O2 and Vodafone double 4G speeds in London since launch



O2 and Vodafone have doubled their 4G speeds in London since launching two months ago (August 29), according to Rootmetrics.
The company, which measures mobile performance, found Vodafone’s 4G is faster than O2′s, with download speeds of 9.5Mbps and upload speeds of 4.7Mbps compared to O2′s 7.1Mbps and 3.7Mbps.
EE achieved the fastest speeds, with areas where its ‘double speed’ service has been launched seeing speeds of up to 19.3Mbps (download) and 12.9Mbps (upload).
It was also rated the most reliable network, with 95 per cent of internet connections successfully made and kept, compared to Three’s 93.8 per cent, O2′s 90.4 per cent and Vodafone’s 88 per cent.
For calling and texting, however, O2 took top position, recording the fewest call failures of any network.
RootMetrics CEO and President Bill Moore said: “The results of our 86,225 independent tests across London show that O2 and Vodafone have made a great start with their 4G networks, and consumers should be enjoying notably faster speeds. Certainly compared to other rollouts of 4G we have seen, London has got off to an impressive start.
“The even better news is that with more 4G masts lighting up every day, we are seeing increasing speeds in the capital as time goes on. But with three networks now competing for 4G customers, Londoners should take a close look at both price and performance before choosing: especially outside the centre, 4G is not evenly deployed, so it’s important to get a sense of which network will provide the best service where you live and play before committing.”




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Law is failing nuisance call victims


Citizens Advice has warned that consumers are being failed by regulations to control nuisance callers, as their evidence shows that the current law is failing to punish companies who flout the rules. Now, the national charity is calling for MPs to support a Private Members Bill to clamp down on unscrupulous cold callers.

Despite rules that people must give permission to be contacted, recent research by the charity has shown that 98% of those who received these calls and texts weren’t expecting it.

Even when a company is found to have done something wrong the unreasonably high threshold of harm, which sets out how much damage a company must do before it can be punished, means that companies can rarely be fined.

Gillian Guy, Chief Executive of national charity Citizens Advice, said: “Huge loopholes in the current rules allow companies to hound people with a barrage of unwanted calls and texts. It’s good to see MPs recognising this and fighting for changes to the inadequate laws.

“Everyone knows how annoying it is to be interrupted by someone hawking unwanted products. But at Citizens Advice we also see people who are left out of pocket by scams and unsuitable products and vulnerable people who are menaced in their own homes by silent or repeated calls.

“The proposed bill could make a real difference to people who have been exposed to cold calling for too long. I’d also like to see financial services banned from cold-calling so that consumers know , if they get a cold call from such a firm it is either a scam or company not to be trusted.”

A survey of 5,682 British Adults aged 18 and over revealed that 72% of people have received received an unrequested call, text or email in the last 12 months.

The most common unexpected sales calls, texts and emails made to households in Britain are: Personal injury and accident claims (42%), Gas and electricity suppliers (40%), Double glazing firms (29%), Firms selling debt relief services (23%), Offers for extended warranty on products (14%) & Firms selling pension unlocking services (10%).


Fresh iPhone 6 rumours


We hope you enjoyed the honeymoon period for the iPhone 5s and 5c because it’s officially over. Fresh iPhone 6 rumours have come in, suggesting that the new device will be with us in just under a year from now.

A Japanese report claims that the new smartphone will boast a 5-inch display with a 1080p resolution. Previously reports from earlier in the year have also suggested this size. For comparison’s sake, that would make it around the size of the Xperia Z1, or LG G2. Incidentally, LG is said to be the company supplying the display.

According to the report the iPhone 6 will release next September. That would make it a full year since the launch of the 5s and 5c. The bezel is said to be extremely thin, which would mean you could still use it with just one hand.

It this would position the fresh iPhone 6 on the brink of phablet territory. Is that a market that Apple should move its mainstream device into?

We’ll find out in a year.





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Virgin Media broadband ads banned for unlimited download claims


Virgin Media has had two adverts promoting its broadband service banned for claiming to offer unlimited downloads with no caps on data usage.

The ads, which appeared on the cable company’s own website and in the press, attracted criticism from the likes of BT, Sky and several members of the public on the grounds that they were misleading and could not be substantiated.

Defending the adverts, Virgin Media told the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) that its traffic management policy has changed since similar issues were raised in April and May 2013, with the speed reduction for customers who exceed their data allowance dropping from 40 per cent to 30 per cent.

The internet service provider argued that the slowdown is moderate, as the effect was similar to the drop in speeds generally experienced by internet users at busy times.

However, the ASA ruled that as a traffic management policy is still in place, it was misleading for Virgin Media to describe its broadband service as unlimited and uncapped.

“Although there was not a ceiling on the amount of data Virgin Media customers could download, a provider-imposed limitation on their service nevertheless applied,” the regulator explained.

Manufacturer of the Year – Winner Samsung


Despite the messy patent dispute with Apple, Samsung continues to go head-to-head in the smartphone and tablet domain with the Cupertino company announcing the Samsung Galaxy S4, more S-Pen-packing Note tablets, Smart TVs and new camera innovations

The Samsung smartphone division of the business saw a 41.5% rise in profits thanks to the success of the Galaxy smartphone range as more handsets fell off the production line in another productive year for the Korean company.

From the flagship Samsung Galaxy S4 and the Samsung Galaxy Note 2, the more advanced, accurate S Pen has also made it to bigger devices like the Note 10.1 and Note 8.0 tablets as the company aims to offer a mobile device with every display size covered.

But it’s not just been about mobile devices this year as Samsung showed how to make a Chromebook desirable, introduced the Samsung Galaxy Camera and also unveiled its 85-inch 4K TV with its Smart TV range still continuing to add more content than any other platform.




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Phonebloks: a phone that can be built like Lego


Phonebloks is a smartphone made up of separate parts that can be swapped and replaced like Lego so it lasts for ever and can be customised.

A smartphone with detachable parts that could last forever has been designed.

Phonebloks is a sustainable device that can be built like Lego and would allow users to replace its parts over time instead of buying new smartphones.

Dutch designer Dave Hakkens designed it after his favourite camera broke and he was advised to buy a new one as it was cheaper than replacing the broken part.

He has not yet built the phone but his concept has generated a lot of interest and said: “Right now, I’m thinking about what would be the best next step.

“Would it be to build it myself, open-source, online – or partner up with companies and collaborators? Half of the world says it’s possible, the other half says it’s not possible. I don’t think anyone really knows because no-one’s really tried it.”

The phone would have a replaceable screen and easily changeable “blocks” containing different elements such as the battery and chipset. It would be easy to use so the average consumer could replace the parts themselves.

The project also has 959,233 supporters on its website and a video publicising it has had more than 16 million views on YouTube. The video says: “Every day we throw away millions of electronic devices because they get old and worn out – but usually its only one of the components that causes the problem. Its simply because electronic devices are not designed to last.”

The detachable blocks are connected to the base, and the pieces are attached by two small screws. It allows the user to customise their phone, by upgrading their camera or attaching larger batteries or speakers depending on their needs.



Samsung announce Galaxy S5


Almost immediately after Apple announced the iPhone 5s with a 64-bit A7 processor, Samsung chimed in and said that it would be releasing devices with 64-bit processors in the near future. Today, it appears that Samsung has confirmed that its 64-bit processor is ready or release and given that it will likely be on board the Samsung Galaxy S5 means that a Samsung Galaxy S5 feature is now ready for launch.

In early September, Apple unveiled the iPhone 5s, its brand new iPhone that comes with a number of upgrades including a new camera, new colours, Touch ID fingerprint reader for security and convenience, and an all-new high-performance A7 processor with 64-bit architecture. While the addition of 64-bit support isn’t a huge deal to the average consumer right now, once core applications are upgraded with 64-bit support, users should see a noticeable difference in power and speed. Apple also has claimed that it built iOS 7 to run on a 64-bit processor.

Not to be outdone, Samsung quickly announced that it was also developing a 64-bit processor for next-generation devices and today, IT Today, a Korean publication, we know that the company has put the final touches on its new chip and that it should be ready for release. The report claims that the chip should be on the Samsung Galaxy S5, Samsung’s rumoured flagship and a device that has seen rumours point to a 64-bit processor of the Exynos 5 or 6 variety.

There have also been rumours suggesting that the Samsung Galaxy S5 launch date will take place in January, far earlier than the Galaxy S launches in years past, and get tagged with a February release date. While the news of the processor being done doesn’t confirm this, it does leave the door open for an earlier launch than usual.

Rumours have also suggested that the Galaxy S5 could come with a faux leather back like the Samsung Galaxy Note 3. The Galaxy S5 would then be joined by a premium Samsung Galaxy F with a metal design that consumers have been campaigning for for years. The Samsung Galaxy F, if real, would almost certainly come with 64-bit support as well.

Samsung Galaxy S5 rumours also suggest that the Galaxy S5 will come with a high-performance camera that, among other things, features Optical Image Stabilization, something that will help to cut down on shaky videos. Galaxy S5 rumours in general should start to fly as 2014 approaches.




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BT enhances its TV service with its best ever line-up


BT has stepped up its efforts to attract TV customers with a major launch of new channels and by offering customers the chance to build their own TV package made up of just the content they actually want to watch.

BT’s core Entertainment pack is just £7 a month and includes 18 popular pay TV channels, such as Discovery, the National Geographic Channel, Comedy Central and Gold.

The company is today announcing the launch of two additional channel bolt-ons for just £3 a month each: HD Extra which features high definition versions of many of the channels in Entertainment plus the three BT Sport channels in HD, and Kids Extra, featuring nine popular kids channels including Nickelodeon, Disney, Boomerang and Cartoon Network.

These channel bolt-ons are available to all customers with BT Infinity who take the Entertainment pack. The company has also introduced a “three for £20” deal* for new customers, (BT line rental £15.45 a month) until December 9. This offers Infinity fibre-optic broadband, the Entertainment channels pack, BT Sport and a free award-winning YouView box featuring catch up TV from all the major public sector broadcasters and more than 70 Freeview TV and radio channels.

This compares to Sky’s entry-level TV Entertainment pack at £21.50 a month that does not include fibre broadband or Sky Sports.

BT is also changing its on demand offerings to flexible monthly bolt-ons, allowing customers to choose from Kids or Music on demand at £3 a month each or Film & TV Box Sets at £5 per month. The Music bolt on will feature music videos, karaoke, concerts and also from this week, a wide range of complete albums.

The on demand bolt-ons are available to all existing customers and can be added to the basic Essential pack at £5 a month or, for Infinity customers, added to the Entertainment pack at £7 a month.

Customers can also take advantage of BT TV’s recent deal with BSkyB by adding 11 Sky Movies channels for £16 a month and from BT’s growing Box Office service including the Curzon Home Cinema deal that the company recently announced. The partnership with Curzon offers customers the ability to view films in their theatrical window from the comfort of their own home as well as exclusively curated sessions – only available on BT TV.

Alex Green, director of TV for BT, said: “This new line-up is undoubtedly our strongest TV offering. BT TV now offers over 100 TV channels, including more than 50 delivered via our broadband network.

“We can offer a fantastic HD quality experience through the power of fibre, and there’s something for all the family with our great new Kids channels. We know that customers don’t like paying a fortune for hundreds of channels they never watch so we’re making things easier for them and putting the choice in their hands.”



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Twitter causing excessive data usage on Windows Phone


Microsoft has confirmed that a bug within Windows Phone’s in-built Twitter client is causing its devices to use excessive amounts of data, with the upshot that users could find they’ve unintentionally breached their data limit.

Word is the problem is due to Twitter moving profile pictures across to new servers. Windows Phone’s Twitter app appears to be redownloading these images constantly, hence the boost in data.

Windows Phone’s People Hub, which is where its Twitter app lives, is seeing huge data usage, with The Verge reporting one of its in-house handsets hoovering up a massive 300MB in just one week.

At the moment, users are being advised to delete their Twitter accounts from their Windows Phones.

In the meantime, Microsoft has rolled out a temporary fix that will see Twitter accounts synced just once a day on their handsets.

It’s unlikely the problem will be solved until Twitter finishes up moving profile pictures. Either way, it’s an embarrassing issue for both the Big M and Twitter to have to deal with.






Premier Sports launches on Virgin Media


Virgin Media is expanding its stellar line up of sports content by bringing Premier Sports to its TV customers and enabling them to watch all the Rugby League World Cup matches at no extra cost. The channel is the only place to see all 28 World Cup games live and arrives on Virgin TV with the tournament about to kick off at the Millennium Stadium, Cardiff.

To celebrate the arrival of Premier Sports, Virgin TV customers will have free access throughout the Rugby League World Cup. Viewers will be able to watch every game as part of their existing TV line-up and, during 2014, Virgin TV customers will be able to subscribe to the Premier Sports TV channel.

Premier Sports is available on channel 551 and will also be added to Virgin TV Anywhere, the award-winning entertainment service for mobiles, tablets and online, following the channel launch meaning Virgin TV subscribers will be able to follow their team when they’re out and about, at no extra cost.

Richard Sweeney, general manager of Premier Sports commented, “We are delighted to be able to launch on Virgin Media with the most complete coverage of the Rugby League World Cup that forms part of a golden generation of sports events taking place in Great Britain. The channel has built up a loyal following of Rugby League fans over the last three years and we are thrilled to finally be able to offer this and much more to Virgin Media customers.”

Stephane David, executive director of content at Virgin Media said: “Sports fans across Great Britain are looking forward to the Rugby League World Cup so we’re delighted to be adding Premier Sports to our TV line up and making it available to all our TV customers at no extra cost. Premier Sports joins an unrivalled line up of sports content including Sky Sports and BT Sport on Virgin TV, meaning our customers can catch every goal or game-changing try across any of the major UK sports channels.”

In addition to its coverage of the Rugby League World Cup, Premier Sports will keep customers on the edge of their seats with over 1000 live events each year including live and exclusive coverage from the NHL, NRL, NASCAR Sprint Cup, GAA and much more.





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