* Posts by Simon Rockman

494 posts • joined 17 Nov 2007

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UK ministers' Broadband '2.0' report confuses superfast with 10Mbps

Simon Rockman

Re: Sorry, 10 Mbit/s IS ENOUGH for most people.

Yeah and 640k is all you need.

Infrastructure - both broadband and HS2 - *creates* use cases.

When I see that we are arguing over 10Mb/s and 24Mb/s I weep inside. The need for these speeds has already passed. We should be building 1Gb/s and planning 10Gb/s.

Simon

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Virgin Mobile has in-continent data roaming problems – peeved customers

Simon Rockman

Fantastic headline

That is all

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UK mobile number porting creaks: Arcane system shows its age

Simon Rockman

Re: Have they sorted 07777 numbers yet?

BT owns 0777

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Simon Rockman

Re: Makes me wonder..

No, text messaging uses an *entirely* separate database and routing system called IR21 (cf. SS7 vulnerabilities and various Snowden documents).

Because of the way SMS was just a good idea at the time (https://www.theregister.co.uk/2015/07/08/the_real_history_of_sms/) it was set up with an infrastructure that is even more archaic and strange.

That number and text ports happen at the same time is pretty miraculous.

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Simon Rockman

Re: POTS

Someone did once suggest that Fuss Free Fones could be 3F, rather than 3G. I didn't like the idea.

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Testing, testing, 1, 2, 3, 4G: Tube comms trials for emergency crews

Simon Rockman

A whole heap of issues

El Reg has documented many of the issues withe the ESN which show why it's just not going to happen, but the tube has some very special problems,

The chief one, and one no-one likes to talk about, is the working practices.

Say a light bulb needs replacing, and all the requisite permissions and forms have been filled in for a new one.

Someone needs to fit the new bulb. That needs to be done outside operating hours at k'ching overtime.

That someone also needs to have the necessary safety certificates. There are two of them. But no-one who changes light bulbs has either of them so has to be accompanied by someone who does.

No-one has both certificates so the bulb-changer has to be accompanied by two people with certificates. All at k'ching rates.

On the London Underground it really does take three men to change a light buld.

But it gets worse. Under the working practices they don't just rock up at the faulty bulb. The get paid to travel to a muster point and then paid to travel to the faulty bulb whereupon they take a break. Then the tricky technical work of replacing the bulb is done, then they take another break. Then they travel back to the muster point and then home.

The cost of the operation is eleven times what you would expect.

The Tetra system on the Underground is called the Connect project. It was a three year project which took more than 11 years to complete.

I am overwhelmed with admiration for Virgin media who got wifi into the stations, but hugely pessimistic that anything will happen with the ESN.

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Simon Rockman

Re: 2020?

Minimum LTE is 2 x 5MHz

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Jodie Who-ttaker? The Doctor is in

Simon Rockman

Two comments

I've no problem with her being a "she". I do think she is too young. There should be something a little time-worn and crusty about the doctor (it's why Matt Smith didn't fit). That said I hope she doesn't quit after five minutes like the recent Doctors all have.

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€100 'typewriter' turns out to be €45,000 Enigma machine

Simon Rockman

Meanwhile some beautiful old typewriters are worth nothing. £100 is steep. My Imperial is worth about that, but my Royal Barlock maybe worth more. I'm picking up an IBM golfball at the weekend.

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Former GCHQ boss backs end-to-end encryption

Simon Rockman

I agree that it was a very good, intelligent interview.

I also agree that the lack of technical understanding of those in power is a huge problem.

So having someone explain things on Radio 4 in the morning is hugely important.

Simon

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What? What? Which? Former broadband minister Ed Vaizey dismisses report

Simon Rockman

Believing BT bollocks

BT has a lot of copper in the ground. More than many copper mines. And it sweating that asset. Rather than put in fibre as proposed by the CN21 proposal decades ago BT wants to use G.fast which is bloody clever but incapable of delivering the speeds. BT has a link between Martlesham and the BT Tower which delivers terrabits over a single fibre, adn yet it has persuaded the government that 10Mps is all anyone needs.

Hong Kong has 95% availability of 1Gb and a 10Gb service. BT weasels the statistics by redefining "Europe" as five countries on some spurious data and then claiming we are "leading".

The government should stop listening to BT and go out and look at what the rest of the world - particularly Asia - is doing.

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You'll soon be buying bulgur wheat salad* from Amazon, after it swallowed Whole Foods

Simon Rockman

Amazon selling food

I thought Amazon's preferred offering was spam.

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Amazon and others sniffing around Slack

Simon Rockman

I see the Windows Phone version of the Microsoft Teams app has a rating of 2.6/5 on the Microsoft Apps store.

Slack (beta) has 4.0/5

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Nokia plans comeback on back of virtual reality

Simon Rockman

See also what Lytro is doing. The company has pivoted from being a consumer device to an industrial one.

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So few use Windows Phone, Microsoft can't be bothered: Security app is iOS, Android only

Simon Rockman

Windows Phone is dead, long live Surface

Perhaps the reason there is no Windowsphone version is that Microsoft sees Surfacephone as The Future.

But it does look pretty bleak for Windows Phone, not only are new apps not being developed for Windows Phone, existing ones are being discontinued. I paid for Flightradar24 and now no longer have it. Even the BBC has discontinued, iPlayer as an app, saying that you can use the browser instead, but that's flakey. When The Today Programme goes quiet I don't know if it's the cellular connection, browser or bluetooth to my headphones which are to blame. I think I'm going to buy an FM radio..

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Intel swallows Tesla-hating self-driving car biz Mobileye for $15bn

Simon Rockman

Re: "talking about computing rather than size of engine"

"Paint can", that'll be another one of those El Reg units of measure.

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81's 99 in 17: Still a lotta love for the TI‑99/4A – TI's forgotten classic

Simon Rockman

Never did it for me

I go misty eyed at most bit of kit but even in the day I never got the TI99/4a. How could somethin which was 16bit be so much slower than the 8bit computers?

Then of course we got the QL (albeit with an 8bit bus) and found out.

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Simon Rockman

The HP x3 phone has a 12C app on it.

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New prison law will let UK mobile networks deploy IMSI catchers

Simon Rockman

WhatsApp does secure voice

So anyone who wants to make a call that their mobe network can't and over to the police just needs one of the most popular apps around.

There is a big difference between IMSI capture and listening to the call. And litening to a call from a plane where there are cell hand-off issues would be very hard.

I often wonder how the secure phones (Black Phone, General Dynamics et Al) handle the MAC address. There is no point the phone bit staying under the radar if the WiFi is broadcasting an unique number.

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Three drops £250m on UK Broadband

Simon Rockman

It's ALL about the spectrum

The customer base of 15,000 is worth between £2m and £3m. You might attribute some value to the Relish brand but not much. The value is in the spectrum.

The magic thing about 3.4GHz is that it's flavour of the month for 5G and has been allocated some experimental status. It's not enough bandwidth for Ericsson's vision of 5G which wants 500MHz of contiguous spectrum and so is looking at much higher frequencies but it's plumb where Huawei see 5G.

Unfortunately this move goes to re-enforce Ofcom's (unstated) reason for blocking the Three/O2 sale. If the two companies had merged there would have been one fewer customer for the (delayed for over a year), auction (https://www.theregister.co.uk/2015/10/26/ofcom_spectrum_auction/) for 3.4GHz and 2.3GHz. Ofcom is all about "recognising market value" for the spectrum, and Three has just put a price on it. And Ofcom has to be disappointed at how low that is.

Ofcom claims it's about keeping competition in the market but if you look at what has happened at retail, all the real networks have increased prices. Only the MVNOs keep the MNOs under price pressure.

The 2.3GHz is now interesting because there are quite a lot of phones which support it.

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BBC and Snap. But, why?

Simon Rockman

Meanwhile the BBC is discontinuing it's support for iPlayer on Windows Mobile

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David Hockney creates new Sun masthead. Now for The Reg...

Simon Rockman

Re: El Reg and Sun, hmm...

I rather like that

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Felted! AI poker bot Libratus cleans out pros in grueling tournament, smugly trousers $1.8m

Simon Rockman

There has been some interesting AI research done by Snowie which produces AI based poker training

http://www.pokersnowie.com/

They do "poker for business" and other interesting things, but I suspect Snowie already has bots playing online.

Simon

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Baird is the word: Netflix's grandaddy gets bronze London landmark

Simon Rockman

My great grandparents saw a demo in Baird's flat. They were queuing to get into the Radio Exhibition at Earls Court and Baird asked people in the queue if they wanted to see radio with pictures,

They went to his flat where he showed it.

Simon

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Apple eats itself as iPhone fatigue spreads

Simon Rockman

The Chinese market

The love of bigger phones in China is easily explained by the glyph based language.

The characters lend themselves to a bigger screen.

But I'd hazard that Apple's real problem is Trump. If he starts a trade war with Chiiina, there will be tariffs both ways. Importing phones made by Foxconn will attract penalties. It might also be the same for the vast majority of other handset manufacturers (I can only think of one being built in the US and that uses a Sharp screen) but price rises there will be bad for sales. All the phones I'm buying for my business have gone up in price because of Brexit.

Worse will be the tariffs Apple will face selling iPhones in China, when the Middle Kingdom retaliates the locally produced stuff will be very much better value.

Then Apple will announce that it's electric car is a Lamborghini rival and an not the mass market cheap Tesla everyone is hoping for (you don't hire Alex Hitzinger to build a Skoda) and the market will really turn on Apple.

Having a phone which is a couple of inches too small will be least of Apple's problems.

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Emergency Services Network to be hit by delays, warn MPs

Simon Rockman

Re: Going underground

The "happy coincidence" of Connect and Airwave talking to one another is even greater than portrayed.

Even with both using the same technology the nature of the Public Private Partnership (PPP) by which Connect was funded meant that it was expected that the political nature of TfL meant the two would never talk to one another.

Connect was a complete financial disaster for the companies which took part in the PPP, so when it was muted that the terms be changed to allow Airwave access it found that the institutions who'd lost money would only agree if they could use agreeing to the change as a lever for financial recompense. (old contemporary blog here: http://www.catkeynes.com/CS00006.html)

The result of the 7/7 bombing was that the changes could be made with less haggling.

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Simon Rockman

One of the issues is the FUD being sewn by all the parties involved. Speak to EE and it will exaggerate how good it's 4G coverage is while deriding Airwave's. The physics say that a 400MHz Tetra system *has* to give better rural coverage.

The state of the ESN is no surprise. Kat and I wrote about this over two years ago.

If you really want to get those involved looking at their shoes ask about London Underground. There are discussions about putting in a dedicated LTE network or going back to the 1970s with FM, but given that the Underground's Connect project took eleven years to roll out a three year install - and only got emergency access at all as a result of the 7/7 bombings, the idea of moving off Tetra anytime soon is farcical.

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BT installs phone 'spam filter', says it'll strain out mass cold-callers

Simon Rockman

I know someone who used to have some 070 numbers back in the day when you could revenue share on them. He'd ask scammers to "call back on my mobile", and give out the 070 number. This they duly called without realising that it was premium rate.

He built this up to a system where he courted the calls and VoIPed them to South Africa where he had kids in townships being paid to keep the callers on the line for as long as possible.

Me? I just run my own mobile network which has never connected a nuisance call to a customers.

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Soz fanbois, Apple DIDN'T invent the smartphone after all

Simon Rockman

Re: Apple stole the iPhone

I'm pretty sure Apple didn't drop the PPC: Intel stole the customer. Intel paid Apple to make the switch and covered the engineering effort for the port.

At one of the companies I worked for, making ARM based devices, I was approached, informally in the canteen, by someone from Intel saying that if we'd make a similar switch they would develop the OS for us.

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Simon Rockman

Re: I am puzzled by the premise of this article

Apple may not have invented the smartphone, but plenty of other people - such as Tim Hartford - seem to think that it did. This article started as a response to the same article Andrew also wrote about.

But the premise isn't about the product, it's about business process. There was a pent up demand for smartphones which was only satisfied when Apple circumnavigated the operators buying process,

And given that it's made Apple the richest company on the planet perhaps that's more important than innovation.

Indeed innovation is often a disguise for fashion. cf curved televisions.

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Around 1.4 million people have sub-10Mbps speeds - Ofcom

Simon Rockman

10Mb is pathetic

It's a number invented by BT to lobby with and they can't even do that. Hong Kong has 95% availability of 1Gb and good availability of 10Gb (albeit at a price). And before you say "yes, but Hong Kong is densely packed" there are plenty of places in central London where BT can't deliver decent speeds.

All the running is being made by Hyperoptic, Cityfibre, Gigaclear and AQL. They all offer 1Gb typically at £25/month.

A visionary government would have a percentage of places which could get 10Gb by 2020.

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Going underground: The Royal Mail's great London train squeeze

Simon Rockman

Nice story

Shame it was such a long way to travel from The Reg office :-)

Simon

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Ageing GSM crypto cracked on commodity graphics rig

Simon Rockman

Not a problem

No commercial mobile phone network uses A5/1 anymore. They have moved to A5/2 or A5/3

Simon

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RRS Sir David Attenborough construction goes full-steam ahead

Simon Rockman

and after the sea

The sea plus, the sea plus plus, the sea sharp and the objective sea.

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BT will HATE us for this one weird 5G trick

Simon Rockman

Re: Bus AND Cycle Lanes

I know that stretch. It's part of my commute and it's great. You can deliberately cycle slowly to annoy the buses.

Did I mention that I hate buses?

The court date for my altercation with a Metroline Number 4 is set for the middle of December.

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Simon Rockman

Re: Which London?

Both.

You are quite right, North and South London are completely different cycling experiences. And not just because the north is hilly and the south flat.

I live in Finchley and work in Old St. But my girlfriend lives in Brixton.

Simon

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Brit telcos plead with Ofcom: No one should own more than 30% of available spectrum

Simon Rockman

Not all spectrum is equal. This spat about 2.3 and 3.4GHz - originally scheduled for sale last January - isn't that important.

What's going on here is battle lines being drawn for 700MHz which is coming and far more important.

The non-BT networks are all concerned that BT will claim it needs 700MHz for the Emergency Services Network and so lay claim to it.

Simon

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HP Ink COO: Sorry not sorry we bricked your otherwise totally fine printer cartridges

Simon Rockman

If you want a real con, have a look at Franking machine cartridges. £120 for about 20ml.

If you think of the old joke "how do you double the value of a Skoda? Fill up the petrol tank".

To fill up the 90l petrol tank of a £260k Lamborghini Aventador with that ink would cost £540,000. It would triple the "value" of the car.

Chanel No. 5 is substantially cheaper than printer ink.

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Oi, Apple fanbois. Your beloved Jesus Phones are pisspoor for disabled users

Simon Rockman

Thank the AARP

Mobile phone manufacturers, in the main, are very poor at all kinds of features to help those who struggle with technology. What we do have usually comes from the FCC mandating features and that only happens because the US senior citizens group AARP, has lobbied for them.

ARRP is like a cross between Saga and Age UK, it used to stand for the American Association of Retired Professionals until the organisation realized (sic) that most of its members were no retired.

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Hackers hijack Tesla Model S from afar, while the cars are moving

Simon Rockman

What's worrying is that it's a Tesla

When it comes to understanding this kind of thing Tesla are way ahead of most car manufacturers.

And all cars are going online. It's far cheaper than a recall for fixes and opens up the ability of the car companies to sell content. They can't afford to keep cars offline.

Simon

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'Inherent risk' to untried and untested 4G emergency services network – NAO

Simon Rockman

Re: Towers

There is a lot wrong with the ESN plans but the need for towers is not one of them. Both TETRA and LTE Release 13 have device to device capability. What Release 13 doesn't do is support group calls through a relay. Lots of details here: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2015/01/08/airwave_tetra_switch_off_gov_services_onmishambles/

That article was 18 months ago and the National Audit Office has only just woken up.

Simon.

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Vodafone bins line rental charges as it moves onto TalkTalk's turf

Simon Rockman

Not the first though..

For people living on the Isle of Wight, there has been a proper, fast fibre service withough having line rental for a while:

http://www.wightfibre.com/ie-no-line-rental/

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Ofcom: Legal separation will force Openreach to eat more fibre

Simon Rockman

BT has done a great job of persuading the government that 10Mbps is adequate. Cisco is saying it can see a need for 10Gbps. A speed difference akin to that between a rowing boat and a fighter jet, and yet the government has fallen for the 10Mbps line.

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Apple and Android wearables: What iceberg? It’s full steam ahead!

Simon Rockman

A broken watch tells the right time twice a day?

Not if it's a smart watch.

This is the dawn of the smartphone again. Phones went from having a three week battery life to one day. My watch as a three year battery life. No amount of functionality compensates for the pain of having to remember to charge every night.

Smartwatches are a device looking for a need.

Simon

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Microsoft's Windows Phone folly costs it another billion dollars

Simon Rockman

It's a shame

I've just broken my 950XL. I'm using a Galaxy S6 edge which I don't like, but Windows 10 Mobile isn't as good as 8.1 and don't want to go Apple, so I'm not sure where to go next. What I want is an HP Envy x3 but (1) it's not available and (2) I don't think I'll be able to afford it.

I really liked my Lumia 930 but drowned it doing this:http://www.theregister.co.uk/2015/10/10/atom_merci_mission/

Simon

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How Nokia is (and isn't) back in the phone business today

Simon Rockman

Communicator

Something with a communicator form factor - Android, Windows, whatever - please.

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'Bitcoin creator' Craig Yeah Wright in meltdown

Simon Rockman

Re: "How can I prove it?... How can I prove it?..."

He claims to have kind of done this. If he's got the SGI computer he says (C10N) he should take BBC Rory to Iceland to see it.

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Microsoft: Ditch your phone biz and do crazy hardware experiments

Simon Rockman

What Windows 10 does do nicely on a phone is talk to other Windows 8.1/10 devices. So I can move from my laptop to my desktop, to my phone and Surface using exchange server and one drive and it all just works.

Yes, I've sold out to Microsoft but you only get the reliable integration if you sell out to one platform, be it Apple, Google or Microsoft. Only one of those three makes Office so that's the decider for me.

Simon

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UK carrier Three in network-wide ad-block shock

Simon Rockman

A couple of comments.

Shine's major investor is Hutchison.

They have a business model which creates revenue for the telco by getting advertisers to pay to let ads through the block.

"Relevant" means people who've paid.

Simon.

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The field at the centre of the universe: Cambridge's outdoor pulsar pusher

Simon Rockman

open it up to the public?

For schoolkids?

Which part of "former chemical weapons dump" did you not follow?

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