BT ditches free evening calls before 7pm

BT is pushing back the time from which customers can make free evening calls, from 6pm to 7pm, in a move that could infuriate millions of customers.
BT is pushing back the time from which customers can make free evening calls, from 6pm to 7pm, in a move that could infuriate millions of customers.
 
News of the change is buried in letters and emails sent out to customers this week, entitled “Important information about your BT service”. The letters say that the end point for the free evening call period will also move back, from 6am to 7am.
 
Although the change, to be implemented on 1 April, only involves a move of one hour, it is unlikely to go down well with the 10 million BT customers who have signed up for packages that include free evening calls. Only those on the Anytime package will be unaffected.
 
Even though the move is likely to result in more people paying for calls, a spokesman for BT said the company still felt it was offering customers a good deal.
 
“We’ve looked into it and 6pm to 7pm is a busy time for calling, but it’s the time when people make short, organisational calls,” he said. “It’s between 8pm and 9pm when they sit down to have a chat.”
 
The first three quarters of the email sent to customers outlines the details of their account that are not changing, such as being able to make 0845 and 0870 calls at no extra cost, depending on the type of plan they have.
 
But, tucked away at the bottom, it says: “We are also making some changes to your BT service. We’d also like to make you aware of some changes to our prices, terms and conditions, effective from 1st April 2010. These include changing what we define as the evening call period for all types of calls: at the moment from 6pm-6am, but changing to 7pm-7am.”
 
Charlie Ponsonby of the broadband and home phone comparison service Simplifydigital.co.uk said: “The great majority of people expect evening call rates to start at 6pm, so if customers have not read the small print they will be hit in the pocket.”
 
At the same time BT is raising the call set-up fee for non-inclusive calls (those you have to pay for outside your free plan calls) from 9.3p to 9.9p a call, while the cost of calls made during the daytime will increase from 5.4p a minute to 5.9p a minute. These charge changes will not apply to BT Basic, Light User Scheme and In-Contact Plus customers.
 
One million BT customers switched to other phone operators last year after the company raised its charges twice in 12 months. Call costs rose in April and again in October, making them 34% more expensive than they had been at the start of the year for 12 million of BT’s then 14 million users.
 
BT said customers who wanted to find out what package they were on should call 0800 002 002.

Vodafone receives data protection accolade

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The network provider Vodafone has just received the Claims Tested Mark (CCTM) certificate from UK authorities, after independent analysis of its Secure Remote Access service.

Vodafone can now claim that it is officially one of the most secure providers in the country and refer any sceptics to its newly won certification.

The Secure Remote Access service is designed for Vodafone’s business customers and aims to keep the data and networks of any organisation safe while allowing for remote access via mobile or other means.

A spokesperson for Vodafone said that the company aimed to improve the flexibility and availability of remote working to businesses and enterprises of all sizes without compromising on the security aspects.

The new certification will allow Vodafone to solicit the business of public bodies including the MoD and the NHS, as the stamp of approval is recognised across many government departments.

Vodafone and the head of CCMT said that they were both very pleased about the accreditation of the service with a widely accepted award and Vodafone is now set to further build its reputation across various security sensitive markets.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Parents’ lack of awareness allows kids to get away with risky behaviour

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Many children are getting away with behaviour online that they wouldn’t get away with in the real world, largely because of their parents’ lack of understanding and awareness of their internet habits and of safety precautions.

That’s according to TalkTalk, the biggest provider of broadband to Britain’s homes, which found that one in four children (25%) have sent or been sent inappropriate material via email and one in nine (11%) have either bullied someone online or been bullied online themselves.

The research also found that one in 20 (5%) have communicated with a stranger on a webcam and one in 50 (2%) have actually met a stranger they first contacted online.
TalkTalk surveyed 500 children aged between six and 15 to get a better understanding of how children are using the internet.

When asked how much of their internet behaviour they think their parents are aware of, 25% of the children surveyed said “none.” More than six out of ten (62%) say they lie to parents about what they have been looking at online and over half (53%) delete the history on their web browser so their parents can’t see what they have been looking at.

Over half (55%) of children surveyed by TalkTalk said they knew more about the internet than their parents, and almost half (47%) have two hours or more unsupervised on the internet per day.

Tristia Clarke from TalkTalk commented: “We all know there are threats in the virtual world just as there are in the real world, but it’s crucial that parents’ responses to these risks are measured and sensible. Our research underlines the need for greater communication between parents and children – it’s the best way for parents to get a sense of the likely risks to their children and therefore manage and minimise them where possible.”

TalkTalk looked at these issues as part of its Brighter Sparks campaign, aimed at improving parents’ understanding and awareness of how to look after their kids online. The survey findings come from TalkTalk’s eParent Test, designed by child psychologist expert Prof Tanya Byron and available on the site at www.talktalk.co.uk/brightersparks.

Prof Tanya Byron, author of the Byron Review, said: “The internet doesn’t have to be a dangerous place for children and in fact can be hugely beneficial to their development and education. As long as parents are armed with effective tools they can ensure their children are spending time online safely and responsibly. But it’s crucial that parents educate themselves about what’s going on online and what their kids are doing there.”

Tristia Clarke from TalkTalk summed up by saying: “Our customers and their families are our number one priority, which is why we have developed the Brighter Sparks campaign. We hope to be able to help parents ensure they are doing everything possible to keep their children safe from potential risks that the internet poses.”

In addition to the Brighter Sparks campaign, TalkTalk offers its customers a free product called Magic Desktop. This service allows parents to introduce young children to a computer in a child-friendly environment and encourages families to use the internet safely and can be downloaded from http://broadband.talktalk.co.uk/magic-desktop.
 
 
 

Check the latest TalkTalk broadband deals here.

 

 

 

Solar power for iPhones of the future

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The iPhone and iPod Touch look set to become a little greener in the next few years, amid hints that Apple is planning to work solar power into its portfolio of electronic products.

Apple employees have reportedly filed patents covering the inclusion of solar panels in portable devices.

The panels would sit beneath the screen so as not to intrude on the design of the phone, but would allow the battery to be charged using the energy created by the sun.

Solar panels are not uncommon, but in most cases manufacturers place them prominently in order to make the most of the technology and to make a point of showcasing their green credentials.

However, because this would interfere with the typically sleek designs of Apple products, the invisible addition of solar panels would certainly be desirable.

Some have raised questions as to how the sensitivity of the touchscreen interface may be impacted by the addition of a solar panel into the construction of the display and whether further changes to the display technology would increase the cost of future iPhones to an unacceptable level.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Brits will use broadband for “life overhaul” in 2010

Brits are planning to use the internet for a life overhaul in 2010, according to new research from TalkTalk (www.talktalk.co.uk), the largest provider of broadband to Britain’s homes.
 
Brits are planning to use the internet for a life overhaul in 2010, according to new research from TalkTalk (www.talktalk.co.uk), the largest provider of broadband to Britain’s homes.
 
The new survey, which explores the nation’s attitudes and plans for 2010 in areas including technology and money, revealed 61% will use the net to shop for better deals this year and 37% will use it manage their finances more efficiently. One in 20 (5%) are also planning to find a partner via the internet this year. Overall, 50% of Brits will try new things online this year.
 
TalkTalk’s research also found that nearly a fifth of Britons believe that the internet will have a bigger impact on their lives this year than in 2009. This rose to 25% in the North West, 22% in the West Midlands and 21% in Wales. Meanwhile one in ten Londoners are looking to start their own business this year, and one in four West Midlanders plan to clear their credit card debt.
 
Worryingly 45% of Brits believe that this year will be harder than last year financially for them and it looks like OAPs are going to be the worse off with over half (52%) of those aged 65 and over saying the same thing. Brits living in the South West and the West Midlands (54%) were also the most concerned about finding 2010 harder financially than 2009.
 
Encouragingly though, half us think this year will be the year of saving money. In fact six out of ten (62%) of 18-24 year olds are looking to save.
 
“When you ask people how they plan to improve their lives it’s clear that the internet is now a major enabler,” said Mark Schmid from TalkTalk. “When you see that the best deals and money saving techniques are online it emphasises the importance of getting fast broadband to homes, regardless of geography and income.”
 
 

Brits can’t switch off from internet

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Over one-third of the population (34%) admitted to spending time working and accessing work-related emails remotely over the 2009-10 holiday period – the equivalent of nearly 16m people. That’s according to new research released today by TalkTalk, the biggest provider of broadband to Britain’s homes.
 

On average, people spent a whopping three hours and 18 minutes working from home when they were supposed to be on holiday. And worryingly one in 10 people claimed they spent over 10 hours working from home.
 
Working from home when they should have been relaxing with the family was most apparent among 35-44 year olds, with almost half of those surveyed (47%) admitting to logging on over the holidays to check emails or spending time trawling the internet for work-related purposes.
 
Thankfully the festive break wasn’t just about work. As technology develops and viewing habits change, internet TV has become increasingly popular. One-fifth of people (20%) said they watched or downloaded TV from the internet during the holiday period this year, spending an average of two and a half hours doing so.
 
This compares to 28% who watched clips on YouTube and 19% who played online computer games. Meanwhile over half (57%) of Brits spent time emailing friends and family, and 40% visited social networking sites.
 
More than one in 10 of us (11%) made calls to friends and family via Skype, while only 3% of people said they accessed and updated their Twitter account over Christmas and New Year.
 

Mark Schmid from TalkTalk said: “As recently as 10 years ago most of our time over the festive period was spent with our nearest and dearest, or slumped in front of the telly. Now we’re spending big chunks of our Christmas time playing games online, watching TV over the internet or social networking. Now your Twitter followers know what you had in your stocking before you’ve even tucked in to your turkey!”

 

Check the latest TalkTalk broadband deals here.

 

 

 

Pop-powered mobile phone created

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Korean firm Pantec has followed plans drawn out by Chinese phone designer Daizi Zheng and built the world’s first mobile phone that can draw power from a fizzy soft drink.

While most mobile phones rely on Li-ion batteries, this phone aims to be far greener and uses a biological battery that generates power by breaking down the sugary beverages.

The process involves enzymes and is based on a procedure currently used with ethanol. Pouring a sweet drink into the phone, which is sensibly shaped like a test tube, could triple or quadruple the battery time once it has been charged.

According to its designer the phone was commissioned by Nokia, but the Finnish firm has denied all knowledge of the project. The Fizzy Phone seems far more suited to Pantec’s line up, which includes a musical multi-tasker called the JamBand.

This touchscreen handset can be used to simulate piano, drums, guitar and even the flute. The JamBand comes complete with a contoured undercarriage to make sure it can be held easily when the owner is thrashing away on one of its many instruments.

The JamBand is already available in Korea, but it is unlikely to make an appearance in the UK market.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Research links Alzheimer’s cure to mobile phone use

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A new study released recently contradicts previous fears surrounding links between mobile phone use and Alzheimer’s disease, suggesting instead that it might be possible to prevent or even cure the condition by talking on a mobile phone.

The research used mice that had been genetically engineered to exhibit typical symptoms of the disease. These rodents were placed near an antenna emitting a mobile phone signal. After prolonged exposure to the electromagnetic waves, the mice had effectively been cured of their afflictions, with all of their mental faculties restored.

According to the scientists, it is mobile signals’ ability to break down and eradicate a hazardous protein contained in the brain of the Alzheimer’s test subjects that led to the cure.

One slight downside to this latest news is that it is believed human sufferers would have to use a mobile phone constantly for many years to see similar effects.

However, the research should hopefully mitigate previous suggestions that Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s Disease and multiple sclerosis might be caused or exacerbated by prolonged mobile phone use.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Accessory to enable card scanning for iPhone

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Any iPhone owner looking to accept payments via credit card on the go will like the sound of a new add-on from manufacturer Mophie which allows precisely this function.

The card reader will attach to the bottom of the iPhone, turning it into a portable payment device that could appeal to budding entrepreneurs and businesspeople of all types.

Mophie is showcasing the new device at the Consumer Electronics Show 2010 this January, although a mock-up has been posted online to give users an idea what to expect.

The development of this credit card reading iPhone accessory is not unique and competition from Twitter prime mover Jack Dorsey’s firm Square will be hot on the heels of Mophie’s device, with a current run of tests aiming to perfect the Square alternative being carried out.

According to a spokesperson for Square, the credit card reader which it is currently developing will be released for consumer use in the first quarter of 2010, although no definitive launch date has, as yet, been given.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mobile phones confiscated from UK prisons

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Over the last three years, the number of mobile phones and SIM cards that have been brought illegally into prisons around the UK for illicit use by inmates has risen drastically.

Across the prison system, the number of those confiscated by the authorities has shot up to three times the levels seen in 2007, while confiscations in institutions housing the most dangerous criminals have doubled since 2006.

In 2008, a total of more than 8000 phones and SIMs were removed from the possession of inmates, of which nearly 400 were taken from supposedly high security facilities.

The biggest threat posed by mobile phones that are used by prisoners comes from terrorism, as the phones allow incarcerated extremists to continue to organise and plan acts of violence while serving time for their previous crimes.

A spokesperson for the Conservatives said that they could not understand how the Labour government had allowed the dramatic rise in such incidents to take place.

Critics of the current regime would like to see devices which jam mobile phone signals installed in UK prisons, although the more serious issue raised by the figures is the question of how inmates are continuing to gain access to mobile phones from the outside.