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October 7, 2015
by admin

Facebook to launch satellite to expand Internet access in Africa

Facebook Inc said it would launch a satellite in partnership with France’s Eutelsat Communications to bring Internet access to large parts of sub-Saharan Africa.

The satellite, part of Facebook’s platform to expand internet access mainly via mobile phones, is under construction and will be launched in 2016, the companies said on Monday. (

The satellite, called AMOS-6, will cover large parts of West, East and Southern Africa, Facebook Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg said in a Facebook post.

“To connect people living in remote regions, traditional connectivity infrastructure is often difficult and inefficient, so we need to invent new technologies,” Zuckerberg said.

The platform offers free access to pared-down web services, focused on job listings, agricultural information, healthcare and education, as well as Facebook’s own social network and messaging services.

Growth in the number of people with access to the Internet is slowing, and more than half the world’s population is still offline, the United Nations Broadband Commission said last month.

Facebook has nearly 20 million users in major African markets Nigeria and Kenya, statistics released by it showed last month, with a majority using mobile devices to access their profiles.

The company opened its first African office in Johannesburg in June.

Tech news website The Information reported in June that Facebook had abandoned plans to build a satellite to provide Internet service to continents such as Africa. (

(Reporting by Sai Sachin R in Bengaluru; Editing by Don Sebastian)

October 7, 2015
by admin

Windows 10, Lumia 950 Won’t Win The Smartphone War, But Microsoft Is Already …

LONDON — For Microsoft, the smartphone battle is already over and it has lost. The U.S. tech giant has spent billions on building its Windows Phone platform and even more buying the doomed Nokia smartphone business – all for less than 3 percent of the market. On Tuesday it will unveil its latest flagship smartphones, but if you read between the lines it’s clear Microsoft is laying the groundwork for Plan B.

To wit: Microsoft offers its most popular software, Microsoft Office, to iPhone, iPad and Android users even before it is available on its own Windows Phone. It’s a sign that Microsoft is preparing to concede defeat and leverage the power of Apple and Google’s massive user bases to cash in on the smartphone boom in the only way it can.

Windows 10 is Microsoft’s latest attempt to crack the mobile market, with the cross-platform operating system working across devices ranging from desktop computers to wearables and, of course, smartphones. It promises developers the ability to write their apps once and deploy them on multiple devices, but after five years attempting to take market share from iOS and Android, it remains a “completely insignificant, niche player” in the world’s most important computing segment.

“Microsoft now is a niche smartphone player both in terms of the number of devices Microsoft ships and in terms of market adoption of the Windows platform on smartphones,” Ian Fogg, a senior analyst with IHS, told International Business Times, adding that the number of smartphones Microsoft sells “will be completely insignificant in volume terms compared to the vast mass of Android and iPhone smartphone devices that ship this year and next.”

Microsoft has spent the last five years trying to challenge Apple and Android as the dominant players in the smartphone market, boldly stating in 2013 that it would claim 15 percent share by 2018. But since the launch of Windows Phone 7 in 2010, it has failed spectacularly and is expected to end 2015 with less than 3 percent of the global smartphone market. 

This comes after spending billions on developing the platform and most notably spending $7.2 billion on an acquisition of Nokia’s mobile phone business — a deal so disastrous that less than two years later it was taking a $7.5 billion writedown on the deal, while shedding more than 25,000 jobs.

What went wrong, and is there any light at the end of the tunnel?

Dead In The Water

As Cyanogen CEO Kirt McMaster told IBT: “With the consumer today, if you are starting with less than what’s available on iOS or what’s available on Android, you are dead in the water.”

Microsoft was starting from scratch in October 2010 when it unveiled Windows Phone 7. At the time, Apple’s iOS already had 300,000 apps available that had been downloaded more than 7 million times. Android, which was itself playing catch-up, had 100,000 apps available.

Smartphone OS Market Share by Quarter | SpecOut

“Around the Microsoft platform there has not been strong developer support, and Microsoft has to fight in a market where the other two competing platforms were already very well established with vast ecosystems of apps, so it was very hard for Microsoft — despite the great hardware — to deflect demand from the competition,” Roberta Cozza, a mobile analyst with Gartner, told IBT.

The volume of apps did eventually arrive, reaching 300,000 by the end of 2014, but quantity was not the only problem. “Initially it was lack of apps, but when the Windows Store got hundreds of thousands of apps for smartphones, then the challenge was quality of the apps,” Neil Shah, principal analyst at CounterPoint research, told IBT. “Many marquee apps were, and are still, behind in terms of features and experience compared to their versions on iOS or Android.”

Slow Pace Of Innovation

In the intervening five years, at a time when Microsoft needed to be innovating faster than Apple or Google around consumer-focused features, it was focusing instead on under-the-hood efforts at moving the OS from the old Windows CE kernel to the main Windows kernel. Technically this was an important step and allowed for Windows 10 cross-compatibility, but for the user, there were no tangible benefits.

“Since [2010] Microsoft has added features to the operating system at a much slower pace to the opposition and yet it needs to do the opposite, and add features faster to catch up,” Fogg said.

Microsoft Lumia 950

A leaked image of the Microsoft Lumia 950 handset, which is expected to be announced at the Windows 10 event on Tuesday, Oct. 6, 2015.
 Nokia Power User

There is also an almost complete lack of support from manufacturers to build smartphones using Windows Phone. The system ”has failed to gain global partners in the form of OEMs [original equipment manufacturers] like Samsung, HTC and LG, leaving the Lumia brand as Microsoft’s only vehicle for its mobile ventures,” Imran Choudhray, an analyst at Worldpanel ComTech, told IBT. “Microsoft have taken some time to put together their mobile strategy, and in the meantime the Lumia brand has suffered and appears to almost have been neglected.”

The Enterprise Play

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella told Wall Street analysts in July the company would operate “more effectively and efficiently with a more focused portfolio.” At the Windows 10 event on Tuesday in New York, Microsoft is expected to push Windows 10 Mobile — the new name for Windows Phone — as part of a wider enterprise solution that will include the company’s own Surface tablets.

Since BlackBerry’s demise, there has been no single enterprise leader among the smartphone platforms, but both Android and iOS in the last 12 months have significantly boosted their efforts in this area — Apple through its deal with IBM and Google with its Android for Work features — meaning that even if Microsoft does focus Windows 10 Mobile at business customers, it won’t have a clear field.

“Today Microsoft has lost the smartphone battle,” Fogg said, ”but there are still opportunities in some niche segments, particularly around productivity and business use, where it could still have a successful product line. But it would be a very small-scale business compared to the mass of the smartphone market.” 

Besides the challenges from iOS and Android, Microsoft’s chances of succeeding in the smartphone market with Windows 10 Mobile have been undermined by the company itself.

Office Everywhere — Even On Windows

The main thrust of Microsoft’s mobile strategy is not to develop its own platform, but to offer content, services and applications to iPhone, iPad and Android users. Since Nadella took control of the company, he has been making pragmatic decisions about the future of the company, and that has led to a Microsoft-first approach rather than a Windows-first approach.


Microsoft says all three applications include various bug fixes and stability improvements.

This was seen most starkly this year when the latest version of its hugely successful and profitable productivity app Office was launched on iPhone, iPad and Android first, before finally arriving on Windows just two weeks ago. Microsoft is also striking an increasing number of deals with major Android smartphone manufacturers like Samsung, LG, Sony and Asus to pre-load its apps, including OneDrive and Office, on new Android smartphones and tablets.

Finally, as part of its investment in the up-and-coming platform Cyanogen, Microsoft is working to deeply integrate what could be Windows 10 Mobile’s most compelling feature — Cortana — into the next generation of Cyanogen, removing another reason for anyone to choose Windows as their smartphone platform.

With Microsoft losing a lot of money on its smartphone efforts with no return in sight, while offering all its most compelling features to every other platform, could we soon see the end of the Lumia brand and Microsoft as a smartphone manufacturer?

The End Of Lumia

Choudhray does not think so: “Unless Microsoft found some genuine global OEM partners, dispensing with the Lumia brand would prove strategically costly. Even if it feels like the Lumia devices are afterthoughts in their development, they are still a necessity for now.” Fogg adds that if Microsoft is “successful in innovating on top of Android that weakens the rationale to push its own Windows-based hardware.”

An enterprise-focus many be Microsoft’s best bet, but to gain users in this market, it will have to convince IT departments that support for the platform will be there for at least two years. But with Microsoft’s precarious position in the market and the amount of money it has written off on its Nokia acquisition already, will many IT departments be willing to take such a gamble?

One analyst, who didn’t want to be named, said it is entirely possible for Microsoft to rethink its smartphone strategy again in the next 24 months based on the performance of its Windows 10 Mobile devices.

Only time will tell if Microsoft will be able to succeed in the smartphone market and what that success might look like, but given Nadella’s pragmatic approach to the rest of the business, a complete retreat from the smartphone business would not come as a complete surprise. 

October 7, 2015
by admin

Say no to 0845 and 0870 numbers: how to call them for free

Move to a package that offers them for free

Many phone providers now offer free calls to 0870 and 0845 numbers. Check what’s included in your home phone package and when you can call them, i.e. is it just evenings or weekends or all the time?


Save money on your next home phone and broadband bundle by comparing packages at


Find a free number

The website provides a list of alternative 01/02/03 numbers or free 0800 and 0808 numbers that can be dialled instead of expensive 08 numbers including 0842, 0843, 0844, 0845, 0870, 0871, 0872 and 0873. However, it’s not fool proof and sadly there are some scammers posting fake phone numbers on there. Tread with a bit of caution.

You could also look on a company’s website for numbers that are meant for people to use if they’re calling from overseas. Believe it or not, some companies now block these numbers if you’re calling them from a UK landline or mobile. Alternatively, you could call a company’s sales line, if it’s free (and let’s face it, they generally are as they want our business), and ask to be transferred at their expense.

You could also use an override provider – this is a phone company that undercuts your regular phone supplier. You just sign up and then dial a prefix number before the phone number you are calling. Popular override numbers include 1899 and 18185, but do an online search to check the best one based on your phone contract.

What about 0871 and 0844?

Calls to 0871 and 0844 numbers are not included in any packages. However, as Ofgem has overhauled how 08, 09 and 118 numbers are charged, it’s easy to compare charges.

Since 1st July 2015, the cost of calling an 0871 or 0844 number is made up of two parts: an access charge that goes to your phone company and a service charge set by the organisation you’re calling. For the total cost of the call, simply add these two charges together.

For the access charge, look on your phone bill or speak to your phone company. We’ve compared the access charges of major landline and mobile providers in the table below.

*Unlimited Anytime Calls, Unlimited Evening Weekend Calls, Unlimited Weekend Calls, No Inclusive Calls and Home Phone Saver. All other plans 10.19ppm.

**From 1st December 2015 charge will rise to 11.5ppm.

You’ll find the service charge wherever the number is advertised.

Ofgem says the the service charge for calls to 087 numbers is between 0p and 13p per minute, while the service charge for calls to 084 numbers is between 0p and 7p per minute.

Want to avoid the cost of non-geographic calls made from a mobile? Have a read of How to call 0800, 0844, 0845 and 0870 numbers for free from your mobile


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October 7, 2015
by admin

Facebook’s first satellite will beam internet to rural Africa starting in 2016

Facebook are taking things next level.

WITH the exception of a select few locations, most of Africa is beyond the range of traditional fixed and mobile terrestrial network connections.

As result, only about 20 per cent of the population is able to connect to the internet. Facebook hopes to change those statistics with a new project in its initiative.

As part of this program, Facebook is partnering with French satellite communications provider Eutelsat to beam an internet connection to remote parts of Africa.

“I’m excited to announce our first project to deliver internet from space,” wrote Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg in a Facebook posting.

Facebook is working with Eutelsat to provide internet access to sub-Saharan portions of Africa via Eutelsat’s new AMOS-6 geostationary satellite, which will cover West, East and southern Africa.

Amazingly, the satellite will deliver affordable broadband internet using off-the-shelf consumer equipment for connectivity — so it’ll be easy and cheap to build more of these satellites in the future.

Eutelsat is setting up a new company in London to oversee its African broadband business, while Facebook will work locally in Africa to deliver internet service to rural communities.

The satellite-based service is expected to go online in mid-2016.

The African satellite project is part of Facebook’s broader initiative which debuted in 2013.

Through, Facebook wants to connect the world by providing internet access to developing countries worldwide.

When it launched, was highly criticised for providing access only to Facebook and a handful of other web sites and services instead of the full, open internet.

Available in countries such as India, Indonesia and Bolivia, responded to critics by recently expanding its service to include any sites that meet Facebook’s development criteria.