Tag Archives: 4G

Blackout: EE Apologises for Network Outage. How did you survive?

The UK’s largest 4G mobile operator has apologised for an outage last night that left users without signal.

Continue reading Blackout: EE Apologises for Network Outage. How did you survive?

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Dave Wants A ‘Revolution’: Hates Slow Broadband

UK Prime Minister, David Cameron, has outlined his master plan for world domination  Spectrum Strategy for the UK’s connected future. Emphasising that he wants a ‘revolution’, not like the French revolution, but a bit more technical.

Continue reading Dave Wants A ‘Revolution’: Hates Slow Broadband

N.O.W: PS4 More Popular than XBOX One, Steam’s Living room crusade and Hallelujah Apple

This week on Gadget Nibble N.O.W, Tom takes a look at the news in the gaming industry as a turbulent week of announcements by Steam look to change the future of the living room. Sony and Microsoft looks to be diverging from each other, a rift has developed and Steam is now going to try and muzzle in on some sofa action. But did Valve take the easy route? Plus Microsoft’s Surface mini might be around the corner – ready to take on the iPad mini. Apple has made us rejoice, divine intervention has forced Apple to release a patch and iOS 7 became that little less ‘buggy’.

Please note all content used in Gadget Nibbles’ videos belong to their respective owners. Gadget Nibble does not accept and responsibility or ownership of content used in our blogs. Gadget Nibble recognises the original owners of all content used in this video.

Thanks for watching.

Samsung breaks 5G speeds

Well I hadn’t even been graced with the generous speeds of 4G and we’re talking about the next generation of mobile technology. Samsung has been pushing the pack forward in recent months in their highly sensitive and secretive design labs, their engineers have supposedly developed technology that could sit “at the core of 5G” communication in years to come. 4G was the latest generation of mobile communication that the UK has tried to adopt – but has so far been unsuccessful in fully embracing the newest network on the countries main providers. The UK lags behind the likes of Europe and the USA in terms of mobile communications, China is also a market who has yet to fully adopt 4G speeds and this fragmentation of technology means we will soon face road blocks in compatibility and versatility.

The latest Samsung tech has been tested and has shown that it can transmit speeds of up to 1GBps across distances of over 2.1 km,  Samsung has suggested the technology could be used for streaming ultra high definition content and consuming large data files. Experts have quashed their findings and have asked for speeds to be put in real life contexts and scenarios – not fabricated under lab conditions. Professor Rahim Tafazolli who has a lead on 5G design at Surrey University said it was:

“a small part of the larger jigsaw”

purple-4g-logo-1024x635Samsung has said it has invented the world first “adaptive array transceiver” to allow parts of the Ka frequency band of radio spectrum to be  used for cellular transmissions. Samsung has said as a by-product of the invention it hopes consumers will be able to consume large quantities of content such as 3D films, real time streaming and remote servers on the move. Professor Tafazolli added he believed it would be several years before the 5G standard is completed and implemented in markets worldwide. Current industry analysts believe the concern shouldn’t lie with the development of new technologies but how we make the current generations of 3G and 4G speeds accessible to a wider audience – the newest 4G spectrum hasn’t even been rolled out on a national scale in the UK and many feel the prices of such tariffs are too extreme.

Samsung could see this become a lucrative innovation if it passes testing – manufacturers would have to pay Samsung to implement their technology to allow their phones to connect to the super fat network. Samsung could become the monopoly in the market, but this is all hypothetical. Currently the market faces an issue with disjointed and confusing tariffs and the inconsistent accessibility of 4G speeds nationwide. The USA and Europe lead ahead of the UK and the government doesn’t seem to really care. Mobile infrastructure is what will allow businesses and industries to communicate – and this is how we can attract them, through ensuring we have the ‘best’ infrastructure readily available.

The UK hasn’t implemented 4G fully yet, the likes of the USA and Europe may have already done so – so we will have to see if we get left in the dark in mobile evolution or will we catch up…

HTC Posts record low profits: Has the time come?

HTC have always been an well known and trusted brand in the mobile phone market. The firm has moved along a lot in the mobile market – from selling notebooks to high end smartphones. They have been biting at the heels of their competition now for over 14 years, but on Monday HTC Corp posted record low quarterly profits and dismal product delays. HTC may have just peaked…

HTC Corporation, established by Cher Wang and Peter Chou, have a long history of generating market ‘firsts’ and stimulating innovation and growth throughout the industry. In 1998 they began work on the first wireless and touch screen mobiles, 2002 saw them announce the first Microsoft powered smartphone. Again in 2005 they introduced the first 3G Microsoft phone and later followed this up with the HTC EVO 4G in 2010, the first 4G enabled HTC One_Silver_3Vdevice to hit the USA. Since then they have made several strategic moves, such as acquiring 51% of Beats shares  in 2011 and implementing Beats technology into later devices as a major selling point. As well as this they had received “Device Manufacturer of the year” 2011 at Mobile World Congress and later went on to become the biggest mobile vendor in Q3 2011 in the US.

But now most of the shine has rubbed off and we are sadly looking at a much more fragile and withered company.  HTC have for a long time been seen to be on the back foot of the mobile game. After gaining top mobile seller in Q3 2011 – market shares plummeted to below 9% with the rise of Apple and Samsung. HTC has since released several flagship models, the HTC One X did not succeed as expected in the market and HTC’s reliance on mobile providers to wholly  advertise their devices failed in the light of Samsung’s and Apple’s harsh advertising campaigns. HTC was lost in the ‘WOW’ between Samsung and Apple. Therefore current CEO, Peter Chou, has placed a great amount of pressure on the launch of HTC’s latest flagship model for 2013, the HTC One – and has commented stating that if the phone was to fail, he would resign.

Seduced by the hype around the HTC One, announced in February, the device contains a 13 megapixel camera, Android 4.1.2, 4.7 inch 1080P screen, 2GB RAM and a quad core processor – equally matching the likes of Apple’s iPhone 5, and a possible alternative to the new Galaxy S 4. Yet as consumers begin to queue up outside their nearest tech retailers, somebody is going to have to tell them they will need to wait a little longer. After a shortage of camera parts HTC has delayed a launch of the HTC One in many markets around the world. At the end of Q1 HTC intended for availability in 80 markets world wide, but have only achieved this in 3. It does not expect, nor do suppliers, to be able to launch the HTC One in North America, Europe or Asia by the end of April – to the disappointment of many fans.

While Samsung Electronics has announced the Galaxy S 4 will be available in 155 countries by the end of April.

HTC reported unaudited net profits of T$85 million, that is compared to the T$10.9 billion same time last year. To date, the latest profits are HTC’s lowestimages since 2004. Analysts are now becoming concerned at the companies continued failure and consumers are noticing a change in company movements. HTC will face a backlash when trying to market low end devices in Q3-Q4. Nevertheless HTC has partnered with Facebook in recent weeks to announce Facebook Home, another take on an Android OS, HTC hopes that the joint work on Home and the exclusive pre install that Facebook can offer HTC on their HTC First device would be enough to draw back buyers. Sadly I don’t think this will be enough. HTC’s First will come preinstalled with Facebook Home, but apart from that will remain a low end Android phone, HTC will not have a large enough distribution or unique features to profit from the launch of ‘First’.

“The Facebook phone is not enough to turn HTC around,” said Daiwa analyst Birdy Lu.

HTC have lost their way. Several failed phones down the line, shares have halved in value over the last 12 months. HTC had betted on the HTC One being their saviour – but the delayed launch and problems with supplies is not a good omen. Now the news comes from other sources as well, that if you were indeed able to get your hands on a HTC One, and the supplier was O2 – you would not receive a charger. Well thats just dandy. This may be more up to O2’s policy makers but nevertheless it only opens up networks to flog even more junk off to consumers after purchasing a new mobile. Either way HTC have hit a bit of turbulence in their journey through the market, it is up to their management and suppliers to decide if they make it safe out the other side – or if their plane disintegrates in a storm. The public can be forgiving, I don’t feel the delay will cause much added woes for them. But HTC must be able to produce a superior devices with enough power and use behind it to get back on their track.

HTC One – The One and Only?

20130325-223702.jpg

HTC has slowly slipped behind the likes of their competition such as Apple and Samsung. Therefore it hopes that the HTC one is a top end phone to revive a stale company. Thankfully first impressions leave nothing to be shrugged off. When we have previously discussed the likes of the iPhone 5 – with its bells and whistles, aluminium back and diamond cut edges – you instantly recognise style and yet many rush home to cover their latest beauty icon in a 4 inch thick lead casing. The issues of domestic hazards such as drops, falls and the occasional acidic food splats means that the iPhone becomes less of an practically usable phone. The HTC One is built to shade those diamond eyed iPhone lovers to dance with the devil and take up the HTC brand. The full metal rear, beveled edges and side to side screen mean that HTC has pulled every hat out of the bag to gain loyal Apple users. However the One does repeat a mistake Apple did well to amend, the curved backing makes it comfortable to hold yet very unstable when typing.

The phone is again loaded with the fastest, sharpest and loudest set of features we’ve seen in one mobile. With a 4.7inch screen that reaches the dizzy heights of Full HD at 1920X1080 the screen has the sharpest quality seen on the market. Samsung has only just announced the Samsung Galaxy S 4 with a 441ppi – yet the HTC One tops this with 464ppi. Nevertheless this phone isn’t perfect – as mobiles get bigger and bigger the HTC One sticks with a 4.7inch screen when most of its competitors have adopted a larger 5inch screen, which makes if easier to read web pages and emails.

iphoneAlthough besting the Galaxy S 4 in screen PPI the Korean phone trumps on the pure power with either 1.9Ghz quad core processor or 1.7 octa core processor this outweighs the quad core 1.7Ghz processor of the One. As well as the processor the Galaxy S 4 also has a larger battery – which would come in handy for powering the larger screen. So keep in mind, do you want to be carrying a charger or several batteries with you every time you go out for a day. The HTC One comfortably beats the competition when it comes to audio – housing dual stereo Beat speakers means during testing it produced a clear and loud output alongside decent bass and vocals. On the other hand the camera is by far the most peculiar part of the phone, with only a 4 MegaPixel camera it relies on the software enhancements, optics and stabilisation to produce bette quality photos than the likes of Apple and Samsung’s 8 and 13 Megapixel cameras. They boast the Ultrapixel technology provides 300% more light and can capture 20 images at one – nowadays megapixels aren’t everything but they sure do help when it comes to quality photos.

When discussing the interface and user design – we have to consider OS. The likes of the iPhone which runs the highly successful IOS, is complete opposite,to the environment of android. But the comparison of the two is another story. But at a basic level, IOS can offer the user simple and efficient access to a wide variety of applications and a tried and tested method of use. Apple’s ‘walled garden’ App Store is its key strength – the diverse and wide range of apps that can be found are not comparable to any other platform. Whereas android is a far more flexible and customisable operating system, it has a unique and enjoyable user interface. Previously HTC Sense, the added skin that HTC adds to their android experience, has in the past been criticised – but HTC has pushed forward with a revamp for the HTC One. sense 5.0 provides even more customisation and widgets giving One owners a one over iPhone users.

Overall the HTC One is a clear stab at stealing loyal iPhone users, currently many manufacturers are jumping onboard the Apple poaching wagon as companies feed off the gloomy annoyance of long time Apple goers for their idols lack of innovation. I feel the HTC One is not a revolution in innovation neither does it show a leap in mobile progression. Yep – HTC’s engineers have out done themselves and conjured a phone worthy of comparison with the iPhone. Some of its features out smart epithets iPhone and even the Galaxy S 4. Some 20130325-223647.jpgaspects of the HTC One show compromise, such as the camera and possibly a lack of change in the implementation of HTC Sense – nevertheless the HTC One will lead an anti iPhone movement and you won’t be required to bail out a countries banks to get your hands on one. In the long term we will have to wait to see if HTC’s gamble will pay off and steal loyal iPhone users but currently it is clear that new users will love this device but Apple lovers may be steaming through their ears in envy of new features…

Samsung Galaxy S 4 vs. Apple iPhone 5: A universe apart?

On the 14th March 2013 Samsung launched their latest smartphone to take on Apples iPhone 5, along with the rest of the mobile industry, the Galaxy S 4. The smartphone war has now been existent since 2010, with Apples first lawsuit claim against Samsung, but now we have travelled a few years down the line the tension between platforms is still sky high. With millions of us consumers forking out for a new phone every 12 months the competition is on between manufacturers to grab attention and boast about their latest device. Innovation is prized upon by the critics – the device with the latest bells and whistles can sometimes prove to be superior. Nevertheless a good and well rounded user experience can still offer a overall better device. Samsung, now the worlds largest mobile manufacturer with a 30% smartphone market share in 2012, now faces competition from the likes of its arch enemy Apple, who currently holds a mere 19% market share. Samsung and Apple have been in a constant  headlock to flaunt their latest and greatest in the consumer window – but while these two giants fight it out the rest of the market watches and learns. Eying the mistakes and successes both companies endure.

Either way their is a lot of competition in the mobile market, and when it comes to buying a new smartphone you can feel slightly overwhelmed at the imagesbombardment of advertising and decisions to make. This has provided excitement for the industry, the prospect of an unknowing and uncertain consumer has allowed companies to take advantage and sell more through persuasion. Right now Samsung and Apple are the current contenders for the smartphone crown. The Galaxy S 3 previously broke sales records and Apples iPhone had until recently been the best selling and dominant smartphone around. So when one of the big two release a new product their is always hype from both fanboys and critics. But to compare truly which is the best phone we must look at the facts, user experience and previous products. Lets not be prejudice about either product here, but merely take a factual and representative look at both the iPhone 5 and the Samsung Galaxy S 4.

Fight!

Both phones could not be further apart in software and design ethos, Apple remains to hold a closed ecosystem through its IOS and iTunes interfaces. This provides them with quality control and compatibility assurance – but compromises on diversity and openness. While Samsung has taken the alternate route of enduring with Android, providing through Google a list of services and App market places free for anyone to post upon and divulge in. The has allowed the Android Play Store to become a vibrant and diverse centre for apps, but the fragmented and varying list of dependant devices does not always assure that your app will work. Samsung has had a schedule of releasing mobiles at the beginning of the year, while Apple does so in the 3rd quarter. This has always seem to put Apple on the chase of Samsung – this is most likely a clever Samsung advertising ploy. Yet the hardware and software experience must be weighed up for both consumer and manufacturing benefits. Lets take a look at the physical specifications of each device. The simple facts laid bare:

Specifications 

Apple iPhone 5

Samsung Galaxy S 4

Brand

Apple Samsung

Launch date

September 21st 2012

April 26th 2013

Dimensions

128.8mm(H) X 58.6mm(W)X7.6mm (D) 136.6mm(H)X69.8 mm(W)X7.9 mm (D)

Weight

112g

130g

Operating System

IOS 6

Android 4.2.2 Jelly Bean

CPU

1.3GHz Dual Core Apple A6 1.6 GHz quad-core Cortex-A15 and 1.2 GHz quad-core Cortex-A7 or 1.9 GHz quad-core Krait 300
GPU PowerVR SGX543MP3

IT Tri-core PowerVR SGX 544 GPU or Adreno 320 GPU

Memory

1GB RAM 2GB RAM

Storage

16, 32 or 64 GB

16, 32 or 64 GB

Removable Storage

N/A

Up to 64 GB microSDXC

Display

4 inch (16:9 ratio)

5 inch

Resolution 640 x 1,136 pixels

1920 x 1080

PPI

326 ppi

441 ppi

Rear Camera

8MP, 1080p HD video

13MP, 1080p HD video

Front facing Camera

1.2MP, 720p HD video 2MP

Battery

1440 mAh (not replaceable)

2600 mAh (user replaceable)

Connectivity

Wi-Fi (802.11 a/b/g/n), Bluetooth 4.0,GPS & GLONASS,Quad-band GSM/GPRS/EDGE (850, 900, 1800,1900 MHz),Quad-band UMTS/HSDPA+/DC-HSDPA (850, 900, 1900, 2100 MHz) Wi-Fi (802.11 a/b/g/n/ac)GPS/GLONASSNFCBluetooth 4.0IR LEDMHL 2.0

Super fast 4G LTE

Penta – bands LTE 1,3,5

4G LTE All bands

Colour White & silver/Black & slate

White frost/Black mist

The facts stack up well for the Samsung Galaxy S 4, but today specs are no longer enough to sell a product. We are reliant on past experience and user reviews. The operating systems comes into play and the companies ‘cool’ factor. So lets have a look at some of those in a more finer detail…

Operating system and user experience: It is all about preference.

As mentioned both devices rely on two very different pieces of software. Apple has built from the ground up a well baked and efficient OS, originally labelled imageiPhone OS – now known as IOS. This variant of the Mac OS operating system brings the Macs security, ease of use and compatibility to the mobile device. IOS however is not known for its freedom and liberty. In 2008 Apple introduced the App Store, a place for developers to post and users to download mobile applications. Yet to ensure the deices remains secure and appropriative content is placed on the store Apple has a submission and censorship process over the App store. Apple has a strict admissions policy and apps must conform to these rules to be accepted onto the store. This has led to a ‘garden wall’ effect on the IOS app store and developers have criticised Apple for a overbearing ‘Big brother’ type enforcement of these rules. At the end of the day this means the user will have less variety to select from and indefinitely may drive away some developers. On the other hand this means if you buy an iPhone you’re guaranteed all the apps (as long as your device is not outdates) to work on your phone. Which is were Google and Samsung hit a snag. The Android Play store that serves the Galaxy S 4 also serves several other hundred Android smartphones. This means that compatibility is an issue – Google does not regulate the store like Apple – believing in a free open source store and platform, each app may be intended to run on different size screens, processors and user inputs. This can lead to a fragmented and frustrating experience. Yet this method ensures that, although they may not function, a user a a wide variety to select apps from and most – compared to the IOS store – are free on Google Play.
jelly-bean_large_verge_medium_landscapeIOS has not changed in all of its 5 years – Apple has kept its user interface practically identical over all its updates. The constant setup of 4/5 rows of rounded box icons and a dock at the bottom that can hold several more, along with pages to store these icons has remained untouched. The user is entitled to as many home screens as possible, and can sort their apps into folders – but apart from setting a lock screen and home wallpaper that is as far as customisation goes. In recent updates Apple has introduced a Notifications bar (previously found on Android) and a new alert system. On the other hand Google has changed the way Android looks more than can be remembered. From the humble abode of Froyo to Jelly Bean their are now many different widgets, live tiles and apps that can be pinned to the home screen. Still the basic principle of several central home locations – Android provides customisation on a different level – the ability for information to be instantly available and ready compared to the static icons in IOS gives an advantage to the information freaks among us. This can sometimes make the home screen cluttered and users now complain of over complication of the Android experience. Android, unlike IOS, is more prone to security breaches – the unmonitored store allows for malware and the lack of security at OS level can prove a problem. The fact that Google’s Android is present on many handsets also means that the individual manufacturer is in charge of distributing updates and placing proprietary UI on top. Samsung has been relatively good with broadcasting latest Android updates and its TouchWiz UI has become a elegant extra to the Galaxy experience.  Google has generated a well built and adaptable OS – but at the end of the day it is personal preference. When buying a new smartphone you must factor in the OS – IOS will provide a secure, stable and abundantly rich source of applications through an ageing interface. Whilst Google can offer a diverse and intensifying range of apps that can’t be guaranteed to work – as well as unbelievable customisation and user adjustment. But if you want continued support and ensured investment it may be possible to consider an iPhone. Google works hard with manufacturers to ensure everyone can have the latest software update but some don’t play nice. So your new phone may be outdated in several months time. Yet as Apple is the primary distributor – currently they continue to support phones for at least 3 – 4 years down the line.

Unique selling points: Gimmicky features?

Either phone has it’s unique advantages. When discussing displays the iPhone has a 640 x 1136 display with 326 ppi. When released on the iPhone 4 in iphone-retina-display2010 it was the best screen on the market. But now as the competition has caught up, the once Retina display – named as the eye can not distinguish individual pixels above 300 ppi – seems a little outdated. Samsung is introducing a new spectrum of displays – the iPhone adopted a rather peculiar and non standard display ratio. This meant it produced black bars when playing content. This has been revised in the iPhone 5 as it has a 16:9 ratio – but does not feature a full HD display. On the other hand the Galaxy S 4 now has a standard 1920 x 1080 display – meaning it can play all Full HD content from your TV and films on the smaller 5 inch screen. This gives the device a whopping 441 ppi – not saying the Retina display was bad – but this will provide eye popping contrast and clarity on a mobile scale. The iPhone 5 has a smaller display than the Galaxy S 4, but Apple argues this is the perfect size for one handed use. Yet some consumers do crave the greater pixels for the ever immersive content they consume.

The iPhones design is most likely it’s biggest selling point. Apple is  for the luxury products and perfectionist tastes. Designer Sir Johnny Ive has received several awards including a knighthood for services to design. Apple has without a doubt gone to a second level with the iPhone 5. It has an industrial and robust feel the the phone. Made from a solid block of pure aluminium and inset with glass inlays. The phone is now ugly duck. Arriving in two colours both white and black, either model is complimented by diamond chamfered edges – which give the phone it’s iconic look. Yet durability may have been compromised for  style. The aluminium back is reported to scratch very easily and can be dented – which Apple will not cover under warranty. So for a out going back packer – the iPhone 5 may not be a welcome companion. Yet at only 112g and 7.6mm thin it is one of the worlds lightest and thinnest phones. On the contrary Samsung has taken another approach to design. Its use of material is less expensive than Apple. The Samsung Galaxy S 4 features a textured polycarbonate backing and glass front. Although this material is, in some cases, more durable than the aluminium iPhone 5 – the plastic has now seemed to reach a sticking point with my liking. It now resembles – although it is not – a cheap and compromised product. I wish Samsung would be able to rethink it’s design ethos to improve the Galaxy S 4. Yet the G S 3 sold remarkably, and the G S 4 is practicably identical – so why fix something that isn’t broken? Weighing in at a heavier 130g it still won’t pull your trousers down. And in a thinner design than last years model proves to be a great improvement. Compared to the iPhone the Galaxy S 4 allows for a removable battery in its design. So this may be another feature to consider – when you would have to carry and extra charger for your iPhone.

Conclusion…

Both phones offer features such as wireless streaming, video calling and basic social connectivity. In general Apple’s ecosystem provides a better finished, complete and intuitive method of completing each task while Samsung and Google provide a comprehensive and in depth user customisation and liberal access. Android is known for it’s varying app store and has it’s advantages in user customisation. Yet this can compromise the stability of the system and result in compatibility and running errors. Apple has overcome this with its regulations and control – you are ensured a smooth and ‘Apple like’ experience. The ‘walled garden’ does limit diversity and freedom but developers, so far, have managed to work around this.

Basically it is up to personal preference. Currently the only advantages the Galaxy S 4 may have over the iPhone may also be seen as a disadvantage. Samsung has introduced features such as Smart Pause – which tracks eye movement to control the screen – this sounds great but could prove a problem with erratic and uncontrollable eye movements. As well as the feature such as Dual camera that uses the front facing camera to place the photographer into the video scene. All these newly announced attributes could be seen as gimmicky by Samsung, who previously had released major updates. Yet the iPhone has also had its fair share of criticism – the lack of recent innovation and adoption of technology such as NFC has led fans to become restless. But if your buyingiphone a new phone this Spring you have the best opportunities and knowledge to make an informed decision. Apple has always been seen to provide a top quality product – and now has an air of coolness about their products and launches. Yet Samsung now has creeped in the ring with a rebellious sense. The Galaxy S 4 represents a rebellion against the iPhones dominance and can show off a persons creativity. Overall you must weigh up your personal needs. If an iPhone offers all you need, with its long battery life, ease of use and well oiled OS. Or buy the Samsung Galaxy S 4 which will wow you with customisation and screen real estate. It is a personal choice, and no one will look differently dependant on your purchase.

Development of the mobile phone: 4G and the price to pay

The UK has been behind in the mobile network race for many years now. Lacking in uptake for 3G bandwidth back in 2008, it wasn’t really till the launch of the highly successful iPhone 3G, that propelled both consumers and competitive manufacturers to boast that 3G was the way forward over current EDGE signals. Mobile operators have dictated what we can and can’t do on our phones for quite some time now. In 1946 the first ever telephone calls were made and later Bell System’s Mobile Telephone Service was created on 17th June, these devices first used where mainly installed in cars and compromised of vacuum tubes and relays. In all weighing over 36Kg (80 pounds). This is most likely the main reason why mobile phones did not catch on till the late 80’s. Motorola pushed for the development of mobile devices in 1973, their target to use a mobile telephone anywhere. Researchers at Motorola made the first call on a handheld mobile phone on 3 April 1973 to their rival, of Bell Labs, the phone able to communicate long range over a mobile network. This technology would herald the multi-billion dollar network companies that we all love to hate today.

“As I walked down the street while talking on the phone, sophisticated New Yorkers gaped at the sight of someone actually moving around while making a phone call.” Martin Cooper Motorola Researcher

The world’s first commercial automated cellular network was launched in Japan by NTT in 1979, the UK, Canada and Europe would be to follow in the mid 80’s. Due to its size people would nickname the Motorola device the “brick”, it would become popular amongst businesses and would connect companies globally. Yet not really take hold in the consumer market until the early 90’s with the relasese of smaller devices from the likes of Nokia’s NMT-900.history_06

Mobile networks saw chances to make money at this point in time, the first networks only offering 1G analog signals, mobile providers rejoiced at the development of 2G in the late 90’s. It enhanced efficiency over the spectrum led to the adoption of SMS messaging and limited data services, of course at a relatively astonishing price. The great influx of mobile phone usage in the late 90’s and in the early years of the next millennium had paved the way for a new communication era. Mobile phone networks cashed in on the billions that us consumers spent topping up phone sims and paying out lengthy contract. The mobile had been seen as the new ‘cool’ way to communicate and no more evident of this was in teenagers. In recent studies researchers identified that only 38% of people who now buy a mobile phone will use it to make a phone call. Considering this is the primary use of any phone – are we not becoming addicted to social media and the internet. The mobile phone has developed beyond the utility used to ‘call’ our friends and family when we aren’t near a landline phone. Its primary use today: the internet. Social media and connectivity to services for example YouTube, required a new faster generation of the mobile network, a new device. And the devices that started these revolutions haven’t slowed down in sales figures to this day.

2007 saw the release of the Apple iPhone, a major landmark in the stereotypical ‘touchscreen smartphone’, Steve Jobs and his Cupertino crew had managed to pull off one of the biggest commercial gambles that industry has seen in some time, would anyone buy a phone from a computer company? But yes they did, and continue to till this day: but the Apple iPhone led the way for the floodgates to be open to the now saturated smart device market. With the launch of the iPhone and like devices came the question about connectivity. How do so many people access their content on the go, through their phone without WiFI? Well again welcome the mobile operators, who along with companies such as Apple and Blackberry (at the time) innovated the path for 3G, the third generation of mobile communications. It brought fast mobile internet, greater cellular range, a more efficient spectrum and to the thanks of those government agencies; enhanced security. Nevertheless just as Motorola’s ‘brick’ wasn’t really adopted, so was 3G, left to the side, seen as a “nice to have” for the next year. UK mobile networks such as O2 boasted their 3G capability but the market still did not exist. Industry also had their fears over 3G:

“The 3G chipsets are real power hogs,” Steve Jobs

Again it took Apple in 2008 to release the iPhone 3G to allow 3G to take off. It therefore seems to be reaching a pattern in the technology industry, the fact that new technology appears and industry rushes to deploy it, yet consumers do not seem bothered. It takes a company such as Nokia in the 90’s and now Apple in 2008 to show consumers the possible potential in real life situations this technology could have. Yet we do not seem to be at this stage yet with 4G. Whilst 70% of us today now own a smartphone, the wonders of the 3G network have truly reached their limit. The spectrum again, as it did in the 80’s faces becoming oversubscribed. And without a new economically feasible option left for mobile users, what would happen next? LTE in the US has been around imagefor some years now, 4G LTE can offer high speed internet connectivity to that of home broadband, greater range and even more efficient spectrum allocation. Carriers such as Verizon and Sprint offer the most comprehensive of deals at a modest price compared to European providers. Europe and the UK still have not grasped the full potential of the 4G signal; just as they did in 2007. In the UK, currently only one mobile operator can provide consumers with ‘super fast” mobile internet – EE. Everything Everywhere (a merger of T Mobile and Orange) one the rights from Ofcom to use its spare bandwidth accumulated from the mobile merger in late 2012. Just as normally does when as government body is involved this apparent unfair advantage given to EE has allowed for a one tier market.

British consumers are now limited in their choice of 4G providers. The likes of Vodafone, O2, and 3 having to wait to battle to the death when Ofcom releases spare bandwidth for auction; yet again these providers have been stabbed in the back by Ofcom as the spare bandwidth on offer would not be compatible with most 4G phones. Considering we live in a democratic and free society, do you not think that our markets that we chose to buy utilities such as our mobile phones should be too? Well without the auction from Ofcom only EE can offer 4G in the UK, and at extraordinary prices. Prices which push them far out of the reach to the likes of the common consumer, which is wrong. For new technology such as 4G to become effective, useful and feasible, it must be available to everybody; not who ever can pay the most. Vodafone’s CEO has already said that:

“I haven’t seen any figures but when I visited an EE store to see how fast it was all I saw was technofreaks in there,”

With the release of 4G to the UK via EE, it is clear compromises will be made. Only today have reports been issued suggesting millions of TV users will be affected by the role out of 4G, a total of 2.3 million homes will experience significant TV signal loss due to the new 4G masts. One of the frequencies on offer during the 4G auction, 800MHz, sits alongside the 700MHz spectrum used for Freeview; which when available to the likes of O2 and Vodafone will mean anyone within a 1.25 mile radius of a mast would face near to none coverage for the TV sets. Obviously for new infrastructure people have to come to agreements, but seeing as it has not even been a year since to digital switchover from analogue TV to digital many still are paying the cost of Freeview installation; now face having no signal at all.

The mobile phone networks have developed miles in the last 20 years, people could not have imagined making a video call in the 80’s let alone without it being plugged in to several hundred modems and power sockets. But do we need to sacrifice already existing infrastructure of millions to bring an expensive and overpriced technology to only those privileged enough to afford the £50 a month contracts? The bottom line is this, without development of infrastructure the UK can expect to remain behind in the mobile race. Of course cost implications need to be worked out, but as is currently, mobile users through contracts will be a able to pay off the investment required. To overcome the current bank busting prices more subscribers to 4G contracts are needed to subsidise these costs. But as a nation we have to decide if the short term cost outweigh the long term advantages – does the UK want to remain competitive in the mobile industry?