Simon Rockman

Contact Mail Follow Twitter RSS feed
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.
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
image from shutterstock_148618127

Brightstar deal means Post Office mobile network could be a thing

The Post Office is ramping up its plans to become a virtual mobile phone network, with hardware distributor Brightstar being appointed to handle logistics for SIMs and phones. The deal between the Post Office and EE to provide an MVNO, a virtual network with the Post Office brand, was revealed in 2012 when a Request for …
Simon Rockman, 26 Jan 2015
School run car

Chunky Swedish ice maiden: Volvo XC60 D4 Manual EE Lux Nav

Vulture at the Wheel Why did the nice man from Volvo find me peering at the dashboard with a torch when he came to collect the XC60 I was testing? It was because I was looking very hard at the lights, which show when the left and right turn indicators are flashing. The dashboard is a collection of LCD screens, and I was trying to decide if someone …
Simon Rockman, 24 Jan 2015
Cell tower, view from below. Image by Shutterstock.com

Then there were 3: Another UK mobile network borged ...

Analysis Telefonica has sold O2 to Three big-daddy Hutchison Whampoa for £10bn - and it pretty much had to. Here's why. Telefonica had shown its hand in trying to flog its O2 biz to BT, revealing that it wasn’t interested keeping the brand; Telefonica smacks of never really having its heart in the venture. With BT buying EE, and …
Simon Rockman, 23 Jan 2015
John Chen

FORCE Apple to support BlackBerry hardware, demands John Chen

In a blog post on the BlackBerry website, CEO John Chen has called on regulators to force Apple and Netflix to support Blackberry hardware, claiming this forms part of the ongoing net neutrality debate. He argues that because BlackBerry has the eyes, ears and fingers of the most important people in the world – thanks to its …
Simon Rockman, 22 Jan 2015
The SAMSUNG GALAXY ALPHA lies on a white background, displays Home screen icons.

LEAKED: Samsung's iPHONE 6 KILLER... the Samsung Galaxy S6

Newly leaked specifications for the Samsung Galaxy S6 show the South Korean company taking the fight back to Apple. The expected flagship is expected to debut a year after we saw the S5 at Mobile World Congress. The “64-bit eight-core 14nm CPU which is 50% faster” could be the rumoured Snapdragon 820, but that’s likely to be …
Simon Rockman, 22 Jan 2015

LEAKED Qualcomm processors reveal sexy new specs

Specs of the new Qualcomm 820 and 600 family processors have leaked out ahead of the Mobile World Congress. The new 820 is the successor to the Snapdragon 810, which was launched last April. Qualcomm echoes Elite and names its cores after snakes. The new TS2 core is a 14nm processor, which Tom’s Hardware believes is codenamed …
Simon Rockman, 22 Jan 2015
fingers pointing at man

'If you see a stylus, they BLEW it' – Steve Jobs. REMEMBER, Apple?

Analysis firm KGI claims Apple will offer a stylus with its 12.9” iPad. If true, this would represent a volte face for Apple, which has always derided fondleslabs that used any pointing device other than a human finger attached to a human arm. The claims appear in a report leaked to Apple Insider. The KGI analyst Ming-Chi Kuo …
Simon Rockman, 19 Jan 2015
Slick looking picture of  xiaomi's Mi3 Android smartphone

China's Apple? PAH! We're looking for SUCCESS in internet TV – Xiaomi

Rising star mobile company Xiaomi is planning an assault on TV content and has reportedly set aside $1bn with which to do it. The company – which is currently giving Samsung a run for its money and recently raised $1.1bn to value the company at $45bn – has budgeted $1bn for building internet content in China and foreign markets …
Simon Rockman, 19 Jan 2015

German iron meets Monaco's highlands: Audi A1 review

Vulture at the Wheel It’s all about the steering. The face-lifted Audi A1 has eschewed the trend to drive-by-wire and has mechanical steering with variable electrical assistance. I drove the new 1.0 three-cylinder petrol engine version, and over the miles what started as a nice little practical town car turned into a fun little toy. Reviewing cars …
Simon Rockman, 17 Jan 2015
"334/365 this is a phoooonne!!!" - Lazurite

UK's landmark mobile not-spot deal already falling apart

The made-of-straw “landmark deal” to fix the not-spots in mobile phone infrastructure - which has made the UK the poor man of Europe in mobile coverage - is already starting to crumble. The necessary planning regulation to make it easier for the networks to roll out coverage to 90 per cent of the UK is being clumsily rushed …
Simon Rockman, 16 Jan 2015
Cartoon of fist clutching dollars smashing out of smartphone

Microsoft & Paypal link hands, turn round and slap Apple Pay

Microsoft will start supporting PayPal’s "PayPal Here" hardware, so people can buy things with their mobile phones. The partnership, which is only for the US initially, will allow retailers to use a Lumia or Surface to take payments through PayPal. The idea is that they will then want to use Microsoft products rather than …
Simon Rockman, 16 Jan 2015

Disney, McLaren and National Rail walk into bar: Barkeep, make me a Wearable

A £210,000 fund has been put up by Innovate UK to promote development of wearable tech and big name companies have jumped at the chance to be associated with the coolest thing since “apps” and “cloud” became passé. Innovate UK is what used to be known as the Technology Strategy Board and is the governmental organisation that …
Simon Rockman, 13 Jan 2015