Business mobile connectivity

A Solution to The Fixed Mobile Convergence Dilemma.

A simple FMC redirect server could be the answer

Classically a FMC solution that works with mainstream Hosted Platforms employs SIP soft clients running on smartphones and relies on either wifi or the mobile data network for connectivity. The Netaxis solution uses the mobile voice channel offering more reliable connectivity with less drain on the handset battery.


I’ve been in the VoIP game for a good 16 years now and for much of that time convergence has been a subject of debate. The initial VoIP pitch was converging onto a single network. Then Communications Providers began converging services onto one bill. Single point of contact. One throat to choke if it goes wrong. Easy enough really.

The whole issue of Fixed Mobile Convergence has been a little thornier. Unless you own a mobile network then this is not a readily achievable goal. It’s easy enough to provide VoIP clients for mobile devices. I use CSIP Simple for example. However this just provides mobility to your fixed line and depends on the availability of good IP network connectivity. Call quality is very hit and miss and whilst I haven’t properly tested it  (probably difficult to do anyway) it certainly feels as if battery life is not as good.

Netaxis PIE redirect server

Recently I’ve been doing some work with Netaxis Solutions of Belgium. These are a neat bunch of engineers with long experience in the telecoms game. As well as having an established systems integration business (string of equipment vendor certs) they have developed a number of essential telco software services as a result of demand from their Benelux based Tier 1 and Tier 2 customers.

The software modules include: ENGO fraud management, DORY cal simulator, PIE provisioning server and NEMO network monitoring and management software.

Netaxis have now moved into Fixed Mobile Convergence by extending the capabilities of their PIE server. When used in conjunction with a softswitch platform such as Broadsoft, Microsoft or Cisco HCS PIE acts as a redirect server between the fixed and mobile networks. Tango of Luxembourg have already launched services with three others in the pilepline.

What does it look like to the end-user?

Companies can easily integrate employees mobile devices with their company phone system (be it a CP provided hosted solution or their own). Employees making calls can choose to have those calls seen as coming from their own mobile number or that of the company. Inbound calls to either fixed or mobile numbers are controlled by the hosted PBX and routed as required.

How it actually works

Mobile user can choose between 2 modes: “business” and “private” (personal).

  • In private mode handset acts just like a “normal” mobile device showing the mobile CLI.
  • In business mode mobile phone becomes a new Broadsoft (or Cisco HCS or Skype for Business) user device aka a PC client or deskphone. Calls initiated by the mobile device will be handled by Broadsoft as if they were a Broadsoft user and will show the fixed CLI associated with their user account.

Inbound calls to a Broadsoft user will initiate parallel calls to all subscribed devices for that account including the mobile device. For calls to voicemail the pertinent mailbox will be used – business voice mail for Broadsoft and mobile voice mail for private usage. For billing, business calls will generate Broadsoft Call Data Records. Private calls will generate mobile network CDRs.

Why is this important?

This proposition has several very positive business benefits for Network Operators.

  • A incentive for existing fixed customers to add mobile minutes
  • An enticement for CPs who are not yet customers

Do you need a mobile network to offer this service?

Yes you do need a mobile network. However it is a lot easier for Network Operators to offer Fixed Mobile Services on a wholesale basis with the Netaxis solution because all that is required is a simple prefix for each reseller that allows calls from their customers to be routed via the PIE server. No messing about in the core of the network

How would CP’s sell this on?

The CP can either resell mobile sims to their customers (easy and fast solution) or setup a MVNO relationship with the Network Operator and resell their own sims. In both cases no network infrastructure needs to be implemented by the CP. It is all implemented by configuring the Redirect server and the Routing of the calls inside the network.

This is a simple service that allows enormous scope for CPs to offer creative packages to their customers.


I think this product has the potential to be of huge interest to Mobile Operators worldwide. It is a simple concept that bypasses the need for heavy fixed and mobile network integration and is easy for the end user to get their brain around. Moreover it makes use of the more reliable cellular network rather than the mobile data connection.

Network Operators will see the service is a way of attracting new CP customers and to grow sales of existing partners. Business customers of CPs will see the benefit because it offers an easy way to separate work and personal use of their employees on a single mobile handset.

Engineer Mobile mobile connectivity UC

Mobile Unified Communications Network Architecture – an Operator Perspective

Introduction to Mobile Unified Communications Network Architecture

Vodafone Group Solutions Architect Juan Hernandez presents us with an authoritative look at mobile Unified Communications Network Architecture

Unified communications (UC) is a hot topic in the industry. Although the provided services may be pretty much the same in different market niches, the way in which such services are implemented can vary significantly.

This post is aimed at providing the perspective of a mobile operator. We cannot talk about UC in mobile operators without talking about IMS (IP Multimedia Subsystem). IMS has become a standard across the mobile operators for a number of reasons. Although IMS was designed to integrate SIP devices and obviously 2/3 G mobile phones are not SIP end points, the arrival of the 4G standard (LTE) has introduced a new and interesting actor in the scene, the VoLTE device. VoLTE (Voice over LTE) implementation is the most important challenge the mobile operators are facing nowadays. This type of device is a SIP device, what brings mobile phones into the sphere of native end-points manageable by an IMS.

This post does not intend to be a comprehensive description of the UC implementation with IMS, but an introduction to the IMS as a concept and to the role it is playing in UC in the context of mobile operators.


IP Multimedia Subsystem

This name highlights two important aspects:

    • IP → IMS is based on end to end IP connections.
    • Multimedia → Different media can be combined, like voice, video, images, text, etc.

It means that “circuit switch” (CS) technology has been overcome and that there is not a split between voice calls and data connections any more. All media formats are managed by means of IP connections instead.

Separate and standardized access, routing and service planes

In my opinion, this is the major advantage we get with the introduction of an IMS. The three functions get separated and independent: access, routing and service. Standardized modularity allows  the combination of different vendors and access technologies,  and makes network evolution more flexible.

Mobile Unified Communications Network Architecture separation of service routing and access planes

Fig.1 Separation of access, routing and service planes

Multi-access and multi-terminal

IMS platform is access independent. We will see later on how the IMS elements P-CSCF and AG (access gateway) play the role of proxy, to face SIP and other VOIP protocol devices (H323, mgcp) respectively.

Mobile Unified Communications Network Architecture multi device access



Fig.2 Multi-access and multi-device within an IMS

The previous figure shows how the P-CSCF interfaces all SIP connections, independently from the type of connection or device in use. Embedded SIP clients can be used in 3G networks. In this case a data session is established between the mobile network and the P-CSCF. On the other hand LTE devices are able to establish SIP voice calls directly with the P-CSCF. It is important to highlight that VoLTE devices can place SIP calls in a native way, without the need of embedded SIP clients.

SIP Internet connections can be also established against the P-CSCF. So, voice calls (VoLTE) and voice calls encapsulated into data connections can be managed by the IMS.

On the other hand, the AGCF (Access Gateway Control Function) can manage other VOIP protocols, translating them into SIP in the boundary of the IMS space.

Of course, SIP phones can also be managed by the IMS by means of the P-CSCF.


    • Of services
    • Of billing

Mobile Unified Communications Network Architecture service convergence


Fig.3 Service convergence

The previous figure shows the way in which both, fixed and mobile devices, can use exactly the same services, provided by the AS (Application Server) in the service plane. Therefore, the user experience is the same, independently from the user device.

Mobile Unified Communications Network Architecture billing convergence


Fig.4 Billing convergence

It comes evident from the figure 4 that once the same Application Server provides the services to fixed and mobile devices, the CG (charging gateway) can get convergent billing data for fixed and mobile networks.


IMS architecture is anything but simple. The already commented characteristics of function separation and modularity leads to a complex architecture that can be seen in the next two figures.

Mobile Unified Communications Network Architecture IMS functional modules


Fig.5 Functional modules in IMS


Mobile Unified Communications Network Architecture IMS

Fig.6 IMS architecture


Next, I proceed to explain the roles of the most important elements in an IMS:

P-CSCF (Proxy – Call Session Control Function)

    • Access contact for SIP native clients
    • Security control
    • QoS Policy function.

The IMS space is considered to be a trusted area, since the P-CSCF applies a series of security procedures towards the access plane.

The QoS policy function is applied when a Policy server is deployed, in order to apply QoS policies in the access network. The P-CSCF communicates with the Policy server to orchestrate the QoS policies.

I-CSCF (Interrogating – Call Session Control Function)

    • Allocation of the S-CSCF to serve the user trying to register
    • Allocation of the S-CSCF serving an IMS called user

I-CSCF accepts requests for registration and terminating calls, and it interrogates the HSS (Home Subscriber Server) to retrieve the corresponding S-CSCF address.

S-CSCF (Serving- Call Session Control Function)

    • User registration
    • Authorization and authentication of users
    • Service triggering.

The S-CSCF is in charge of registering a user and triggering the services for such user by routing the incoming requests to the Application Server.

HSS (Home Subscriber Server)

    • Service profile
    • Subscription data
    • Application Server allocation
      • HSS registers the S-CSCF assigned to a user during the REGISTRATION procedure
    • Authentication information
      • Authentication tuples calculation and delivery of such authentication tuples to the S-CSCF

The HSS is the data base where all the information related to a subscriber is provisioned. It is the equivalent to the HLR for mobile networks.

MGCF (Media Gateway Control Function)

    • Interworking with PSTN (signalling)
    • MGW control by means of H.248

The MGCF is in charge of interworking with PSTN by exchanging ISUP messages. It is also in charge of managing the allocation of ports in the Media GW to support the media interworking between the IMS and PSTN. This control of the Media GW is based on H248 protocol.

MGW (Media Gateway)

    • Interworking with PSTN (bearer)

The media gateway offers TDM connectivity against PSTN and IP connectivity for RTP flows with the IMS devices.

AS (Application Server)

    • It applies the supplementary services
    • It applies Unified Communication services

So, in the context of IMS, while the UC services are applied by the Application Server, the routing and access management functions are done by the IMS.


Unified communication services can be implemented in a number of ways. The major distinction can be done depending on whether the service is deployed locally within the end user premises, or it is hosted in a central platform serving a lot of local customer offices. In the first model a series of local servers (presence, telephony, instant messaging, etc.) are deployed in order to provide the service to a single office or to a series of premises within the same company. In the second model, an Operator company hosts the service for a big number of customer sites. The latter is an Operator model that can be deployed in several ways.

The traditional way to implement UC services by an Operator company is by using a compact softswitch in which routing, provisioning and service planes are put together into a compact platform. CS2K by Gendband and Broadsoft Application Server (stand-alone mode) would match with that model.

As we have seen in the previous sections, IMS is the new way in which mobile Operators are deploying their services nowadays. In this model, access, routing and service planes have been separated. Now, the service is only associated with the application server placed in the service layer. The previous cited vendors, Gendband and Broadsoft, have IMS compliant implementations. In both cases the service engine (application server) is used connected directly to an IMS. So, routing and other capabilities in the stand-alone product are not use in this implementation. Of course, a series of requirements like offering a standard isc interface to the S-CSCF are required in an Application server to be compatible with any IMS vendor.

As summary, I would say that the understanding of how mobile operators are deploying UC services nowadays, requires the understanding of IMS technology, what is not an easy challenge. IMS modularity brings flexibility but it leads to a higher level of complexity in the way in which the different modules interact among them.

Juan Hernández (Solution Architect at Vodafone Group)


Twitter: @unveilingthereality


Business Mobile mobile connectivity

Wholesale Mobile Access – a tonic for our industry?

Wholesale Mobile Access – a primary concern of the Competition and Markets Authority in its review of the proposed BT/EE transaction.

It has been an exciting couple of months for those of us with an interest in the regulation of the telecommunications industry.

We’ve had the publication of the much anticipated first “consultation” in Ofcom’s Strategic Review of Digital Communications. Those that have already grappled with its 180ish pages of Ofcomese will know it doesn’t exact contain much that hadn’t been known or floated by various stakeholders in the past. That said, Ofcom have, separately, proposed a dark fibre remedy on BT, which, given the completely woeful predecessor that was Physical Infrastucture Access was a welcome move by them.

What has been going on though, slightly away from Ofcom, is the Competition and Markets Authority’s (CMA’s) investigation into the proposed acquisition of EE by BT. Last week saw popcorn-worthy scenes between TalkTalk and Vodafone played out in the industry press about Vodafone’s status (or not) as a wholesale provider of mobile services to Mobile Virtual Network Operators.

The amicability of TalkTalk and Vodafone’s divorce in isolation is one thing, but a review of all the documents submitted to the CMA so far, conversations had at conferences, articles in the industry press and whatnot, all point to one thing. That there is a firm belief that the market for wholesale mobile access is not as optimal as some would like.

To me, this is reinforced somewhat by what I consider to be some fawning over the market by Ofcom in the Strategic Review of Digital Communications – there’s a paragraph in there implying there are more than 20 operators with access at the radio layer – so-called “thin MVNOs”. I will personally buy a pint for the first person that manages to list them all in the comments section below. My wallet is safe because I am pretty sure this is a sleight of definitions used to try and paint a rosier picture of what happened on Ofcom’s watch than really did.

All of this is irrelevant though, because the CMA has honed right in on this as being one of the primary concerns in its review of the proposed BT/EE transaction. Yes, there’s other stuff in there about mobile backhaul and quad play and yada-yada-yada, but, like the Eye of Sauron, they have had an immediate laser like focus on what we all know to be an area of concern in our industry.

We’ve been here before. We’ve seen a bottleneck of assets like the radio access network as recently (or as far back depending on how old you feel) as the late nineties with the introduction of carrier pre-select (CPS). We had indirect access before then – we still do of a fashion – but this was the first truly economically enlightened breaking of the BT monopoly I can think of.

CPS enabled an end user to permanently have BT program the local exchange to route their outgoing calls to an alternative provider, negating the need for a little magic box adding an indirect access code or dialling digits manually. The alternative providers would build their networks out to these exchanges to collect the calls. The rates for all of this were heavily regulated and they made profit by arbitraging the regulated rates versus their own efficiency in building a network.

Fast forward a few years and we have (and still do) one of the most competitive markets in the world for outbound calls from a premises, even before the advent of over the top communications. All this came about from a simple technical remedy to allow other, competent, operators to interconnect deeply in the BT network to offer a competing service.

What’s more is that every single CPS operator I can think of offers its own wholesale service – it doesn’t provide CPS just for its own retail operations, but to resellers and dealers and whatnot; each level of the supply chain is adding its own value to the proposition and before you know it you have hundreds, if not thousands, of “telcos” offering fixed voice services to residential and business users.

If we have a look at the mobile equivalent, this is not what you see. Granted there is a decent “alternative” market for mobile originated voice calls to international destinations, but thereafter, if you think about it, the market is rather foreclosed. GiffGaff is an O2 subsidiary, Sainsbury’s Mobile is, for all intents and purposes, rebranded Vodafone, Asda Mobile is rebranded EE and so forth. The Mobile Network Operators, I would say, in economic terms, are presenting a classic risk of being an oligopoly. This is not good for competition and not good for consumers or our industry if those risks are realised.

The CMA has some work to do on some of the more esoteric points on backhaul and on the issues of competition in pay-TV that have been around before BT and EE started to cosy up to each other; Ofcom are taking the structural separation of Openreach question into the Strategic Review, but there’s one very simple thing that can be done here and now to create a far more optimal market in mobile; which is wholesale mobile access.

Undertakings from BT/EE as part of the proposed transaction to create a CPS-like remedy to allow operators with their own Home Location Registers and what not to interconnect with the EE radio network for the conveyance of signals to and from handsets on charge controlled terms would mean all the major fixed networks could invest with certainty to offer services; to the outside world they would look just like a mobile network operator, not just a rebranded service that merely mediates some billing records for the end user. Just like CPS, there’s no reason to suspect they wouldn’t offer variants of this to the next level of the supply chain, all of whom could add value to the market. Next thing you’d know is we’d truly have one of the most competitive markets for mobile telephony in the world, not just one driven by a race to the bottom for Apple-upgraders.

But don’t expect good in-building coverage, because virtually all the lower frequency spectrum is held by the others…. that’s a subject for another time/discussion about Three and O2, but for now, there’s growing interest in the definition of wholesale mobile access and a narrow window of opportunity to get a decent form of it with evidence on why it is required and how it would help in front of the CMA.

Note from Tref. Peter Farmer is Head of Regulatory Affairs at Gamma Telecom and a pretty prolific contributor to this blog. Read some of his other authoritative stuff here.

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Those who build or sell VoIP systems need to begin coping with BYOD, because soon enough it will inevitably be on your system’s spec sheet. welcomes VoIP Week contributor Paul Hayes, ProVu Communications Ltd.’s Product Development Director

Whether you’re a developer of IP PBX or a provider of hosted VoIP telephony services, you need to be doing something about mobile BYOD. BYOD (aka Bring Your Own Device) is the concept of company employees using their own hardware in addition to, or instead of, the hardware provided by and owned by the company itself. I use the term mobile because increasingly people want to use mobile phones and not desk phones. It may be a slightly foreign concept to a lot of readers, but there is a whole generation of future business people just around the corner who will have grown up with a mobile phone in their hand at all times.

It’s a simple idea on the surface, you have an iPhone because you like it and find it easy to use, right?

It might seem like this is all about greedy employers wanting their staff to buy their own kit, but not so. It stands to reason that allowing staff to use devices that they know, trust, and perhaps even enjoy should result in good productivity.

Enough has already been written on the advantages of BYOD, so what I want to talk about instead is how you as someone who builds or sells VoIP systems copes with BYOD, because if it’s not on your system’s spec sheet in the near future you’re going to seem rather old fashioned.

In my eyes there are two main issues the VoIP platform must overcome: maintaining professionalism and management of the devices.

First is the issue of maintaining professionalism. In the early days of VoIP there was a sense of triumph whenever pressing that tick button on your shiny new VoIP phone resulted in a working call with good audio quality. Thankfully, things have moved on, but the last thing you want is for your BYOD solution to represent a step back. It has to work reliably and it has to sound good, too, just like your VoIP desk phone does. At the same time, businesses need to look professional and maintain their own presence. For instance, most businesses don’t want the outbound phone calls they place to be seen as coming from different mobile numbers.

The second issue is device management. How do you know what people are using their mobiles for? How do you control which application they are using? How do you even change a setting on the device when it’s not owned by the business? How do you do all that without crippling the device?

The key to resolving these two issues is centralised management. We’ve been doing this with desktop VoIP phones for over ten years now, the same techniques must now be applied to mobile devices as well.

A company in Sweden called Opticaller Software has an interesting take on it all, offering a solution that involves an application for mobile devices (the usual suspects: iPhone, Android, Blackberry) and a server part that (for now) runs alongside an Asterisk IP PBX. That’s fairly interesting, of course, but what really makes it relevant here is that they also have a hosted management engine, a system that allows you to push the app out to mobile devices and that manages all settings related to the operation of the app. This is absolutely essential, and it seems to make the Opticaller solution fairly unique for the moment. Thus, no matter where the mobile devices are, provided they have just a tiny bit of a data connection, it is possible to control mobile telecommunications much like you can with desktop phones. All phone calls go through the VoIP PBX where they are recorded and accounted for and, crucially, you can control the outbound caller identification used for each call.

The mobile application itself does something that is both clever and yet simple. It uses the mobile voice network for the actual phone call. Maybe one day Wifi will be good enough to be used for mobile voice whilst out and about, but today that simply is not the case.

I used the Opticaller system myself on a recent business trip to Prague and found it very handy for calling people in the office using nothing more than their internal extension numbers. Also, it was very handy in reducing costs as I only suffered roaming charges for inbound calls and not outbound one. Please don’t make the mistake of thinking this is all about saving money, though, as the real problem being solved is how to integrate mobile BYOD into a VoIP phone system.

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Mobile Phone in Spain – Holiday Tech

Mobile phone in Spain is very useful whilst on holiday – this post was written mostly in the shade by the pool.

Some of you will have noted on my Facebook timeline that I have been on holiday for most of August. At the moment I’m in Cala D’Or in Mallorca. Sat in the shade on the hotel terrace looking down on a moored yacht. Abba in the background:) The use of my mobile phone in Spain proved indispensable.

When we got here the first thing I did was to establish the comms position. Hotel WiFi was cheap at only 10 Euros per device for the 12 days of our stay. However I didn’t want to encourage to the kids to spend all their time on their laptops so I opted for the 1 free hour a day per person.

Next thing I did was source a Spanish sim. Mobistar 1GB for 20 Euros. I needed it to work the sat nav. We had a private transfer from the airport when we landed and had a hire car delivered to the hotel the following day. I needed the Sat Nav to make sure I could find my way back to the hotel the following day after picking up the heir who was arriving a day afer us.

translate_spainAs it turned out the Mobistar sim came in handy for other purposes. Kid3’s specs broke and the nearest optician was in the next town. I found the optician using google and then maps to get there. I took a pic of the street sign in case I couldn’t find my way back to the car.

I also did this in the huge underground car park in the centre of Palma. At least I took a pic of the parking bay number so that I couldn’t forget where I parked – easily done when you are using a hire car. Interesting to see car parks with red and green lights above each bay to indicate whether there was space.

The optician couldn’t fix the specs so we hunted down a supermarket using google maps to buy some superglue. We then used google translate to find out the spanish word for glue and showed it to an assistant.

We used TripAdvisor to determine where to eat each evening. By and large this was highly successful. We mostly ended up with great family run restaurants. Cala D’Or is very touristy and there were a lot of places I’d say were transplanted from Benidorm (though I haven’t been to Benidorm) and geared at the Fosters drinker. TV screens all over the place.

Restaurante Selani was #2 on TripAdvisor behind an Ice Cream kiosk at #1. The food was good enough to engender a very positive response from Kid4, the gastronome of the family. TripAdvisor did however make us 20 minutes late for the table as it took us to a spot only 60 metres away but across the marina. The 60 metres took 20 minutes to walk!

Every pub and restaurant in Cala D’Or, everywhere we went in Mallorca in fact, had free wifi. Whilst I had my 1GB sim the benefit of the wifi was the automatic backing up of my holiday snaps to Google+ which only happens in WiFi range. Upload was consistently slow though.

holiday mobile data usageWith three days of our holiday left I had 120MB left of the 1Gig.  MIght just last. Ran out with two days to go. Usage has been pretty linear and has consisted of mostly twitter, facebook, reading the papers and keeping up with email. We also streamed the Halifax v Lincoln City game (3-2 unfortunately) using iPlayer. After the first couple of days we didn’t need to use the sat nav other than to find the occasional restaurant.

Whilst I had some of my bundle left I preferred to use mobile data that any free wifi that might have been on offer. It was clearly based on ADSL with generally poor upload and download. I also noted that the Facebook mobile experience was not very good. It often timed out saying there was no network connection whilst I could access other sites such as the BBC with no trouble.

We left Mallorca with a healthy tan and some great memories. It was noticeable though that our home FTTC based Wifi was so much better. Everyone heaved a sigh of relief when they got their gadgets out at home.

It might be argued that we shouldn’t have needed any connectivity whilst on holiday. However you can see from my experiences above that having a mobile phone in Spain was very useful.  This technology is becoming part and parcel of our everyday lives and why shouldn’t you have it. My experience of being without a phone whilst it was being fixed also brought me to the same conclusion. Why shouldn’t we use the tech. It is useful.

That’s it for now. Summer is over, holidays are over (for now) and it’s time to get back to work. There is a fairly packed programme on the blog in the run up to Christmas. Check out the schedule here.

Hasta la vista baby.


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The Hump Day Five (16-July-2014)

The Hump Day Five is on Red Alert this week, getting all Google-y powerful on music in the cloud, Leftovers, and Ping Pong Mania.


Started watching a new TV show a couple of weeks back called “The Leftovers”. If you haven’t haven’t seen or heard of it, the premise is quite simple. On 14-October at a precise moment in time approximately 2% of the world’s population randomly disappears without a trace. Drivers from moving vehicles, criminals from prison cells, babies from car seats, one moment there the next moment gone. It doesn’t take much imagination to see compelling story elements in such a framework, and in fact it is easy to see how the utter chaos of such a situation could become too much of a good thing (entertainment-wise, that is). The creators, though, very smartly opt to confine the drama to a single small town somewhere in America and how “The Departure”, as it is called, has affected and continues to affect the populace three years down the line. Succulent details are offered via ancillary media — overheard radio, television news programs being watched by this-or-that character, etc., not a small amount of Internet-y stuff — and go so far as to include a list of celebrities who number among the 2%. Dark stuff riddled rich with despair, sure, and as television goes it isn’t for everyone, but if you like your diversion disturbing and in-your-face I highly recommend checking it out.


Since late June a new application for both iPhone and Android has been making its way through the zeitgeist in direct response to the once-again-heightening tensions between Israel and Palestine: Kobi Snir’s Red Alert Israel. The idea behind this new app is to alert users of incoming rockets so they can stop whatever it is they are doing and take shelter*. The alerts received (tied directly to Israel Defense Forces and Homefront Command) can be configured quite tightly — there are a great many individual areas, considering the country’s small land mass — and each alert offers allows for comments, which can include prayers and encouragement, as well as — not surprising, but enraging nonetheless — inflammatory notes full of disparagement and outright hatred. Red Alert Israel also includes streaming Israeli radio (in Hebrew) to supplement its alerts with more detailed information (I assume). All in all, it is a noble idea that falls definitively on the side of the angels (and I say this even knowing that there is no Red Alert Palestine equivalent).

So I am sensitive to the dead-serious nature of Red Alert Israel and applaud and support its above-reproach mission, but I would be fibbing BIG-time if I said the image of people running for cover from flying ordinance with their hands flailing high above their heads clutching their phones didn’t loosen a small smile. Got too many episodes of The Simpsons under my belt, I suppose. Please excuse (or feel free to flame me up but good in the Comments).

The Red Alert Israel app is free, as you would expect, though it does run shifting banner advertising, because in these times absolutely nothing should go unsponsored. I mean, think about it…is there an advertiser out there who wouldn’t want their product or service to be associated with the saving of lives? And thus a new business model is born!

*The users in Israel, that is, as it is quite evident that Red Alert Israel is being downloaded and put into use by people living elsewhere..for purposes of showing solidarity, inspiring prayer and greater empathy, to stoke flames of outrage, to feed whatever vicarious needs, perhaps to serve as the basis for gambling or drinking games, etc.


For someone who spends as much time driving keyboards and mice as I do, I really can be late to the party at times. Take cloud-hosted music (aka online music lockers, aka online music storage services). Available in various flavors for a few years now (the majors all bowed in 2011 — Apple, Amazon, Google — whereas an early achiever called AudioBox left the starting block in 2009), it was only this past weekend that I started to consider the idea of throwing some of my music up into the ether for ready access across my computers and smartphone. Naturally, I was aware of the cloud-hosted music concept, but that awareness was mostly relegated to Apple’s iTunes in the Cloud/iTunes Match service, and as I trust Apple’s software and service offerings about as much as…well, not at all, actually, I put up a willful “blind spot” to the whole idea. Of course, it also helped that my music collection far exceeded the 25,000 song limit put on the $25-per-year service by Apple, and that at the start – as is unfortunately so often the case — the service was available to U.S.-based users only.

A couple of years passed, and then along came KoryChrome. And with KoryChrome came promotions for Google services. And with the promotion in particular of Google Play Music — which I learned is now available in France and which includes the ability to load/match 20,000 songs absolutely free — came my revisiting the subject of cloud-hosted music this past weekend. 20,000 songs for uploaded/matched for free? Songs I can access from any Internet-connected computer capable of running a browser (Google Chrome need not be that browser, either), or from any Internet-connected smartphone? All without commercials or listening limitations?

Yeah, I know this party started ages ago, but as far as I am concerned there is still beer in the fridge and it’s still ice-cold.


On the subject of KoryChrome, La Famille Kessel returned to our Pays d’Auge family hovel in Blangy-le-Château this past weekend, and my keen and cool new Chromebook was thus reunited with its power source. And this time that power source made it into my computer bag for the trip back to Paris at weekend’s end. No doubt, a great many of you will now breathe easier and will stop wanting for sleep.


Got struck hard by a serious wave of irony a few hours ago when My Missus and I put The Boy on a train to summer camp. The camp he is attending is called “Ping Pong Mania” (translate from French), and it promises to be exactly that, with 90+ minutes of table tennis play and training each morning and another such session each afternoon. I blush with a certain amount of pride in saying that my kid is really quite masterful at the game, in no small measure because other than ping pong his free time these days is overwhelmingly consumed by Minecraft, Clash of Clans, SimCity 4 Deluxe Edition, youtube videos galore rooted in gameplay and game parody and what-have-you, and a bevy of other sofa-bound veg-and-play games and experiences.

My hope is the next 10 days will find The Boy matched up with other kids his age who are at or near his level. Otherwise, his hesitance to get off the couch and get out in the world (read: separate from his MacBook and iPad and Nintendo DS3) will have been justified…or so he will say and think, anyway. And this is where the irony lies as 32 years ago I remember feeling similar hesitation at heading off to summer camp, too…summer computer camp!

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Eurostars Upon Thars

Being a somewhat regular visitor to London over the past 15 years, and having spent more than a year commuting weekly from Paris to a start-up gig there way back in ‘00-’01, I have Eurostar stories to burn. Nothing I could recount, though, compares to the head-shaking cock-up I was a party to this past Friday.

I arrived at the Eurostar departure area at St. Pancras at 15h00 on the nose, ready to flash my ticket’s QR code at the gate. A gentleman in front of me had a problem getting the gate to take his QR, and he waved me ahead. At that moment the gate opened, and with it all happening so fast I rushed right through. A no-no, to be sure, and I knew it (gotta flash your code, otherwise the databases aren’t fat and happy), so I immediately turned around to hand my ticket to the guy who waved me ahead so all could be reconciled. And if that had been all that happened, it all would’ve worked out fine. No harm, no foul.

Alas, as I was handing my ticket to the guy whose entry I had assumed, a Eurostar person jumped in the middle of it all. This woman took my ticket into her hand already full of tickets, working diligently to get not only the guy I mentioned through but others with him as well. That accomplished, she handed me back what should’ve been my ticket, but which I was soon to learn was not in fact my ticket but the ticket of one of the others in the group. Soon to learn, but not quite soon enough as it turned out. Keep reading.

Sneetch Star

Security, Passport Control, a Cadbury Flake purchased, 15h31 train to Paris boarding, up the escalator, down the platform, onto Car 18 and (almost) into Seat 72…which was inhabited by another person with a valid ticket for the seat. My ticket? Valid for the same seat on the train leaving at 16h02. Oh, and the name on the ticket was not anything remotely akin to my own.

Realizing quickly what had happened, I sought out someone in Eurostar-logo-emblazoned clothing to explain my situation to, thinking there would be high-techy solution to it all. Instead I got “Well, all the trains are overbooked today, so we’ll put you on the 16h02 and just hope things work out. Maybe the person with your ticket got on the 15h31. If not, we’ll handle it then.” Thus, Eurostar’s idea of fixing the situation boiled down to this: Perhaps the person traveling with those other people realized he had been handed back your ticket for the 15h31 and instead of staying with his group on the 16h02 he instead bid them a quick “Ta ta! See you in Paris!” and ran to take the 15h31. Oh, and he opted for a different seat than the one on my ticket — although there weren’t any free seats on the train — because he was not the guy I encountered when I tried to take the seat on the 15h31. So just take the seat on the 16h02 with the ticket you are holding and hope.


So I boarded the 16h02, took Seat 72 in Car 18, and waited. Not long. Soon enough, the guy who I originally encountered at the entry gate boarded the train with his group. He saw me, immediately knew why I was there, and together we set off in search of a logo-ed person who could offer much-needed resolution. And this is where things get anti-climatic, because we quickly found a train manager who found me an empty seat in Car 17 using a handy-dandy tablet with some proprietary app connected to some up-to-date database in some datacenter somewhere nearby, and that was that. I would make it home for the weekend, I wouldn’t have to stand between cars or sit on someone’s lap to do so, and I could spend the two hours pondering why some Eurostar trains are 2014-tech-ready while others seemingly are not.

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Flying Away on a Wing and a Prayer

I’ve been daydreaming about technology. Again.

Oftentimes you will see me, fingers unmoving on my keyboard, my mind skimming the clouds (not “the cloud”), blissfully imagining features that I want/need/must have in my next computer.

**Cue dreamy fantasy, Fender Rhodes-ish, 1970s-era TV comedy music. Cue LOUD thunder crack.**

…a monster SSD (I recently carved a Samsung M9T 2TB HHD from a sealed-and-not-meant-to-be-opened Backup Plus external hard drive to install in AppleKory, so you know that when I write “monster” I am not messing around…s’gotta be BIG), a good degree of voice command capability, a separate GPU, a battery that can reliably deliver 10+ hours of juice regardless of use intensity, integrated cellular Internet connectivity, and — naturally — MacBook-level build quality across the board…

**Fade out goofy cue-in music underlay.**

Gadget This Gadget ThatIntegrated cellular connectivity. Something of a Holy Grail among a great many of us who drive MacBooks, this functionality has been on my “Features and Functions for AppleKory Upgrade” list (yes, I really do keep such a thing…don’t you?) for so long that I am not entirely sure I can reclaim the pixels. That said, my blue-sky tech whimsy is relegated not only to computers but also to smartphones, those marvelous wonders of technology that by their very nature connect to the Internet via cellular. Regular readers know, of course, that I am deeply ensconced (stuck?) in the the search for my next smartphone, which at this point still looks to be the Samsung Galaxy K Zoom. I have yet to actually put my hands on the GKZ, however, and as my near-decision to be among the Zoomed has me feeling as shaky as it does giddy, I am guessing there is a moment of reckoning waiting for me once the darn thing actually becomes available in France. Early reviews are all over the place, though they all seem to reflect less the smartphone’s build quality and feature set and more the usage values of the reviewers themselves. In aggregate, though, those reviews fall mostly in line with expectation, describing the not-so-little bugger as a “niche product”…a niche that, when described, sounds an awful lot like one into which I enjoy lanyard pass access. Still, it seems that every week there is yet another new player on the field that deserves consideration — just yesterday Amazon’s Jeff Bezos splashily announced his company’s entry to the Smartphone Wars, the Amazon Fire Phone, which has not one and not two but SIX cameras on-board — and until such time as I can try on the Galaxy K Zoom for size (and weight) my musings on the device will be blue-sky whimsy indeed.

**Cue dreamy fantasy, Fender Rhodes-ish, 1970s-era TV comedy music. Cue LOUD thunder crack.**

…ready to perform as smartphone and compact camera, and serving well as both while requiring the precious pocket space of of just one…sharp and responsive camera function, especially in low-light situations requiring tight optical zoom…well-designed apps serving essential and not-so-essential needs…easy and thoughtful interaction and synchronization with AppleKory…elevation of my walkabout effectiveness from the sludgy puddle into which my iPhone 4 currently has it imprisoned…ah, bliss…

**Fade out goofy music.**

Pie in the sky, baby!

So have you gotten the impression that for me it is all about the Internet? Nay, I say! Let’s have a little talk about tweedle beetles…er, cameras (and set aside the fact that many of them these days have some kind of Internet capability, because nobody buys a camera primarily for that). Up front, let me say that nearly four years in I continue to be utterly besotted with my Leica D-Lux 5 (the lovely Leyna). Despite this, however, nary a full day passes without me dropping into some camera review site or another (, I’m talkin’ ’bout you) and gorging myself on the latest this-and-that in the world of photo-taking apparatus goodness. My next camera…my next camera…

**Cue silly dream fantasy whatnot music for last time. LOUD thunder crack, too.**

…weather-resistant…compact size, but with interchangeable lenses…built-in wifi file transfer capability…insanely-high resolution EVF and rearview monitor…somewhat retro…finger-tingling build quality…

**Fade out. End the darn post already.**

Yes, yes, me likes me cameras.

Me also…I also (Bizarro voice only works in teeny tiny doses) thirst to soar with new-gadget-happy, like all qualifying tech geeks who have over the years read an embarrassing number of comic books and tuned into far too much sci-fi television. I am sorry to say, though, that the wearable-whatever getting most of the ink these days just isn’t getting me up to escape velocity. I haven’t worn a watch on my wrist since 1992, a streak that I cannot imagine coming to an end any time soon, iWatch or whichever Dick Tracy contraption notwithstanding (including this watch). And as for Google Glass, I have never been able to get my head around the idea of wearing glasses for reasons other than dire necessity (2-D cinema-going guy that I am), and more than halfway to my own personal Finish Line I have yet to encounter a pair of sunglasses that looked like anything other than a waste of money. iBelt? Amazon Fire Shoes? A power ring or magic lasso? No no no no no. I don’t daydream about wearing my gadget tech these days…I want it IMPLANTED!

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Watching the Football

Yesterday a friend of mine in the UK asked me if I was “going to watch the football”, stating his own excitement over the soon-upon-us 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil (the official label of the event, if the website is any indicator), and then asking “Have you converted a little? Soccer to you, I guess.”


I actually converted 20 years ago as a direct result of the excitement surrounding the 1994 FIFA World Cup. Of course, the football punditry out there will immediately assume that this American finally clued in that year due to the tournament being held in the U.S. for the first (and so far only) time, however that assumption would not only be disingenuous but wrong too. No, my sports imagination was finally captured by International football in 1994 not because I was swept up in host country hoopla, but because I was living/working/traveling Europe that year and found myself instead swept up in the remarkable national enthusiasm and spontaneous celebrations I encountered in England, Scotland, Belgium, Luxembourg, and Germany as the tournament played out. Walking around Namur, Belgium, for instance, on a Tuesday night in early July, seeking out a priced-right-for-a-backpacker dinner, I was left aghast and delighted by the string of cars going by with horns a-blarin’, people hanging out the windows hooting and hollering and waving the Italian flag. The people of one country so unabashedly showing their colors, whooping it up on the streets of another country…what is this International sporting thing, anyway? And then five days later, being fortuitous enough to be in Germany to witness first-hand the crashing out of the Germany team1…I was hooked!

1994. The world turned its eyes and ears to the most commercial country in the world to watch “The Beautiful Game” on television and radio, and only on television and radio. And not a single URL in sight.

When my pal asked me whether I was going to tune into the 2014 FIFA World Cup my knee-jerk first thought was “Will it be available via the Internet?” to which my second thought instantly responded “Are you kidding? Of course.” Sure, I know the games will be broadcast on television, and I am relatively sure the one we have in the main room still works (The Boy watches it from time to time…I think), but it wasn’t until long after I answered my friend’s oh-so-rhetorical question that I even paid a thought to the idea of actually using the device to watch a match.

Football TV

Naturally, the picture the Chez Kessel television delivers is plenty sharp (as so many are these days, we are Triple Play kitted), and something prompted me long ago to wire the sound to come through our stereo speakers (think it was the 2006 FIFA World Cup that prompted that…friggin’ Marco Materazzi, sister-and-mother-insulting classless b*stard), so it isn’t a poor viewing option that had me defaulting to the Internet as my top-of-mind football entertainment resource. It’s just…well…you see…c’mon, you know…it is so much easier to simultaneously Web-out with ⌘+Tab (Alt+Tab for the Windows-fettered readers out there, and whatever-equivalent for UNIX deities and whichever others) than it is via some lap-bound or hand-bound device supplementary to the television.

Addiction. Always lurking, eminently humanizing, and available in oh-so-many forms.

1994. When to the layman “Internet” meant email and bulletin boards and nothing more. The World Wide Web was just starting to poke its head up, and “streaming” was a word relegated to tape data backups.

Without admitting to anything (and there will be no Q&A), I will cagily say here that a long time has passed since I last watched a television program at the time of broadcast (other, that is, than hypnotized channel-surfing-and-staring borne of jetlag). This is not to say that I am accomplishing the impossible, foregoing television entertainment in what is unquestionably a golden age for the medium (too many programs to list, but suffice it to say that I can speak “The Wire”, “The Sopranos”, “Breaking Bad”, “Mad Men”, and this Millenium’s “Battlestar Galactica” reboot with anyone…buncha great UK-produced programs, too!). I do, though, manage to forego the starchy advertising that comes with all of the good TV meat on offer, and without littering my shelves and floorspace with DVD sets gathering dust.

Yes, packaged up nice-and-digital and stripped of its impurities, television for me has come to mean the Internet. And I find it a richer and far more satisfying experience for that, too.     ==>Twenty-three minutes into the sixth episode of Season Two of “The Americans” a reference is made to an earlier plot point that I skied past. Pause. ⌘+Tab to Google Chrome. Type “The Americans episodes ” into the Address/Search field. A quick click and read. ⌘+Tab back to VLC. Un-Pause. Good to go.<==     Of course, certain television events practically demand in-progress viewing — cannot-turn-away news events and, yes, some sporting events (though "condensed" recordings can now be acquired after the fact, such as three-plus hour American Football games boiled down to 58 minutes!) — but these have not kept that really big monitor in our flat's central room from looking more and more novel with each passing season. 1994. Televisions were definitively three-dimensional, whereas the scripted programming they delivered to the quivering and drooling masses was two-dimensional at its very best. Which inevitably brings me back to "watching the football". I imagine that as was the case the last time around, La Famille Kessel will ease slowly into 2014 FIFA World Cup action, eventually ramping up interest as the meaning of the games increases (and if France makes a move, as in '06, getting downright rabid about it all). And as that happens our somewhat dusty black Samsung-emblazoned flat-panel Living Room window into the Global Village (clichés flowing thick and furious here at the end) will no doubt once again find its purpose.   1Is there anyone who isn’t German that likes to see Germany win at anything? 🙂

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Gone Down to London to be the King

A visiting friend and I were slated for two days in London beginning Tuesday morning, however the night before My Missus came down with a painful malady I won’t describe here, so instead I put my friend on the Eurostar at the literal crack of dawn and returned home. Quite disappointed — I had been looking forward to hanging in London with my friend for over a month, and to catching up with other friends while in town, too (apologies once again, Tref, for not being able to connect for that beer) — I started pondering whether there was some way I could chase my friend up once my honey bunny recovered. Eurostar one-way ticket? Lessee. No. The price of that seat would be nearly double what I had paid for the original return ticket! Short hopper flight? The cost made that option a non-starter as well. Hitchhike? Really…come on. Then I remembered that back in my own personal Paleozoic Era (read: 2000) I had once taken a bus from Paris to London.

Not remembering the name of the bus company that offered service to London from Paris, I went all Bing on the problem and was soon staring nostalgically at the Eurolines website. Riiiiight. That was it. At the station at the end of the M3 train, whatevertheheck, at Galieni. I first came across an ad banner on the site that offered one-way Paris-London service for €18, shook my head in disbelief, and then very quickly came to disbelieve it when I saw the fine print (45 day advance purchase…my own, if it happened, would likely be closer to 45 minutes advance). C’est la vie. Regardless, the price was bound to still be quite good in comparison to the other options, so I punched my Departing From and Going To into the handy-dandy widget on the page and clicked Search.

€43. I was in business.

Eurolines typically runs seven buses from Paris to London, four of which I consider to be reasonable at my creaky 49 years of age (no overnight buses for me, outside of dire circumstance), and seeing as My Missus was seemingly coming around from her epically bad night-before and recovery morning I began focusing on the 15h00 bus (arrival at London Victoria at 21h30). At some point in the mix I thought I saw the word “wifi” in association with the Eurolines bus trips, and while that wasn’t a decision-maker I did find myself lightening to the prospect of a 6+ hour bus ride knowing I would be able to extend myself beyond the confines of the coach.
My Bus

As morning morphed into afternoon My Missus remained asleep, sloughing off the awfulness and catching up on lost winks. Just as I began shifting my bus plans to Wednesday morning, though, she popped up not-quite bright as a penny but somewhat shiny nonetheless. Before long my girl was breakfasted (at 13h30) and talking about going into work for the afternoon. I made a few noises about hopping on the bus to catch up with my friend, quickly received a sincere and truthful “Oh, you should definitely do that!”, and began once again to look forward to two days of London-style this-that-whatever.


To AppleKory I went, fingers a-flyin’. I bought a ticket online for the 15h00 bus, printed the ticket out, threw a few essentials into my computer bag (like I had time to put a proper bag together…yeah, right), confirmed that my camera would be along for the ride (you want to know my camera’s name, inquisitive reader, I just know you do…information not forthcoming today), threw on a jacket I probably wouldn’t need and bolted.


Marcadet Poissonniers station, the M4. Change to the M3 at Réaumur–Sébastopol, direction Galieni. Short delays at many stations along the way, the tick-tocking clock in my head growing louder as said clock’s hands move ever-closer to 15h00. Pulling my ticket out of pocket to ensure Galieni is my target and discovering the small print that says — translated from the French — “Arrive at the station no later than 30 minutes before departure.” (it is 14h41 at this point, 19 minutes before departure and still two stops from the station). Uttering profanities, mental image of pounding the Metro train doors to hurry things along. Galieni. Dashing for the Eurolines station.

14h52. I am stepping on the proverbial skin-of-my-teeth, which has dribbled out of my mouth and under my shoes.

Check-in accomplished, I board the bus and find my seat. Sweat glands working? Check. Respiration at full capacity? Check. Skin temperature at maximum tolerance? Check. And then I start to relax. The on-board wifi can wait. I just want to feel the road moving under the bus wheels and exhale until Morpheus drags me off for a short doze. And soon enough that is exactly what happened.

Roughly an hour later I am awake. I am also hungry, having not eaten a thing since breakfast and not being able to grab any kind of a nibble at the bus station in my haste to make sure I was on the right side of the vehicle’s doors at departure. “Swallow it, Kory.”, I say to myself and I do. All I need is a little distraction, and if the Internet isn’t good for that it isn’t good for anything. I pull AppleKory out of her warm cozy place, fire her new self up (she is a whole other creature since I replaced her 1TB hard drive with a 2TB over the weekend), and start looking for trouble…er, the Eurolines wifi.

No dice. No joy. No wifi. On my bus “wifi” may as well have stood for “wishful fantasizing”, as there was no such service (the Eurolines website does say “free wifi**” with the ** indicating “**Available on most of our lines”…wishful, indeed). Thus I found myself relegated to whatever entertainment media I could find on the aforementioned 2TB hard drive. Another “C’est la vie.”


Compared to the Eurostar at just a little over two hours, even with wifi the six-and-a-half-hour Eurolines trip to London promised to be quite the slog. In truth, though, even without the wifi I would have to dig hard to slag it with anything approaching conviction. Comfortable seats, the consistent steady motion, travel companions without evident psychoses or hygiene challenges, a clean and usable waste management facility; for the price the Eurolines bus service has to be tossed onto the far too small “High Value” heap.

Following a very curious journey through the Eurotunnel — the driver drove the bus INTO a huge enclosed train (parking it right up behind another bus, with a truck then driven in and parked right behind us), which itself soon began to move — we were in the UK, barreling our way to London. Before long, Lewisham…passing by the Kia Oval (lights on, cricket match in progress!)…arriving at Victoria Coach Station.

I alighted with iPhoneKory in hand (still my not-so-smartphone, for now), knowing there had to be a Nando’s somewhere nearby.

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Me and My Pebble Steel

Steve Hodges is the Managing Director of Astro Communications, Ltd.

So I am a fully ‘out’ closet techie. Really. Having starting in comms when ADSL was a pipe dream and you could get 9.6Mbs on your Nokia phone, I suppose I joined the technology industry just after those that created it and ahead of those lucky enough to feel as though they have always had email/internet/mobile phones. In the last 20 years some interesting and useful products have come and gone — Rabbit Phones! BT Home Highway! Even the old Palm TRIO! — and about a trillion products have turned up look like technology used simply for the sake of technology.

I have an HTC One Mini for work (which I love), an iPhone 5 for personal use, a standard Lenovo Twist laptop for day-to-day, and an iPad for out-and-about. I also carry a MiFi device “just in case”, all of which keep me connected, productive, and agile.

Yesterday I took delivered of my Pebble Steel watch. Second only to Google Glass (when it turns up), I felt when I read the reviews that the Pebble Steel watch could possibly be the most exciting advancement in technology since the smartphone. A member of my management team wears a Sony SmartWatch, which is just too…‘Speak and Spell’-looking for my liking. I am sure the uber-cool can get away with it, that is if is your style guide, but for me — dressed in a suit and tie most days, normally rocking an Omega Seamaster Professional (yes, like James Bond), driveing a Volvo 4×4, life complete with chocolate Labrador — it simply wasn’t for me.

Pebble Stone 1

The Pebble Steel arrived in a beautifully crafted box, complete with leather strap, metal bracelet, and magnetic charger. Its face is just big enough to display a few lines of text (monochromatic text, which is a shame), but is not so big that it looks as though you accidentally left your diving watch on following the weekend. It has three chunky, easy-to-use but unobtrusive buttons on one side, and one on the other. In my view, the Pebble Steel has the looks of an elegant timepiece.

Out of the box, the Pebble Steel just needs to be paired with your phone via an app, and you are on your way. Box to brilliant in under three minutes. The notion of how it delivers its information is a little more complex, though, as it requires the installation of a number of apps (the watch can only take a maximum of eight at any given time, however they are quite easy to interchange), of which there are plenty to choose from on Google Play.

2014-04-05 20.58.42

The documentation that accompanies the Pebble Steel watch states that the battery will last about five days, and that the device is waterproof to a practical level. Also, the Bluetooth connection is robust, and thus far I have had no trouble maintaining my information feed upon leaving my phone on my desk and wandering around the house or office.

At the start, I loaded a calendar app, a notifier app, a weather app and a navigation app. I do want to clarify that these apps don’t have much in the way of functionality in themselves, that they take the capability from my phone which pushes notifications over Bluetooth to the Pebble Steel which then passes information back. When a notification arrives on your wrist, you can set it to subtly vibrate and let you know there is something to look at. No more reaching for the mobile every few minutes!

Aesthetically and technologically the Pebble Steel watch is exactly what I had hoped for and more. In fact, I truly believe it exceeds delivery against all my “I need one of those because….” justifications. Just last night while in the house I was receiving tweets/SMSs and email previews on my wrist. Calendar invites were turning up, too, and without as much as a glance at my desk I knew what I needed to know and could ignore the beeps and vibrations from my phone regarding the things I didn’t. And this morning I was able to leave my phone in my bag and wander through my calendar appointments, preparing myself for the day ahead without once popping open the laptop or picking up my phone.

Pebble Steel 3

Out and about, while walking to the train station, I was able to see notifications of new emails and also see when an incoming phone call was coming in, all without fumbling around in my jacket for my mobile. I rejected the call from my Pebble Steel, but had I had a headset on I could have simply answered the call and used the call control from my wrist. I went to the ticket machine at the train station and scrolled through my calendar until I found my reservation number in my diary entry for the day, with the ticket collection number and seat reservation at hand. It even gave me turn by turn instruction on my walking route by paring with google maps on my HTC via the Nav app. Of course, I could have done this all with my mobile, but now I can leave that in my bag or jacket and get instant notification of anything I need on my Pebble Steel. Oh, and it also tells the time!

Functionally the watch has already justified its cost (£151 ($279), plus the £35 import duty). I will have to change some of my day-to-day set up, improve my email filtering, and set up my “Do not disturb” notifications to ensure that I am not woken up in the middle of the night by a barrage of overnight spam, but this is a tiny price to pay for having such a useful piece of technology at hand.

Other aspects of the Pebble Steel that I have yet to investigate properly include the music and phone dialer app — I can control the music and the voice functions of my phone from my wrist while driving in the car — and the extended from-your-wrist camera operation functionality (personally, I doubt its practical benefits, but I am sure it will appeal to and find use with many).

As for criticisms, I guess it is all a matter of perspective. Would it be nice if the Pebble Steel had a touch screen? Maybe. Would it be better if it came with a colour, high resolution face? Possibly. Would it be better if it had a mic and speaker so I could talk to my wrist? Not better for me, but I am sure it would be better for someone out there. Would I prefer to be able to delete, forward and/or reply to my messages? I think so, but there might be an app for that as well.

Considering what I was hoping for — the ability to leave my phone in my bag, jacket or office and get real time notifications of emails, SMSs, tweets, phone calls and other useful information — the Pebble Steel is simply perfect, and it looks the part too. I am delighted with the new high tech addition to my PAN set up. It get five out of five for looks, five out five for build quality, five out of five for ease of use, and six out of five for practical application!

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Will OTT VoIP Apps Destroy the Telecoms Industry? welcomes VoIP Week contributor Alex Kinch, Founder and CEO of Ziron.

As soon as the Telecoms industry came to terms with the WhatsApp acquisition and what it could mean for their SMS revenues, CEO Jan Koum dropped another bombshell: the company would be launching voice services from Q2.

For many this announcement spelled the end. Surely operator executives around the world should start packing their suitcases and call it a day. After years of racing to the bottom the industry has finally hit rock. Well, not quite. In my view, it’s high-time these doomsayers started to examine the opportunities that come with the increase of OTT voice apps (mVoiP), rather than demonising the unstoppable tide of technological evolution.

The ‘telco industry camp’ and the ‘mVoiP camp’ needn’t be enemies. There is room a-plenty for them to co-exist, at least for the foreseeable future. News reports would have you believe that the only people using landlines are rural dwelling anti-tech luddites, however Ofcom has reported that in the last statistical year call volumes from both fixed and mobile phones were in excess of 100 billion minutes. Their report states that 82% of adults still use a home landline – but only 28% of adults use any form of VoIP. The report also said that there are currently 82.7 million active mobile subscribers in the UK, but a report from Analysys Mason clarifies that only 20% of them are active mVoiP users.
Ziron logo

It is essential to keep in mind that mVoIP isn’t new, as in recent years a host of mVoiP apps have launched, including Fring, Nimbuzz to Viber. We’ve had a long time to come to terms with mVoIP apps and adapt business models accordingly. The key is to think about how you can value, rather than trying to stand in the way of change. At least one popular OTT app has been conducting trials with traditional telcos, in which calls from the PSTN made to a user’s regular GSM number are intercepted and delivered to the app instead of via the SIM. This kind of forward progress must be embraced. We must ask, “How we can add value and work together to deliver an enhanced customer experience?”

Massive scope exists for smart VoIP operators that can act as a gateway between the old world of the PSTN and the new world of OTT apps. As someone that has been in Telco for more years than I dare ever admit, I remember similar hysteria taking hold ten years ago when Skype first became popular. Today, Skype is feeding and contributing to the Telco industry, driving a third of the world’s phone traffic. The fact is that Telecoms is evolving, and,to survive we are going to have to evolve with it.

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Band Camp Coincidences

Google Glass. Telephony. Synchronicity

At my age, you would think that I would be long past adolescent self-consciousness; that I wouldn’t feel awkward with the geeky way of thinking. A girl that I had a crush on back in the 2nd Grade said to me, “You talk funny. You talk like a scientist.”, referring to my vocabulary. At that age this wasn’t a compliment, nor was it really a criticism. It did not, though, bode well for any potential romantic entanglements.

On the way to the conference I find myself sitting next to two attractive, well dressed middle-age women, three abreast in the aisle seat. We start the long first leg of the flight with a little small talk. We are flying together from Dallas to Albuquerque, where they will leave the plane prior to its flying on to Seattle (my destination).

“What’s in Seattle?” they both ask.

I feel like I’m on my way to band camp. What do I say to them? I tell the truth.

“I’m going to speak at a conference on Content Management – a technology conference.”, I say.

“Oh. Technology stuff.”, from which they return to conversing among themselves for the remainder of the flight. It’s fine. I wanted time to think, anyway, to be quiet on the plane so that I could figure out what I am going to talk about at the conference. I booked the conference before deciding to leave my last corporate job. I opted to keep my commitment, though, and now I need to put my presentation in my own voice.

The plane is landing in Albuquerque. The small talk starts again, and it turns out that the two women also live in Austin. I hear them say something about two local radio hosts known as JB and Sandy. I ask a question regarding Sandy. They fill me in. It’s friendly, partly because we’re parting way in five minutes.

Nobody sits next to me on the Seattle leg of my flight, and I have time and space to think, to figure out a theme for my talk. I’m basically speaking on the lessons learned over the last year as a software team trying to buy the next generation of the solution instead of building the next generation of solution.

“Choosing a system is like a plane trip…”

“Choosing a system is like traveling through Mexico…”


Business internet mobile connectivity

UKNOF 28 wifi at DeVere Wokefield Park

uknof28 wifi devere wokefield park

At the DeVere Hotel, Wokefield Park, Reading for UKNOF28 (Google it). The hotel is huge. This does cause a problem. My room is in the Mansion House which is a good half hour walk1 from the Executive Centre where the meeting is being held.

There has been a slight kerfuffle before the meeting starts as the UKNOF WiFi kit wasn’t exactly late arriving but certainly making the organisers a little nervous. Meetings such as UKNOF, LINX et al need to bring their own kit because that provided but hotels and conference centres is only designed to be used by “normal” people. ie not internet geeks and techies (it would be worth aggregating the home broadband bandwidth use of this community to see how it compares with the average).

You will be pleased to know the kit is now here and an announcement has been made alerting us to a short break in service whilst wires are switched over.

The object of this post however is to praise the WiFi service offered by the DeVere. It has worked brilliantly everywhere in the hotel. I used my mobile VoIP client last night because there is absolutely no mobile signal here. The bandwidth  wasn’t perfect for VoIP but I imagine 7pm is pretty much peak time for hotel internet usage as folk get to their rooms, check email etc.

The lack of mobile coverage is an interesting situation for a venue that is filled with suits at corporate offsite meetings. Every open door you pass has a meeting table with overhead projector and people sat around doing stuff. Yesterday the Mansion House bar was filled with besuited-open-necked-shirted-enthusiastic salesmen clutching bottles of champagne awarded to this month’s top performers (etc). Filled me with dread.

As I walked to check out the conference venue yesterday afternoon there was even a bloke sat on his own around some “team building” equipment laid out on the lawn. He was waiting for the punters to turn up. Some time later it was absolutely chucking it down and I saw him packing up the stuff. Presumably his clients had abandoned that part of their offsite meeting and adjourned to the bar. Rain needn’t stop play – just changes the game 🙂

So well done DeVere on your WiFi. The screenshot in the header is the speed I’m getting inside the conference room. Presumably everyone else is now using the UKNOF kit.

More from UKNOF28 as it happens. Read it first on 🙂

1 Ok I’ll admit to a slight exaggeration here but it is a long way.

End User gadgets Mobile mobile connectivity phones

Conscious Uncoupling

In early 2010 I gave up Windows Mobile and my HTC TyTN II and made the leap to an iOS-saddled iPhone 3G. Making the switch was not necessary — the TyTN II still had a good amount of life in it, and I know it kept its next owner happy enough for roughly two years following — but when My Missus’s company upgraded her to an iPhone 3GS I thought I’d take the opportunity to shake myself out of my mobile comfort zone and repurpose her leftover phone.

I can see you drifting, treasured reader, so let me take a moment here to put my fingers in your nose and pull you back towards your screen. I am not going to go down the gorged-so-deep path of the iPhone-converted here. Promise. Stick a needle, man.

Continuing…I enjoyed my early experience with the iPhone, but felt then that it was more a toy than a tool, and that has not changed (yes, four years gone by and I am still wielding an iPhone, though I upgraded that original 3G to a iPhone 4 three years back because at the time it offered what was unequivocally the best phone-based camera on the market).

ChainedNow don’t get me wrong.  Toys are great — anyone reading my stuff for any sustained period of time soon learns just how much I love my toys — and so long as the Internet-connected shiny in my pocket is able to provide pics, phone, text, email, and a wee spot of web browsing it really doesn’t need to be anything more. Thus I should be fat-n-happy with iPhoneKory, right? (If you haven’t caught on yet, yes, I sometimes name inanimate objects.) I shouldn’t be consumed with thoughts of moving into an Android phone, but should be content to remain comfortable and cared, warm and satisfied within iOS’s bright, colorful walls. I shouldn’t be…but I am.

Business End User Mobile mobile connectivity social networking UC

Air France has Me all A-Twitter

Decided to leave the cave and go mobile to do the writing thing today. And why not? Both of the pieces I hope to crank out are of a mobile ilk, the weather on this early April Paris Monday is Spring Fever inducing, and a new local wifi-enabled coffee house (Le Café Lomi) has opened its doors nearby…a perfect storm!

The battery icon says I have 2:11 before all goes dark, so let’s start clacking.

This past 21-December I packed up My Missus and The Boy for a 5-day trip to visit family in Chicago (far more accurate to say that My Missus packed me and The Boy up, but I don’t see any reason to ruin a good story with facts…except, paradoxically, I do). We left the flat early that morning, all media-delivery devices fully charged and ready for the 12+ hours we would spend in the air travel envelope (bubble?), and headed for the RER B train that would deliver us to Charles de Gaulle (the airport, not the long dead general and president). En route I decided to check our flight status, and having successfully carried that out I then thought, “Let’s see if anyone is awake at the Air France Twitter switch on this fine Saturday.” Not being the most avid Twitterer, this was actually a bit of personal evolution on my part.

First Tweet to AF

Within just moments I received a response, and a somewhat personal one at that (as evidenced by the reference to my day’s destination)! Shocked and delighted, I immediately tweeted back.

Second Tweet to AF

Then my wheels started turning…hmm…yes, I would look for ways to keep my @AirFranceFR friend apprised as we moved through the system.

internet mobile connectivity net neutrality ofcom Regs

Net Neutrality update

Regular readers will remember my piece for Trefor.Net last September, where I defined what the average VoIP telco wants from an open internet. I know this article had a readership of at least one, because I saw someone brandishing a print out in Ofcom. Yay me!

Anyway, things have moved on. We had Ed Richards, Ofcom’s CEO, saying they weren’t “waiting for Europe” when Philip Davies MP pressed him on the issue at the Department of Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee last year (for which Philip earned a nomination as ITSPA’s Members’ Pick at the 2014 Awards) – but Europe aren’t waiting for them earlier.

Last week, the European Parliament voted in favour of the so-called “telecoms package” which includes, amongst proposals regarding a Single Market I have previously slated here and the abolition of roaming fees (which I shall slate below), proposals on Net Neutrality. Before we get too excited, this was only the first reading. The College of Commissioners is about to be disolved, along with the European Parliament for elections and who knows what political landscape will be returned to Brussels in May. It’s not likely to receive much more Parliamentary time until the end of the year now at the earliest, which makes their December 2015 implementation date seem optimistic.

The European Union’s proposals mirror, largely, what ITSPA and the VoIP community would accept (in my view) as a legislative intervention. ISPs cans till offer specialised services to protect business critical applications, or prioritise video on demand, but would not be able to do so to “the detriment of the availability or quality of internet access services” offered to other companies or service suppliers, except for traffic management measures which are “transparent, non-discriminatory and proportionate” and “not maintained longer than needed” to protect the integrity of a network.

This is a good step, but I for one, along with ITSPA colleagues and others aren’t waiting for Europe like Ofcom – watch this space for a progress report soon!

Abolition of Roaming Charges

The European logic is rather federalist; it says you should be able to use your phone for the same rates anywhere in Europe for the same price as at home. Aside from the age old rule (which also applies in next generation telecoms – distance is still a factor in signal regeneration, rateable value of fibre etc) that the further a call is conveyed the more it costs, it is wholly illogical to be able to call next door with your mobile for the same rate as calling it from Lithuania, you cannot ignore the basket effect. 26% of socioeconomic group D and E households are mobile only. The reduction of roaming profits to mobile operators leads, in part or in whole, to a waterbedding…. (I almost wrote waterboarding, as that’s what it feels like to deal with a mobile operator’s customer services sometimes)… other products and services will increase in price to compensate for the foregone margin.

So, in short, one consequence of the EU’s proposal is that those that cannot afford to go on holiday in Europe, or those businesses that don’t trade in person in Europe, shall subsidise those that do. That just doesn’t seem right to me.


Business Mobile mobile connectivity

I see Vodafone are opening some shops

Vodafone in taxi chargerThe “big” news this morning is that Vodafone are planning on opening 150 shops in the UK creating 1,400 jobs in 2014.

This is an interesting PR headline. The reason Vodafone will be opening the shops is because people want to touch and feel a phone in a shop and check out the different tariff options with a real person. Trying to decide on a mobile package can be a nightmare (how much bandwidth etc).

The big high street retailers such as Carphone Warehouse offer this facility but they are not fixed to a specific network. Because of this the networks have to dangle big marketing subsidies to them to make them want to sell their services. For someone like Carphone Warehouse I imagine it will probably be in the tens of millions of pounds a year. You might think the shop is giving you a good deal but it is the cash being injected by the network that is making it possible.

So the Voda thinking will be to have more control over the offers and direct contact with Joe public which in theory should also give them more control over their spend. That they want to do this is understandable even though there is an obvious additional fixed overhead of running retail premises.

What nobody has bothered to report is that in creating 1,400 new jobs the chances are that they are just moving the jobs from the independent retailers to Vodafone themselves. The market won’t be any bigger. The money is just moving around and the jobs are following.

I don’t really have an axe to grind here. Just observing…

PS the header photo is an old one – it was easier to link to that than find a new one:)

Business mobile connectivity phones social networking spam

1951 exhibitors at #MWC2014

sgs5_thumbYesterday when I signed in for Cloud Expo Europe the guy handing out the badges pointed out a “win an iPhone 5s free draw” for visiting the Telehouse (might have been Telecity – I no longer have the card) stand. All I had to do was take a scratchcard along and see if I’d won.

I duly scratched off the silver scratchey off bit and found a number between 1 and 9,999. Looked like a pretty low chance of winning. In exchange for almost certainly not winning an iPad I was probably going to have to let them scan my badge and stick me on a spam list. Considering also I am not an iPhone fanboi I declined the offer and didn’t specifically head for their stand. It’s a problem, getting people interested in looking at your stuff as opposed to someone else’s.

This morning I wondered whether Mobile World Congress had finished. After the flurry of “exciting” product launches (the Samsung Galaxy S5 and the, erm…) things have gone quiet.

Today is the last day, apparently. At MWC2014 there are 1,951 exhibitors. One thousand nine hundred and fifty one!!! How on earth do you stand out amongst that lot? There must be a much easier way of getting seen.

The web is the only answer. These big shows have to be replaced by website interaction. Ok I hear the argument that says the benefit of going to a trade show is the networking. That can easily be done at specific networking events over a glass of lemonade and a canape. Not too many canapes of course – you will want to do your own fair share of talking:)

Trefor Davies,, not in Barcelona.

PS I hear that half the SGS5 RAM is taken up by its Android firmware load!

Business mobile connectivity

Twitter highlights international nature of #MWC2014

trefor_thumbAlthough we are engrossed in our own language version of life the one thing that has struck me regarding #MWC2014 is the totally international nature of it. We see all the reporting through the websites we use to access such things. However it’s only when you look at the twitter stream for the #MWC2014 hashtag that you really get to see the global nature of the event.

The tweets below represent about a seconds worth of the #MWC2014 stream. Lots of different languages and even more countries. The only thing that is missing here is a real time google translate function within twitter. The sites linked to would be easy as you could invoke the translation for each one as you landed on it.

4g Business mobile connectivity social networking

Report from #MWC2014 – Mark Zuckerberg and the death of the Personal Computer

I see Mark Zuckerberg (founder of Facebook) is in Barca (short for Barcelona – common usage by  the mobile “in” people) for MWC 2014 (Mobile World Congress two thousand and fourteen).

It’s the trendy place to be. You get to be part of the hype, the frenzy. In the run up you casually ask others whether they are going so that they can see that you are going. Affirmative responses result in knowing nods, comparisons of favourite bars and restaurants  and complaints about all the walking that you have to put up with because the show is so large. To those that respond in the negative everything is left unsaid.

I’ve been to Barcelona. Spent a great few days there with my daughter last summer.  We stayed in a nice hotel slap bang in the middle of the city, could walk everywhere and were able to easily retire to the rooftop bar for late afternoon relaxation when we had had enough of the touristy bits.

I years gone by I’ve known one or two of our sales people have to travel in by train from miles kilometres away because accommodation was unavailable in Barcelona itself. Almost as bad as the old days of Telecom Geneva where people would have to commute from Heathrow to Switzerland because hotels were totally sold out for hundreds of miles around (ish) the show.

Mr Zuckerberg is in town because mobile is

broadband End User mobile connectivity Net

Call Me a Cynic, but…300Mbps on a Mobile?

Lindsey Annison shares thoughts triggered by an eye-opening pre-Mobile World Summit mobile broadband announcement.

Just spotted a pre-announcement for the Mobile World Summit starting Monday in Barcelona. It was on a Spanish TV channel (24h) and said “Surfing the Net at 300Mbps on a mobile is no longer science fiction.” (But in Spanish, obv).

300Mbps on a mobile would be cool. And would make FTTC, all of BDUK’s efforts (ahem), and every penny of taxpayer’s money and council subsidy obsolete and a waste of public funds – where there is coverage. Which is pretty much what everyone was warning the government about before the process even began.

End User mobile connectivity

Sometimes it’s best to just hit reset

Toward the end of January I got a notification that a firmware update was available for my Samsung Galaxy Ace 2 so I went ahead and applied it.

Now my years of supporting PCs has taught me that when upgrading an OS its sometimes best to do a clean install, equally, if you have a corrupt download it’s best to delete the file before attempting to download it again.

Why I was under the illusion this didn’t apply to smartphones I don’t know.Since applying the update I’ve had quite a few crashes of applications and Android processes such as System UI and  just general sluggishness.

I’ve tried uninstalling and reinstalling applications and clearing caches but to no avail.

Anyway this morning the phone just completely froze so I ended up pulling the battery.

I’ve held off a factory reset because of having to put stuff like the home Wi-Fi passphrase back in but I decided to just go ahead and do a reset and hey presto its working like new again, in fact the touchscreen appears even more responsive than when it was new.

Business internet mobile connectivity social networking Weekend

No mobile network coverage but WiFi saves the day again

No mobile connectivity no longer a problem.

Went to a Burns Night dinner last night organised by the “Friends of William Farr School”. A good time was had by all and I got to wear my new Irish tartan kilt (photos withheld due to health and safety reasons).

The bash was at Hemswell Court, a former RAF Officers Mess – there will be quite a few such buildings in Lincolnshire which was known as bomber county during the second world war. It’s a v pleasant venue with memories of men in sheepskin flying jackets and the roar of Lancaster bomber engines echoing around the place.

Being in a rural spot, as most RAF bomber command airfields were, there is sod all mobile coverage at Hemswell Court. Ordinarily in town I’d feel somewhat naked without mobile coverage. In Hemswell I didn’t give it a second thought.

This is a) because

4g Engineer engineering mobile connectivity

EE 4G mobile broadband roadmap in UK #LTE-A #mobilebroadband

EE4G4G speeds continue to grow in the UK as EE trial LTE-A 300Mbps.

Sat in an interesting talk at UKNOF27 given by Bob Sleigh of EE. You will know that EE were the first of the mobile operators to sell 4G services in the UK. Bob told us that by the end of 2013 EE 4G services have reached 66% of the UK population with 98% potentially covered by the end of 2014. This represents the fastest rollout of 4G services in any country anywhere and EE now claim that the UK has moved from a mobile backwater to one of the world’s leading implementers.

This claim of world leadership is likely to be on the back of EE’s Techcity LTE-Advanced (LTE-A) trials (November 2013) which saw maximum 4G speeds of 296Mbps. EE expect to roll out LTE-A services in 2014.

Business mobile connectivity

Vodafone mobile outage UK

Vodafone_outageGetting reports of a country wide outage for Vodafone. You can see the number of complaints rising here (or click on the screenshot from if that page has moved on).

Vodafone on Twitter are saying

Vodafone Help AU @VodafoneAU_Help

@samtibbits We’ve got our guys working on an outage there as we speak. You can keep up with the progress here: ^AA

I’m glad I’m not in the Network Operations game any more. When something like this happens the brown stuff hits the fan big time. All customer facing members of staff get it in the neck and the pressure is transmitted to the engineering teams.

If you search “Vodafone outage” on Twitter that gets you lots of reactions.

It seems that no matter how much resilience you build into a network there is always scope for something to go wrong.

PS Just checked – that Vodafone Twitter account is for Australia – could be a global outage except that the tweet is 2 days old 🙂 The mind boggles. Global DDOS attack on Vodafone? Almost certainly not but I’m going to leave it in for effect:)

Business mobile connectivity ofcom Regs

Orange avoids banana skin – Ts & Cs changed to allow VoIP

EE subsidiary Orange appears to have avoided a slippery situation by amending its terms and condition for mobile internet use

The pic below is a screenshot of a YouTube video ad published by EE on July 31st 2013 to push Orange PAYG mobile. It majors on the fact that you get “a shed load of data” (1GB) when you top up your Orange mobile PAYG sim with £10. It’s an attractive ad.

shed load of data

However this advert was misleading as it explicitly showed the logos of Skype, Whats App, YouTube and  SkySports. Whilst the guy in the ad doesn’t specifically mention these services the impression you get is that you could use your shed load of data to access them.

orangetscs1What the average punter doesn’t know is that the EE t’s & c’s for Orange at the time specifically prohibited the use of these services. Page 45 in issue 12 (September 2013) of EE’s booklet  (EE81006958_0913) ee_page45contains lots of very small print of “legal stuff” – in other words its customer terms and conditions.

Page 45: Internet on your phone/data tethering for consumers

ORANGE DATA (including mobile broadband): Mobile internet browsing or tethering (whether as part of an inclusive allowance or not) is not to be used for other activities (such as non-Orange internet based streaming services, voice or video over the internet, instant messaging, peer to peer file sharing).










In their November brochure the TCs and Cs appear to have been changed and VoIP is now allowed. No mention is made of the other services previously proscribed but presumably this means they are also allowed.

Over the past 12 – 18 months The UK VoIP industry trade body ITSPA has been complaining to regulator Ofcom and others that some mobile networks have been exhibiting anti competitive practices by specifically banning the use of Over The Top VoIP services on their data services with Orange being a specific culprit.

The EE response has been that older networks can’t cope with the levels of data traffic generated by these services and that the restrictions were imposed to protect other users’ traffic.

EE now seems to have relented. I doubt that this was down to any ITSPA pressure though this may well have helped. More likely in my mind is the fact that a lot of Orange’s network traffic will have moved to the newer 4G service which will have freed up some bandwidth on the older 3G network making VoIP more palatable.

The final inset picture is of the latest EE T’s & Cs showing the change in terms. Click on the image for a pdf of the full page. It’s nice to be able to put this episode behind us. Well done folks.EE November brochure

4g Business mobile connectivity

O2 4G rollout schedule & EE 4G in Lincoln

4GI’ve been getting updates re the O2 4G rollout schedule.

29th August – London, Leeds, Bradford
27th September – Birmingham, Leicester, Nottingham, Sheffield, Coventry
17th October –  Liverpool
24th October- Glasgow
31st October – Manchester
19th November – Newcastle, Edinburgh, Huddersfield and Wetherby

I’m not sure how the logic works for this rollout. I can understand how networks go for the big metropolitan areas first to get the biggest bang for their early buck. How did Huddersfield and Wetherby slipped into this list? Either there is a little dice rolling going on or someone accidentally pushed the wrong button. Maybe some Telefonica director has a holiday home in Huddersfield? Plausible. Don’t diss the thought 🙂

I look forward to seeing my home town Lincoln on the list. It is very close to being announced by EE – there is a 4G signal in the city. I happen to know that one cell site is already up and running with two more in the pipeline. Watch this space.

Check out the O2 and Vodafone 4G test trip in London here.

Apps End User mobile apps mobile connectivity phones Weekend

Lost phone phound

I normally keep my phone overnight on my bedside table – muted for obvious social reasons. It stems back to the days when I was at the top of the escalation ladder for network issues. Nowadays it’s there for a bit of surreptitious tweeting before Mrs Davies wakes up.

Well I woke up this morning and my phone it wasn’t there, oh no (sung to a blues tune). Yes I woke up this morning and like I said my phone it wasn’t there, oh no. I went downstairs and looked all around the house but still I couldn’t find that darned Samsung Galaxy S4 phone. Oh no.

At this point my imagination started to take hold. Did I leave it at the jazz gig last night? In the taxi? I rang it several times but no joy.

Fortunately technology comes to the rescue these days. I  logged on to my Samsung account and clicked “find my phone”. It was somewhere in our house. Hmm. Location info could be wrong though. I looked at the phone logs. Nobody had pinched it and was using it to call Senegal (random exotic destination that is probably expensive to call).

Then I rang the phone from the Samsung account. This overrides any volume settings on the phone. Wandering around the house I began to hear the faint strains of a Samsung Galaxy S4. It was calling to me. I’m here Tref, here I am.

I found my phone under my pillow, oh yea (followed by a riff on a Fender Stratocaster and a nifty bit of drumming to finish off.

Fat lady sings.


End User mobile connectivity

Disappointing news re mobile charger power consumption

I woke up this morning with the notion that we had far too many mobile phone chargers constantly plugged in in our house. I have one always plugged in by the bed and there were two in the kitchen and likely a couple more in kids bedrooms.

Goodness me I exclaimed! You can picture it I’m sure. These things consume power even when they are not charging a phone. How could we be so environmentally unfriendly?

I’ve dug into this and although the methodology wouldn’t pass scrutiny for a scientific paper I’ve come up with some conclusions. Disappointing conclusions.

According to an article I found on the Beeb a mobile phone charger plugged into a power socket but without a mobile phone connected to it consumes 0.01KWh a day. That would require a 115 microWatt power source.

Also according to the Beeb (fair play) there were by October 2012 six billion mobile phones in the world. If there was one plugged in charger per mobile phone then assuming they were all disconnected from their phones at the same time they would consume 6,000,000,000 c 115microWatt or around 697KW.

That means that one of the generators we have for our Newark data centre could power the whole world’s mobile chargers in their passive state (if that’s the right terminology). Interesting eh? 🙂

All a bit disappointing mind you. I was hoping to come up with some shock horror revelation that would enable me to quantify the power consumption in terms of numbers of nuclear power stations required, but I can’t.

Nevertheless I’m going to instil a discipline at home of unplugging these chargers when not in use. Except the one by the bed that is  – it’s a bit awkward to get around the back of the bedside table.