Next generation of 4G for London

EE launches 4G in London peoples phone

EE, the UK’s biggest mobile operator, today switched on its 4G+ network in central London. The next step in 4G technology – also known as LTE-Advanced – will give customers access to one of the fastest networks in the world, delivering real world mobile data speeds of 150Mbps to a smartphone.
 
Mobile data usage is growing rapidly all the time, and faster speeds mean everyone can have quicker downloads, more efficient working, and quicker internet access. EE currently ranges two 4G+ compatible devices – the Samsung Alpha and the Samsung Note 4.
 
The new 4G+ technology uses EE’s 2.6GHz high capacity spectrum, and is available in large parts of central London, including Shoreditch, Old Street, Southbank, Soho, Westminster and Kensington. By June 2015, EE aims to have full 4G+ coverage across Greater London, and will then introduce 4G+ across the UK’s busiest cities, including Birmingham, Liverpool and Manchester.
 
4G+ will deliver peak speeds of around 150Mbps, on a par with the fastest mobile networks in the world. On top of this, the additional airwaves being used for 4G+ add new capacity for all EE customers, like adding extra lanes to a motorway, giving an uplift to all customers in the 4G+ enabled locations  – great news as the capital’s streets fill with smartphone using shoppers in the run up to Christmas.
 
4G+ and the additional speeds and capacity will also be a huge boost for the tens of thousands of business customers in London, who can trust that EE will continue to invest in maintaining a highly reliable, high capacity service to support the UK’s increasingly mobile workforce.
 
Olaf Swantee, CEO at EE, said: “The UK is now back to being a world leader in mobile networks. Just two years since we were behind every developed market from the US to Japan, we’ve invested in innovation, driven competition and given people in London a mobile network that’s faster than almost any other in the world, and even faster than most fibre broadband available here.
 
“We’re delighted to be able to exclusively offer our business and consumer customers on EE plans the fastest speeds available in the UK. We’re now the largest 4G network in Europe, but it doesn’t stop here. We’ll keep investing to make sure that all our customers can get access to the great mobile technology that can make a real difference to the way they live their digital lives.”
 
At the same time as delivering new 4G+ speeds to the capital, EE continues to roll out 4G to the whole of the UK. 19 more towns and cities have been switched on this month, with Warwick the 300th 4G town and city to go live. 4G from EE is available to more than 75% of the UK population.
 
The 19 new 4G towns switched on this month are: Alexandria (Scotland), Banbury, Biggleswade, Blaydon, Catterick Garrison, Cookstown (Northern Ireland), Garforth, Greenock, Holmfirth, Limavady (Northern Ireland), Maltby, Oxted, Penicuik (Scotland), Tring, Waltham Cross, Warminster, Warwick, Winterbourne, and Ystrad Mynach (Wales).
 
EE’s unique Double Speed 4G is also expanding across the UK. The network with speeds up to 60Mbps is now available in 20 places and to more than 50% of the UK population, and will widely cover 20 more large towns and cities by the end of the year.
 
Just two years since launching 4G into the UK EE now has more than six million 4GEE customers, making it the largest 4G network in Europe. Mobile data speeds in 4G+ areas will regularly be up to 90Mbps, and customers will see speeds as high as 150Mbps, for users with a compatible device on a 4GEE Extra or Corporate 4GEE plan. The new speeds are achieved through ‘carrier aggregation’, combining 20MHz in each of the 1800MHz and 2.6GHz bands, enabling a theoretical maximum speed of 300Mbps. The additional 20MHz of spectrum doubles the capacity of our network in London, increasing average speeds for all 4GEE customers, no matter what device they’re using or which 4GEE plan they’re on.
 
Fotis Karonis, CTO at EE, said: “We’re building a network for the future. We’re making sure that there is enough speed, enabled by enough capacity, to let our growing 4GEE customer base do all the amazing things that are just breaking through now – 4K video over 4G, wearable technology, and increasingly sophisticated mobile business apps. Capacity is the lifeblood of a good mobile service, and we’re adding more here to give our customers the best possible mobile experience, now and into the future.”


Why Kim Kardashian has a stash of BlackBerry phones

Kim Kardashian is a self-confessed BlackBerry addict and admitting to having not one but three of the Canadian smartphones stacked up just in case one breaks.
 
Kim Kardashian is a self-confessed BlackBerry addict and admitting to having not one but three of the Canadian smartphones stacked up just in case one breaks.
 
Kardashian uses other smartphones, including an iPhone for photos, but her love of the physical keyboard keeps her tied to a BlackBerry – not the new Passport or Q20, but an old BlackBerry Bold.
 
“I love a BlackBerry,” Kardashian admitted to the Code Mobile conference on Monday. “Every time I say that, people are horrified that I have a BlackBerry, and I don’t understand that reaction.”
 
“BlackBerry has my heart and soul, I’ll never get rid of it,” she said. “I do have an iPhone, and I use that for photos, but if you have an email and you need to type fast, you need to have that keyboard.”
 
Kardashian also admitted that despite BlackBerry releasing several new models, including the square Passport, she hadn’t “actually turned it on” and that it was “a little large”. Instead she prefers the compact frame of the Bold so much that she keeps a stock of the old devices ready in case one breaks.
 
“They don’t even have them in stores anymore. I buy them on eBay. It’s a BlackBerry Bold. And I like to have three in my room that I line up in case they break,” she said.
 
A BlackBerry spokesperson confirmed to the Guardian that Kardashian does not have an endorsement deal with the company.
 
In its prime, BlackBerry’s 80 million users ranked among the world’s elite, from US president Barack Obama, who refused to give up his BlackBerry when taking office, forcing the NSA to secure one for his personal use, to celebrities, sports stars and business people.
 
Even Google’s executive chairman, Eric Schmidt, used a BlackBerry instead of the the company’s Android smartphones because he liked the keyboard. After years of decline, BlackBerry users number approximately 46 million, with 36 million business users But Kardashian isn’t the only celebrity left using a BlackBerry. The actor Bill Murray selected an old BlackBerry as his first smartphone, purely for texting his children, while Lindsay Lohan, Cuba Gooding Jr and Leonardo DiCaprio have all been spotted regularly using BlackBerrys this year.
 
Tim Allen from Home Improvement fame recently showed off his BlackBerry Passport on the Jimmy Kimmel show in the US, while singers Christina Aguilera and Drake both use BlackBerrys.
 
It seems many users cling to the BlackBerry because typing on the keyboard over typing on a touch screen offers a couple of advantages.

Netflix shares plunge as subscriber growth falls

netflix logo peoples phone

US shares of Netflix, the world’s largest video streaming service, plunged on Wednesday after it reported fewer subscribers than forecast.
 
Netflix signed up 3.02m customers globally in the third quarter, compared to the 3.69m it had expected in July. News of the slow growth, mainly in its US market, sent its shares plummeting as much as 27% on the Nasdaq index. The company blamed a $1(£0.62) price rise to $8.99 for its monthly service fee for fewer new subscribers. Its stock lost more than $117 to $331 in after-hours trading from its close of $448.59.
 
Netflix operates in nearly 50 countries, but the US is its biggest market. Its growth in customers there fell 24% in the third quarter from a year ago to 980,000. The company’s slowing growth figures came on the same day as rival Time Warner’s HBO announced that it will launch an online streaming service in the US starting next year.
 
Netflix shrugged off concerns of competition intensifying from HBO saying that there is enough room in the market for customers to use both services. “It is likely we both prosper as consumers move to Internet TV,” Netflix said in a statement.
 
The online streaming giant has invested in several new original shows and more recently original movies like the sequel to Oscar-winning martial-arts film “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” in an effort to maintain its position.

Money scams target students

peoples phone ee shop logo

EE, the UK’s most advanced digital communications company, has launched a campaign aimed at warning young people against falling prey to ‘easy money’ mobile phone scams and reducing mobile phone fraud.
 
Figures from EE highlight that in some university towns as many as one in 10 new mobile phone contracts taken out can be fraudulent, as students fall prey to an increasingly sophisticated scam. New research from EE reveals that 18-24 year olds  do not understand the short and long term financial impact of putting their names to fraudulent accounts.
 
Here’s how the scam works: Conmen target students with a sophisticated pitch about how they can make easy money. Students are told that they can take out a mobile plan and sell the valuable handset, and that no-one will chase them for the money owed on the contract. Students are given official-looking forms to fill in, which ask for personal information, including bank details. Scammers give the students a small sum (as little as £50) for a brand new handset worth hundreds. Students are even rewarded for referring their friends.
 
Fraudsters then use the students’ personal details to open more accounts, without their knowledge and adding to the debt
Emmanuel Laffont, Head of Credit Risk & Fraud at EE, said: “A significant amount of mobile phone handset fraud is committed almost unwittingly by naïve students who may not understand both the short and long term consequences of their actions. Scammers know that some students may also not necessarily understand credit ratings, and look to take advantage of them by tempting them with ‘easy money’ – we urge them to think that if it sounds too good to be true, it most likely is. Young people must learn to be more aware of their financial status and not take needless risks with their financial futures.”
 
Research published today by EE reveals how students have little understanding of the the long-term impact – seven out of ten young people do not understand what credit ratings are, even though eight out of 10 would actually be worried if they discovered that they have a bad credit rating.
 
EE commissioned research via ICM of 1,000 people aged 18 – 24 to better understand why students are so ready to engage in mobile phone fraud. Key findings show: Almost nine in ten (87%) of 18 year olds don’t think that they have a credit rating or don’t even know what one is. Even amongst those respondents who know they have a credit rating, over 60% do not know what their credit rating actually is. 73% of those surveyed do worry about their ability to secure financial loans in the future. Only 9% of respondents knew how long a negative mark lasts for.
 
Illustrating the handset fraud problem, EE asked respondents, “If somebody offered you several hundred pounds today, but it means you’ll get a negative mark on your credit rating, how long would you be prepared to have that negative mark appear for?” Only 1% of people would be prepared to have that negative mark appear for as long as it actually lasts for, and 47% wouldn’t want a negative mark at all.
 
Selected regional breakdown of survey results: Respondents in Wales are the least aware of credit ratings – just 17% think that they have a credit rating, compared to the national average of 27%. Respondents in Wales are the least likely to know what their credit rating actually is – 83% didn’t know, or weren’t sure how to find out their credit rating, compared to the national average of 69%. Of those who knew that they have a credit rating, respondents in the East of England are the least likely to know what their credit rating actually is – only 13% knew, compared to the national average of 38%. Only 3% of respondents in London were correct about how long a negative mark lasts for
To help students to understand credit ratings and steer clear of scams, EE stores near select major universities will distribute educational leaflets. The full text is available below. EE is also working with the National Mobile Phone Crime Unit to help to educate and protect students from this type of fraud.
 
Detective Inspector Louise Shea, National Mobile Phone Crime Unit, commented, “The National Mobile Phone Crime Unit (NMPCU) advises students to be extremely cautious when entering into mobile phone contracts with anyone other than a reputable company. Never divulge your personal information in response to a direct approach unless you are certain that the request is from a reliable source. This could include an approach in person, or by email, text, letter or phone call. It is easy to be lured into a scam with the promise of quick cash or a great deal, but if it sounds too good to be true, it almost certainly will be. We strongly recommend that you register any serial numbered property, such as mobile phones, tablets and laptops for free at www.immobilise.com. For further valuable advice on crime prevention or for more information about our work, please visit www.nmpcu.police.uk.”


Samsung slump echoes demise of rivals BlackBerry and Nokia

Samsung Electronics, the world’s largest smartphone maker, has recorded better than expected first quarter profits thanks to the successful early release of its new flagship Galaxy handset.
 

 
Samsung Electronics has reported a 60% slump in quarterly profits as the sudden decline in its mobile phone business draws comparisons with fallen rivals BlackBerry and Nokia.

 
Having risen in just three years to dominate the hugely lucrative global smartphone market, Samsung faces challenges on all fronts. Its flagship Galaxy S5 handset is not selling as well as last year’s model; Chinese and Indian rivals are stealing business and show no signs of stopping; and Apple is moving into its patch with large-screen premium phones.
 
Those factors led the South Korean company to announce on Tuesday that operating profits for the three months to 30 September were 4.1tn won (£2.4bn), down 60% from a year before, with revenues of 47tn won falling 20% from the same period in 2013.
 
The company signalled “declines in the mobile business due to intensified smartphone competition” and although it insisted that smartphone sales had increased marginally, some analysts took a different view.
 
Counterpoint Research, a mobile analyst company based in Hong Kong, said Samsung’s shipments had fallen year-on-year by more than 2% to 79m, and the “marginal increase” was in comparison to the second quarter’s 74.9m shipments.
 
It is the first time Samsung’s smartphone shipments have dropped year-on-year, which carries warning signs for its future. Its profit also relies on a multiplier effect: its phones use its displays and chips, so when handset sales are booming, more displays and chips are made, improving scale and lowering price, and helping to win outside business. When phone sales slow, the multiplier fades away, as do profits.
 
“Samsung is getting closer to the fate of its peers,” said Richard Windsor, of the Radio Free Mobile consultancy. Samsung uses Google’s Android software and analysts fear that Samsung has lost its chance to dominate other manufacturers that use Android, such as China’s Xiaomi and Huawei. Windsor said Samsung’s profits could follow the course of multiple Android handset manufacturers such as HTC, LG and Sony, which have boomed and then dwindled amid expanding competition.
 
“It appears that Samsung has been cutting prices in order to maintain market share but has lost market share anyway,” Windsor said. “This increasingly looks like beginnings of the vicious cycle which ended the dominance of Ericsson, HTC, Motorola, BlackBerry and Nokia.”
 
That is the scary thought that has Samsung’s executives – which has a highly critical internal culture, and always seeks improvement – desperately seeking the best route forward. Nokia, BlackBerry and Ericsson are salutary tales in the mobile business: former darlings which were too slow to adapt to changing markets, and were left behind.
 
Samsung’s problem is that while it has dominated Android smartphones across the whole spectrum, from cheap to pricey, it is seeing its low-end sales eroded by upstarts such as Xiaomi and Huawei and Micromax from India, which have begun to match and even beat it for price and popularity. Samsung said the average selling price of its phones fell, “driven by reduced proportional shipments of high-end models” together with price cuts on older models.
 
“Despite the discounts, sales did not increase, so that means they shed profit to just barely maintain their market position,” said Tom Kang of Counterpoint Research.
 
Nor is there any sign of smartwatches – six in the past year – generating useful revenues. Jan Dawson, of Jackdaw Research, said: “As the vast majority of future global growth in smartphones will come from low-end customers spending under $150 (£95) on a handset, it’s going to be really tough for Samsung to get going again.”
 
But Samsung’s bigger problem, say analysts, is that while it has dominated smartphones, it has not made itself irreplaceable. Samsung’s TouchWiz interface – its adaptation of Android – is not universally popular and its ChatOn app will not stop customers from switching to an Android handset made by Sony, LG, Xiaomi or Huawei. Whereas Apple has focused on building an enviable app library and content store through iTunes, Samsung has relied on Google and limited its room for manoeuvre.

 
“Samsung has ceded control of the ecosystem to Google, meaning that the options that it has to differentiate its products in the future are extremely limited,” said Windsor.
 
Meanwhile, sales of top-end phones are slowing, while Apple has continued to eat away at the premium market of phones costing more than $400. And during the quarter Samsung lost its lead in China to Xiaomi and in India to Micromax.
 
Analysts concur that Samsung’s days of dominating the market by blanketing it with gigantic advertising and marketing spending – which includes payments to sales staff in phone stores – are over. Now, it has to compete with cut-throat margins at the low end, and newly resurgent rivals at the top end including Apple, which has released its large-screen iPhone 6 Plus that competes directly with Samsung’s Note series of “phablets” – phone-tablet hybrids – that are popular in Asia.
 
“Samsung’s situation is graver than expected. It should put a greater emphasis on cost cuts and review its business strategies from the zero point,” said Oh Sang-woo, an analyst at Leading Investment. “What matters is how Samsung will protect its falling market share in China and key emerging markets like India.”
 
Kang said: “It still has time, as that’s one of the advantages of being number one. People are reluctant to flock to an alternative all at once. But Samsung should get their strategy straightened out soon. They’ve been throwing the same course repeatedly, and getting pounded by the same player each time – Apple. They shouldn’t be stubborn; they can just pass over the star player and compete with the next in line. They can win the game if they swallow their pride. The market is about more value for the same amount of money, and Samsung should switch gears towards that.”
 
But Windsor warns that as sales fall and the multiplier effect falls away, Samsung’s troubles could deepen. “If its share of phone sales continues to fall, then this multiplier will no longer be possible, and Samsung will come closer and closer to joining the long-suffering ranks of every other Android handset maker in the market,” he said. “These companies make 2-4% operating margins in the best instance.”

BT launches ‘next generation text’ service

bt wifi peoples phone

 
 
BT has today launched its new Next Generation Text (NGT) service, which will make it much easier for people with hearing and speech impairment to make phone calls. 
NGT enables people who need to use text, to communicate with others over the phone either directly or through a relay assistant. The relay assistant acts as an intermediary to convert speech to text and vice versa for the two people in conversation. 
The new service gives deaf, hearing and speech impaired people greater freedom and flexibility and allows them to communicate in real time, from a variety of locations, using a range of mobile devices. Customers can now make faster, more fluent phone calls using ordinary smartphones, tablets, laptops and PCs as well as their existing specialised terminals. 
A free app compatible with Android and Apple devices, and personal computers, enables customers to use NGT with internet connected devices. 
Phone call and text app channels are open at the same time with NGT allowing a conversation to flow more naturally. People with some hearing can still have a voice conversation, but with the added back-up of text in case they do not quite catch something. If the person cannot hear, but can use their voice, the phone allows them to speak directly to the other person while the app displays the other person’s speech translated to text by the relay assistant. 
If the user’s speech is impaired, but they have no difficulty in hearing, they can use the app to type via the text relay and the phone to listen. Their text will be translated into speech by the relay assistant. 
When they are out and about, users can use mobile data or connect to public wi-fi networks and enjoy improved conversation speeds, with the choice of two-way text or speech. The NGT service also offers the option of making direct text-to-text calls using their internet-connected device. 
Users can link a TextNumber, which looks like a standard phone number, to their home, work or mobile number so that when someone dials the TextNumber the call is automatically connected to the NGT service without the need for a caller to dial a special prefix. 
BT has been holding trials of the Next Generation Text service since March this year and the service has been warmly received by the customers taking part. 
Mike Aston, who is a senior architectural technologist with Warwickshire County Council, said: “NGT has really exceeded my expectations and certainly makes life a lot easier for deaf people. It’s so flexible across all devices and you can link a single mobile or landline number to NGT apps on various devices, be it a desktop or a mobile version of NGT. This way you have the luxury of answering any incoming calls on your mobile or landline telephone and reply from any NGT-linked device wherever you are. Should you miss a mobile call, it is logged on your mobile to return later. 
“I have found TextNumbers extremely useful for the hearing to contact me without having to dial 18002 in front as before. Last but not least, NGT certainly enhances employment prospects for the deaf in the future.” 
Colin Lees, BT Business chief information officer, said: “This is a really important development. Whatever your hearing or speech impairment, this will make using the phone much simpler and easier. The app is free and easy to download and will give you greater flexibility and freedom – you can use the service at home, at work or on the move without the need for a specialised device.” 
The new NGT Lite app can be downloaded free for computers at www.ngts.org.uk. For Android smartphones and tablets, the app can be downloaded from the Google Play Store and it can be downloaded from the Apple Store for iPhones and iPads. Customers can also find more information about NGT and how it could benefit them at the website www.ngts.org.uk. 
BT’s Next Generation Text service is available to its own customers and is being provided on a wholesale basis to other communications providers so they can serve their customers. NGT replaces BT’s existing text relay service, which has given valued service to customers for more than 20 years.