WE all want to stay in touch.
Our hand-held devices – phones and tablets – are welded into our lives.
Children bring them to school, to the despair of teachers. Adults stumble along with three quarters of their attention focussed on the magic screen and scant attention to the world about them. We drop them on the floor, and despair. Even as I write, the human race is evolving thinner thumbs and losing the ability to compose a formal letter with a fountain pen. Fat fingers are an evolutionary dead-end. Connectivity is the new utility: as essential to our 21st century lives as electricity. It is the means by which we work and play.
Be it broadband or 4G, most of us want it and government is fast assuming that, as far as receiving services is concerned, we all have access to it. Which is fine, unless you’re not connected. That’s when ‘digital by default’ fast morph into ‘digitally denied’. Just under three quarters of Dwyfor Meirionnydd has access to superfast broadband, while only 56 per cent of Ceredigion has broadband speeds up 30 mega-bits, according to the extremely useful website, thinkbroadband.com. It’s to be welcomed, then, that the Digital Economy Bill presently working its way through Parliament promises a universal service obligation for broadband. What isn’t clear, however, is at what price providers such as BT’s Openreach will be allowed to say the cost is prohibitive. Welsh Government pays BT up to ?1,700 per premises to bring broadband to a home.
Interestingly, this is considerably less than the ?3,400 threshold for installing a telephone line. If providing a land line was felt to be justifiable up to a certain cost, why would broadband be restricted to half that cost? But, while broadband is the steady thoroughfare of home connectivity, mobile signals are the motorway. People are used to depending on their phones as an alternative to satnav. When they get lost in the mountains, they expect, at the very least, the 2G link to emergency rescue. And this is where the four main mobile providers let us down. Visitors from the continent can roam from provider to provider according to the strongest signal.
Mobile users here have to accept that competition is king. Even in an area as challenging as Snowdonia National Park (hills, valleys, planning restrictions), EE, O2, Vodafone and 3 still don’t share masts or allow roaming. And EE has just won the emergency services mobile network contract. Which means that all of us tax payers will contribute towards the cost of extra masts to improve the signal for the police, ambulance and fire service (obviously a good thing). And EE will put their infrastructure on these masts too.
Great news is you’re an EE customer, not great news if you’re a tax payer with a Vodafone contract. While we could just shrug our shoulders and sign up with the best provider for our home community, spare a thought for the fact that tourism contributes massively to the local economy. If connectivity is the 21st century norm, visitors and locals alike need to keep in touch.
Isn’t now the time to call for a universal service obligation for mobile signal?
IF YOU FAILED TO GET your fix of technology news, perhaps because of BT’s major broadband outage, we’ve got you covered.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, BT’s broadband breakage gained a lot of attention last week after it left home and business customers without a connection for almost a full day. BT blamed the downtime on a borked router, suggesting that it solved the problem by turning the equipment on and off again.
Apple also had a bad week.
32-year-old Welshman Gareth Cross managed to sue the technology giant after it failed to replace his smashed Apple Watch1. An Aberystwyth court ruled that Apple must refund the cost of the watch and pay an additional 429 in costs, as well as change the product description to remove the claim that it is resistant to impact.
We’ve rounded up the top 10 stories from the past week below.
Apple suffers court defeat over Brit’s cracked Apple Watch screen3
Firm forced to remove ‘impact-resistant’ claim from product description
Shonky USB Type-C cable fries 1,000 Chromebook and two testing devices4
You get what you pay for, it seems
Windows 10 dethrones XP to become number three operating system5
But depending on your view of Windows 8.x it’s a big fat number two
Raspberry Pi repurposed into automated complaining machine6
Insert Les Dawson mother-in-law joke here
Google lumps Malwarebytes with a bad security report and a lot of homework7
Let’s just assume that everything has a security vulnerability
AMD takes aim at gamers with first desktop Excavator chips8
Firm adds new chips, motherboards and coolers to desktop portfolio
80 percent of UK IT professionals plan to move to OpenStack cloud9
Biggest fears are complexity of deployment and vendor lock-in
Dara O’Briain is new host of Robot Wars as updated logo and teaser trailer arrive10
And at the end of that round the points go to Bash, Killalot and Matildaaaaaaaaa
Updategate: Microsoft labels Windows 10 as a ‘recommended’ update11
The aggressive campaign just turned to shock and awe
- ^ Apple Watch review (www.theinquirer.net)
- ^ BT blames broadband blackout on borked router (www.theinquirer.net)
- ^ Apple suffers court defeat over Brit’s cracked Apple Watch screen (www.theinquirer.net)
- ^ Shonky USB Type-C cable fries 1,000 Chromebook and two testing devices (www.theinquirer.net)
- ^ Windows 10 dethrones XP to become number three operating system (www.theinquirer.net)
- ^ Raspberry Pi repurposed into automated complaining machine (www.theinquirer.net)
- ^ Google lumps Malwarebytes with a bad security report and a lot of homework (www.theinquirer.net)
- ^ Let’s just assume that everything has a security vulnerability (www.theinquirer.net)
- ^ 80 percent of UK IT professionals plan to move to OpenStack cloud (www.theinquirer.net)
- ^ Dara O’Briain is new host of Robot Wars as updated logo and teaser trailer arrive (www.theinquirer.net)
- ^ And at the end of that round the points go to Bash, Killalot and Matildaaaaaaaaa (www.theinquirer.net)