BBC told to delay iPhone apps

Trust to review corporation's plans for news and sport smartphone apps after protests from newspaper publishers

bbc iphone app

The BBC News smartphone app was due to launch next month. Photograph: BBC

The launch of BBC News and BBC Sport smartphone applications is to be delayed, after the BBC Trust heeded industry calls for it to review the corporation's apps proposals.

Today the BBC Trust has informed the corporation's management that it plans to assess the plans for a series of apps for smartphones including the iPhone and BlackBerry.

The trust said it had also asked for the launch of the first apps to be delayed. The BBC had been planning to launch its BBC News app next month and a BBC Sport app in May. There are also plans for an iPlayer app.

When it unveiled the app proposals in February, BBC management argued that the new mobile content offerings were an extension of existing services and are "plainly not a new content service and therefore doesn't need to tbe regulated as such".

However, earlier this month the Newspapers Publishers Association, which represents UK national newspaper groups, appealed to the BBC Trust arguing that the corporation's apps plans would undermine commercial organisations' ability to establish economic models on smartphones.

"There remains some uncertainty about the potential significance of whether it [the BBC's plans] constitutes a change of service," said a spokeswoman for the BBC Trust today.

The BBC Trust added it had moved to look into the plans "following representations from the industry". The trust will now look at four areas: the financial implications, the impact on "users and others"; how long the activity will last; and the extent to which the change would "involve the BBC in a new area of untested activity".

However, the BBC Trust is not, at this stage, looking to launch a full public value test into the proposed smartphone services.

Source: The Guardian

O2’s CTO Derek McManus on mobile data exceeding voice traffic, the limitations of 3G and the hopes for the data-capabilities of 4G

Could demand for mobile broadband services bring the airwaves to a halt? That is the question on most expert’s lips after it emerged that, for the first time, more data is passing over mobile phone networks than voice.

The tipping point came in December, according to figures from Ericsson, and is being widely attributed to people checking email being joined by social media users sending messages, posting updates and communicating with their ‘buddies’ while on the move.

The potentially alarming point for the mobile phone networks is that this has been achieved with an estimated 400m mobile broadband users around the world, compared to 4bn voice users.

O2’s iPhone experience

Certainly Derek McManus, CTO of O2 confirms that data now exceeds voice on its 3G network and that this has been a long term development he has witnessed through the past two years, pretty much since the network signed a two year exclusive for the iPhone which ended in January this year.

“As the exclusive provider of the iPhone for 2 years, we have unrivalled insight into changing customer behaviour and the impact of intensive mobile applications,” he says.

“We experienced a 20-fold increase in data on our network over the last twelve months. And traffic continues to double every four months.”

This raises many challenges for any network, he points out, and not just in dealing with the extra traffic. One of the challenges is ensuring infrastructure and systems can cope with short, sharp and rapid burst of demands for data which are very different from voice conversations.

“The challenge is not limited to increased demand,” McManus says.

“Data services like Facebook and Twitter generate multiple and concurrent requests to the data network (once every eight seconds) – we call them ‘chatty’ applications.

We are suitably building ahead of this curve by adapting our network and cleverly focussing network investment. The issue of mobile coverage is no longer about simply covering the land mass with mobile masts to meet a percentage target, but rather about depth and quality of experience.

Bigger ‘pipes’ and ‘processes’

Hence, the future, McManus believes, is going to be dominated by the twin challenges of not only moving from 3G to 4G but also developing infrastructure which is suited to the short, rapid burst data requests made en-masse by mobile apps.

“In terms of the immediate future of 3G networks, our priority is to re-dimension infrastructure in anticipation of changing customer behaviour,” McManus explains.

“We’re challenging the industry (including our infrastructure partners) to develop solutions that will suitably support the behaviour of mobile apps. It is no longer just about ‘volume’ (making the pipe bigger) but about the ‘process’ of data handling.

“More long term is the evolution of new technologies, such as 4G. We are currently running ongoing 4G (or LTE – Long Term Evolution) trials with Huawei, which offer speeds up to 150Mbps. Incredibly, our modest 4G trial network in Slough already has the data carrying capacity of the entire live 3G network, which illustrates the vast step change expected of this next generation of technology.”

Source: Sean Hargrave for Samknows Broadband)

Android Crowding Apple, RIM

Google's Android operating system will see the largest growth rate of the three mobile platforms this year, research firm says.

Antone Gonsalves writes in InformationWeek:

As the U.S. smartphone market grows this year, Apple and Research in Motion will see their shares fall as phones built with Google's Android operating system attract a growing number of users, a research firm says.
RIM's BlackBerry will hold on to its leadership position in the U.S. this year, while Apple's iPhone is expected to remain in second place, Canalys reported Friday. Android phones, however, will see the largest growth rate, 169.2%.

Manufacturers will ship 65.1 million smartphones this year, a 38% increase over 2009, according to Canalys. Many consumers buying smartphones for the first time are expected to favor Android phones that are less expensive than the BlackBerry and iPhone.

Lower-priced Android phones will help drive market share of the platform to 18.9% from 9.7% this year, Canalys said. On the other hand, the BlackBerry's share will fall to 43% year over year from 49.2%, while the iPhone's share drops to 21.3% from 23.1%.

Of the major smartphone platforms, only Microsoft's Windows Phone is expected to see a drop in the number of units shipped. That's because Microsoft is not scheduled to ship its upcoming Windows Phone 7 until shortly before the holiday season.

"Windows Phone 7 Series represents a major improvement to the platform that was badly needed from Microsoft," Canalys analyst Chris Jones, said in a statement. "However, the delay between announcement and expected commercial availability in Q4 2010 will make this year a tough one."

Shipments of Windows Phone-based smartphones are expected to fall 1.3% year over year to 4.7 million units. Nevertheless, the devices will account for 10.1% of the market, coming in third behind the BlackBerry and iPhone.

Approval has been granted for the merger of T-Mobile and Orange in the UK by the EU. The approval was conditional on an amendment to the network sharing agreement between T-Mobile and Three as the EU were concerned that the merger could threaten the viability of Three, the smallest mobile network operator in the UK.

The other concession was that the combined network would have to give up 25% of its mobile spectrum within the 1800MHz band. Without doing so, the 60MHz contiguous spectrum held would be significantly larger than any of the other networks giving it the ability to run LTE, the next generation of mobile broadband services, at the best possible speeds within the current spectrum.

In light of these concessions, the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) have withdrawn their request to review the case, giving a green light for the merger to go ahead. This will create the UK's largest mobile network with a market share of around 37%.

Source: Thinkbroadband

T-Mobile Broadband has introduced new cut-price roaming packages that let you go online in Europe from just £1.

Research has shown that “40% of customers would take their laptop on holiday with them if they could get connected to the internet easily,” said T-Mobile as it launched its new Euro Broadband Boosters.

The new mobile broadband roaming add-ons allow customers to choose how much data they want, eliminating “bill shocks” by guaranteeing that they never pay more than the fixed price option they have chosen.

Ralf Pearson, senior propositions manager for mobile broadband at T-Mobile, said: “We want customers to be able to get the most from our mobile broadband service. As 40% say they want to take their laptop away with them to stay connected, we’re launching Euro Broadband Boosters so they can do this without having to worry about the costs getting out of control.

“With this proposition, we’re offering these customers a range of better value, worry-free options, built to suit their different on-line needs while they’re in the most popular travel destinations.”

There will be four Euro Broadband Boosters to choose from, going live on 1 March:

  • 3MB for £1 with about 15 minutes online checking email
  • 20MB for £5 with about two hour’s online usage
  • 50MB for £10 with one days use
  • 200MB for £40 with 30 days usage

The 3MB, 20MB and 50MB Boosters last for 24 hours each, while the 200MB Booster is valid for 30 days.

The Boosters can be bought through a simple webpage that opens automatically when you open your browser in Europe. Once your allowance has been used up or your data has expired, this webpage will reappear, allowing you to buy another Booster if you want to stay online.

Michael Phillips, product director, said: “Starting at just £1 for 3MB, T-Mobile is offering some of the best value for money on mobile broadband roaming packages.

“However, users need to be aware that these bundles - and the comparative offers from Virgin Media Mobile Broadband and Orange Mobile Broadband - are only designed for light internet use and checking emails. If you start watching YouTube clips, downloading music tracks and uploading holiday pictures and videos to Facebook, you'll use up your allowance in no time,” he warned.

Source: Broadband Choices

From today, Europe's mobile phone networks must work with customers to prevent using mobile broadband while travelling from costing the Earth.

Roaming rules put in place by the European Union's Council of Ministers and the European Parliament in June 2009 oblige O2, Orange, Three, T-Mobile, Virgin Media, Vodafone and others to offer customers of a monthly limit beyond which punters will not be charged.

The EU suggested a €50 (£45) cut-off point, but networks are free to agree any other amount with their customers.

Customers who don't make a choice by 1 July will have a €50 limit imposed upon them.

The legislation was put in place to prevent so-called 'bill shock' where phone users accumulate massive bills while travelling in Europe and accessing the internet on roaming tariffs.

Recently, we reported the story of student William Harrison who clocked up almost £8000 in charges for using his UK Orange 3G dongle in France.

The EU's roaming rules limit the wholesale price of data to €1 per megabyte, though carriers are free to charge their customers more. Most, if not all of them, do.

Some networks charge as much as £5 per megabyte to access the internet overseas. Until today, download an 800MB movie and you'd be billed £4000.

Now, when you reach 80 per cent of your agreed limit, your carrier must warn you that you're nearing your cut-off point. When you hit the limit, data access will stop, but you won't end up with a bonkers bill - at least, not for data roaming. ®

Source: The Register

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