Don’t talk and drive warns new code

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Driving while talking on a mobile phone is now specifically prohibited in the updated edition of the drivers’ manual, the Highway Code.

The new version warns that talking on a phone, even a hands-free type, can be dangerously distracting while driving.

Although the Highway Code is not a legal document and its recommendations do not have the force of law, they are used as benchmarks by the courts.

Drivers who have accidents while using a mobile telephone are now even less likely to get sympathetic hearings from judges or magistrates.

The road users’ guide’s new Section 127 warns: “Never use a hand-held mobile phone or microphone while driving.”

But even using hands-free systems is “likely to distract your attention from the road”, it says.

Police forces currently have to decide if phone use constitutes an offence.

A number of drivers have been imprisoned after having accidents while they were talking on mobile phones.

Earlier this month a woman was jailed for 12 months after admitting causing death by dangerous driving. She hit another car while overtaking at 70mph as she talked to her boyfriend on a mobile telephone.

The latest edition of Britain’s best-selling book also covers new rules about driving under the influence of drugs and medicines.

It cautions motorists against driving while tired. For the first time, it also tackles road rage by including advice on courteous and considerate driving.

Cellnet dials up Internet first

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Cellnet, Britain’s second biggest mobile telephone company, is set to be the first UK cellphone operator to launch a new Internet service provider.
 
Genie Internet will be launched in March in a bid to cash in on the demand for Internet access via mobile telephones.
 
Cellnet’s Managing Director Peter Erskine said: “The business opportunity offered by the convergence of mobile and Internet technology is immense. The wireless Internet is set to create killer applications, which will take global communications onto a new level and have a real impact on the way people connect with each other, wherever they are. It is like having the Internet in your pocket.”
 
Genie Internet will allow information such as share price movements, job alerts and the latest football results to be sent direct from its website to customers’ Cellnet digital phones.
 
The company already operates a short message service with 100,000 users.
 
Cellnet also plans to launch a range of new services including “speak-mail”, that is e-mails which are read back to you over your mobile phone and the ability to access Genie’s entire content from handsets.
 
Brian Greasley, general manager of the new Genie Internet operation said: “We are already working with a number of manufacturers to build Genie applications for the next generation of mobile telephones.”
 
BT owns 60% of Cellnet and the remaining 40% is owned by Securicor.
 

Internet goes wireless

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The Internet’s future is wireless, say some of the top companies in the computer and telecoms industries who now have joined forces to provide people on-the-move with wireless data transfer.
 
Monday saw the arrival of two alliances: British Telecom (BT) teamed up with the world’s largest software company Microsoft to agree on software standards, while Motorola and Cisco Systems said they would try to make the Internet accessible through wireless networks.
 
The initiative by Microsoft and BT is the latest shot in a escalating battle to attract corporate clients who want to use the Internet on the move, rather than be tied to their PCs. Potentially anybody from truckers to company executives will be able to get information when, and where, they need it.
 
The aim is to fully integrate the information flow within a company.
 
BT and Microsoft want to develop a range of wireless Internet and data services based on Windows CE – a slimmed-down version of Microsoft’s operating system that can be be used in palmtop computers, mobile phones and household appliances.
 
They said trials would begin in the UK this spring, with services expected to become available in several countries by early next year. As part of this agreement, BT will select Microsoft microbrowser technology for manufacturer’s handsets.
 
Microsoft has already struck similar deals with telecoms provider Qualcomm in the United States. The alliance with BT allows the software giant to offer its technology to overseas customers, especially in the UK.
 
In return, BT could transform itself into a provider of comprehensive telecoms and data services worldwide.
 
Uniting the wireless world. Motorola and Cisco Systems, meanwhile, said they had agreed to work together to extend the reach of the Internet to wireless communications.
 
They want to spend up to one billion dollars over the next five years to create hardware and software standards that will make palmtop browsing as fast as hooking up your computer laptop and modem to a landline.
 
Don Listwin, executive vice president of Cisco Systems, said: “Cisco and Motorola are bringing a New World Internet platform to the wireless industry.”
 
The ultimate aim will be to create an “Internet-based cellular infrastructure”. Cisco Systems is the world’s largest provider of networking equipment for the Internet.
 
Battle of the standards
 
The deal between Microsoft and BT puts the two companies in a head-to-head contest with Psion, a British company that has beaten the US software giant in the hand-held computer market.
 
Last year, Psion linked up with mobile phone manufacturers Motorola, Nokia and Ericsson to form Symbian. The alliance was designed to rival Microsoft’s Windows CE, which was developed for use in mobile phones, hand-held computers and household appliances. It is unclear whether Motorola’s new deal is a deal to the alliance or means that Symbian will be extended to include Cisco Systems.
 
The move prompted Microsoft’s boss Bill Gates to proclaim that Psion represented the biggest threat to his business.
 
Psion is perceived to have the edge with its Epoc software, a multi-tasking 32-bit operating system that can host a raft of communications applications. However the group’s shares tumbled 133.5p or more than 14% to 795p in early trading on the London Stock Exchange, on fears that a Microsoft-BT joint venture could provide a significant threat to its business.