Monday, 22 March 2010

PM Pledges to Provide Fast Broadband for all by 2020

Gordon Brown is expected to make an announcement on Wednesday in which he will promise to provide high speed broadband for every house in the country by 2020. The PM is expected to equate broadband with "the electricity of the digital age" and suggest that speeds of over 50mb are to be provided for all.

The idea of 'broadband for all' is not a new one, the Government's Digital Britain Report was published in June 2009 and recommended providing high speeds for all. As I wrote back in July "They believe that broadband is essential for everyone from school children to big business in order to strengthen the economy and reduce poverty. Children from homes without an internet connection tend to get, on average, lower grades. Businesses need fast connections in order to compete with the global market."

If Labour win the next election they plan to create a 'broadband tax' in order to raise money to improve the country's broadband infrastructure. The tax, which has be opposed by the Tories, will take the form of a 50p per month levy on landlines. The PM expects this tax to raise between £175m and £200m per year. Given the easy availability of contract SIMs this could be yet another nail in the coffin of fixed line services.

The Government also plans to move public services online giving each person in the UK a personal webpage from which they will apply for Passports, submit tax claims and claim housing benefit etc. This plan would save the government millions of pounds although it would also result in lost jobs and potential lack of data security.

"Faster broadband speeds will bring new, cheaper, more personalised and more effective public services to people. It will bring games and entertainment options with new levels of sophistication. So one vision for Digital Britain would create two nations: one digitally privileged, one digitally deprived. And this will mean a massive penalty in economic development to those who are denied access because of a failure of government to rise to the challenge where markets fail. The alternative is our vision: ensuring, not simply hoping for, universal coverage."
Gordon Brown

It is not yet clear how Mr Brown intends to provide 'broadband for all'. Previous plans have included expanding mobile broadband coverage to include deprived rural areas, given the speeds expected to be promised mobile broadband alone would not be enough.

Wednesday, 17 March 2010

Signing Up For The 3G iPad Service Information

The iPad prelaunch was a rousing success as far as Apple is concerned. Some 91,000 iPads were pre-ordered on the first day, and market analysts are estimating that Apple will see as much as 500,000 iPads pre-ordered before April 3rd. This coming after they aired their first commercial during the Oscars. If some weren’t interested in an iPad before you saw that commercial, likely their opinion changed pretty quickly. Apple does a good job of polishing their commercials as much as they do their devices. Needless to say, iPad case and accessory makers are frothing at the mouth over this new devices potential.

Along with the launch of the iPad pre-order, Apple also let leak more information about their 3G iPad tablets and how the data service would work. Apparently the 3G iPad tablets aren’t going to be available until later in April. The Wi-Fi on the iPad will support 802.11n for optimal performance. There will be two 3G broadband plans available through AT&T, one allowing up to 250 MB of data for $14.99 and the other allowing unlimited data for $29.99. Apple has made it as easy as pie to spend your money on the service as well- you will be able to sign up for the service directly on your iPad with an easy sign up screen in your preferences. There appears to be no contract necessary so you can cancel at any time, so if you will need more data because you will be traveling, just upgrade your account or enroll on the go. Customers who have the limited plan will get alerts when their allotted credit has 20%, 10%, and 0% remaining. In addition to getting the 3G service users will also get access to AT&T’s 20,000 other Wi-Fi hotspots.

For that price, even we are considering getting a 3G enabled iPad. We’ve tried using our iPhone as a complete replacement for a laptop computer while on the go, and it almost (but not quite) fills that gap. However, Apple’s new tablet has a real possibility of replacing a laptop completely when traveling and on the go, all you need are a couple additional accessories for the iPad like a bluetooth keyboard and iPad stand or cover. If you live a jet set life and are often on the go, then this gem is going to be a real life saver!

Contributed by our friends at iPad Accessories who are the premier source for iPad accessory information on the web. Check out their latest post on the Best Accessories For iPad you will want to think about buying to accompany your newest gem!

Thursday, 11 March 2010

Mobile Networks Competing for Apple iPad Exclusivity

When Apple launched their latest device, the iPad many were quick to mock. The name and the size of the device seemed comical to most of us and yet interest in the iPad is high and it will no doubt sell like hot cakes. Suddenly people are looking down at their iPhones and iPods and deciding that they are lacking in size, what they really need is some kind of tablet device in a sleek black case without a removable battery.

The cheaper iPad models will, like the iPod touch, only connect to the internet via a Wifi connection. The higher end models will connect via 3G and will therefore require a contract iPad SIM card and a data contract. This has lead to a lot of interest from some of the UKs biggest mobile phone providers who want to sell the iPad. Apple executives are apparently in the country currently meeting with representatives from O2, Orange and Vodafone in order to decide who will be in on the launch.

It is not yet clear if any of the providers will have exclusive dibs on the iPad, although they would no doubt be more than happy to sign an exclusive deal. It is more likely that Apple will choose several of the big suppliers in order to maximize exposure and create competition. With Apple likely to take up to 30% of data revenues (as they do with the iPhone) the margins will be slim but the potential exposure will be great.

Whilst the interest in the iPad was inevitable (chuck an Apple logo on anything and it'll sell) it seems to be an indication of where things are headed. There appears to be a split in the mobile devices available between smart phones/ mobile computers and more basic pay as you go type phones. Most providers now offer free SIM card at one end of the spectrum and very high tech devices at the other end.

Wednesday, 3 March 2010

Skype Mobile App Comes to the Nokia Ovi Store

Nokia's Ovi store was launched in May 2009 and provides Nokia users with access to a variety of free and paid Apps. While it isn't as popular or as extensive as Apple's App store it has been a success and has recently hit 1.5 million downloads a day according to their in-house stats. The increasing sales of Symbian based smartphones has been credited with doubling the amount of monthly registrations during February.

The Ovi Store's latest release is a version of the Skype mobile application for Symbian devices. Whilst this application has been available previously it is expected that it's presence in the Ovi store will lead to an increase in downloads. Skype are hoping that by including their software in the store for free they will be able to increase their popularity amongst the 200 million smartphone users worldwide.

Using Skype's VOIP (Voice Over IP) software to circumnavigate calling cost is not a new idea. Three already offer a dedicated Skype Mobile called the Skypephone S2 and the mobile software is available for iPhone, Blackberry and Android devices. As consumers demand more from devices and tariffs the idea of paying a premium for calls seems less acceptable. With free minutes and VOIP calling it increasingly feels like we are paying for the device rather than our usage.

The fact that mobile phone providers are so happy for their subscribers to use the software shows that they are embracing the changing usage patterns of mobile devices. It seems likely that in the future we wont be carrying around a phone but a mobile computer with the ability to make phone calls. If you compare the early mobile phones with current smart phones you could even say that this has already happened.

Hands On With The HTC Legend

HTC are set to release their Legend smart phone in Europe next month (April). The Legend is an updated version of the Hero, and features a case made from a single block of aluminum. Despite this the phone has a removable battery (take that Apple!), it is also slimmer than the Hero.

The Legend is set to feature:

* 3.2 inch HVGA capacitive multi-touch display
* Android 2.1 OS
* 5MP camera with autofocus and LED flash
* Bluetooth
* Accelerometer
* Optical trackpad
* Wi-Fi
* 3.5mm headset jack
* Compass
* FM radio

The video preview below comes courtesy of IntoMobile.