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04 Jun 07 - gotalk acquires Telstra calling cards
gotalk today announced it had signed an agreement to purchase Telstra’s international calling cards, Say G’day and Super Buzz that will take effect late June. According to gotalk CEO Steve Picton, the acquisition of Telstra’s Say G’Day and Super Buzz international phone cards is part of gotalk’s customer growth strategy, through both acquisitions and new service launches.
The phone card market in Australia is highly competitive and is one whose scale delivers significant commercial advantage. Currently it is estimated that there are around 80 different competing phone cards on offer from at least 8 suppliers. Say G’Day and Super Buzz are pre-paid calling cards, available in nine language options (English, French Vietnamese, Cantonese, Mandarin, Indonesian, Japanese Korean and Thai). The calling cards are available in three formats – physical card, electronic voucher and online.top
03 Jun 07 - Nokia’s new futuristic folding scented handset concept
Chances are that the majority of the phones of the future will still be as plainly rectangular as today’s offerings, but it is still nice to see that the boffins at Nokia have a keen sense of imagination. The latest project to soak up some of the Finnish giant’s research and development budget is the awkwardly named Scentsory concept phone. Despite looking like something a bored child might fashion out of a sheet of news paper, the Scentsory’s defining feature is not its aesthetic homage to paper based aviation. The Scentsory, as its name suggests, is a scent enabled handset, with built in pores delivering a bouquet of your choosing to your nostrils. Call us cynics but we just don’t think that smellophones will ever be anything more than novelty handsets, now or in the future. Nokia could be onto something with the origami like folding mechanism of the Scentsory though. top
02 Jun 07 - Mobile Radiation Proof pants
Super villains beware! Swiss clothing manufacturer Isabodywear is launching a special line of men’s underwear that have the power to repel harmful radiation. Well, mobile phone radiation. The thinking behind these silver lined bionic briefs is that they can be used to help maintain a healthy sperm count — although they look awfully tight to us (oh, the modesty) — even when surrounded by cell phone radiation (which may or may not lay waste to a man’s reserves). The company is giving away 500 pairs for test purposes to anyone who sends an email request. Perhaps the test involves dressing your phone in the pants to see if it still has reception; or you could just put your phone in your pants whilst wearing them and ask a friend to call you, although that may also lead to arrest. top
01 Jun 07 - Do not call tops a million
Australian IT, 31/05/07
MORE than one million telephone numbers have been placed on the national "Do Not Call" register which came into effect today. A law banning telemarketers from ringing telephone numbers on the register came into force at midnight last night. Federal Communications Minister Helen Coonan today said 1,012,813 numbers were registered with the scheme at 9am (AEST) today and more than 20,000 registrations were being received each day.
"The National Do Not call Register allows families to reclaim their evenings as their own, to once again enjoy uninterrupted dinner times by opting out of receiving telemarketing calls," Senator Coonan said in a statement. Charities, religious organisations, political parties and candidates and social and market researchers are sill permitted to ring telephone numbers listed on the register.
01 Jun 07 - There's money in Telco
Australian IT, 01/06/07
FIVE companies have been awarded a US federal telecommunications contract worth up to $US20 billion ($24 billion) over 10 years. The successful bidders were AT&T, Level 3 Communications, Qwest Communications, Sprint Nextel and Verizon. The winners of the so-called Networx Enterprise contract must now compete with each other to win business from agencies looking to improve their voice, data and other telecom services. GSA officials said they expected agencies to spend roughly $US20 billion over the life of both contracts - or less than one-third of what's allowed.
31 May 07 - Careless phone user's damages cut.
MOBILE phone users have been put on notice. Walking and scrolling is not only a health hazard, but when it comes to court it could see your injury payout slashed by 50 per cent. In what should have been a run-of-the-mill hearing before the NSW Court of Appeal, the judges split over what should be done about a Sydney woman, Marie Skulander, and the Willoughby City Council.Seven years ago, Mrs Skulander was in the Chatswood bus interchange. Walking, she looked down at her mobile, scrolling numbers to phone her husband. Just as she hit the call button, the top of her skull struck a steel cage jutting 25 centimetres out from a column, causing a "hyperflexion injury with significant and lasting adverse consequences". The cages had been erected by the council to stop vandalism of sensors, which were installed throughout the interchange to monitor exhaust emissions. When she took the matter to court, the District Court Judge Allan Hughes said she was "so careless and took no reasonable care for her safety that she was the author of her own misfortune". He said the council had no duty of care to someone who took no reasonable care of their safety. top
30 May 07 - iPhone number 2 coming soon!
Sydney Morning Herald, 30/05/07
The elusive Apple iPhone will hit US retail stores within a month, but manufacturing contracts have already been signed for iPhone 2 just as the Treo smartphone maker Palm said today it would unveil its own answer to iPhone - "a new category of mobile device" - at the D: All Things Digital conference being held tomorrow in California.
Two large Taiwanese financial newspapers, Commercial Times and Economic Daily News, reported this week that a Taiwanese manufacturer, Quanta, had secured contracts to start producing the iPhone's successor from September. Quanta - the world's largest laptop PC manufacturer - already produces MacBook laptops and iPods for Apple, in addition to a range of laptops for both Dell and HP. According to a translation of the newspaper reports by AppleInsider.com, the "second-generation [iPhone] device" will offer "a different outer design to fit different markets".
Following the immense consumer hype the iPhone has generated, existing smartphone makers such as Palm have been pressured to update their devices to include fun features beyond the traditional email, address book, document editing and calendaring function. Such features could include a fully-featured MP3 player and high resolution digital camera, both of which will be offered by the iPhone when it is released in the US next month. The iPhone isn't scheduled to reach Australian shores until next year. top
28 May 07 - Prosecutor fails his own case!
Helena Independent Record, 28/05/07
US: A special prosecutor could not have had worse timing for telling a judge he'd cleared him of theft for taking a college student's ringing mobile phone during a class. Special prosecutor Rob Ives had just delivered his report Friday in Tippecanoe Superior Judge Les Meade's crowded courtroom when his own mobile phone began ringing. Ives quickly left the courtroom, which has a posted sign instructing those entering to turn off their mobile phones.
As it turned out, the judge liked Ives' ring tone the song, "I Fought the Law (and the Law Won)." Six weeks ago, Meade was teaching a business law class at Purdue University when a student's mobile phone began ringing. Meade took away the student's phone after he said the student failed to turn it off promptly. Meade said he intended to turn it over to the dean's office the next morning. But the student, in a hurry to get his phone back, called Purdue police.
Officers told Meade if he failed to return the phone to the student his refusal would constitute theft. While Meade was talking with officers, Richard Cosier, dean of Purdue's School of Management, arrived and took the phone. He returned it to the student after lecturing him about rules against using mobile phones during class. Prosecutor Pat Harrington said he sought a special prosecutor to avoid the appearance of impropriety.
28 May 07 - A note on VoIP
Australian IT, 22/05/07
After difficult beginnings, VoIP is growing into a telephony winner. Ilka Tales, chief executive of VoIP service provider Engin, says call quality has improved since the technology first appeared on the market. His company has invested in upgrading its internal systems and improved the way call traffic is handled. Engin has also arranged peering relationships with major Australian internet service providers. Peering means that traffic moves directly from Engin to the ISP's own network. "Engin began its peering relationships in January and Tales says some 97 per cent of customer calls now do not have to use the internet at all.
"Steve Picton, chief executive of Telecorp, which operates the GOtalk VoIP service, says users must take into account the speed of the broadband connection over which their VoIP traffic will travel, as this has a big bearing on the quality of the service. "You need a minimum speed of 512Kbps, because without that everything else becomes pretty academic," Picton says. He is convinced VoIP is rapidly becoming a mainstream tool for business.
And for those seeking cheaper phone calls you can now go mobile. This trend is being aided by a growing battle between mobile phone carriers for data customers. To lure users into signing up for plans that include a data component, carriers are beginning to bundle VoIP capabilities. Leading the charge is 3 Mobile, which has unveiled its new data bundle plans under the banner of X Series which brings the pricing structures associated with fixed broadband to the mobile phone. Part of the X Series offering is an included chunk of voice call minutes that can be made through popular VoIP service Skype. Calls are made using the mobile handset in the conventional way, but they are treated as a data stream and sent as a VoIP call. top
28 May 07 - Mobile conquers Everest
Australian IT, 23/05/07
A BRITISH man has set a world record by making the first mobile telephone call from the summit of Mount Everest, taking the blessing - or curse - of the mobile phone to new heights. "It's cold, it's fantastic, the Himalayas are everywhere," Rod Baber said in the phone call from the top of the 8848m peak early on Monday morning, according to a voice recording posted on his weblog.
His achievement was made possible by China Telecom, which has set up a mobile phone tower at base camp on the north side of the mountain. Mr Baber set off from Britain for the Himalayas on March 30 and since mid-April has been getting used to living at high altitude. To make the call at the summit, he had to contend with high winds and temperatures of -30C. Mr Baber also did not have much time to make the call, because those climbing Everest typically only stay at the summit for 15 minutes.
While the Himalayas had been cherished as one of the few places on Earth where you can truly get away from it all, the news has nevertheless been welcomed by those involved in the adventure business. "It's good news because communications are essential in the mountains," said Ang Tsering Sherpa, president of Nepal's Mountaineering Association. "The mobile coverage could help in rescue operations." The call is one of several high-altitude stunts being carried out in the current Everest climbing season. Last week, a Briton pulled off the season's first big stunt by making the first flight over the summit using a powered paraglider. top
25 May 07 - Make video calls on your Playstation
Australian IT, 24/05/07
BT and Sony have signed a deal to add Wi-Fi software capable of messaging, voice and video calls on the PlayStationPortable (PSP). In Britain all new PSPs shipped later this year come pre-loaded with its software, transforming them into communications devices when within the range of a Wi-Fi hotspot. BT and Sony will initially launch the service in the UK later this year, before extending it to over 100 countries across Europe, Middle East and Africa.
Users of PSPs will be able to make video and voice calls with each other anywhere globally. BT said additional features will be included later to enable calls and messages between PSPs and computers, fixed-line phones and mobiles. Sony has so far shipped 24 million PSPs globally since PSP was launched in December 2004, 8 million of which into Europe.
Steve Andrews, head of mobility and convergence at BT, said the deal was meant to showcase the edge its new broadband-based telecoms network had over rivals and boost consumer interest and loyalty for its broadband products. BT has for the past few years sought to transform itself from a hardware-based fixed-line telecoms provider into a software-based supplier of feature-rich telecoms and entertainment applications.
25 May 07 - Mobiles not good for car keys
Australian IT, 25/05/07
NISSAN North America has a warning for customers: placing your electronic key too close to your mobile phone could leave you stranded. The automaker is asking customers driving new models of two of its flagship sedans to keep their car keys and mobile handsets at least an inch apart to avoid disabling the "intelligent keys."
Mobile phones kept near Nissan's I-Keys - wireless devices designed to allow drivers to enter and start their cars at the push of a button - can erase the electronic code on the keys, rendering them unable to unlock or start the cars. The problem has occurred on the 2007 Nissan Altima and Infiniti G35 sedans - two of their top-selling models, the company said. "We discovered that if the I-Key touches a mobile phone, outgoing or incoming calls have the potential to alter the electronic code inside the I-Key," Nissan spokesman Kyle Bazemore said. "The car won't start and the I-Key cannot be reprogrammed," he added.
The problem has occurred in a "very small percentage" of cars sold, Mr Bazemore said. He also said a new version of the I-Key would be available in the fall. Mr Bazemore said current owners have been notified of the potential glitch via mail and can get new keys from dealers if they encounter the problem.
23 May 07 - Next G to get pre paid
Australian IT, 22/05/07
TELSTRA will launch pre-paid mobiles on its new Next G network this week and pre-paid customers on the telco's old CDMA network will face a handset cost hike of up to 300 per cent if they want to switch. The launch of pre-paid on NextG phones comes two months later than the telco had originally planned due to the lack of availability of handsets, a problem that continues to beset the network. It also marks the beginning of a major push to move up to 1.5million users of the CDMA network across to Next G and could trigger a fresh round of complaints about the performance of the new network outside the big cities.
This Thursday, Telstra will stop selling CDMA phones. So far, Next G customers are understood to be mainly laptop users of mobile cards as well as businesses and consumers in metropolitan areas and large country towns. The telco has committed to closing down the CDMA network, which Next G replaces, by the end of January. Telstra declined to provide any information on how many customers remain on CDMA.
Communications minister Helen Coonan has initiated an audit of the old and new networks. Telstra will not be allowed to close CDMA unless Next G can offer equivalent coverage. The minister has the option of making coverage a special condition of Telstra's telecommunications licence.
More than six months after the network's launch, which the telco has admitted took handset suppliers by surprise, only 10 handsets are available for contract customers. Now two phones, one from LG and the other from ZTE, will be available for prepaid, but unlike GSM and CDMA, for which sub-$100 phones have been popular, they will priced at $249 and $299.top
21 May 07 - The rise of the camera phone
Sydney Morning Herald, 21/05/07
The chilling sounds of gunfire on the Virginia Tech campus. The hateful taunts from Saddam Hussein's execution. Those videos, shot with mobile phone cameras and seen by millions, are just a couple of recent examples of the power now at the fingertips of the masses. Even the man widely credited with inventing the camera phone in 1997 is awed by the cultural revolution he helped launch.
A decade later, 41 per cent of American households own a camera phone "and you can hardly find a phone without a camera anymore," said Michael Cai, an industry analyst at Parks Associates. Market researcher Gartner Inc. predicts that about 589 million mobile phones will be sold with cameras in 2007, increasing to more than 1 billion worldwide by 2010. Mix in the internet's vast reach and the growth of the YouTube generation, and the ubiquitous gadget's influence only deepens and gets more complicated. So much so that the watchful eyes on all of us may no longer just be those of Big Brother.
The contraption has evolved into a pocket-friendly phenomenon that has empowered both citizen journalists and personal paparazzi. It has prompted lawsuits - a student sued campus police at the University of California Los Angeles for alleged excessive force after officers were caught on cell-phone video using a stun gun during his arrest; and been a catalyst for change - a government inquiry into police practices ensued in Malaysia after a cell-phone video revealed a woman detainee being forced to do squats while naked. On another scale, parents use mobile phone slideshows - not wallet photos - to show off pictures of their children, while adolescents document their rites of passage with mobile phone cameras and instantly share the images.
17 May 07 - Shady practices in regional broadband grants
Australian IT, 17/05/07
REGIONAL internet companies have misappropriated at least $10 million worth of grants from the federal Government's rural broadband subsidy scheme. The Australian National Audit Office (ANAO) has released a report which found the federal Government paid between $10 million and $12.6 million to providers that had made “invalid and inaccurate” claims against the Higher Bandwidth Incentive Scheme (HiBIS) and the first stage of its successor program, Broadband Connect. It said it had also identified a number of other issues that may push the figure higher.
DCITA did not start to Clamping down on providers did not start until December 2006, when DCITA asked them to explain the processes they used to verify customer claims for grants. The schemes were designed to give regional internet providers a business case to build broadband infrastructure in commercially unsustainable areas.top