* Posts by Simon Rockman

540 posts • joined 17 Nov 2007


Golly 4G whizz: Vodafone caught using a cheeky bit of Three UK's spectrum

Simon Rockman

It's not about the Vodafone or Three customers

All airports are battle-grounds between the operators. They fight to give coverage because they want the revenue from off-network customers roaming as soon as they arrive and switch their phones on.

Dixons Carphone still counting cost of miserly mobile phone sales

Simon Rockman

It's not Dixon's fault..

There is currently no must-have need to upgrade. Got an iPhone 7, Galaxy 6? You won't be any better off with an X or 9+. The battery life is no better the phones are no thinner, The camera is incrementally better but the old one was good enough as a phone and will never be as good as a proper camera.

Couple that with two year contracts and good SIM-only deals and why upgrade? The new generation of folding phones, particularly the new Moto Razr, might change this, but just as DixonsCarphone can't take the blame for the slump it can't take the credit for the recovery.

Huawei's 5G security scrutiny pain could be Cisco's gain – analysts

Simon Rockman

Protesting too much

I'm starting to suspect that a lot of the government suspicion about Huawei comes from the western governments knowing exactly what they are doing with Nokia/Ericsson/Cisco and whoever, and they assume the Chinese are doing the same.

Remember that the reason Sputnik was put into orbit was because the Russians couldn't do re-entry. The Americans could do re-entry but couldn't reach orbit. America assumed that if Russia could do orbit it could also do re-entry, and this kicked off the whole space race.

Ofcom: More spectrum for all the good boys and girls. Except you, EE. You've had your fill

Simon Rockman

Playing the ESN card

This is where EE says it can't meet it's ESN obligations without 700MHz, I suspect there will be a compromise where EE gives back some of it's higher frequency stuff to get some 700MHz and stay within the 37% cap.


Openreach names 81 lucky locations to be plugged into its super-zippy Gfast pipe

Simon Rockman

Redundant tech

G. Fast is bloody clever but it's an ADSL technology and will never do better than 500mb/s.

BT loves it because BT has more copper in the ground than most copper mines, but using G. Fast is a sticking plaster on old tech. The only sensible solution is FTTP.

G.Fast is, however, a half-way house to FTTP, it's FTTP where P is Pole, fibre to the pole and then copper (or aluminum if you are unlucky) to the home. It's kicking the can down the road and not something BT should be proud of.

We definitely don't need more towers, says new Vodafone boss scraping around for €8bn savings

Simon Rockman

It all depends on what you mean by 5G

If you mean 3GPP release 15 - which is the official definition - then you can do all that at existing spectrum and not build anything. Go on marketing, call it 5G.

If you want Ericsson's vision of 5G which is 500MHz of contiguous spectrum then you are going to need to go to millimeter wave. That's lots and lots more sites. Maybe not towers but buying streetlights is still shareholder baiting capex.

If you want the IoT view of 5G which is a million connections per square kilometer you need lots of backhaul.Again not towers but significant capex.

And testing 5G with its MIMO, Beamforming and full duplex is hard, very, very hard much more so than 4G so again needs a lot more capex.

Thinking in towers is simplistic.

My hoard of obsolete hardware might be useful… one day

Simon Rockman

I think this proves you can throw things away...

If you need an old IEEE488 cable or whatever, one post on Facebook and you'll have one.

I got rid of my Dyson - it was just gathering dust, and my theremin. I hadn't touched it in years.

Planet Computers straps proper phone to its next Psion scion, Cosmo

Simon Rockman

Go for it

I've an early Gemini (I was something like funder 37), and it's been sterling. I don't even have keyboard mat problems. The audio isn't great for calls but it's more than paid for itself in the work I've done on the tube.

UK Home Office admits £200m Emergency Services Network savings 'delayed'

Simon Rockman

Re: Stop rewriting history...

With first deployments April 2016

Emergency Services Network delays to cost public purse £1.1bn, Home Office reveals

Simon Rockman

And this is despite moving the goalposts as to what constitutes coverage. Airwave is 99% landmass, London underground and inland waters, and some sea coverage (used by coastguard).

The new ESN is 90+% landmass - all major roads. And it still looks like being 10 years late.


China's going to make a mobile OS and everyone will love it, predict ball-gazing analysts

Simon Rockman


UK.gov won't Airwave bye for another 3 years, plans to phase in ESN services

Simon Rockman

Be careful of people around the Emergency Services network re-writing the past. The new ESN was supposed to start replacing Airwave in April 2016


This hasn’t started yet so it’s already three years late.

Every time they have moved the goalposts it’s late compared to the last time it was due, hence the “year late”. They haven’t even started testing because the service isn’t ready – I don’t think the device to device software is locked down yet – so whenever it is ready, and that looks like years – there will need to be 18 months of testing. This service isn’t a year late if it’s less than nine years late I will be surprised. Oh, and it’s many years since I used Kodiak, but it was so laggy that when I pressed the button and said hello to a college and they didn’t reply I walked down the corridor to the colleague’s office and as I entered his office I heard my message arrive. I doubt that it’s that bad now, but I very much doubt it’s up to the use the police need.

Vodafone cops ads rap over Martin Freeman's vanishing spaceship

Simon Rockman

Unlike the junk mail I got from BT which makes no mention at all of the speed it's trying to sell me with it's unlimited, superfast fibre. It did say that the speed was 5x what most people had, but not what it was actually selling me.

I'm typing this slowly because I'm in rural Westminster (in what was the nearest residential home to the House of Commons before it became offices), and so BT can only get me 17mb/s.

Hyperoptic arrives soon.

Rights groups challenge UK cops over refusal to hand over info on IMSI catchers

Simon Rockman

I'd rather the police didn't tip off the crooks about what tools they were using. I value my personal freedom not to be robbed by the kind of cook the police are out to catch than any idea that the police might be grabbing one of my IMSIs.

They already have legal intercept and the ability to scan MAC addresses - TfL have show that they regularly track the movements of people by following phones wifi.

Just because IMSI snatching is hard it shouldn't be in a special category,

Psst, says Qualcomm... Kid, you wanna see what a 5G antenna looks like?

Simon Rockman

Not really mmWave

At 28Ghz the wavelength is over 1cm.

Cancelled in Crawley? At least your train has free Wi-Fi now, right?

Simon Rockman

Maybe it's deliberate

If data coverage - mobile and wifi - was better on trains, more people would use them.

And the last thing the rammed train system needs is more passengers.


Relive your misspent, 8-bit youth on the BBC's reopened Micro archive

Simon Rockman

Re: Good manuals

IIRC it was free if you requested it, but shipping a manual to people who in the main had just bought a magic typewriter was a waste of time and money for everyone.

Motorola extends modular phone adventure for another year

Simon Rockman

Good News

This is great. I'm an Indiegogo backer for the keyboard and have been holding off getting a phone until the keyboard arrives. It will be interesting to compare it with the Gemini.

Britain mulls 'complete shutdown' of 4G net for emergency services

Simon Rockman

Re: Why only 4G??

It's only 4G because the other technologies don't support Push To Talk. There is a special flavour of 2G - GSM-R which does.

The core of the problem is the huge gap between the techies who think they know what the blue light services need and the actual requirements of plod and the Fireman Sam chasing scrotes through underground car parks and running into burning buildings.

Simon Rockman

<sarcastic tone> This is such a surprise.</sarcastic tone>. Here's a piece from January 2015:


I don't however think it's Motorola being disingenuous here. Airwave always knew the writing was on the wall and was pretty straight up that it was going to milk the old tech for all it was worth.

It's a combination of EE, Ofcom and DCMS all wishing that the impossible were true.

About to install the Windows 10 April 2018 Update? You might want to wait a little bit longer

Simon Rockman

Agreeing to let the update install resulted in a borked docking station - suddenly my ethernet and USB connections all died. Took an hour on the phone to Dell tech support to get it fixed.

Xiaomi the way: Hyped Chinese giant begins its battle for Britain

Simon Rockman

"an impending bloodbath of phone brands, in which the survivors other than Apple or Samsung".

There is nothing to say that Apple or Samsung will survive. In the early 90s the dominant manufacturers were Motorola and NEC. Motorola with all the skills and IP was untouchable.

In the early 2000s it was Ericsson which had the RF sewn up and Nokia which was supreme with amazing product platforming, distribution and efficiencies.

Nothing is a given, least of all Apple which is a fashion play.

New technologies are often the cause of disruption and 5G might shake the shape of the industry.

Look how modern we are! UK network Three to kill off 3G-only phones

Simon Rockman

So no Doro Clam then?

I notice Doro is out of stock on Three, and while the Swedish company showed a 4G clam at MWC it was a way from shipping

Navy names new attack sub HMS Agincourt

Simon Rockman

Once we have Neutrino detectors in satellites all nuclear powered anythings will lose any element of secrecy an the subs will be obsolete.

Make masses carry their mobes, suggests wig in not-at-all-creepy speech

Simon Rockman

Not all mobes are smart

I'm still selling as many 2G phones as 3G ones, and triangulation is something the mobile networks only do in extreme circumstances. It's significantly resource heavy.

This idea also assumes that people have one phone. What if you have work and personal phones?

And it fails to understand future trends where you might have multiple devices and the one you speak on is different to the one you read which is different to the one for navigation.

BT pushes ahead with plans to switch off telephone network

Simon Rockman

Not just POTS

A couple of my phones are not just POTS and wired, They are pulse dial. Proper rotating dials. Mostly for incoming calls but I do still dial out on them occasionally to see if the 1891 technology still works.

Russian regulator asks courts to disconnect Telegram

Simon Rockman

I once looked at rolling out a secure telecoms service.

I came to the conclusion that it was easy enough to build something which offered protection against a suspicious wife, business partner or rival.

Impossible to build something which would protect you from your government.

I don't understand why anyone uses telegram now that Whatsapp is encrypted. Using Telegram screams "I've got something to hide". With Whatsapp you hide in the masses.

Ofcom to networks: Want this delicious 5G spectrum? You'll have to improve 4G coverage

Simon Rockman

A coverage obligation? What a good Idea! I wonder why no-one suggested that before.

Oh, they did, four years ago:


And 90%? - pants on fire - the operators should have to publish maps of their 10%.


IT peeps, be warned: You'll soon be a museum exhibit

Simon Rockman

I'm not convinced that a rotary dial isn't quicker..

To a number on my rotary phone I pick up the handset and dial. It rings immediately.

To do the same on my smartphone:

Press the button on the phone to wake it. Swipe to unlock, enter the pin (4 digits and enter),

Find the phone app, choose keypad, enter the number and press send.

Then wait while the phone registers, while it checks that it's got credit and does no end of lookups which take a full 10 seconds before the phone at the other end rings.

Ant then it sounds nowhere near as clear.

And this is progress?

But then my business does employ real, human operators to put calls through.

Roses are red, Three's feeling blue, spectrum appeal rejected, they'll have to make do

Simon Rockman

The irony is...

For all Ofcom's whingeing about Three blocking stuff it's Ofcom which has been sitting on it's corporate arse. The consultation for this spectrum sale was in 2014 (http://www.theregister.co.uk/2014/11/07/ofcom_omits_coverage_obligation_in_mod_spectrum_sale/)

The irony is that if BT does buy a huge chunk of 2.3 and 3.4 it may find itself frozen out of the 700MHz it must really want. That makes this spectrum much less desirable. And for all the bluster it's not really in the right place for Three. So that makes the lead bidders O2 and Vodafone. However Telefonica is lukewarm about the UK and has been trying to sell/float/forget about O2 which leaves an auction with just a canny Vodafone.

You have to wonder if it will make the reserve price will of £10m for a 10MHz / 2.3GHz lot and £1m for a 5MHz / 3.4GHz lot. But not as much as I wonder why an organisation which has a remit to "make the best possible use of available spectrum" has been sitting on it for four years,

Hyperoptic's overkill 10Gbps fibre trial 'more than a clever PR stunt'

Simon Rockman

8k video isn't just about frame rate. Experiements at the BBC showed that you also need a faster frame rate. There is an 8k, 240fps standard. Even compressed that's a lot of data, Current HDMI won't do it let alone the broadband.

Elon Musk's Tesla burns $675.3m in largest ever quarterly loss

Simon Rockman

Re: What proportion of those Sales

The deposit on a Model 3 is £1,000 (I've done that), the deposit on the new roadster as a founder or whatever is £180,000.

But then it is quicker than the holy trinity.


Wannabe W1 DOW-er faked car crash to track down reg plate's owner

Simon Rockman

How do you *not* know what the system is?

The plate which is most EL reg would be TCP 1P

Magic Leap blows our mind with its incredible technology... that still doesn't f**king exist

Simon Rockman

The problem with Magic Leap and Hololens is restricted field of view, and for porn you want the experience to be properly immersive.

Ofcom sees off legal threat over 5G auction terms

Simon Rockman

This is all just posturing

They are shaping up for the real battle: 800MHz. Whihc Ofcom has said will be allocated/sold/auctioned some time before 2022.

BT wants to be free of caps so that it can buy the 800MHz. Ofcom only cares about looking good to government by getting as much money as it can out of telcos. So Ofcom wants as many bidders as possible.

Checkmate: DeepMind's AlphaZero AI clobbered rival chess app on non-level playing, er, board

Simon Rockman

Chess and Go? It should be playing online poker.

Maybe it already is...

Ofcom just told BT to up its game on fibre investment

Simon Rockman

There is deliberate obfuscating of "fibre" and "superfast". When White says "fibre" it's very hard to tell what she is talking about - FTTC? V.fast? FTTP?

We've been here before. BT "launched" Infinity 4, it's 300mps service in 2013 and promised fast roll out. That didn't happen. Indeed it appears to have been withdrawn.

For all the bluster, BT has gone backwards.

What's good about the rivals Cityfibre, Hyperoptic, Gigaclear, AQL, UFO and others is that they talk about "gigabit". It's a real number. Customers get 1Gps typically for around £30 a month.

I get a real 200Mps+ from Virgin for £60 a month.

BT, despite market dominance doesn't come close.

The universal service of 10Mbps is pathetic, but the one thing BT is good at is talking a good game to government.

What it needs is Ofcom to properly understand the problem and fix it.

Of course Openreach needs to be hived off but that's a start not the solution.

UK emergency crews get 4G smartmobes as monkeys attempt to emerge from Reg's butt

Simon Rockman

Hmm, some gentle moving of the goalposts here. When I met John Lewis, COO of Airwave he told me that it was 99% landmass, not 97%. What's more because Airwave is ~400MHz it caries well out to sea. Going LTE has siginficant coverage problems. They may be addressed by using device to device communications, so that the police can talk to each other in areas outside of coverage, but Release 14 doesn't support groups through a repeater so it's not functionally as good Airwave.

And going LTE gives a huge problem with the London Underground. All the bluster from the Mayor on providing 4G coverage on the tube is really about making sure this works. The underground now (after more than a decade of teething problems) uses a similar system to airwave. Moving the police to LTE breaks that.

@lglethal The new ESN can't just more to the Tetra frequencies Airwave is on because there isn't the bandwidth. Tetra only does voice and messaging, there is a theoretical data rate of 9600bps but in reality it's 1200bps.. Trying to run LTE in that spectrum wouldn't work. You can't even just do 2G voice because for the push to talk requires VoLTE and so it's all 4G.

Like the initial commetard I too expect the Airwave contract to be extended for the forseeable.

What's not being said in this announcement is that the Samsung deal is one in the eye for Motorola (which owns Airwave), and is probably (I've no inside knowledge on this) suggesting dual-mode Tetra/LTE devices.

BT and Samsung who have the contract going forward will be telling the Government that this is Motorola being technology laggards and just trying to line its pockets.

It's actually the pragmatic approach.

Nokia updates classic comeback mobe 3310

Simon Rockman

If only it had...

This thread of how people want it to be different is depressing.

It is what it is, even when the 3310 was new it wasn't the leading edge. I remember reviewing it and coming to the conclusion that it was way more than the sum of it's parts. It was a nice balance of phone and features and well implemented. Snake and removable covers were interesting novelties.

I can see a model were people have a good, well made dumb phone for voice and a phablet/tablet for everything else.

UK Home Office re-bans cheap call gateways because 'terrorism'

Simon Rockman

End of MTR

Something which has done a lot to promote anonymity is the end of call termination revenue.

If (as I do) you have a mobile phone network there was a time when you got paid for handling calls. So if a customer on Vodafone called a customer on my network, the customer would pay Vodafone who would then share the money with me. I got paid for the bit of the routing which was mine.

This had many downsides. Not least an old-boys club on who got paid what and Ofcom stepped in and now transiting calls is all done for mutual benefit and under various obligations but no cash.

Taking the money out of the equation also removes the need to know who's calling. If I get a call I just deliver it. If I was being paid to deliver it and I found someone regularly not paying me I could sanction them by blocking calls they sent me. But there is no point running credit control when all callers are freetards.

Where this hurts is in tracking nuisance calls. A major way to spot spammers and scammers is to compare the SS7 billing info with the presented CLI and if they are lying, and if in particular you see huge volumes of bulk calls from the same place with clumps of different CLIs then you get suspicious.

In the modern VoIP world there isn't all the signalling info you need to do this. You need to employ other techniques to block the nuisance calls. Ironically the way we do this involves having to spoof CLI.

I'm not saying we should return to call termination revenue. but having lost it has removed the need to be certain who is calling.

HP denies rumours Elite x3 is for the axe, admits coveting neighbour's OS

Simon Rockman

I've got one

And I really like it. OK I have to have an Android phone for all the apps - Xero, Chromecast and the like, but the x3 Elite is my number 2 phone. The android number 3 phone is a Kodak Ektra and that's quite nice.

But all this Windows Phone shenanigans is just treading water until next year when Surface Phone, er, surfaces, and that will take on the world.


Sputnik-1 replica used to test the real thing goes under the hammer

Simon Rockman

Not quite

I understand from a book I read about Korolev that while the Russians had much greater launch capacity than the US - they could get a missile/rocket into space - they could not do re-entry. The one thing the Americans could do. The Americans just assumed that the Russians could do reentry.

The reason Sputnik was launched was that by leaving it up there the Russians didn't have to solve the re-entry problem.

TalkTalk plans to bail on mobile in major shake-up for beleaguered biz

Simon Rockman

Four months

That's all they have.

The mobile networks signed an undertaking in Dec 2014 that by 2017 there would be 90% *landmass* coverage in the UK.


Further investigation by El Reg revealed "by 2017" meant "by the end of 2017" but that gave them three years.

Now we are 16 weeks from that deadline does it look like the networks will meet that promise?

Another day, another drone upstart skips the consumer market

Simon Rockman

It'll need to be heavily autonomous

Being invisible to radar is pointless if it's squawking it's location.

China: Cute Hyperloop Elon, now watch how it's really done

Simon Rockman

The thing that most disappointed me at the last election..

Was the complete lack of ambitious infrastructure promises in the manifestos.

London 'not-spots' look out! Mayor wants team to tackle crap signal

Simon Rockman

Starting now for 2019

Good luck with that. "Connect", the TETRA system used for driver communication and signalling was a three year project. It took over 11 years. Putting LTE in with consumer access and the ability to handover a train full pf people streaming Youtube is significantly more difficult.

But this isn't that much of a problem. The police won't exclusively be using LTE anytime soon, they will have TETRA capable devices for another decade.

Cooling? The tube should replace the second carriage of every train with a flatbed truck with a huge block of ice.

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.


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

Simon Rockman

Fantastic headline

That is all

UK mobile number porting creaks: Arcane system shows its age

Simon Rockman

Re: Have they sorted 07777 numbers yet?

BT owns 0777

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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