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Between you, EE and the lamppost ... this UK cell network is knackered

Updated UK cellphone network EE has struggled to provide a decent service to Brits for most of today. Folks have complained for several hours that they've been unable to make calls or download stuff from the internet using their smartphones. EE's customer service has blamed a "PDP failure" for inconveniencing "a small percentage" of …
Chris Williams, 23 Feb 2016
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Intel, Verizon et al loom over 5G, tapping their feet, coughing politely

Intel, Verizon and Facebook are among the big names trying to advance 5G wireless broadband networks this year. All three companies issued releases bigging up their respective efforts to build, test, and create content to shift around on the next-gen wireless broadband. For Intel, the push is coming as a series of …
Shaun Nichols, 22 Feb 2016
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UK carrier Three in network-wide ad-block shock

Three UK and Three Italia are to offer network-level ad-blocking software from startup Shine Technologies to their customers. The telcos have implemented Shine’s ads blocker in the UK and Italy with plans for rapid rollout in Three’s other markets. The carriers are owned by Hong Kong-based CK Hutchison Holdings, which has …
Gavin Clarke, 19 Feb 2016

Hey cellcos: Guess who's got your backhaul still? That's right. Big daddy BT

One of the things that will not be answered by any amount of discussion about 5G is how the huge increase in bandwidth expected in next generation cellular gets backhauled. But at Faultline we have assiduously tracked the ownership of fixed line assets throughout the US and Europe, anticipating the rising cost of backhaul to …
Faultline, 16 Feb 2016

India's ‘Facebook ruling’ is another nail in the coffin of the MNO model

Nobody could accuse India’s telecoms regulator, TRAI, of being in the operators’ pockets. This month it has, once again, set eye-watering reserve prices for the upcoming 700 MHz spectrum auction (see separate item), and now it has taken one of the toughest stances in the world on net neutrality, in effect banning zero rated or …
Wireless Watch, 15 Feb 2016

1Gbps quad-antenna mobile broadband chip dives off Qualcomm's drawing board

California chip designer Qualcomm says it has crafted an LTE modem capable of downloading data at 0.98Gbps, tops. Samples of the new Snapdragon X16 are in the hands of gadget makers, and should appear in products shipping in the second half of the year, we're told. The chip will be fabricated using a 14nm FinFET process. The …
Chris Williams, 11 Feb 2016

Three scoops 'most reliable network' crown, EE takes every other title

Three emerges as the UK’s most reliable mobile operator and EE as the UK’s fastest, in RootMetrics' biannual network survey. EE’s plump spectrum and its investment in capacity and benefits pay off in the results, where it was rated as first in five of the survey’s six key categories. Three won the reliability category for the …
Andrew Orlowski, 10 Feb 2016

Ballmer schools SatNad on Microsoft's mobile strategy: You need one

The world’s wealthiest activist shareholder, Steve Ballmer, has offered another critique of Microsoft, the company he helped build. A Business Insider interview finds Ballmer – now an “outsider” – generous and complimentary on most aspects of Nadella’s leadership. Ballmer thinks SatNad’s “cloudobile” pivot was something he …

Ex-TalkTalker TalkTalks: Records portal had shared password. It was 4 years old

Exclusive Fraudsters who attempted to scam TalkTalk customers by using records of their maintenance engineer visits are thought to have bought that info from current or former staff. According to one ex-TalkTalk employee, who asked not to be named, the company uses a third-party system called Qube Portal to book visits and record …
Kat Hall, 9 Feb 2016

TalkTalk confesses: Scammers have data about our engineers' visits to your home

A number of TalkTalk customers have had their maintenance visits data breached by fraudsters in an attempt to gain remote access of their computers, it has emerged. One customer, Chris, told The Register that a week after the cyber attack was reported he experienced some issues with his broadband, so TalkTalk sent an engineer …
Kat Hall, 8 Feb 2016
Cell tower, view from below. Image by Shutterstock.com

EU could force countries to allocate 700 MHz band to mobile by mid-2020

New legislation could force EU countries to make sure the 700 MHz band of spectrum is made exclusively available for mobile services by the middle of 2020. The European Commission has published proposals to introduce new laws that would require EU countries to “allow the use of the 694-790 MHz frequency band for terrestrial …
OUT-LAW.COM, 8 Feb 2016
Marina Bay hotel singapore. By https://www.flickr.com/photos/leonid_yaitsky/

If you're reading this on your phone, pray you're in Singapore

If you're reading this on your phone, pray you're in Singapore, New Zealand, Hungary or Israel, because they're the four nations where LTE networks deliver the fastest downloads. Clasp your hands and look heavenwards again if you live in the United Kingdom or United States , as those nations come in 29th and 55th respectively in …
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Virgin gives blessing to O2/Three merger

Virgin Media has weighed in to give its blessing over the controversial £10.5bn proposed merger between Three and O2, hoping such a move would give it greater network access. The intervention follows a pledge yesterday by Hong Kong-based CK Hutchison, which owns Three UK, that it would enable competitors in the UK to offer …
Kat Hall, 5 Feb 2016
Apple iPhone 6s

FaceTime, WhatsApp UDP streams AWOL on iOS 9 beta with T-Mo US

A problem with the handling of UDP network packets is leaving T‑Mobile US customers unable to make FaceTime or WhatsApp calls with the latest Apple iOS beta. Various netizens say they are unable to make video calls on their T‑Mo handsets when running the latest iOS beta build. WhatsApp calls are also reportedly dropped. Other …
Shaun Nichols, 4 Feb 2016

Three: We won't hike prices if you say yes to £10.5bn O2 merger

Three has promised it will not raise prices for customers if it is allowed to hop into bed with O2 in its proposed £10.5bn in an open letter hitting back at regulators' fears over the deal. In the letter, Hong Kong-based CK Hutchison, which owns Three UK, promises it will not raise the price for consumers of a voice minute, a …
Kat Hall, 4 Feb 2016

T-Mobile US's BingeOn does break net neutrality, says law prof

The T-Mobile US Binge On video service does in fact break network neutrality and so is illegal. That's according to Stanford law professor Barbara van Schewick, who has gone to the trouble of writing 51 pages of analysis [PDF] over the controversial throttled service to reach her conclusion. "Binge On undermines the core …
Cell tower, view from below. Image by Shutterstock.com

Network builders: LTE costs will transform the cell tower biz in 2016

Analysis The vast cost of keeping up with demand for mobile data is intensifying the pressure on mobile operators’ capex budgets and accelerating their moves to improve their infrastructure cost base. Major agreements to share passive and active cell site equipment are becoming commonplace as regulators ease up on previous restrictions, …
Sharon White, new head of Ofcom, former Second Perm Sec at the Treasury

Ofcom's head is dead against Three and O2's merger

Ofcom chief exec Sharon White has decided to tell everyone what she really thinks about the possible £10.5bn merger between O2 and Three – and it turns out the regulator-in-chief is not a fan. Hong Kong’s CK Hutchison announced its intention to acquire O2 from Telefónica last year. However, the European Commission has opened …
Kat Hall, 1 Feb 2016

T-Mobile USA’s BingeOn is a smash hit. So what now?

Analysis T-Mobile USA's BingeOn gamble of removing video consumption from its subscribers' data bundles appears to be defying its critics, with large increases in mobile video viewing. The mobile network, a minnow in the US market that sees itself as the challenger brand, claims some users have doubled their usage, while one partner …
Andrew Orlowski, 29 Jan 2016

'Blue light services will get 4G on London Tube!' Cool, how? 'Errrrm...'

The government's contentious Emergency Services Network deal, intended to provide 4G coverage and devices for all blue light services, will be able to run on the London Underground, the man in charge of the scheme has insisted. Stephen Webb, senior responsible owner of the ESN deal, said: "We will have a solution that works on …
Kat Hall, 29 Jan 2016

Can't upgrade, won't upgrade: Windows Mobile's user problem

Microsoft’s dream of a smooth transition to Windows 10 Mobile needs a reality check. Figures from AdDuplex, which samples devices actually in use, finds that much of today’s active Windows Phone user base won’t be able to make the update. A three-year-old device, the Lumia 520, is today the most popular Windows Phone in use, …
Andrew Orlowski, 28 Jan 2016
Two upended shopping trolleys in an alleyway. Photo by Cyron, licensecd under CC 2.0

Retailers urged to create 'CCTV-like' symbol to inform customers of mobile tracking

Retailers have been urged to create a standard symbol, similar to the one used to denote the use of CCTV, to inform customers that their location within shopping areas is being tracked through their mobile device. The recommendation was contained in a new working paper that has been issued by an international working group on …
OUT-LAW.COM, 26 Jan 2016
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Indonesian government cracking the whip on lazy telcos

Indonesia's crowded mobile carrier market is set for a consolidation one way or the other, with the country's communications minister warning minnows they could lose their operating licenses. The world's fourth most populous nation, with about 250m souls inside its borders, has ten mobile carriers. The United States' 320m …
Nokia Lumia 735 Windows Phone

Att: Windows Phone owners: Win 10 Mobile has been spotted and it wants your phone

Windows Phone users beware: Microsoft has quietly begun rolling out the Windows 10 system update in various territories. Until such a time as the new software platform reaches maturity, users may experience a loss of features, diminished battery life and unexpected bugs. And it’s an irrevocable change - once you accept Windows …
Andrew Orlowski, 15 Jan 2016

It’s alive! BlackBerry 10 users lobbed fresh 'Hotfix' update

BlackBerry users worldwide received an OTA (over the air) “HotFix” update yesterday, regardless of where they bought the device. And that's significant. Version 10.2.3.2876, which for some users can be over 700MB, is essentially the same code as version 10.2.3.2836 that was pushed to a small number of devices in December – …
Andrew Orlowski, 13 Jan 2016
1950s style illustration - Smiling woman talks into rotary phone

Competition watchdog to rubberstamp BT gobble of EE

Blighty's competition watchdog is expected to wave through the £12.5bn acquisition of EE by BT this week, in its final piece of paperwork before the two become one in March. The deal will create the first fully integrated "quadplay" company, offering fixed-line phones, broadband, mobile and TV. But of potentially greater …
Kat Hall, 13 Jan 2016

T-Mobile US CEO Legere apologizes/refuses to apologize for BingeOn

Analysis T-Mobile US's excitable CEO John Legere has apologized while refusing to apologize over the aggressive stance he took in response to criticism of his network's BingeOn service. Choosing to write a blog post, as opposed to his video and Twitter appearances last week that stoked an already smoldering fire, Legere was almost …
Kieren McCarthy, 12 Jan 2016
Microsoft's app for its own Windows 10 SIM card

Microsoft offers pay-as-you-go data SIM for Windows 10 devices

Microsoft will include its own SIM card in some Windows 10 devices, thanks to a partnership with French mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) Transatel. Customers can install an app from the Windows Store, though it does appear to be little more than a set of instructions for suitably equipped Windows 10 devices. Microsoft's …
Tim Anderson, 8 Jan 2016
Man on bicycle talks on mobile on busy Brussels street. Photo by Alredo Cerra via Shutterstock

BT and EE, O2 and Three: Are we in for a year of Euro telco mega-mergers?

Analysis So far 2016 looks to be the year of mega telecoms deals in Europe, with the soon-to-complete £12.5bn EE/BT deal in the UK set to have a major impact on the market. On top of that is the £10.25bn merger between O2 and Three, which could go ahead later this year, although European regulators have treated this with a less-than- …
Kat Hall, 6 Jan 2016
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Remember the Carrier iQ mobile snoopware? It's in AT&T's hands now

The once-controversial Carrier iQ phone support software has been acquired by AT&T. The phone giant said it had agreed to purchase the software assets of Carrier iQ as well as a handful of its employees. Carrier iQ, meanwhile, appears to have closed up shop, with its site now offline. "We have acquired the rights to Carrier …
Shaun Nichols, 5 Jan 2016
EE Power Bar

EE Power Bar recall: Telco will waive £5 fee for laggards

EE has confirmed it will not apply extra charges to customers who don't return their Power Bars, despite the mass recall announced this morning. Half a million of the devices have already been recalled by EE, following an exclusive story by The Register revealing that managers had been warned the bar was not safe to use. The …
Gareth Corfield, 17 Dec 2015
Apple iPad Air 2

Google says Project Fi wireless network now slabable

Google has extended its Fi wireless service to support LTE-equipped tablets. The Mountain View ads giant said the latest update for Fi will bring support for data-only LTE plans. Users can purchase the LTE data SIM for their tablets and access Google's Project Fi mobile network at a flat rate of $10 per GB billed monthly. " …
Shaun Nichols, 16 Dec 2015
Suitcase full of money

EU mobile roaming rules to save customers billions in bills

Mobile carriers are poised to see a significant hit to their bottom lines with the looming rollout of new rules on roaming charges. According to analysts with Juniper Research, the 2017 introduction of the EU ban on roaming charges will eliminate more than a quarter of roaming revenues. "Operator-billed mobile roaming …
Shaun Nichols, 15 Dec 2015

Nokia, ARM, twisting Intel bid to reinvent the TCP/IP stack for a 5G era

Nokia and ARM are at the heart of a bid to revamp the ageing TCP/IP stack to make it better suited to networks that need to operate at very high speed and/or low latency. Among the plethora of industry alliances at the intersection of telecoms, IT and IP, this looks like one with a genuine contribution to make to the evolution …
Wireless Watch, 14 Dec 2015

Mozilla backs away from mobile OS as Android looks invincible

If 2014 was a year of brave new mobile operating systems, challenging Android’s dominance with open platforms and modern cloud-oriented designs, 2016 looks set to be the year when their hopes die. A week after Finnish startup Jolla slashed the staff working on its Sailfish mobile system, Mozilla has announced that it plans to …
Wireless Watch, 11 Dec 2015
European commission photo via Shutterstock

EC fires antitrust charges at Qualcomm over its pricing tactics

Loss-making mobile chip blueprint scribbler Qualcomm was today slapped with antitrust charges by the European Commission for allegedly using bully-boy tactics to snuff out the competition. The EC complained that since 2011 the US designer illegally sent “significant” bags of cash to a “major” smartphone and tab maker that …
Paul Kunert, 8 Dec 2015
Ofcom has great power over mobiles

Ofcom retreats from 4G spectrum auction after legal threat from Three, O2

Ofcom has halted its 4G spectrum auction, following threats of legal action from Telefónica UK and Hutchison. The two mobile operators are currently being probed by antitrust officials in Brussels, who are considering whether Telefónica UK's planned sell-off of O2 to Three owner Hutchison "would harm competition". The firms' …
Kelly Fiveash, 4 Dec 2015
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BlackBerry axes BBM Meetings a year after launching it

BlackBerry is dumping one of the more attractive features of its enterprise software comeback plan only a year after launching it. The BBM Meetings subscription conferencing service launched only last November. It was notable in that it leveraged BlackBerry’s private network, which made the administrative legwork of setting up …
Speedometer by Nathan E Photography, Flickr under CC2.0

MSFT boffins bust mobile data bottlenecks with iOS app

Microsoft Research boffins in Singapore and India have put up a novel idea: an app designed to identify where a smartphone's downloads are suffering and route around the problem without bothering the network operator. The researchers reckon the mobile network has forgotten one of the prime directives of the Internet: to route …
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Video still causing mobile data traffic to shoot through the roof

Currently, there are as many mobile subscriptions as people in the world, and every second, 20 new mobile broadband subscriptions are activated. This, and the increased video consumption on mobile devices, is pushing data consumption to new heights - mobile data traffic in Q3 2015 was 65 per cent higher than the previous year, …
Faultline, 24 Nov 2015
Don Draper is Sad

EE plans to block annoying ads on mobile network

EE may have a pretty pathetic customer service record, but the company is hoping to cheer up its 27-million-strong subscriber base by potentially allowing them to block ads on their mobile phones. At present, the carrier is mulling a proposal to bring in network-level blocking tools for its customers. “We're at the beginning …
Kelly Fiveash, 23 Nov 2015
Bell switchboard

Today's Quiz Question: Are there more SIMs than people in the world?

There are now more SIMs than people in the world, with the former surpassing the latter a little earlier this year, or so says mobile network supplier Ericsson, with that particular factoid – and many others – found in its annual Christmas Pudding of traffic stats and forecasts, the 2015 Mobility Report. Ericsson takes a …
Andrew Orlowski, 17 Nov 2015