Ofcom have announced the winners in the 4G mobile spectrum auction.
After more than 50 rounds of bidding, Vodafone Ltd, Telefónica UK Ltd, Everything Everywhere Ltd, Hutchison 3G UK Ltd and Niche Spectrum Ventures Ltd (a subsidiary of BT Group plc) have all won spectrum. This is suitable for rolling out new superfast mobile broadband services to consumers and to small and large businesses across the UK.
So what does this mean for you?
Telefonica UK (O2) and Vodafone UK have already begun their joint project to share network infrastructure providing a more robust GSM and 3G service providing 98% population coverage for voice and data for 2015.
Obtaining a license from the Ofcom auction was the next step. The infrastructure improvements have been designed as a platform for 4G. Vodafone and O2 can start rolling out 4G services to consumers which is expected in spring or early summer 2013.
Obviously this will be great news if your handset is 4G but will also benefit other smartphone or tablet users. 4G is not necessarily the Kevin Bacon experience of downloading entire movies whilst on a park bench but more the intention is to provide the brunt of the data services. This alleviates the burden on the presently taxed 2G and 3G networks which will improve our general speeds all round and ensure better GSM voice service (results in less dropped calls).
A further stage of the auction will be the assignment of specific locations for the spectrum wins. UK networks will be jostling to make the lower bandwidths in urban areas are used for better in-building coverage whilst relying on the 2.6 GHz spectrum to provide the greater general area coverage.
View the full Ofcom story here.
With a flurry of updates to the Windows Phone 8 platform hitting the market, I thought I would quickly summarize the recent announcements.
Following on from launches of Windows Phone 7 and then 7.5 based devices, the latest devices from manufacturers Nokia, HTC and Samsung featuring Windows Phone 8 are clearly targeting both consumer and business markets with bright colourful cases, improved social media integration and camera options.
Windows Phone 8 offers greater interoperability with Window 8 desktops and tablets in much the same way the Apple family of devices; iPhone, iPad and Mac work with each other both directly and via cloud services. However Microsoft’s mobile OS has not set the world alight. Whilst it is easy to use, it is facing an up-hill struggle against Apple and Android dominance.
Windows Phone 8 continues the ‘Live Tile’ Metro theme for the display which differs from the simple app icons in iOS or the widgets available in Android. Live Tiles give you real-time updates for email, calendar and social media feeds out of the box. Third party apps can also provide feeds to their tiles.
The redesigned home-screen on WP 8 closely resembles the interface on Windows Phone 7 and 7.5 but the tiles extend to the entire screen addressing one key complaint of the previous versions, namely unused screen real estate and difficulty seeing updates in tiles.
Beyond the manufacturers badge these phones use the same Windows Phone OS – with the differences being specifications of the cameras, screens and processors. In daily operation I doubt you would be able to tell them apart. Nokia add value to their range of Lumia phones with free add-ons such as Nokia Drive and Nokia Music, whilst Samsung have excelled with processor, screen and camera build (see comparisons below).
|HTC 8S||HTC 8X||Lumia 820||Lumia 920||Samsung ATIV S|
|Availability||Nov-12||Nov-12||Q4 2012||Q4 2012||Q4 2012|
|CPU Speed||1.0 GHz||1.5 GHz Dual Core||1.5 GHz Dual Core||1.5 GHz Dual Core||1.5 GHz Dual Core|
|RAM||512 MB||1 GB||1 GB||1 GB||1 GB|
|Storage||4 GB||16 GB||8 GB||32 GB||16 / 32 GB|
4” Super LCD
480 x 800 pixels
4.3” Super LCD 2
720 x 1280 pixels
4.3” ClearBlack AMOLED
480 x 800 pixels
4.5” IPS LCD
768 x 1280 pixels
4.8” Super AMOLED
720 x 1280 pixels
|Camera(s)||Rear: 5 MP||
Rear: 8 MP
Front: 2.1 MP
Rear: 8 MP
Front: 0.3 MP
Rear: 8.7 MP
Front: 1.3 MP
Rear: 8 MP
Front: 1.9 MP
|More >||More >||More >||More >||More >|
Last week I had the pleasure of attending Nokia’s Annual Partner Event in Birmingham at the historic Birds Custard factory and before you ask, yes I did get a free sample pack of custard. As nice as the location and the free custard was, there was a serious message to the event with both Nokia and Microsoft presenting their Windows Phone strategy to all B2B and B2C partners. As with all Nokia events the turn-out was excellent with a full house at the venue.
The focus of the event was very much on the Lumia range of Windows Phone devices which has recently added two more models to the range - the Lumia 610 and Lumia 900. The key message from all presenters was the immediate future of Nokia and the integration with Microsoft Windows 8 (tablet and desktop).
Nokia Vice President Conor Pierce acknowledged the challenges Nokia and Windows Phone face with a new OS and late arrival into the crowded smartphone market but he was very enthusiastic and ready for the challenge.
As expected the guys from Nokia were very positive about Lumia’s present standing. They showed figures of Lumia’s penetration and growth into the market which they claimed was higher than that of other OS’s at a similar stage of release. Conor’s upbeat approach was mirrored by the Nokia people at the event, especially when describing the new features to be added to the current line up prior to Windows Phone 8’s launch later this year.
Top to bottom
Emma Gilmartin, Head of Product Marketing and Rupert Englander, Head of Innovations gave us an insight into the roadmap for Nokia Asha and Lumia handsets. They detailed the investment in people, resources and seeding devices for Windows Phone designed to raise awareness of the new platform.
An interesting example was a video report from the ‘Nokia Lumia – Smoked By Windows’ campaign which was a street test challenging owners of other smartphone platforms to a race uploading and downloading content. In my opinion the ‘Smoked by’ campaign was a bit cheeky but did relay a strong message that the Lumia is a serious piece of kit. However I would dispute some of the tests based on comparisons I’ve carried out.
Adrian Williams was next up and said the B2B market was a priority for Nokia and Windows Phone. The main focus was the integration Windows Phone has with businesses already in a Windows environment and includes businesses looking to move into the cloud with Office 365. Windows Phone will let you directly edit documents and save them with an Office extension (.docx, .xslx, .pptx etc) without the use of third party applications.
It’s all about the apps
The Windows Phone Marketplace is rapidly expanding with over 100,000 apps now available to download. As well as the vast marketplace Nokia will also be adding some new core applications for their smartphones. These include:
Nokia has always had a good reputation for smartphone cameras and the Lumia range is no different. The range delivers crisp and vibrant photographs from the high quality lens. Nokia are now looking to add additional camera features such as action shots and group shots. The action shot allows the user to take multiple images quickly to capture that vital sports moment. The group shot is an innovative feature allowing users to micro-edit an image, again taking multiple shots and giving users the option to create one perfect picture. There will also be a self-timer option which self-times, enough said!
Nokia have been busy working on Creative Studio which is a free application allowing the user to crop/edit and apply a range of filters to enhance their snaps. After using this app I have to say I’m impressed. Images are quickly transformed into different styles and the user interface is very easy to get to grips with. Just to add to the fun factor there’s a face warp option too.
The existing Nokia Maps and Nokia Drive (the free offline sat-nav application) are key features of a Nokia smartphone and now they are looking to introduce Nokia location services. This will only be available in the Lumia range and will include:
Nokia City Lens which is augmented reality using the camera to show services close by.
Nokia Pulse which allows users to broadcast their location to a closed group – this will appeal to corporates looking to provide protection for users without having to track people 24/7.
Another announcement from Nokia was that Windows 7.5 Lumia devices will be upgraded to 7.8 after the launch of Windows Phone 8. The update will include a refreshed ‘live tile’ UI on the home screen which better uses the screens real estate.
Ready for business?
The updated Lumia range will make perfect sense to users where the Windows desktop and Server environment still plays a prominent role in their everyday lives. It's particularly useful if you're opting for cloud based services such as Office 365. The excellent security and integration is a big plus for business users and goes beyond email, with secure document sharing and instant messaging.
Nokia hasn't forgotten its roots with the Windows Phone partnership and has thought extensively about end users. The Lumia range is as good as any top end smartphone and the Asha range should give you smartphone capabilities at a budget price.
All said and done I just think Nokia still have a lot to do in raising awareness of the Lumia range if it’s to compete with iOS and Android but would I recommend Windows Phone to businesses? In short, yes.
The Nokia Lumia is a truly well-built device - integrated battery and a full metal body with an ultra-tough curvy Gorilla glass screen. The body and glass make the Lumia feel heavier than other smartphones but to me this simply reinforces the notion that this is premium smartphone.
The screen is large, very bright and extremely tactile. It’s very responsive to your touch and the slight curves around the edges add to the appeal.
Anyone familiar with the Windows Phone OS will be at ease with the Lumia. Navigation is done via a series of dynamic panels and although it’s different to other OS’s it’s very easy to use.
The Lumia 800 has an 8-megapixel camera with a Carl Zeiss Tessar lens and as you’d expect with those credentials photos are perfect. Images are bright, clear and the camera application is very easy to use.
As you’d expect from a premium Nokia handset the call quality is excellent. It includes Bluetooth stereo support with Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR which improves the pairing experience with a simpler setup and increased security.
Internet Browsing is excellent - very fast on WiFi and 3G connections (I found that browsing via 3G was faster than some public WiFi connections. Tabbed browsing is easy to use and navigate.
The Microsoft Marketplace isn’t as fully loaded as say the Apple iTunes Store but more applications are being released daily.
Battery performance is comparable to similar large screen/touch screen smartphones - if used extensively for browsing/app use you’ll find yourself searching for a charging point by the end of the day, if not before.
Unlike other Windows Phone devices the Lumia includes Nokia Drive - a turn-by-turn sat-nav application. Nokia has put great emphasis on the small data footprint of this service but I’d advise downloading country maps via WiFi before you travel.
Tethering isn’t presently available with this handset but Nokia have said an upcoming firmware update will provide this.
I still have reservations about the data footprint for this operating system when users add a number of social media feeds (Facebook, Twitter etc) because they update throughout the day. My advice is to use WiFi connections wherever possible, particularly when roaming and to close apps after use and stop the background tasks you don’t need.
With that said this is an excellent handset for general and business use as you would expect from the premium end of Nokia’s output.