Simon Rockman, 09 Jul 2014
Tesla's Elon Musk

Tesla trademark spat threatens Musk's China dream

Elon Musk’s electric wagon biz Tesla may be forced to retreat from China after Chinese businessman Zhan Baosheng claimed he owns the trademark "Tesla". Guangdong-based Zhan registered 特斯拉 (Te Si La) in 2006 – well before Tesla set up shop in the Middle Kingdom. According to Reuters, Tesla thought the dispute was resolved in …
Simon Rockman, 08 Jul 2014
Generic mast

O2 and 'leccy firm's MNVO bid flops as £25m glugs down the drain

A new mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) planned by Scottish and Southern Energy has been switched off. The plan, as reported by Mobile magazine, was for the network to run on O2's infrastructure and use SSE’s customer base of 9.6 million customers. Two hundred thousand of those customers already have broadband and fixed …
Simon Rockman, 07 Jul 2014
Virgin like the green image of Formula E

F1? No, it's Formula E as electric racing cars hit the track

Electric motorsport is finally getting some of the attention given its internal combustion engine brother with the first day of testing of the new Formula E taking place at Donington Park Racing Circuit in Derby. It will be a while before we see an actual race in the UK, though. That’s not going to be until 27 June 2015, and …
Simon Rockman, 07 Jul 2014
pantech pc-2800... and friends

Korea’s third biggest phone maker faces $180m OBLITERATION

Troubled Korean handset manufacturer Pantech's stay of execution is drawing to a close as its creditors take action over the firm's 480bn won ($475m, £277m) financial black hole. The mobile networks might bail Pantech out in order to have a rival for LG and Samsung. However, Korea Business reports that the networks are looking …
Simon Rockman, 04 Jul 2014