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.
How silicon roundabout will look

No Silicon Roundabout U-Bend U-Turn: Build that peninsula boys

Following a period of consultation, Transport for London has published a report showing that a significant proportion of the 1,300 people who expressed an opinion thought the idea of converting London's so-called Silicon Roundabout into a U-Bend incorporating a "peninsula" was A Good Thing. Under the plan, the amount of space …
Simon Rockman, 11 Jun 2015
Range Rover uses cameras and suspension monotoring to advise other traffic of potholes

Future Range Rovers will report pot-holes directly to councils

Jaguar Land Rover is building an experimental Range Rover which can automatically spot and report potholes. The system is akin to one Volvo and Ericsson have been working on to spot icy patches on roads. The Jaguar Land Rover system uses the MagneRide suspension already offered on the Evoque and Discovery Sport. It records the …
Simon Rockman, 11 Jun 2015
Voda App lets guest use your wi-fi

Fourplay frolics: Vodafone launches landline broadband

As expected, Vodafone has launched Connect, a consumer broadband service - and, as expected, the speeds are disappointing. While AQL and Gigaclear will let you have a gigabit or more, and Virgin Media offers 152Mbps, the new Vodafone service is aimed at BT’s 76Mbps Infinity 2 package. Vodafone claims that it will offer speed …
Simon Rockman, 10 Jun 2015
arsenal_b_dortmund_champions_league_648

HTC reflects on Champions League iPhone cock-up

HTC is recovering from the embarrassment of being unmasked as a user of the iPhone. oh dear watch the reflections To celebrate its involvement as a sponsor of this year's UEFA Champions League, HTC produced a blingtastic limited edition, 24ct gold version of the HTC One M9. And then it obviously had to take to Twitter to …
Simon Rockman, 10 Jun 2015
Sinclar ZX Spectrum+ 128

Qualcomm selling its 1.4GHz spectrum (with a little help from Ofcom)

US chip-making giant Qualcomm is looking to sell a chunk of radio spectrum it found just lying about in the back of a cupboard. The company released a statement saying: The European Commission recently voted for the release of L-Band (1452-1492MHz) spectrum throughout the European Union for use as Supplemental Downlink (SDL …
Simon Rockman, 09 Jun 2015
Dispatchers are vital to co-ordinating on the ground activities

Brit plods' post-TETRA radio omnishambles comes home to roost

The £1.2bn emergency services contract which The Register flagged up as an omnishambles six months ago has now, as we predicted, collapsed. After a year-long bidding process the government had whittled the tenders down to two companies: EE and O2. Now O2 has pulled out as a result of Telefonica selling the network to Three’s …
Simon Rockman, 09 Jun 2015
US cashpoint. Pic: Tax Credits

Cynical Apple says it'll gouge less cash from iTunes strummers' sales

Apple is looking to move from the 30 per cent margin it makes on sales of apps through iTunes, lowering its take to protect the strength of the Apple ecosystem. The Financial Times (paywall) reports that Apple is in discussion with media companies ahead of a launch for Apple’s TV streaming service and curated streaming music …
Simon Rockman, 08 Jun 2015
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Verizon splits with carrier-led bonking and invests in SimplyTapp

Verizon Ventures has invested in NFC technology company SimplyTapp. What makes this interesting is that SimplyTapp is a cloud-based service using Host Card Emulation (HCE) for the security element in Android phones. Operators have traditionally supported the rival Single Wire Protocol (SWP) standard and Vodafone recently teamed …
Simon Rockman, 08 Jun 2015
Caterham. Pic: Simon Rockman

Caterham 270S: The automotive equivalent of crack

Vulture at the Wheel More power is always good, so the question is: how much better is the Caterham 270S than the Caterham 160 we reviewed a while back? The answer is "not a lot". And the real improvement isn’t the power, it’s the gearbox and the sound. This is surprising. Caterham nomenclature is based on power-to-weight ratios, with the car …
Simon Rockman, 07 Jun 2015
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Jurassic Part: Vertu announces lizard-skin phones

Vertu, makers of super-expensive phones for the insanely rich, has announced two new lizard-skin phones, coming in at a cool £7,600. “Night Forest is a rich dark green and the Dark Scarlet is a beautifully woody chestnut red, both inspired by the canopy of an English woodland," said the UK manufacturer and retailer of luxury …
Simon Rockman, 07 Jun 2015
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New US bill aims to zap patent trolls with transparency demands

The US Senate Judiciary Committee has recommended that the "Protecting American Talent and Entrepreneurship Act 6 of 2015" be accepted. The committee voted 16-4 in favour of the bill (Patent bill S.1137, PDF), which aims to reduce patent trolling and, it is said, uncover who is taking an action and why. The bill stipulates that …
Simon Rockman, 05 Jun 2015
Vittorio Colao (CEO)

Vodafone IS talking to Virgin Media daddy Liberty Global

Rumours of all kinds of talks between Liberty Global, which owns Virgin Media in the UK and Vodafone, have been rumbling for months. Vodafone's now come out and confirmed those rumours are true. Vodafone put out a release this morning saying: “Vodafone Group Plc ("Vodafone") notes the recent media speculation regarding a …
Simon Rockman, 05 Jun 2015
cupid_648

T-Mobile has a network, Dish has spectrum it can't use. Oh, HELLO

T-Mobile US and Dish Networks are in talks about joining forces. Consolidation and quad-play are all the rage between mobile networks, and mobile networks and other networks. The Wall Street Journal reports that the two companies have even decided that Dish boss Charlie Egan would head the beast as Chairman, with the outspoken T …
Simon Rockman, 04 Jun 2015
Telenor Norway CEO Berit Svendsen

Telenor Norway projects 2020 switch-off for its 3G network

Norwegian telco Telenor has outlined plans for switching off 3G, which may be a model for other operators. Norweigians love 4G so much that the Telenor group is looking to ape America in the growth of 4G. CEO Berit Svendsen (pictured) says that the network will follow the raid adoption of 4G found in the US and Asia. Telenor’s …
Simon Rockman, 04 Jun 2015
gavel_judgment_channel

Virgin Media wins ELEVENTH patent case against Rovi

After eleven claims and seven years, Virgin has won an eleventh patent dispute with Rovi over the design of its user interface after Rovi withdrew the claim of patent infringement. The specific claim was for Electronic Programme Guide software using information downloaded from the internet. The patent is now marked as having …
Simon Rockman, 04 Jun 2015
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Toshiba-Microsoft IoT collaboration wins at buzzword Bingo

“Internet of Things”, “Cloud”, “SaaS”, “state of the art”, “great user experience”: it’s all in the latest cross-supply agreement between Microsoft and Toshiba. The two companies have signed a memorandum of understanding where Toshiba will supply the hardware and Microsoft the software to build Internet of Things things, …
Simon Rockman, 04 Jun 2015

Your mobile, your car, and you – three become one

Software which enables the screen of your phone to pop up on the screen in your car dashboard has been ported to the (relatively) ancient systems used by automobile manufacturers. The Nucleus operating system was once popular in mobes, a dozen or so years ago, and the car industry is still using it. So, Cambridge tech company …
Simon Rockman, 03 Jun 2015
A bus on fire in Whaddon

Nice 4G-for-plods demo, Samsung. Good luck actually selling it

Samsung has staked its claim towards being an integral part of the emergency services with a demonstration of its public safety solution - the first based on the 3GPP Rel.12 standard - using LTE technology. A post on the official Samsung blog explains how 80 devices were connected to a network to demonstrate PS-LTE, or Public …
Simon Rockman, 02 Jun 2015
Call of Duty 1 screenshot

Nokia declares war on data centres to win back telco customers

The IT world doesn’t understand the telco industry and Nokia is here to save the day, with the launch of its AirFrame Data Centre Solution, which aims to wrest business from traditional data centres. The Nokia designed accelerator cards are aimed at the mobile protocols. This offloads the radio applications from the main CPU and …
Simon Rockman, 01 Jun 2015
Wi-Fi  on the streets of leeds

AQL looks for Ofcom approval, maybe more blue hotspots to come?

Regional telco AQL is looking to get Electronic Communications Code (ECC) approval for installing its services, including free Wi-Fi around Leeds, mobile data services, and very, very fast fibre in the ground. The company has one customer wired up at 100Gbps, lots at 10Gbps and hundreds at 1Gbps, and has applied to Ofcom to have …
Simon Rockman, 01 Jun 2015
Vodafone bird box signal repeater

What sort of tit builds non-bird bird boxes? Vodafone

Vodafone is installing mobile cell sites in bird boxes, although our feathered friends will not be allowed inside. The company has form in providing improved coverage for avians, with special care taken to look after nesting falcons. The new bird box is a signal repeater, something only the licenced networks are allowed to …
Simon Rockman, 01 Jun 2015

Xiaomi gears up for phone-free UK launch

Rising dragon Xiaomi launches its Mi brand and online store in the UK on Tuesday. However, before you rush off to order its cheap-but-good phones, you need to know that only four products are available – and none of them are phones. The initial items are two batteries (10400mAh and 5000mAh), expensive semi-open headphones, and …
Simon Rockman, 01 Jun 2015

It's the Internet of Feet: Lenovo shows smart shoes, projector keyboard phone

Chinese tech giant Lenovo has been showing things it’s making and things it wants to make at Lenovo Tech World in Beijing. Cool gizmos include a display technology for smart watches that produces a virtual screen bigger than the watch. The company calls it “Magic View”. It’s a small screen below the main watch screen that looks …
Simon Rockman, 28 May 2015
shutterstock_57979207-missing-watch

Crafty fingering could let Apple Watch thieves raid your bank account

Updated Deft watch thieves could circumvent the biometric security in an Apple Watch to empty your bank account. The Apple Watch uses the heart rate monitor to tell when it has been taken off your wrist. This locks the watch so that you need to enter a PIN to use the watch again, but means you don’t have to enter a PIN every time you do …
Simon Rockman, 28 May 2015
shutterstock_215940778

Boffins create tiny holographic battery that fits INSIDE a chip

A battery small enough to be mounted inside a chip has been developed at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. The technology to do this combines 3D holographic lithography, 2D photolithography and low-power electroplating – all techniques which are standard in processor production. The special ingredient is the ability to …
Simon Rockman, 27 May 2015

Mozilla: We don't give a damn about cheap smartphones

Browser-turned-OS-institution Mozilla has acknowledged that its $25 phone has failed. Firefox OS was launched with a strategy of not being Google or Apple, into the warm bosom of Telefonica and seventeen other operators at Mobile World Congress in 2013. At the time, we predicted that it would go the way of Symbian, SavaJe and …
Simon Rockman, 27 May 2015
hands waving dollar bills in the air

Mergers scuttle strategy as Ofcom reneges on spectrum promise

Ofcom wants to hold onto the 60MHz of the 190MHz of spectrum it had announced would be for sale, and is floating the idea of scaling things back, citing a change in market conditions for the sale, slated for the end of this year or the beginning of next. In the revision to the proposals, Ofcom said: “Since the publication of …
Simon Rockman, 27 May 2015
Learning how to say Huawei

Cheesy video shows ex-Gooners pronouncing 'Huawei'

John Hartson, Ray Parlour and Nigel Winterburn – a veritable array of ex-Arsenal players – have learned how to say 'Huawei'. The desperate-to-be-European telco is the official smartphone sponsor for Arsenal – a role it took over from Samsung – and sells a special branded version of the Ascend P7 to Gooners. It features “The …
Simon Rockman, 26 May 2015
404bhp of refined fun

Maserati Ghibli S: Who cares what Joe Walsh thinks?

Vulture at the wheel When Joe Walsh sang “My Maserati does 185, I lost my licence so now I don’t drive”, he was lying. In 1978 no Maserati could do that speed. He could have had been talking km/h, in which case it might have been an earlier-generation Ghibli: that did 155mph, or 174mph if he had the Ghibli SS. The Ghibli S reviewed here won’t do 185 …
Simon Rockman, 24 May 2015

Xiaomi greets MediaTek with a handshake, Qualcomm feels awkward

The latest top-of-the-range phone from handset maker and rising dragon Xiaomi will use the ambitious ten core Helio X20 processor from semiconductor company MediaTek. A surprise move, given that the Chinese Apple-wannabe has already put Qualcomm's Snapdragon 810 in its Note-series smartphones. The move is also bad news for …
Simon Rockman, 22 May 2015

Nokia getting there with HERE as rivals talk up price

Nokia HERE, its mapping and location businesses, might be worth more than the former handset giant thought, as rival companies talk up the value, and a consortium of car companies square up to an alliance of Uber and China’s Baidu. Nokia bought Navteq for $8.1bn and renamed it HERE, and then fell on hard times and sold its phone …
Simon Rockman, 22 May 2015
Belgacom phone box. Pic: Peter van den Bossche

Belgian telco prepares to tear out last of nation's phone boxes

Proximus, the Belgian mobile operator, is about to complete the process of removing its last 300 phone boxes. The last will be ceremonially felled on June 1 in Antwerp. As part of the removal of the phone boxes, thirty of them were put up as prizes in a competition which took the form of a cultural project. (link via Google …
Simon Rockman, 21 May 2015
classroom_shutterstock_648

Mobiles at school could be MAKING YOUR KID MORE DUMBER

Restricting smart watch and mobile phone use can be a low-cost policy to reduce educational inequalities. This is the conclusion of a report by Louis-Philippe Beland and Richard Murphy working at the London School of Economics Centre for Economic Performance (pdf) and Louisiana State University. The survey looked at a number of …
Simon Rockman, 21 May 2015
Vittorio Colao (CEO)

Brexit-fearing Vodafone: Of course we’ll make money from 4G

Vodafone has announced steady-as-she-goes results for the year to 31 March 2015, with group revenue up 10.1 per cent to £42.2bn, and the first increase in service revenue for ten quarters (albeit only 0.1 per cent) — all pretty much in line with what the company had forecast. Emerging markets saw a six per cent increase, …
Simon Rockman, 20 May 2015
shutterstock_222258445-roadblock

Blocking mobile adverts just became that little bit easier

For those mobile operators wanting to block adverts and prevent them reaching subscribers' screens (all in the name of reducing bandwidth usage and saving customers’ money of course) Israeli tech company Shine can make that happen. “There is a lot of grey in there between advertisers and publishers,” said Roi Carthy, the company …
Simon Rockman, 19 May 2015
Bebo president Joanna Shields

Ex 'Tech City' chief Shields appointed junior Fun minister for internet safety

Tory Baroness Joanna Shields OBE, ex-Tech City supremo, ex-head of Bebo*, ex-head of Facebook Europe and ex-MD of Google EMEA, has been appointed minister for internet safety and security. Shields was awarded the OBE in the 2014 New Year’s Honours list and elevated to the peerage the following August. The Telegraph reports that …
Simon Rockman, 18 May 2015
Playground hero

The yummy mummies' likeable wagon: Nissan Qashqai Tekna

Vulture at the Wheel The favoured steed of yummy mummies, Nissan's Qashqai, has become quite a hit. And it’s something that ticks all the boxes – high driving position, looks cool, eco credentials. All this is the kind of thing which would normally lead me to regard the car with caution; something which was all fluff and no substance. Particularly …
Simon Rockman, 17 May 2015
Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Pic: openDemocracy

Turkey president: Nuts to 4G networks, we're cutting straight to 5G

Turkey's president Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said that as Turkey doesn’t have 4G yet, the country might as well wait a couple of years and go straight to 5G. This is a pretty bold move given that we don’t even know what 5G is yet – although there are expected to be some announcements from the ITU in June. Most countries are …
Simon Rockman, 15 May 2015
shutterstock_197375177-doctor

Jeb Bush: Repeal Obamacare and replace it with APPLE WATCHES

John "Jeb" Bush, younger brother of ex-president George “Dubya” Bush and former Governor of Florida, has found the solution to America’s healthcare problems: his Apple Watch. At a “town hall” meeting at the Chamber of Commerce in Tempe, Arizona, Jeb said: “I think we should repeal Obamacare,” before pointing at his wristjob, …
Simon Rockman, 15 May 2015
HTC One M9 Android smartphone

Record smartphones sales, but feature phones far from dead

The first quarter of 2015 saw global smartphone sales set a new record of $96 billion, with the most desirable elements being big screens and 4G. The stats come from market analysis firm GfK, which compiles figures for the top handset manufacturers — so while it's happy to trumpet the good numbers, any questions about who sold …
Simon Rockman, 15 May 2015
Sucking nectar, spewing pollen

BUZZKILL. Honeybees are dying in DROVES - and here's a reason why

American honey bee numbers briefly stopped falling off a cliff last year, but apiarists are now warning that was a blip, not a flattening of the trend. This year over 40 per cent of colonies were seen to die out, up from a yearly average of 30 per cent. Last year however, that number dipped to just 23 per cent, a move welcomed …
Simon Rockman, 14 May 2015
Dido Harding, Chief Executive of TalkTalk

TalkTalk unveils best results ever – and its share price dips

TalkTalk's share price dropped two per cent after it delivered its best ever quarterly financial results, for the end of 2014. The company posted revenue in the 12 months to 31 March 2015 of £1.8bn, up 4.2 per cent on the previous year, and profit of £76m, up 24.6 per cent, helped by improved efficiency. Unusually for TalkTalk …
Simon Rockman, 14 May 2015
Study Confirms High Effectiveness of Low Speed Autonomous Emergency Braking

Self-STOPPING cars are A Good Thing, say motor safety bods

Having your car automatically slam on the brakes to avoid a low-speed accident leads to a 38 per cent reduction in real-world rear-end crashes, says a road safety organisation. European road safety research organisation Euro NCAP (New Car Assessment Programme) carried out an analysis of data from various countries. The full …
Simon Rockman, 14 May 2015

Mobe network Three is the magic number for FreedomPop

The MVNO beloved by Californians, FreedomPop, is courting beta testers in the UK. The service will offer 200MBs of data, 200 voice minutes, and 200 texts completely free each month via the FreedomPop app, or new international SIM. FreedomPop is now accepting orders on a first-come, first-serve basis. Numbers are allocated by …
Simon Rockman, 13 May 2015
Workers in a Foxconn plant, credit: Steve Jurvetson from Menlo Park, USA

Foxconn joins the Cyanogen investment party

Chinese iPhone manufacturer Foxconn has joined Twitter, Qualcomm, Telefónica and others to swell Cyanogen’s round C funding to $110m. Neither company is saying how much Foxconn is investing, but before the announcement the round C stood at $80m. The money will go to build on the Cyanogen platform – which riffs on Android – “to …
Simon Rockman, 13 May 2015
Maybe it won't look like this

Tesco tries to talk Tesco Mobile up from 'Value' to 'Finest' ahead of sale

Analysis Tesco is rumoured to be selling off Tesco Mobile, its mobile phone network. The move comes as no surprise, with the company hauling back to its core businesses after dismal results, recently writing down assets to post a loss of £6.4bn. Figures given for the value of the business sit at about £700m. This is on the basis of Tesco …
Simon Rockman, 13 May 2015
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Backwaters in rural England getting non-BT gigabit broadband

Rural English villages that almost nobody has heard of are set to receive broadband connections that are nearly fifty times faster than the national average. Baywood, Wooton, Dry, Sunningwell, Boars Hill and others will benefit from infrastructure being rolled out by small telco Gigaclear, which is laying fibre to the premises …
Simon Rockman, 12 May 2015
Cash in brown paper envelope CC 2.0 attribution StockMonkeys.com

Verizon in SUDDEN $4.4bn AOL GOBBLE, aims to make fourplay more exciting

Verizon Communications is buying AOL for $4.4bn, apparently to strengthen its hand at video advertising. This comes on the back of Verizon’s existing plans to launch a video snacking service for mobes, with descriptions making it sound as though the plan will be using LTE-broadcast. Verizon is particularly interested in AOL’s …
Simon Rockman, 12 May 2015
Image from Shutterstock 161369036

Boffins set to reveal state of play on fully duplex comms - on the same FREQ

A conference at Bristol university is set to reveal the current state of the art on Full Duplex technology, which allows for transmitting and receiving signals on the same frequency at the same time. The idea that a radio can simultaneously shout and listen has been regarded as both old, established technology and a bonkers …
Simon Rockman, 11 May 2015
The Aston Martin HQ at Gaydon houses the factory

Like a Dell factory but what comes out is a LOT more fun: We visit Aston Martin

Vulture @ the Wheel Aston Martin wants to take on Tesla with a 1,000bhp electric version of its Rapide S. The prestige British marque has also recently announced that it has secured funding to build an all-electric crossover car called the DBX. This is all part of a 200m expansion plan for the firm's factory in Gaydon, Warwickshire, and it seemed …
Simon Rockman, 10 May 2015