Author - Eric Witheridge
Traditional Telephone Switchboard (PBX) Sales Slide Further
We've known that PBX sales worldwide have been falling for some time and a recent set of figures from analyst firm *MZA have confirmed this.
*Far from any sort of recovery PBX extensions and licences have fallen by 9% year on year. There has been an 11% decline in the enterprise market. (Solutions with greater than 100 extensions/licences).
This could of course be a natural shift driven by a global decline associated with the recession however, there is also a massive increase in the amount of Internet based telephony.
So what does this mean for anyone making the decision to repair/replace a telephone switchboard?
Simply this, question your telephone provider about the longevity of their solution? Should you really be investing in expensive hardware which may become redundant? Should you really tie yourself to a multi year contract?
On premises equipment offering internet telephony is not the way to go unless you have massively quick broadband dedicated to telephony only. Also, this tends to be expensive and could lock you into the sort of handsets that are delivered with the system.
Our advice is to try a solution to make sure it fits the business. We're happy to provide a free trial of our systems to help you make this decision.
The wonderful thing is that we will not tie you into a lengthy contract and the handsets may be used with most IP or hosted telephone systems.
* Figures courtesy of Channel Telecom magazine http://commsbusiness.co.uk/
High Roaming Charges
How many people turn off their mobile devices when travelling abroad to save on the high roaming charges? I know of someone who actually ended up with a bill for £900 after using his iPhone whilst abroad and continuing to download the same data etc that he downloaded at home – his comment was “never again”. Once, on a trip to the USA, I purchased a US SIM card to use to call the UK as it was cheaper than using my UK one.
The European Commission carried out a survey of 28,000 people from across the European Union and along with other data showed that 47% of the people surveyed refused to use their mobile devices whilst travelling abroad. It was discovered that up to 37% of British residents turn off their mobile devices when outside of the UK.
As a result Neelie Knoes, European Commission Vice President stated “it shows we have to finish the job and eliminate roaming charges”. As a result these high charges end up with no winners and the mobile companies losing out on revenue and businesses losing out on business and profits. More particularly these charges are having a damaging effect on UK businesses that operate outside of the UK and whose personnel frequently travel abroad.
Since February 2013 the EU has been in discussions with the mobile network providers to force them to cut roaming charges with the EU.
There may be some light at the end of this tunnel as the EU has announced that it is hoped that roaming charges will be reduced or dropped by October of this year.
5G – The Next Generation
How would you like to be able to download a full HD movie instantly to you mobile device? According to scientists in South Korea experimenting with 5G this could become a possibility because they are saying that 5G is 1000 times faster than 4G.
Whilst most UK users are in awe of what can be delivered by 4G it is interesting to know that development is being done on the next generation. The South Korean Ministry of Education, Science, and Technology (MEST) development is being carried out on a 5G network. £900m is being invested into the project with a projected launch in 2020.
Last year Samsung carried out 5G tests and these have shown that it is possible to achieve 1Gbps mobile signal.
The intention is to be able to have Ultra-HD streaming and hologram transmission.
Inbound 4G Roaming – EE
In a statement EE’s Chief Executive, Olaf Swantee, said that when tourists travel abroad they are “increasingly looking for fast and reliable mobile experiences. Technology is not just shaping how people book and research holidays but what they look for when they are choosing a country to visit”.
So as from 17 December 2013 US visitors to the UK will be able to utilise EE’s (Everything Everywhere) superfast 4G network. The company is the first company in the UK to offer this facility. This is due to an agreement with the US network company AT&T.
The intention is to extend this to visitors from other countries during this year by launching further partnerships during the year.
EE was the first company to launch 4G in the UK and so far has managed to make this available to 60% of the population with 160 cities and towns being covered by Christmas last year. A report of 9 December 2013 published by 4GEE Mobile Living Index showed that there was more than 1.2 million subscribers.
Common Mobile Phone Charger a Possibility
How many people have a different charger for every mobile phone either at home or at work? Also when we buy a new phone how often do we have to buy a new charger?
I personally find this very frustrating and when I buy a new mobile phone I have to buy a new charger and what can I do with the old one despite the fact that it still works? My old chargers normally end up at the local recycling centre.
I am sure that many of us suffer the same frustrations. Now there may be an end to all of this thanks to the EU. The EU is proposing to make mobile phone manufacturers make interchangeable chargers.
For its current range of iPhones, iPods and iPads Apple uses its own proprietary connector called “Lightning” but most other smart phones do have interchangeable micro USB chargers.
A provisional deal has been structured by MEPs and the Lithuanian Presidency of the Council of Ministers to make universal chargers a reality. The justification for this is that it will cut the costs for consumers and prevent unnecessary wastage.
Hopefully this will be one good thing that will come from the EU.
Line Repairs – New Rules Planned By Ofcom
Domestic line and broadband customers have been known to have to wait for repairs to faults on their telephone lines or the installation of a new line. Now Ofcom has stated that it is looking to introduce new rules to speed up the time that customers wait for such repairs or installations.
The aim of the new rules is to set new minimum times for maintenance of network and installation by Open Reach (a part of BT) which it carries out on behalf of its competitors. The proposed time limits are for repairs to be carried out within two working days and an appointment for a new line installation within 12 working days.
The proposal will also introduce a 12 month target period for Open Reach and if it fails to achieve the targets then it could face penalties which maybe in the way of fines.
Calling 0800, 0808 and 116 From Mobiles
Ofcom has announced that mobile operators will no longer be able to charge for calls to 0800, 0808 or 116 numbers, however, we have to wait until 2015.
Currently mobile operators currently charge up to 40p per minute to these numbers.
The current rules for using other non-geographic numbers 08, 09, and 118 are vague and Ofcom has requested that the rules be clarified. It is hoped that these rule changes will help consumers understand the costs of calling these numbers and prevent consumers from receiving unexpectedly high bills.
According to the Chief Executive of Ofcom, Ed Richards, these changes are “the biggest for UK telephone customers in more than a decade”.
“Poor Broadband Speed Hits Rural Property Market
According to estate agents potential buyers of rural properties are being scared off by poor broadband speeds.
In a comment to The Telegraph, Frank Speir, a director at Prime Purchase said that poor broadband speeds were ‘having a definite effect’ on decisions being made by people to buy rural properties although they probably required little downloads and upload speeds.
He even admitted to having personally dissuaded people from buying certain properties where there is poor coverage albeit the potential buyers may try to use satellite broadband.
He also commented ‘It’s not an issue about price, it’s simply that I have to advise clients against making a purchase’
Last week, Richard Lochhead, the Scottish rural affairs secretary warned there was evidence suggesting that residents and businesses are relocating from Scotland’s hardest-to-reach communities in order to take advantage of better broadband speeds elsewhere.
‘There is rural depopulation due to a lack of connectivity,’ he insisted.”
Superfast Rural Broadband!
The Department of Culture, Media and Science (DCMS) has stated that as of this month the Government’s backed roll out of superfast broadband to rural communities is to increase in pace. The first people to benefit should be farms and dairies with the service being provided to approximately 10,000 properties per week, increasing in the spring of 2014 to 25,000 properties per week and by that summer to 40,000 per week. Ed Vaizey, the Communications Minister stated that “The coming months will see a rapid acceleration in the number of rural businesses and homes able to access superfast broadband”.
The DCMS has issued a statement stating that “nearly all” of the projects are at delivery stage with some having already been completed. It would be interesting to know which ones are outstanding.
Ultimately by 2016 the aim is to have 90% of next generation of broadband coverage – although the hope is that will be achieved by the end of 2015. However, there does seem to be some anomaly in the information that is coming out. In a report the Prime Minister, David Cameron, told a liaison committee that the figures were 95% by 2017 and then in another statement said that it would be 99% by 2018! The question is will it take until 2015 to get 90% coverage with another 5% following by 2017 and the remaining 4% by 2018?
Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) aims for 95% of properties in the Isles of Scilly and Cornwall to be connected next year and it is expected that Devon and Somerset should be connected by 2016.
The DCMS have even said that rural broadband speeds are rising quicker than urban ones. It has calculated that the speeds in rural areas have risen by 6.9% since May 2012 and 14.1% since May 2011. The question is what was the starting point for these calculations? However, during the summer Ofcom reported the following findings that in May 2013 the download speed for residential properties in the UK was 14.7Mbps with some areas actually achieving 26.4Mbps as opposed to 9.9Mbps for rural areas.
There has been criticism from a select committee that the Government has grossly mismanaged the BDUK scheme (which is publicly funded) and which the Prime Minister has said is “slightly unfair”. There is also condemnation of the Government for permitting BT to become a “quasi-monopoly” by winning every BDUK contract. The National Audit Office and the Public Accounts Committee have also questioned the Government’s handling of this.
BT has been accused of prohibiting the publication of coverage information by local authorities. So I am sure that people can draw their own conclusions from this.
One of the critics Janice Banks, Chief Executive, of Action with Communities in Rural England (Acre), has said that some councils have been able to publish maps showing the proposed coverage but the data is sketchy and people have been unable to properly ascertain if they will benefit. Therefore, people in those communities are now playing a game of “wait and see” as they are unable to make a decision on whether to look at alternative forms of broadband connection.
Ms Banks also said “This Government want to be sure rural areas get a fair deal from all Government policy. We fear that, once again rural communities are getting a raw deal”.
Finally the Prime Minister has defended this by saying “If you stand back and look at it, three years into Government, when we came to power, there was virtually nothing going on with the rural broadband” He also insisted that there is a “realistic programme” to ensure 95% coverage with a view to having 99% coverage by 2018.
Access to Adult Content on Wi-fi
The mobile security firm Adoptive Mobile has carried out research on accessibility to unfiltered adult content on free wi-fi hot spots.
The researchers visited 179 establishments in Manchester, London and Birmingham and tried to log-on to legal websites but ones which contained explicit content. The results were very concerning in that 80% granted access to drug related content, 30% failed to use filtering to prevent access to pornographic sites, 53% had no restriction on online stores selling swords and knives and 20% had no restriction on access to online sex dating sites.
Whilst most people block these types of content on wi-fi used at home it comes as a surprise that this is rarely the case when in cafes, restaurants, hotels etc. and this is very bad news for parents with children who have smart phones, gaming consoles and tablets. Graeme Goffey of Adoptive Mobile stated that this was “for every parent across the UK this report will come as an unwelcome surprise”.
Sky News recently interviewed a group of 15 and 16 year olds outside of a café in Manchester and they admitted that they had all owned smart phones since they were 13 and went online with wi.fi. Also they mentioned that they knew people who accessed sites which their parents forbade them from accessing.
In an interview with Sky News one of the world’s leading authorities on the use of the internet by children and young people, John Carr, said that “Virgin, 02 and Sky have already block access to adult content and other major wi-fi providers in the UK, BT, Arquiva and Nomad have announced their intention to do the same by the end of the year.
He went on to say that “there is also some talk about developing a “kitemark” hotels, trains and buses that provide wi-fi access to confirm that they provide a filtered service”.
Children’s charities are running a campaign to ban adult content on all public wi-fi and this has received backing of Prime Minister David Cameron and a spokesperson for the Department of Culture, Media and Sport said “The Government is committed to protecting children online which is why we have been working closely with the major internet service providers, who have already put filters in place anywhere children are likely to be to block pornographic content.
“The main provisions cover 90% of all connections in the UK and this report shows that our approach is working and we are ahead of many other countries in protecting children online.
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