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.
The San Jose from Obi World Phone

Obi: These ARE the 'droids you're looking for

Former Apple CEO John Sculley is to launch a pair of Android phones. The SF1 and SJ1.5 are mid-range and low-end devices respectively from the company Obi Worldphone. "Obi has taken the best of Silicon Valley – innovations in design, state-of-the-art technology and high standards for manufacturing – and fused them into …
Simon Rockman, 27 Aug 2015

Take two mobes into the shower? I didn't before, but I do now

First Look A Kickstarter project to produce a dual-SIM iPhone is really a separate phone which the iPhone connects to via Bluetooth. The Kickstarter campaign for the 'PIECE' claims it will “Change The Way You Use Smart Phones”. It goes on: “Carrying two phones isnconvenient! [sic] It is not fashionable or stylish; it costs a lot and is …
Simon Rockman, 27 Aug 2015

Roll up, roll up, as LG launches stealthy Bluetooth keyboard

A keyboard which rolls up four rows of almost full-sized keys into a stick has been launched by LG at the IFA trade show. The tablet market might be in the doldrums, but LG sees tablet accessories as a way to make money out of it. It almost had a good name – “LG’s Rolly Keyboard” – but then LG went and ruined it with the …
Simon Rockman, 27 Aug 2015
cyanogen mobes

Wileyfox smartphones: SD card, no bloatware, Cyanogen, big battery – yes to all!

New British mobe maker Wileyfox has launched a pair of Cyanogen smartphones. The £199 SIM-free Storm has an eight-core 64-bit ARMv8 Qualcomm Snapdragon 615 system-on-chip running at up to 1.5GHz, 32GB of storage and 3GB of RAM, a 20Mp Sony EXMOR main camera and an 8Mp front-facing cam, 1920 x 1080 5.5” touchscreen display, and …
Simon Rockman, 25 Aug 2015
Image from Shutterstock 161369036

Qualcomm sells L-Band spectrum to Vodafone, Three for massive profit

As we reported in June, Qualcomm has been looking to sell its 1452-1492MHz spectrum – and it seems it's found willing buyers in the form of Vodafone and Three. It's thought the two networks paid over £100m in total for the spectrum. The chip company rather lucked out, having paid £8.3m at auction in 2008. At the time we saw …
Simon Rockman, 25 Aug 2015
Motorola Moto G 4G

Vodafone UK rocks the bloat with demands for vanilla Android

Vodafone UK wants to sell Android phones which are as close to stock (as Google intended) as possible, and the red company's favourite device for this is the Moto G. Writing on the Vodafone company blog, Motorola senior marketing director Marcus Frost unsurprisingly extoled the virtues of the new phone – but he's not just …
Simon Rockman, 25 Aug 2015
Mats Granryd is the new GSMA Director General

GSMA appoints Mats Granryd as new director general

The new director general of the mobile phone operators organisation is Mats Granryd, who will take up his new role on January 1 2016. Granryd’s appointment follows the departure of Anne Bouverot last month. Bouverot has gone to head up French security and identity solution vendor Morpho. Granryd will be joing the GSMA from …
Simon Rockman, 25 Aug 2015
Fibre Optic by Barta IV cc 2.0 attribution

BT commences trials of copper-to-the-home broadband tech

The first customers were connected in a BT trial of its 330Mbps "" ultrafast broadband in Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire today. The test, which was announced in July, will later be extended to Swansea, Gosforth and Newcastle. uses a fast link from a specially equipped cabinet to a distribution point, then employs …
Simon Rockman, 25 Aug 2015

Mohawk Valley, NY to become the new Silicon Valley in fab fab deal

A deal between SUNY Poly (State University New York), the state of New York, GE and Austrian sensor and analog IC company AMS will see an East Coast US chip fab built to research and make nano-scale devices. AMS is putting an initial $2bn into their venture, which the state will top up with $200m. GE will stump up $200m and …
Simon Rockman, 24 Aug 2015
Samsung steels the internet meme

Samsung emits Galaxy S6 Edge+ 'inboxing' video

Unboxing and teardowns used to be something that fanbois did, but marketing savvy Samsung has hijacked the genre with a video of its own. Calling it an “inboxing”, the video shows the phone being assembled, not by a worker on a production line, but by a well-dressed man in the kind of setting you only see in carefully crafted …
Simon Rockman, 24 Aug 2015

Shadow minister for Fun calls for Openreach separation

Chris Bryant MP has added his support to the lobby which wants to see Openreach split from BT. This is just one area under investigation as part of Ofcom's 2015 strategic review. The previous review a decade earlier saw Openreach ring-fenced as a separate BT organisation. However, the view of most of its customers – who are …
Simon Rockman, 24 Aug 2015

Spotify climbs down on new terms and conditions

Spotify will clarify its position on its wide-reaching terms and conditions. In a post entitled “SORRY”, company founder Daniel Ek said: “We have heard your concerns loud and clear. We are also going to update the new Privacy Policy in the coming weeks.” In the post, Ek paints it as a misunderstanding of what Spotify was …
Simon Rockman, 21 Aug 2015
Eyes of a gorila

Get whimsical and win a Western Digital Black 6TB hard drive

Caption competition That's mainly because gorillas are not monkeys, although this ape – who is definitely holding it right – must have an opinion on the iPhone. We want to know what that is, and in the process give you a Western Digital Black 6TB hard drive. The black drive Western Digital has a range of drives aimed at the desktop market and …
Simon Rockman, 21 Aug 2015
   An outage has knocked TalkTalk’s website offline, along with internal systems.  The company tweeted that it was working on addressing the problems  <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">We are aware of issues affecting our website and help pages at the moment. We're working to restore this asap. <a href=""></a></p>— TalkTalk (@TalkTalkCare) <a href="">August 21, 2015</a></blockquote> <script async src="//" charset="utf-8"></script>  On Twitter it has asked customers to call after 1pm, and the internal VoIP and data systems are affected.  The Website has been up and down intermittently and callers  re being told that the internal systems are slowly coming up.  A customer services person told The Register that the outage was caused by an upgrade to the systems and that the diagnostic systems were also being upgraded so  customers were being asked to call back in “one to two hours”. While access to customer systems had been down they were now back up.

TalkTalk not talking much as systems take a tumble

An outage has knocked TalkTalk’s website offline, along with internal systems. The company tweeted that it was working on addressing the problems: We are aware of issues affecting our website and help pages at the moment. We're working to restore this asap. — TalkTalk (@TalkTalkCare) August 21, 2015 …
Simon Rockman, 21 Aug 2015

Spotify now officially even worse than the NSA

New terms and conditions popping up on Spotify users screens give the music-streaming company sweeping new rights. The “What we collect” section of the new terms seems scary enough: By using or interacting with the Service, you are consenting to: the collection, use, sharing, and processing of information about your location …
Simon Rockman, 21 Aug 2015

Computer Science GCSE male dominated, but geekettes are ready to rise

More teenagers than ever are studying computing, with a growing proportion being female, ladies, or persons of the contradictory gender. Figures from the Joint Council for Qualifications show that the new GCSE subject of Computer Science is enjoying rapid growth. It was brought in to supplement ICT (Information and …
Simon Rockman, 20 Aug 2015
Oil Pump Jack by  cc 2.0 attribution

Could our fear of fracking be appeased with CO2 sequestration?

A plan to use CO2 to replace the water used in controversial energy technique fracking has been met with a mixed reception by experts contacted by The Register. New Scientist reported on work done by Andres Clarens and his team at University of Virginia, Charlottesville, to pump CO2 into fracking sites, which could act as a …
Simon Rockman, 20 Aug 2015
 Good GCSEs should cost parents a Jesus-phone

Using complicated electrical devices to curry favour with brats – the new black?

With thousands of GCSE pupils eagerly awaiting their results, UK electrical retailer Currys has, strangely, revealed the length to which parents are willing to go (essentially handing over lots of money) to equip children "with the technology they need for further study". The company said that nine out of ten parents …
Simon Rockman, 20 Aug 2015
EE 4G banner

EE Harrier Mini grounded by errant Wi-Fi calling upgrade

An official upgrade to EE Harrier Mini mobes is bricking them. The upgrade, which was pushed out to customers last week, requires a back-to-base fix. Comments on the EE community forum indicate that the devices will not get past the power-on screen after they have been upgraded. Some people say that they have been given a …
Simon Rockman, 19 Aug 2015

Vodafonica’s Cornerstone missing its UK coverage target, says report

The “Vodafonica” project Cornerstone, which aimed to combine the O2 and Vodafone network infrastructure, will fail to meet its self-set target of 98 per cent UK population coverage this year. When the deal was announced in 2012, it was seen as the route to both better coverage and cost savings. While O2 and Vodafone use …
Simon Rockman, 19 Aug 2015
Monty Python dead parrot sketch

Parrot drone pwned (and possibly killed) with Wi-Fi log-in

Lack of security in the Wi-Fi link to the Parrot AR drone allows it to be blown out of the sky by telnetting in and killing the process. Ryan Satterfield, who describes himself as an ethical hacker and runs consultancy, explains on his YouTube channel that the Parrot drone hack was demonstrated at DEF CON 23. …
Simon Rockman, 18 Aug 2015

Government embarks on futile mission to censor teen music vid viewing

The government and major UK music labels have agreed to make a pilot programme permanent. UK-produced music videos will now have an age rating. And that will definitely stop kids from watching, and definitely not cause them to rush off to see what the fuss is about. If, for instance, we told you that in the of 132 music videos …
Simon Rockman, 18 Aug 2015

Don't fight the cistern: Voda takes the plunge with plumbers’ parking app

The Vodafone bright ideas department, xone, has been testing its car-tracking system with a plumbing company in London, potentially saving the pipe/washer-related enterprise "£100,000 a year". It’s the job of xone to tinker with new technology and then work out how to sell it. The Drivexone is a device which contains a GSM …
Simon Rockman, 17 Aug 2015

So unfair! Teachers know what’s happening on students' fondleslabs

Maybe now you don’t want the kids turning off their iPads in class after all. By using VNC remote access, pupils can now instantly share their work with their teacher and the rest of the pupils. The ability has come through the integration of software from Cambridge company RealVNC, which allows screens to be mapped on to …
Simon Rockman, 17 Aug 2015
Airwave has given the police reliable comms

Home Office seeks advice on Police Radio omnishambles

The Home Office has announced a new twist in the sorry tale of the Emergency Services Network saga and is asking suppliers to consult on a procurement framework that started two years ago. The government department has published a Prior Information Notice (PIN) for a tender to replace the Airwave communications equipment used …
Simon Rockman, 17 Aug 2015
Fenland coverage

Ofcom coverage map: 7/10 – must try harder next time

Analysis Ofcom has released a map of where you should have mobile phone coverage. Based on computer models and limited testing, however, it’s not a map of where you do actually have mobile coverage. We searched one of our favourite blackspots – a point in Hampstead where the networks deliberately reduce coverage to avoid the signal …
Simon Rockman, 14 Aug 2015

PALE, MALE AND STALE: Apple reveals it has just ONE black exec

Apple’s latest diversity report shows that of the fruity firm's 83 executives, senior officials and managers, 72 are white and 60 of those are male. A look at Apple’s executive info biography page shows a sea of white male faces. Of the eighteen executives pictured, only three are female – one of whom, Denise Young Smith, of …
Simon Rockman, 14 Aug 2015
Image from Shutterstock 161369036

Full duplex! Bristol boffins demo Tx and Rx on the same frequency AT THE SAME TIME

Transmitting and receiving on the same radio frequency, at the same time, has been demonstrated by the UK's University of Bristol in a new YouTube video. The system being used is running 900MHz and 1800MHz with exactly the same equipment. There are a number of companies working on this technology, called full duplex radio, a …
Simon Rockman, 13 Aug 2015
ASUS Chair Jonney Shih Computex 2015 press conference

Smartphone sales looking rosy for Asus, despite PC meltdown

While the mobe power base is shifting from the traditional players to the new upstarts, with Samsung and HTC suffering at the hands of Huawei and Xiaomi, Asus is having a good time in the good old handset market. Sales were up from three million in the first quarter to five million in the second and the company is predicting …
Simon Rockman, 12 Aug 2015

Foxconn to build Xiaomi phones in India

With the world of mobile phones fragmenting into local markets, both Taiwanese maker-of-everything Foxconn and China's rising dragon Xiaomi are keen to find a route into the Indian market. Earlier this week, El Reg reported that Foxconn will spend $5bn (£3.2bn) on new factories in India. It's now emerged that the company will …
Simon Rockman, 12 Aug 2015
Indian mobile use

Google ready for another pop at India, with Android One in hand

Google is trying the good old switching-it-off-and-on-again ploy with its scheme to sell super-cheap Android phones in India. Android One has been a flop, with the Chocolate Factory failing to understand the Indian market. The dominant manufacturers – Micromax, Intex and Spice – felt that the OS was an American solution being …
Simon Rockman, 10 Aug 2015
Intel sign by

Intel building Xeon into lapwarmers as designers, content creators call the shots

Intel is putting its Xeon processors into laptops for the first time, ushering in what it hopes will be a significant performance boost and marketing opportunity. This is not only because the CPU is faster but also because they will feature the faster Thunderbolt 3 system, with palindromic USB Type-C ports that support the …
Simon Rockman, 10 Aug 2015

Has Microsoft saved the Apple Watch with Outlook improvement?

Microsoft has updated its Outlook service for iOS to support the Apple Watch, the wristjob the world isn't quite wearing, at the moment at least. The official Microsoft office mail client for those who have to use Apple products has been upgraded, and the new version 1.3.5 now adds the watch “glance mode” so that you can see …
Simon Rockman, 10 Aug 2015

Boffins have made optical transistors that can reach 4 TERAHERTZ

Aluminum-doped zinc oxide is the key to building faster, optical chips, according to researchers at Purdue University, Indiana. They've modelled an all-optical, CMOS-compatible transistor capable of 4THz speeds, potentially more than 1,000 times faster than silicon transistors. The all-optical bit means that the data stream …
Simon Rockman, 07 Aug 2015

Samsung Electronics coughs up £55m for cancer-stricken workers

About seventy people have died and more than 200 have been diagnosed with cancer at Samsung's displays and chips factories, and having accepted responsibility in May 2014 the tech giant this week announced a 100 billion won (£55m) fund for victims. Workers and campaigners have attributed illnesses such as lymphoma and leukemia …
Simon Rockman, 06 Aug 2015
TG's phone for older Android users

Too much vino? LG brings Wine Smart oldster-mobe to Europe

The Wine Smart is a new 4G Android phone from LG, and it looks vastly different to anything else on the market: it’s a flip phone. Yep, it flips like it's 1999. Both LG and Samsung have been selling Android flip phones in their native land for a while. Doro tried a slider with the Doro 740, but European availability of an …
Simon Rockman, 05 Aug 2015

That's not an Ofcom email about your radio licence – it's a TROJAN

Fake emails purporting to be from Ofcom Spectrum Licensing have been sent to lots of radio hams. A number of Register readers have been in touch to say that they have received an email supposedly from the address The email reads: The attached licensing document is malware. Ofcom has …
Simon Rockman, 05 Aug 2015
Sinclair ZX80 kit

Sinclair stretches to new major GSMA role

The GSMA has a new interim director general, with chief technology officer Alex Sinclair taking over the reins following the departure of the charismatic Anne Bouverot. Bouverot announced last March that she would be leaving at the end of July. No full-time replacement has yet been appointed – although it is believed that the …
Simon Rockman, 05 Aug 2015
Xiaomi Mi4 LTE Android smartphone

Asian worries for Samsung and Apple as local brands chop up the market

Figures from research company Canalys indicate both Apple and Samsung are feeling the pinch in the world's two fastest growing mobile markets: China and India. In Q2 2015, one in three smartphones shipped in China came from Huawei or Xiaomi, with the latter being the best-selling smartphone in the Asian giant, with a 15.9 per …
Simon Rockman, 04 Aug 2015
Couple laying in tent with laptop

Hacklands introducing geeks to something called 'outdoors'

A new take on a hackathon is being tried by the team behind more traditional geek gatherings such as Swedish Beers and Heroes of the Mobile Fringe. They are going to do it outdoors. Yes, outside. In fresh air. Hacklands combines key elements from hackathons (where software and hardware developers get together to make stuff …
Simon Rockman, 04 Aug 2015
Masai in red toga talks on his cell phone from the grasslands of the Lewa Wildlife Conservancy in North Kenya, Africa

Vodafone adopts hydrogen fuel cells to dodge African outages

Vodafone in South Africa plans to avoid the recent problems it has had with South African power outages with more hydrogen-powered fuel cell base stations. To support remote mobile cell sites, Vodafone puts in on-site generation and microwave backhaul. The sites can be dedicated to 2G, 3G, 4G or use multiple technologies. …
Simon Rockman, 04 Aug 2015
Siri logo

Hey, Apple! 1999 just called and it wants its voicemail avatar back

Siri will soon answer your phone calls, adding a functionality that Orange killed in 2005 when it shut down the still-lamented Wildfire service. It’s rumoured that Apple employees are testing a system which can transcribe voicemails. Believed to be called iCloud Voicemail, the service seems to be a mix of Wildfire and that …
Simon Rockman, 03 Aug 2015
Siemens GSM-R train cab radio. Pic: Joshua Brown

German railways upgrade their comms tech from 2G to 4G

German choo-choo chaps Deutsche Bahn are replacing their GSM-R communications technology and has commissioned a consortium of Siemens Convergence Creators and Huawei to sort out the migration of the system across northern Germany's railway lines. GSM-R is a technology which dates back around 15 years and provides both voice …
Simon Rockman, 03 Aug 2015

Jasper and Microsoft glue together connectivity and Azure

Cloud-based IoT player Jasper has announced a strategic partnership with Microsoft, which will see Jasper’s platform integrated with the tech giant's Azure cloud suite. "More than 2,000 enterprises across dozens of industries worldwide have selected the Jasper Platform to enable them to deliver IoT services that increase …
Simon Rockman, 03 Aug 2015
Wireless charging system gives 10kW with no RF

Magnet-wobble wireless charging system dishes out a respectable 10 kW

Canadian wireless power company Elix has announced a system which can generate and transfer 10 kW using magneto-dynamic coupling. It’s big, heavy and noisy, so is aimed at trucks and buses rather than small cars, and is certainly not suitable for desktop gadget charging. Elix claims its target markets are transportation, …
Simon Rockman, 31 Jul 2015
Telephone. Copyright: macinate

Lying to customers, Unicom? Cough up £200k, do not pass Go

It’s good to know that complaints to Ofcom produce action. A probe into broken promises and lies told by Unicom has seen the company fined £200,000 by the regulator. It wasn’t just customer complaints which led to the action. An Ofcom initiative looked into Unicom's terms and conditions – most notably, that unwitting customers …
Simon Rockman, 31 Jul 2015

BT hands £129m back to after beating rural broadband targets

Both BT and the Ministry of Fun – or the Department of Culture, Media and Sport, if you prefer – have spun BT’s toeing-the-line-of-a-contractual-obligation as unbridled generosity towards taxpayers. A statement from the Minister of Fun, John Whittingdale, said: It's fantastic to see that the rollout of superfast broadband is …
Simon Rockman, 30 Jul 2015
BT Openreach at work

Never mind falling revenues, BT watchers, look at the footy offering

BT had a mixed quarter, buoyed up mainly by TV subscriptions - and it has taken its results announcement as an opportunity to shore up its broadband position. Revenue to for the first quarter of financial year 2016, ending June 30th, at £4.28bn, down two per cent overall. There was a six per cent drop in revenue from Global …
Simon Rockman, 30 Jul 2015
A round camera which looks around

Mobiles? What are they? Nokia immerses itself in virtual reality cameras

Always looking for a new angle, Nokia has launched itself into the movie equipment business with a 360-degree camera called OZO, capturing stereoscopic 3D video through eight synchronised global shutter sensors as well as spatial audio through eight integrated microphones. Without naming names, Nokia said: “The video can be …
Simon Rockman, 29 Jul 2015
Ofcom has great power over mobiles

Ofcom wants to ease the pain of switching mobile networks. Good luck

UK regulator Ofcom has started a consultation aimed at consumers to find out how hard it is to switch mobile phone networks, and eventually put in place processes which reduce the pain of switching, while also eliminating “slamming” where a company fraudulently migrates a customer. The consultation is a follow-up to previous …
Simon Rockman, 29 Jul 2015