Vodafone to sell Huawei Ascend G 300 smartphone


Huawei has signed a deal for Vodafone to sell its Ascend G 300 smartphone when it goes on sale in the UK this spring.

The agreement with the network operator is the first Huawei has struck with a UK operator for one of its branded smartphones.

The Ascend G300 will be backed by a multi-million pound joibnt marketing campaign, and presages further Huawei releases from Vodafone in the UK.

The handset is powered by a 1GHz dual-core processor and runs the Android 2.3 Gingerbread operating system. It also has a four-inch screen, five megapixel camera and 2GB of internal memory.

Huawei UK executive vice president Mark Mitchinson said: “This is a landmark deal for Huawei. We are delighted to have Vodafone UK on board as a strategic partner.

“Vodafone recognises the ambition of Huawei as we become a genuine partner of choice and a serious alternative for future growth and co-prosperity.”

Vodafone UK and Ireland head of terminals Dee Kaul said: ”We’ve collaborated successfully with Huawei for several years introducing a popular range of Vodafone branded devices to our customers.

Building on this heritage we’re very excited to include Huawei’s own branded mobiles to our line up with the Ascend G300 leading the way exclusively for our customers.”



Compare all deals on Huawei here.


Android overtakes iPhone as most popular smartphone OS


Adroid is now the most-used smartphone operating system in the UK, capping three years of remarkable growth for Google’s platform.

According to Kantar Wordpanel ComTech figures, Android sealed the top spot by powering 36.9 per cent of smartphones currently in use in the UK during the four-week period to January 23rd.

In second place was Apple’s iPhone iOS operating system, accounting for 28.5 per cent of high-end handsets out in the wild.

Data for marketshare also underscored Android’s pre-eminence, with the revelation that it now boasts a total share just shy of 50 per cent in the UK.

Apple’s share trailed at around 30 per cent, despite the relatively recent release of the iPhone 4S and the sales boost that always accompanies a new bit of iKit.

Android’s growth has been driven by a host of low-cost smarties (think: the lower-end Galaxy-branded Samsung phones), which have democratised smartphone ownership.

The next generation of Android phones are set to be unveiled at Mobile World Congress later this week, including the first-ever handset to be powered by a brawny quad-core processor.
















More mobiles than humans in 2012, says Cisco


Mobile devices will outnumber humans this year, according to network firm Cisco’s latest analysis of global mobile data traffic.

By 2016 it predicts that there will be 10 billion mobile connected devices around the world. By the same date networks will be carrying 130 exabytes of data each year, equivalent to 33 billion DVDs.

Mobile data traffic in 2011 was eight times the size of the global internet in 2000, according to the report. The rise in data consumption is likely to cause more problems for mobile operators already struggling to cope with demand.

Currently the average smartphone uses 150 megabytes of data per month but this is expected to rise to 2.6 gigabytes by 2016, the report found.

“By 2016, 60% of mobile users – three billion people worldwide – will belong to the Gigabyte Club, each generating more than one gigabyte of mobile data traffic per month,” said Suraj Shetty, vice-president of products and solutions at Cisco.

There are various factors that are pushing data consumption ever higher.

People are using more tablet devices which are even more data-hungry than smartphones, the report found.

According to Cisco, tablet use exploded in 2011 – tripling to 34 million devices, each of which is generating over three times more traffic than smartphones. By 2016 it predicts that tablets will account for more than 10% of global mobile traffic.

Another factor is faster networks. 4G is currently only available for about 0.2% of mobile connections but they already account for 6% of mobile data traffic, the report said. Using mobile data on a 4G connection generates 28% more traffic than a non-4G connection, it found.

Apple’s iPhones had a reputation for using up more bandwidth than other handsets but the study found that Android consumption is now equal to, if not higher, to iPhone consumption in the US and Western Europe.




Apple, Google move to tackle app store issues


Apple has warned that any developers found to be artificially inflating the rankings of apps will be kicked off the App Store.

It follows a developer blowing the whistle on the practice of using automated PCs – known as bot farms – to push apps up the charts.

The anonymous developer said that it was common practice to pay bot farms to inflate rankings.

Meanwhile, Google’s attempts to clean up its app store have been questioned.

Apple faced fresh scrutiny over how its apps are ranked following an anonymous posting to the Touch Arcade gaming forum.

In it, a developer claimed that an unnamed firm had offered to give his app a top 25 ranking in return for $5,000 (£3,144).

He said that the firm had listed some of its other clients, and openly described its business model.

“I was totally shocked when I heard that there were eight apps in the top 25 were all promoted by them.

“He said he had outsourced someone to build him a bot farm and the bots will automatically download his clients’ apps and drive up their rankings,” the developer wrote.

Bots are pieces of software that run automated tasks on the internet.

It prompted plenty of news chatter about bot farms and forced Apple to clarify its position.

In a statement on its developer forum, Apple said: “Once you build a great app, you want everyone to know about it. However, when you promote your app, you should avoid using services that advertise or guarantee top placement in App Store charts.

“Even if you are not personally engaged in manipulating App Store chart rankings or user reviews, employing services that do so on your behalf may result in the loss of your Apple Developer Program membership.”

Real people
Apps are now big business. A recent study by tech industry network Tech Net suggested that since 2007, the “app economy” had created 466,000 new jobs in the US alone.

Getting a top 25 position in the rankings means more downloads for an app and more cash for the developer.

It seems to have spawned an industry dedicated to boosting rankings.

One firm, Top Deal Apps, has admitted the practice but says that it uses people rather than bot farms.

Speaking to gaming website Pocket Gamer, a spokesman for the firm said that it employed more than 200,000 users in the US with iOS devices and iTunes accounts.

“Each time we take a new case from an app developer, our users will be notified to download the certain app during the required time period. After the verification, the users will get money for this download,” he told the online magazine.

Bouncing back?
As Apple fights its own issues, Google is determined to make its own app store more secure. Android apps have gained a reputation for attracting malware because of the more open way they are developed and the lack of pre-screening.

Last week the search giant revealed that it had been using a malware checker dubbed Bouncer for the second half of 2011, and its use had led to a 40% decrease in the number of potentially malicious apps on Android Market.

Security firms welcomed the step towards better security but warned that it might not be enough.

Writing on the Bitdefender Blog, security expert Catalin Cosoi said there it could be a problem that Bouncer only scanned the Android market.

“There are several other websites from where Android users can install applications. In fact, most malicious applications we discovered were actually hosted on third-party markets and not directly on Google’s (Android) Market,” he said.

Bouncer also only emulates apps uploaded on the Android market, he said.

“There is a high chance that we’ll see apps behaving correctly when used on a simulator and turning malicious when used on t

he mobile device,” he added.



TalkTalk loses another 50,000 customers

TalkTalk has reported a fifth consecutive quarter of customer defections, with 50,000 lost in the three months to the end of December as the company continues to trail larger rivals BT Group and BSkyB. 

TalkTalk has reported a fifth consecutive quarter of customer defections, with 50,000 lost in the three months to the end of December as the company continues to trail larger rivals BT Group and BSkyB.
The broadband and TV provider has lost 170,000 customers since November 2010, bringing its total down to 4.079 million, as BT and Sky continued to attract the lion’s share of new broadband customers and poach business from rivals.
However, TalkTalk’s share price raced up 9% to 130p in morning trading on Tuesday, as investors cheered a raised profit forecast from chief executive Dido Harding. Full-year underlying earnings are now expected to be between 18% and 19% of revenues, up from previous guidance of 17% to 18% and an improvement on last year’s 15.6% margin.
Revenues in the third quarter remained stable, rising £1m from the second quarter to £422m, but were down 5% on the same period the previous year. However, the business is becoming more profitable as the number of customers using its network of lines “unbundled” from BT’s exchanges continues to grow.
Average revenue per user for TalkTalk broadband customers increased to £25.30, compared with £24.70 in the previous quarter.
“We are growing the number of customers on our network every week and that is what is driving the performance of our business,” Harding said. “We have continued to improve our customers’ experience with further falls in customer service call volumes and an increase in the rate of online self-service. As a result, churn has stabilised and we remain confident of a return to positive total net adds in the first half of 2012.”
TalkTalk had originally hoped to start growing customer numbers in the final months of 2011, but a mounting subscriber exodus delayed that target. Formed through the rapid mergers of broadband companies including Tiscali, Pipex and Carphone Warehouse, TalkTalk has been struggling to integrate its billing platforms. It was fined £3.1m by Ofcom after wrongly billing thousands of Tiscali customers for services they did not receive.
The group has lost 43,000 broadband customers in the past two quarters, including 7,000 of the 200,000 former Pipex subscribers in the most recent period.
Levels of customer churn were not disclosed, but TalkTalk said it remained stable on the previous quarter despite the Pipex defections, with call volumes to its customer service centre down 26% year-on-year and 60% of customer contacts now taking place online.
TalkTalk unbundled – installed its own equipment – in 130 new BT exchanges during the quarter, bringing the total to 2,338, with a further 119 expected in the final quarter. The work is designed to improve customer numbers and profitability, because TalkTalk can offer lower prices but still make a bigger profit margin on unbundled lines. The group said 80% of its customers are now on fully unbundled lines.

HomesafeTM, an optional product which blocks pornography and self-harm sites, has been activated by a further 60,000 customers, bringing the total to 270,000, despite concerns raised by internet privacy groups over its ability to track every website visited by a user.
The company is about to begin consumer trials of on-demand internet TV service YouView, a joint venture with other backers including the BBC and BT.
YouView and is on track for its scheduled launch this spring, TalkTalk confirmed. The arrival of YouView could boost the numbers buying super-fast fibre optic broadband from TalkTalk, which remain low at just 5,000.
“At the moment there are very few households who genuinely really need fibre but that will change over time as demand for multiple live video viewing within a single household grows,” Harding said.

BT to offer ultra-fast 330Mbps broadband

BT plans to roll out “ultra-fast” broadband to homes and businesses next year, offering one of the fastest speeds in Europe and the world.
BT plans to roll out “ultra-fast” broadband to homes and businesses next year, offering one of the fastest speeds in Europe and the world.
The telecoms giant said on Friday that more than 7m premises now have access to fibre-based broadband, and it expects to start doubling standard broadband speeds from up-to-40Mbps (megabits per second) to up-to-80Mbps this spring, earlier than planned. Two thirds of homes and offices supplied by BT will benefit from these faster speeds by the end of 2014.
This compares with Virgin Media’s planned new top speed of 120Mbps, up from 100Mbps, as part of an upgrade that begins this month.
The majority of BT’s fibre connection is to so-called “cabinets” or junction boxes at the end of the road, with a copper line running to the office or house.
The company is also about to launch an up-to-330Mbps ultra-fast Fibre to the Premises (FTTP) service on demand. After running a successful trial in St Agnes in Cornwall, it will conduct further trials this summer and intends to roll out direct fibre-optic connections to offices and homes in the spring of 2013. BT believes ultra-fast broadband will appeal mainly to small and medium sized businesses that need to send and receive large amounts of data. It could also benefit local authorities, a BT spokesman said.
It is unclear at the moment how much ultra-fast broadband would cost. “Some internet service providers may choose to pass on the charge whereas others might absorb it in return for a long-term contract. It may also be the case that local authorities wish to assist with installation costs if they deem FTTP to be a priority,” the spokesman said.
BT Openreach chief executive Olivia Garfield said: “FTTP on demand is a significant development for Broadband Britain. Essentially, it could make our fastest speeds available wherever we deploy fibre. This will be welcome news for small businesses who may wish to benefit from the competitive advantage that such speeds provide.
“We are also doubling the speed of our standard fibre broadband this spring giving internet service providers the chance to offer speeds of up to 80Mbps. This will ensure that residential customers have world-class speeds for all their family’s needs.”
The Cornwall trial showed that additional fibre can be run on demand to a home or office in a Fibre to the Cabinet (FTTC) enabled area. Previously FTTP speeds were not possible in FTTC enabled areas but BT has come up with a solution that takes advantage of the fibre it has already deployed between the exchange and the street cabinet.
The news came as BT, Britain’s biggest broadband retailer with over 6 million customers, reported an 18% rise in adjusted profits before tax to £628m between October and December, its third quarter. Revenues were down 5% to £4.8bn, however.