Fresh Technology Insights

Category: Mobile (Page 1 of 3)

Demand for smartphones halves in China in February 2020 due to Coronavirus

Reuters »

In total, mobile phone brands sold a total of 6.34 million devices in February in China, down 54.7% from 14 million in the same month last year, data from the China Academy of Information and Communications Technology showed (CAICT).

It was also the lowest level for February since at least 2012, when CAICT started publishing data.

[…]

Android brands, which include devices made by Huawei Technologies and Xiaomi accounted for most of the drop, as they collectively saw shipments decline from 12.72 million units in February 2019 to 5.85 million, the data showed.

Shipments of Apple devices slumped to 494,000, from 1.27 million in February 2019. In January, its shipments had held steady at just over 2 million.

More » Apple Insider

Canadians continue to pay more for wireless services than other G7 countries » and what the Canadian government is going to do about it [Updated]

A price comparison study prepared for Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada by Wall Communications, an economics consulting firm, shows that Canadians pay a lot more for wireless services than other G7 countries and Australia.

Note » Below you will find the Federal Government’s response to the study.

The study found »

“For the level three wireless service basket, the average Canadian monthly rate of $74.42 CAD is well above the average for the group of surveyed foreign jurisdictions of roughly $36. Canada ranks second highest among the surveyed countries, surpassed by Japan at $78.42.”

Gary NG, iPhone in Canada »

A chart from the pricing report comparing Canadian wireless prices to other countries, “in purchasing power parity (PPP) adjusted Canadian dollars” seen below, shows prices are more expensive in Canada when it comes to data ranging from 1GB, 2GB, 5GB and 10-49GB data buckets. Look at the price difference between Canada and Australia, for example:

Aisha Malik, Mobile Syrup »

Further, the study revealed that average prices from regional providers (e.g. Freedom Mobile, SaskTel, Vidéotron) were up to 45 percent lower than plans provided by the Big Three (Bell, Rogers, and Telus). The government says that although this progress is promising, the cost of mid-range plans have not moved, hence the push to lower prices.

[…]

The most significant difference in pricing between the national and regional carriers is found in the ‘level two’ basket level, which is 1,200 voice minutes, 300 texts and 1GB of data usage per month.

For this category, the national incumbents’ prices average at $77.81, while the regional carriers’ average at $42.43.

This is a 45.46 percent difference in pricing. Interestingly, the study also indicated that “the lowest average mobile wireless prices were generally found in Winnipeg, Regina and Montreal for most mobile wireless service baskets — consistent with the past several years.”

Study » Price Comparisons of Wireline, Wireless and Internet Services in Canada and with Foreign Jurisdictions 2019 Edition

The Government’s Response

Minister Bains announces next steps to help reduce wireless prices and promote competition

March 5, 2020 – Toronto, Ontario

More than ever, Canadians are relying on wireless services for their everyday needs, making access to high quality and affordable wireless services absolutely essential. That is why the Government of Canada is offering Canadian consumers more affordable options by helping to reduce the cost of mid-range wireless services by 25 percent and further increasing competition.

Today, the Honourable Navdeep Bains, Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry, took the opportunity to highlight the progress made to date to help reduce prices. He announced the release of the 2019 Price Comparison Study. The study shows that average prices from regional providers were up to 45 percent lower than plans provided by the three big national carriers. While this progress is promising, the prices for mid-range plans have not moved.

To that end, Minister Bains presented the next steps to lower prices for telecom services and promote competition. To track progress of a 25 percent reduction, the Government will report on wireless pricing quarterly by establishing a clear benchmark. This will also increase transparency. For cellphone plans that offer 2 GB to 6 GB of data, the three big national carriers—Bell Canada, Rogers Communications Canada and Telus Communications—are expected to lower their prices by 25 percent in the next two years.

If these targets are not met within two years, the Government will take action with other regulatory tools to further increase competition and help reduce prices.

To promote greater regional competition and lower prices, Minister Bains also announced the rules for the 3500 MHz spectrum auction. In the past, pro-competitive auction rules have allowed regional providers to more than double their share of low-band spectrum, creating more competition in the marketplace and lowering prices as a result. That is why this auction will reserve 50 MHz for small and regional telecom companies, encouraging more competition in the wireless market and ensuring they are on a more equal footing with the three big national carriers. The 3500 MHz bands are recognized around the world as one of the key spectrum bands for 5G technologies. This spectrum will support higher speeds, increased data usage and new applications.

Quotes

“Canada is at an exciting turning point in the future of connectivity. Wireless services are no longer a luxury. They are a critical necessity—for working, for learning at school and for engaging in modern society. We heard Canadians when they asked for more affordable options for their wireless services, and we have delivered. Canadians shouldn’t have to choose between having a cellphone or heating their home. These new tools build on a number of initiatives we already set in place to help lower prices, improve access and ensure affordable, high-quality wireless services in every corner of our country.”
– The Honourable Navdeep Bains, Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry

Quick facts

  • The 2019 Price Comparison Study also shows that Canadians have been paying more overall compared to consumers in other G7 countries and Australia.
  • The Government’s priority is to enhance competition as it contributes to more choices at affordable prices for consumers. To enhance competition, the Government has taken these steps:
    • Set out pro-competition rules for the 600 MHz band spectrum auction that led to regional providers  more than doubling their share of spectrum, creating more competition in the marketplace;
    • Issued in June 2019 a policy direction to the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) to encourage all forms of competition and to foster affordability and lower prices in all telecom decisions;
    • Engaged the CRTC to explore lower cost wireless offerings, resulting in its mandating the three big national carriers offer low-cost data-only plans; and
    • Reserved 50 MHz in the upcoming 3500 MHz spectrum auction for small and regional telecom companies to enhance competition in the market.
  • The CRTC’s ongoing Wireless Framework Review is looking at three broad areas: competition in the retail market, mandating wholesale access for mobile virtual network operators (MVNO), and the future of mobile services in 5G. The Government is following this proceeding closely.

Source

More » CBC » Liberals give big 3 wireless providers two years to cut prices by 25 per cent

EU Commission recommends staff use the Signal messaging app

The EU and other world governments have suffered high profile data breaches, often because they were using insecure commercial apps, or apps that were handling data in ways that were not obvious or stated.

Signal is a true end-to-end messaging app that has been verified by security experts around the world. Journalist and activists dealing in sensitive areas where their lives are often at stake, depend on Signal.

Laurens Cerulus, Pro Publica »

The European Commission has told its staff to start using Signal, an end-to-end-encrypted messaging app, in a push to increase the security of its communications.

The instruction appeared on internal messaging boards in early February, notifying employees that “Signal has been selected as the recommended application for public instant messaging.”

[…]

Privacy experts consider that Signal’s security is superior to other apps’. “We can’t read your messages or see your calls,” its website reads, “and no one else can either.”

The Signal App is available free on several platforms (iOS, Android, etc) through the official web site.

Mobile World Congress in Barcelona cancelled due to the Wuhan Coronavirus

MWC is the world’s largest annual trade fair for the mobile telecoms industry with 100,000 attendees from operators and vendors from around the world.

The GSM Association, which organizes the show, canceled it after more than a week of exhibitors and companies pulling out of the February 24th to 27th event.

With due regard to the safe and healthy environment in Barcelona and the host country today, the GSMA has cancelled MWC Barcelona 2020 because the global concern regarding the coronavirus outbreak, travel concern and other circumstances, make it impossible for the GSMA to hold the event. The Host City Parties respect and understand this decision. The GSMA and the Host City Parties will continue to be working in unison and supporting each other for MWC Barcelona 2021 and future editions. Our sympathies at this time are with those affected in China, and all around the world.

Former Conservative leader Sir Iain Duncan Smith is asking the British government to rethink its decision to allow Huawei to play a role in the UK’s 5G network

There appear to be legitimate national security concerns about allowing Chinese firm Huawei to bid on and install 5G mobile networking equipment. Boris Johnson’s government announced they will allow the firm to install it’s equipment, however, they have not addressed those concerns or stated why they will allow this added risk, when there are other highly reputable alternatives.

The decision appears to be a political one, and not one based on facts. To be clear, Huawei should not be banned based on what is being asked for by the Trump Administration. National security should be top priority.

BBC »

In a letter, the group – which includes four ex-cabinet ministers – said there were alternatives to the Chinese firm.

They want “high-risk” vendors to be ruled out now, or phased out over time.

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said the decision followed a “rigorous” review by security experts and that Huawei’s involvement would be restricted.

More » The Independent

[Updated] US Attorney General Bill Barr encourages Americans to invest in Finland’s Nokia and Sweden’s Ericcson to counter China’s Huawei

Nokia and Ericsson shares got a boost. So someone made a profit on that stock tip.

Bill Barr was previously a lawyer for US phone carrier Verizon.

Meanwhile, much of Ericsson and Nokia hardware is built in China.

Reuters »

“Putting our large market and financial muscle behind one or both of these firms would make it a far more formidable competitor and eliminate concerns over its staying power, or their staying power,” Barr said in a speech to a Washington think tank conference on China.

“We and our closest allies certainly need to be actively considering this approach,” Barr said.

The United States alleges that the Chinese government could use Huawei’s equipment for espionage, which Huawei denies.

More » Financial Times

Updated Feb 7, 2020 » Reuters » ‘No concrete proposition’ from U.S. to back Huawei rival Ericsson: Swedish minister

Hackers are exploiting an unpatched Android flaw to drain users’ bank accounts

All versions of Android are at risk and all of the top 500 most popular Android apps are vulnerable.

Zeljka Zorz, writing in HelpNetSecurity »

Hackers are actively exploiting StrandHogg, a newly revealed Android vulnerability, to steal users’ mobile banking credentials and empty their accounts, a Norwegian app security company has warned.

[…]

“StrandHogg is unique because it enables sophisticated attacks without the need for the device to be rooted. To carry out attacks, the attacker doesn’t need any special permissions on the device. The vulnerability also allows an attacker to masquerade as nearly any app in a highly believable manner,” they noted.

StrandHogg allows attackers to show to users fake login screens and ask for all types of permissions that may ultimately allow them to:

  • Read and send SMS messages (including those delivering second authentication factors)
  • Phish login credentials
  • Make and record phone conversations
  • Listen to the user through the microphone
  • Take photos through the device’s camera
  • Get access to photos, files on the device, location and GPS information,the contacts list, phone logs, etc.

Read the whole article on HelpNetSecurity »

More » The Hacker News, Security Affairs, Security Week, ZDNet

Chinese regulations now require buyers of SIM cards have their faces scanned, in addition to providing an official ID

Constant surveillance in an effort to control the population.

Lily Kuo, writing for The Guardian »

All mobile phone users in China registering new SIM cards must submit to facial recognition scans, according to a new rule that went into effect across the country on Sunday.

[…]

The measure, described by the ministry of industry and information as a way to “protect the legitimate rights and interest of citizens in cyberspace”, makes Chinese mobile phone and internet users easier to track.

Already, mobile phone users are required to register SIM cards with their identity cards or passports and many telecoms had begun scanning customers’ faces since last year. Many social media platforms also require users to sign up with their “real-name identities” via their phone numbers.

Read the whole article in The Guardian »

More » Reuters, BBC, Engadget, Bloomberg, The Next Web, SlashGear, Taiwan News, Android Authority

RCS ‘exposes literally hundreds of millions of people, without asking them, without telling them’

Security researchers at SRLabs are sounding the alarm that telecos are implementing the Rich Communication Services (RCS) standard in ways which allow phone networks to be attacked.

Joseph Cox, writing for Vice’s Motherboard »

SRLabs estimated RCS is already implemented by at least 100 mobile operators, with many of the deployments being in Europe. SRLabs said that all the major U.S. carriers—AT&T, T-Mobile, Sprint, and Verizon—were using RCS.

SRLabs didn’t find an issue in the RCS standard itself, but rather how it is being implemented by different telecos. Because some of the standard is undefined, there’s a good chance companies may deploy it in their own way and make mistakes.

“Everybody seems to get it wrong right now, but in different ways,” Nohl said. SRLabs took a sample of SIM cards from a variety of carriers and checked for RCS-related domains, and then looked into particular security issues with each. SRLabs didn’t say which issues impacted which particular telecos.

Read the whole article at Motherboard »

More » SRLabs, The Verge

Ryan Reynolds just bought Mint Mobile

Ryan Reynolds likes Mint Mobile so much that he bought it.

“While every other tech titan is off chasing rockets, I’ll corner the budget-friendly wireless sector. Like most people, I only use rockets 10-12 times a year but I use my mobile service every day.”

— Ryan Reynolds

November 25, 2019 Press Release

Mint Mobile, the wireless company offering carrier-grade service for a fraction of the cost, today announced actor, writer, producer and mobile phone enthusiast Ryan Reynolds has purchased an ownership stake in the company.

“It’s a bit unconventional which is why I like it,” said Reynolds. “Celebrities generally invest in high-end products like skincare brands or delicious gin companies. Yet Mint is making wireless way more affordable at a time when the average American is paying 65 dollars a month. I’m excited to champion a more practical approach to the most essential technology.”

“Mint Mobile’s consumer-centric approach and maniacal focus on generating consumer value has kicked Mint into hyper-growth mode,” explained Mint’s CEO David Glickman. “It’s fitting that the most disruptive wireless company is now owned by the most innovative marketer on the planet.”

Mint is able to offer premium wireless for as little as $15 a month by having no retail overhead costs and an innovative consumption model.

In connection with the investment, Reynolds will help with Mint’s communications and marketing efforts as well as strategic decision-making.

About Mint Mobile
Mint Mobile is a mobile wireless provider that offers the absolute best prices for talk, text and data plans in the USA, on one of the nation’s most advanced 4G LTE high-speed network with no contracts and no overages. The service was developed in 2016 for the savvy internet shopper who is looking for wireless service at incredible value. With Mint Mobile’s Bring Your Own Phone (BYOP) program, customers can get Mint Mobile service instantly on their unlocked phone or they can buy the latest iPhone or Android with Mint Mobile Service, directly from www.MintMobile.com.

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