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December 22, 2014
by admin

BT buying EE: what does it mean for customers?

BT has entered into exclusive talks to buy mobile network EE for a proposed £12.5 billion – but what will it mean for customers of the two networks?

Quad-play bundles

The move will allow BT to fully compete with Virgin Media as a “quad-play” provider, offering broadband, mobile, landline and television in one bundled package. For existing BT/EE customers, that means they’re likely to be offered discounted deals to take all four services. However, once customers sign one of those deals, the handcuffs are tightened. Switching to, say, another mobile provider is more difficult because the quad-play bundle is priced to cover all four services. Removing one or two elements of that bundle often leads to increased overall prices, which is why operators love bundled deals – they improve customer retention.

The end of EE broadband

BT has already stated that it expects to “generate revenue synergies through selling fixed-line services to those EE customers who do not currently take a service from BT”. That’s corporate doublespeak for shutting down EE’s fixed-line broadband network and transferring the customers to BT. BT will doubtless want as many of those customers as possible to move to its fibre network, where it can lock them down to a new 18-month contract. EE already offers fibre based on BT’s network, so the transition shouldn’t be too painful for customers, although BT will want to supply customers with its own Home Hub router, rather than support equipment previously supplied by EE. 

BT Mobile?

It’s not yet clear what BT plans to do with the mobile network. EE has spent tens, if not hundreds, of millions over the past couple of years trying to establish the brand. Plastering your television screens with Kevin Bacon doesn’t come cheap. However, it seems unlikely that BT will retain the EE brand in the long term. EE will almost certainly become BT Mobile at some point in the future. 

T-Mobile and Orange customers

What of T-Mobile and Orange customers who’ve not yet been moved to EE’s 4G network? BT was already working on a new technology that would allow its vast network of Wi-Fi hotspots to handle customers’ calls in areas where there wasn’t a 4G network. BT was certainly having teething troubles with the technology, but says it “remains confident of delivering on these plans should a transaction not take place”. Might it be that BT focuses exclusively on 4G, and uses that Wi-Fi network as a fallback option for those not in 4G areas? It’s highly doubtful the Wi-Fi network has the range or the capacity to cope, but it will be interesting to see how those plans develop.

Reaching rural customers

The EE acquisition could have implications for BT customers in rural regions. BT and EE worked together in Cornwall, using 4G to deliver high-speed broadband to properties that were too remote to reach with underground fibre. That trial collapsed, but BT may now revive those plans to help it reach customers in those remote areas, rather than going to the expense of laying cable. Earlier this month, EE announced plans to extend its 4G coverage in rural regions using a new “micro-network” technology, which it claimed would bring 4G to 1,500 rural communities by 2017.   

Goodbye EE TV?

BT hasn’t made any official comment yet, but it’s almost certainly curtains for EE TV, the network’s fledgling home television service which combines Freeview with video-on-demand. BT has invested heavily in YouView, which is a very similar proposition to EE TV, and is still in the process of migrating all of its BT Vision customers to YouView. The last thing it needs is another television service to support. EE TV customers will likely be offered a free YouView box before the service is closed. 

Where now for Virgin Mobile customers?

An interesting sidenote from BT’s takeover announcement: it didn’t include customers from virtual networks in its EE customer figures. Does that mean Virgin Mobile, which piggybacks on the EE/T-Mobile network will be forced to look elsewhere? It seems highly unlikely that BT would want to prop up its chief rival. But with O2 effectively putting itself up for sale, Virgin Mobile’s only real alternative is to strike a deal with Vodafone. Unless Virgin’s owner, Liberty Global, decides to buy O2 for itself… 

Customer service

As we reported yesterday, both BT and EE have poor track records when it comes to customer service. Figures released by Ofcom show BT has the worst customer service of any major landline and broadband provider, while EE is bottom of the charts for mobile networks. Mergers of two big companies always cause headaches, as services are merged and billing moves from one company to the other. Ofcom has already singled BT out for criticism for the “speed and ease of getting through to the right person”. The prospect of these two failing customer service departments merging and dealing with increased call volumes will hardly fill customers with joy. Will those fears be sufficient for the watchdog to block the merger? We very much doubt it.

December 22, 2014
by admin

Mobile app to diagnose head injuries scores FDA clearance

  • Mobile app to diagnose head injuries scores FDA clearance

WASHINGTON (Dec. 22, 2014) — The new Defense Automated Neurobehavioral Assessment is a mobile phone-based application designed to help medical providers identify cases of traumatic brain injury in almost any setting, which may help clinicians diagnose a patient in as little as five minutes.

“This is what’s important right now,” said Lt. Col. Chessley Atchison, as he handled the various medical prototypes placed openly around his office, removed from their hard, black plastic cases. “And once we get it right, we’re going to put it fairly far forward in the field.”

Atchison, the program manager for the Technology Enabled Capability Demonstration: Brain in Combat portfolio of the Combat Casualty Care Research Program, is referring to the new Defense Automated Neurobehavioral Assessment, a tool that recently received U.S. Food and Drug Administration clearance.

“It’s like a brain thermometer,” said Atchison.

The Defense Automated Neurobehavioral Assessment, known as DANA, is a mobile phone-based application, or app, designed to help medical providers identify cases of traumatic brain injury in almost any setting, which may help clinicians diagnose a patient in as little as five minutes.

The app will operate much like a video game. Service members will perform a baseline series of on-screen exercises during which both their speed and accuracy will be recorded. Service members who may have had a serious head injury will then participate in a series of both cognitive efficiency tests and self-administered questionnaires. Afterward, a clinician will review the results, comparing them to the results of the baseline exercises. The combination of the app’s cognitive and psychological components allows for insight into the prevalence of symptoms related to both traumatic brain injury and post-traumatic stress disorder.

“In essence, measuring reaction time is like taking the temperature of the brain,” said Corinna Lathan, founder and CEO of AnthroTronix, Inc., the Maryland-based research and development company that created the DANA. “It’s a vital part of the data that any health professional needs to evaluate his patient.”

According to the DANA research team, some of the factors that may affect reaction time include concussion, dementia, post-traumatic stress, depression and fatigue, among others.

Once fully validated for battlefield use, military officials said the product may be used to assist medical providers. In addition, DANA may be used to help assess fitness for duty and possible triage needs when warranted. In these instances, the mobility of the DANA — its accessibility in a variety of settings and locations — augments its functionality. The software can run on a variety of platforms, and is currently being tested on tablet devices as well.

DANA received development funding, in part, through a grant from the Rapid Innovation Fund, a federal support mechanism for small businesses. Developing innovative tools such as DANA is a priority for the military, especially as experts’ understanding of traumatic brain injury expands.

In 2013, more than 27,000 cases of traumatic brain injury were diagnosed across all four main service branches stationed around the globe, according to the Department of Defense. That number is almost triple the number of cases diagnosed in 2000, when the DOD first began recording traumatic brain injury statistics.

December 22, 2014
by admin

Government task force to nurture local mobile companies growth

NEW DELHI: The government has constituted a 14-member task force to catalyse the growth of mobile phone and component manufacturing ecosystem in India, which is on a downward spiral, with the aim of providing much-needed impetus to Delhi’s ‘Make in India’ plans. The panel, which includes representatives from the department of electronics and IT (Deity) and heads of leading local and international mobile phone companies operating in India, has been assigned a 20-point agenda to promote local manufacturing of mobile phones, according to internal ministry documents dated December 8, reviewed by ET.

The committee will have to create a viable roadmap and vision document that broadly outlines investment targets into this sector over five years till 2019. The panel’s recommendations will include technology and demand forecasts aligned with potential landscape of the industry over this period. It will come up with a preliminary report within eight weeks of its first meeting, the date of which is not known yet.

Top smartphone makers Samsung India, Micromax, Lava and Karbonn, which hold more than half the market, will be part of the task force along with upcoming players like Sony, LG and Microsoft, which will be headed by Indian Cellular Association’s president Pankaj Mohindroo, the documents showed. The seven-month old government has set an aim to achieve production of 500 million mobile phones by 2019 and an annual manufacturing output of Rs 150,000 crore to Rs 300,000 crore, roughly a quarter of the world’s handset manufacturing. In the same time frame, a turnover target of Rs 50,000 crore for the component making industry has been set. The panel will also recommend possible measures for creating intellectual property and promote innovation in the sector and increase exports from India to 120 million mobile phone units by 2019 from the present level of 30 million.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has launched an ambitious project to make India a manufacturing hub of electronics, beginning with mobile phones, which will help boost growth and employment, besides making India less dependent on imports that are set to rise to $400 billion, surpassing oil, by 2020. The government recently said that the country imported telecom products worth Rs 69,516.37 crore in 2013-14 while exports of such items were at Rs 20,475.17 crore during the year, leaving a significant deficit of Rs 49,041.20 crore.

Moreover, production of mobile handsets in the country is projected to be down by more than half even as import of handsets is expected to rise by over 18% in 2014. The task force will also give recommendations to provide enabling business environment, policy standardisations and rational duty structure among other critical areas such as skill development and generating employment opportunity for 1.5 million people.

December 22, 2014
by admin

Boeing turns to BlackBerry for help creating super-secret, self-destructing …



Aircraft manufacturer and defense contractor Boeing has turned to Canadian telecommunication form BlackBerry for help developing a super-secret, self-destructing ‘Black’ smartphone for government agencies.

According to The Telegraph, the smartphone will feature dual-SIM capability, built-in encryption, hardware communications crypto, swappable backplates that allow the smartphone to have satellite or radio capability, solar power chargers, and biometric sensors.

Also, in case of any unauthorized teardowns, any tampering of the case will result in all the data being deleted.

“We’re pleased to announce that Boeing is collaborating with BlackBerry to provide a secure mobile solution for Android devices utilizing our BES 12 platform,” said BlackBerry chief executive John Chen.

“That, by the way, is all they allow me to say.”

The DoD currently certifies certain BlackBerry handsets for use on its networks, while the NSA approves the use of newer Samsung Galaxy devices that use Knox.


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