Everything Everywhere gets 4G thumbs up

In a move which has surprised many industry commentators – and certainly rival networks – Ofcom has approved Everything Everywhere’s (EE) request to begin rolling out its 4G LTE service before the year is out. EE can do so before … Continue reading

Originally posted here: Everything Everywhere gets 4G thumbs up
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TalkTalk top of Ofcom’s complaints table

Ofcom has published its latest batch of telecoms complaints data for the quarter leading up to September.

And the bad news for TalkTalk is that, once again, the company is the most complained about ISP by UK consumers.

It’s the fourth quarter in a row Ofcom has published its report, so the data now covers a full year, and in all four quarters TalkTalk has delivered the least customer satisfaction in terms of complaints.

The good news is that the ISP’s complaint levels have dropped from 1.16 customers in 1000 complaining in Q4 2010, to 0.77 this latest quarter. That’s the figure for landline services.

Unfortunately, that’s still miles ahead of the rest of the competition. BT and Sky are on 0.29 and 0.28 respectively, with Virgin Media the top performing firm on 0.19.

Ofcom notes that TalkTalk’s poor performance has been driven by customer service and billing issues.

When it came to broadband, TalkTalk was again top of the table, but this time not by much with a figure of 0.55 (down from a peak of 0.81 in Q1 2011). BT was a close second with 0.5, then Orange on 0.44.

Virgin and Sky had far less broadband complaints, both tied on 0.19.

Mobile providers were also evaluated, and Three came out the worst here with a level of 0.15 complaints in 1000. There’s evidently far less complaining done about mobiles than fixed phone and broadband services.

All the other networks were clustered around 0.6 and 0.7, except O2 which was head of the pack with a low 0.2 complaint level.

Again, Three’s complaints were mostly caused by customer service issues and errant billing.

So to summarise Ofcom’s findings, when it comes to fixed phone and broadband, TalkTalk is the most complained about and Virgin the least. Sky also did pretty well.

For mobile, Three is the worst performer and O2 the best.

Website calls for world to dump Flash

A new ‘movement’ has emerged urging surfers to help get rid of Adobe Flash, which it claims is “holding back the web”.

Adobe announced that they would no longer be developing the software for mobiles a couple of weeks ago, but said they would continue working on Flash for the desktop PC.

Occupy Flash say in their manifesto that the software, and websites that rely on it, “present a completely inconsistent (and often unusable) experience for [a] fast-growing percentage of the users who don’t use a desktop browser.”

They also agree with the late Steve Jobs that it’s buggy, causes systems to crash, is a security risk and is closed standard software, which has which has no real place in changing web standards.

The goal of Occupy Flash is to convince the world that the software is no longer necessary and to uninstall it from their computers, thus forcing Adobe to discontinue development of the product completely.

Adobe have already said that they will be refocusing their efforts on developing in the HTML5 sphere, and ceasing working on Flash for the mobile platform will allow them to invest in more HTML5 work.

Whilst Occupy Flash point out that it’s clear that HTML5 has won the fight in the future of browsing, they say that Flash will continue to live on so long as it’s installed on people’s machines.

This, they go on to say, means that there will continue to be support for the plug-in and devs will carry on developing applications for it.

“The only way to truly force the web to embrace modern open standards is to invalidate old technology,” the manifesto claims.

They also point out that they are aware this will mean less functionality for users in the short term, but the more people who join the ‘movement’, the quicker Flash will fade into obscurity.

“This is not a campaign against Adobe, or even their Flash platform. We’re sure there are plenty of good uses for it, such as building great Air applications, for example,” Occupy Flash concede.

It would seem that if Adobe have already admitted that the future of the web lies with HTML5, then continuing to develop Flash for the PC platform seems akin to flogging a dead horse.

Occupy Flash offer the idea that Adobe should perhaps ‘man-up’ and support their cause like Microsoft did with the “IE6 funeral” last year.

They urge supporters to help the less technologically minded to get rid of Flash on their machines and use other resources, such as the YouTube HTML5 video player, and also to ask devs to stop developing for the plug-in.

In a final note, the campaigners say that their cause has no corporate backing, dismissing the idea that rival companies could be behind their efforts.

And in a final comment, they say that the “campaign is in no way meant to belittle the efforts of the more important Occupy movements currently going on.”

Mobiles more important than cars

Whilst mobile malware continues to grow rapidly, UK consumers aren’t doing enough to protect themselves, despite new stats that show mobile phones are more important to many people than cars.

Lookout Mobile Security, a security software vendor, has revealed that few of us take steps to ensure “this very personal device” is protected.

In a recent study, they found that 74% of mobile users don’t regularly back up personal data, and 85% have no way of locating their phone in the event it is lost or stolen.

The survey discovered that people are surprisingly emotionally attached to their phone and would choose to save it from a burning building over other items such as wallets, keys or sentimental keepsakes.

34% of respondents said that they check their device “every time they go to the toilet or make a cup of tea”, while a quarter check it every hour or every few minutes.

Over 50% of people asked said that they feel “frustrated or anxious when they lose their phone.”

60% said that they worry about losing their contacts and other information and 50% fear being hacked. However, only 4 out of 10 set a pin and just 25% carry out security updates when they become available.

“Mobile threats don’t discriminate based on where you are. They tend to be global, affecting people around the world,” said Lookout CEO and co-founder, John Hering.

“We are providing a simple way for people to protect their most personal and trusted devices.”

Lookout Mobile Security is a free app designed to protect users from malware, spyware and phishing scams, including malicious apps, and is available on the Android Market and the Apple App Store.

“Smartphones and tablets are our most personal computers. The survey reinforces just how important they are to people. As consumers continue to use their mobile devices both at work and at home, they should take steps to protect them and the personal information on them,” Hering added.

Ofcom introduces maps for UK comms coverage

Ofcom have announced the launch of maps in the UK which show the coverage enjoyed in different parts of the country, including mobile and mobile broadband.

The maps make up a part of the regulator’s initial report on the UK communications infrastructure, and are based on information from telecoms providers.

Ofcom are now required to provide a report to the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport every three years and the report will also refer to the “coverage and capacity of the UK’s landline network, digital radio and TV.”

The regulator said in a press release that they are “working closely with the government” to ensure that the £150 million fund intended to address mobile not-spots delivers “the greatest benefits for UK consumers”.

Currently 66% of the UK landmass can receive a 2G connection from all major networks as well as 97% of all premises in the country.

Ofcom have found that households enjoy considerably better coverage compared with geographic coverage as “mobile providers tend to prioritise investment in network infrastructure where the maximum number of consumers and businesses can be served.”

However, this essentially means that approximately 90,000 UK premises are left in a position where they don’t have a choice in providers due to coverage.

The situation with 3G is worse, with approximately 7.7 million UK premises not having the choice between all five of the major networks.

3G coverage is worse in less densely populated areas with 73% of premises enjoying an outdoor signal, and just 13% of the UK landmass able to receive a 3G signal for all of the five networks.

The worst coverage is found in parts of Scotland and Wales, mostly due to the hilly terrain, which is not well populated.

As smartphones and mobile devices continuing to enjoy enormous success, the demand is only set to increase.

The report shows that not only is the demand for mobile broadband growing, but so is that for fixed line broadband.

Residential customers are becoming more and more data-hungry with the average consumer using 17 GB of data per month.

“This is the equivalent to downloading more than 11 films per month, streaming 12 hours of BBC iPlayer HD video or more than 12 days of streaming audio content,” the regulator says.

Mobile broadband demand is currently averaging around 0.24 GB per month per connection.

Over the past five years, the extra demand is clear as traffic over the London Internet Exchange has increased seven-fold.

The new maps not only show how different areas in the UK rank for broadband coverage, but also that of DTT and DAB coverage.

“Each of the 200 areas of the UK has been ranked according to a score given for coverage and colour coded with green ranking highest and red lowest.”

For TV, the report shows that national coverage for DTT currently stands at 89% and at 91% for DAB public service broadcasting channels.

Ofcom’s Chief Technology Officer, Steve Unger, said: “This is our first report to the Government on the UK’s communications infrastructure.”

“We hope it will be a useful reference point for interested parties, particularly in the light of the recent Government funding package of £150million to help address mobile not-spots.”

Virgin Media bundles Spotify Premium

Virgin Media has announced a deal with Spotify whereby it will include the premium subscription version of the streaming music platform with its broadband and mobile services.

New customers signing up to Virgin’s fibre broadband and those re-subscribing to an XL package or better will get Spotify Premium free for the first six months.

That would normally run to nearly £60, and allows for unlimited listening to Spotify’s large library of 15 million tracks, plus benefits such as mobile and offline functionality.

What’s more, Spotify will also be offering content which will be exclusive to Virgin subscribers, with a VM Music tab carrying those tunes.

On the smartphone front, broadband customers who take out a new Virgin Mobile phone contract on certain specified handsets will again get Spotify Premium for free, although in this case for just half the time, three months.

However, the added bonus here is that Virgin won’t count any of the bandwidth used streaming music from Spotify towards your data allowance, so you really will be free to access unlimited amounts of music without worrying about being charged on the data front.

Virgin customers will, of course, be able to access Spotify through all platforms online and on their mobile, but also via Virgin Media’s TiVo powered digital TV service. An exclusive Spotify app for Virgin Media TiVo is planned for launch in the “coming weeks”.

And what if you’re already a subscriber to Spotify? You’ll still be able to redeem your offer for three or six free months of listening against your current subscription.

Andreas Liffgarden, Global Head of Telecom Business Development for Spotify, commented: “We are thrilled to be partnering with Virgin Media to offer music fans access to one of the biggest music libraries in the world at their fingertips, through broadband, mobile and – for the first time – TiVo.”

“Telcoms companies moving into the music space increases revenue streams to the music industry and provides benefits for fans and artists alike.”

Apparently Virgin also has further Spotify offers in the pipeline to be revealed in due course.

Facebook announces improvements to social gaming

In addition to the brand new app for iPad, Facebook have announced that they are extending their mobile platform in order to add “all the social channels that have helped apps and games reach hundreds of millions of users”.

Whilst the features that launched with the iPad app are still under development, Facebook says that they will “evolve as we learn more about building richer social experiences on mobile devices.”

They also say that they will be extending their support for platforms such as Android very soon.

Social channels have been improved so that when a user logs into Facebook via a mobile or iOS device, then app bookmarks will appear on the left navigation bar, just like they do for the main site.

Should the app not be installed on the device, then Facebook will automatically take the user to the App Store to get the mobile version.

Users will also be able to access the mobile version of any supported app from their newsfeed, and continue playing as they were on their computer.

The social media site has also extended Facebook Credits to support mobile web apps, which is a payment system for virtual goods.

“Of the 350 million people who use Facebook from mobile devices every month, roughly half of those users access Facebook through the web and half use native apps,” Facebook stated.

Many of these are social apps that depend on people playing together in order to get the most from the games.

Facebook says they have been working with “leading developers to create great new mobile web apps and we’re just getting started.”

As we reported yesterday, the Facebook for iPad app already has Flixster installed and this can be added to with apps from EA, Zynga, Wooga, The Huffington Post and Audiovroom, amongst others.

The apps can be accessed on your phone or tablet and most are built with HTML5, which works on iOS, Android and other devices.

Developers interested in learning more about HTML5 features and app building may be interested in Facebook’s Mobile Hack event in Silicon Valley on October 28th.

Mobile malware up by 273%

Mobile malware is up 273% in the first half of 2011, according to a report by AVG Antivirus.

The report cites a study by fellow security experts G Data as the source for the figures, which also states that the increase is so vast a new malware strain is detected every 12 second, on average.

The biggest threats are seen to be “cross-platform” Trojans, which have the ability to infect more than one operating system.

Two of the highest profile infections this year were NickiBot and Zsone. Nickibot monitors user activity and “may come in the form of a fake Google+ application” which sends your location information and data to an attacker.

The amount of Zsone infections has risen in the Android market, malware which signs users up to a premium rate Chinese SMS service. This also comes in the form of an app and can only be detected by checking your bill.

G Data told AVG that infection rates and new malware is expected to continue its rapid growth rate, eventually reaching a total of 2.5 million for 2011, compared with just over 2 million for 2010.

A report in July said that the government is set to launch an enquiry into the effects of malware in the UK.

The Science and Technology Select Committee is expected to look into whether more should be done to combat cyber-crime, and will also examine the impact on the individual.

Users of mobile devices should be careful what apps they download and try to ensure they are from a trusted source. Once downloaded, it is wise to check that permissions are not asking to take too many liberties, and that no settings have been altered.

Users should also avoid clicking on links from unknown sources such as those found on social media sites.

A good AV solution should also be installed and regularly updated to ensure that any malicious software can be picked up should it hit your system.

Owners of smartphones and tablet devices should also take care when connecting to an unsecured wireless connection and try to ensure that they know where the Wi-Fi source is located.

Tesco provides best mobile contract deals

The latest survey carried out by Which? has found that many people, even those who hardly use their mobile phone could save up to £100 per year by switching networks.

Which says that there are plenty of deals and services out there, but there’s “a big difference between the best and worst mobile networks”. The differences are usually most apparent in customer service, which the watchdog claims “there’s no need to compromise on […] to get the best deal.”

Which reckons that many of the biggest providers in the UK often provide the worst service, as reflected in customer satisfaction scores.

Tesco Mobile came out on top for contracts and are recommended by Which, with good scores on customer service, range of handsets, cost and roaming prices.

However, Which noted: “The rest of the operators’ overall scores fall well short of Tesco’s 74%, with O2 and T-Mobile being the closest challengers, followed by Virgin Mobile, Vodafone and Orange.”

3 performed the worst, coming out with a lowly 49% in Which’s customer evaluation for pay monthly contracts.

In PAYG, Asda offers the best deal, although the number of handsets on offer was the supermarket’s worst performing area, whilst Tesco sneaked in just behind them followed by O2.

Overall performance in PAYG was better than in pay monthly with three operators, Asda, Tesco and O2 all achieving “Recommended Provider status.”

However, T-Mobile and Virgin Mobile came bottom in this area with what Which describe as “lacklustre scores”.

When Which looked at how much typical Pay As You Go users spend per month with the major networks, it was found that most users could save money by switching to cheaper deals.

In this case then, that would be Tesco, not only do they provide less expensive calling, but they are also top on customer service, which is important to all of us.

And of course Asda was found favourable on price for PAYG users, but that supermarket didn’t perform as well as Tesco all round.

More features rolled out for Facebook Mobile

Facebook has announced the roll-out of more functions for mobile users, concentrating mainly on security aspects. Social media addicts can now report photos, posts or comments and have them removed via their phone should they find them offensive. A change … Continue reading