Roundup of the month: 5 things you may have missed

This month has flown by and as usual a lot has happened in the fast-paced mobile industry. Perhaps the biggest and most contentious story has been the very public tussle between the FBI and Apple, concerning access to a locked iPhone used in the San Bernadino terrorist attacks which devastated the US last year.

But aside from the big stories dominating the headlines, here’s a quick summary of some news you may have missed…

1. Restaurants launched a “no mobile phone” zones on Mother’s Day

No Mobile Phone Sign

Beefeater restaurants in the UK trialled a “no phone zone” on Mother’s Day (March 6th), to make sure mums had their family’s full attention and in response to research suggesting our addiction to mobiles can (and frequently does) ruin family gatherings.

A recent survey in the UK have found that the biggest family outing spoilers include “constantly checking phones at the table” at 54 percent, making it one of the top causes of arguments. Other no-no’s apparently include family member being scruffy for a special occasion (28 percent) or having earphones constantly plugged in (18 percent). Teenagers, take not…

Sarah Tinsley from Beefeater said recently: “There’s no denying the huge benefits our smartphones provide us, but there is a time and a place for their use and, especially on Mothers’ Day, we think we can do without them for an hour or two”, adding: “Mums don’t ask much of us and rarely even let us spend any money on them – so the least we can do is give Mums our undivided attention. We hope this small adjustment to our setup enables a few more families to add some seasoned conversation to their meal”.

Hopefully our readers took their mothers out for a special day and didn’t ruin it by constantly checking their mobile phones…?

2. Businesses are ill-equipped for next-gen workers

Cell Phones at Work

“Pan-European research shows that businesses are ill-equipped for the next generation of workers”, claims a report from enterprise communications provider Fuze, unfortunately confirming that many of us already knew.

The report states that half of workers today describe the technology supplied by their employers as inadequate, and that “technology at work must catch up with what we’re using in our personal lives”.

Fuze also says that 72 percent of UK workers, around 22 million people, support their findings which were extrapolated from a survey of more than 5,000 workers in the UK, Europe and Nordic countries.

A staggering 39 percent of employees use their personal mobile phones for work purposes, which includes using software not controlled by their IT department such as messaging apps and video calling.

3. Google opened its Project Fi low-cost mobile service to everyone in the U.S.

Google Project Fi

Initially available via invitation-only, in March Project Fi opened up to anyone in the U.S. who has a Google account and a suitable mobile phone. Subscribers must own either a Nexus 6P, Nexus 5X or Nexus 6, the only compatible devices at the moment.

Google Fi works over Wi-Fi and 4G networks from mobile operators Sprint and T-Mobile, with Google calling the Nexus devices “the first smartphones that support Project Fi’s network of networks”.

Fi also simplifies payment plans via the “Fi Basics” tier (“One plan, simple pricing, savings made easy” is the tagline), which costs $20 and provides unlimited domestic texts and voice minutes, unlimited international texts, Wi-Fi hotspots in addition to mobile coverage in more than 120 countries.

Users can also add additional Gigabytes of data to the plan for $10 each and will receive a refund at the end of the month for any unused data.

There’s no word yet if or when Google plans to launch Project Fi closer to home…

4. David Cameron called for more mobile phone masts

Mobile Phone Mast

The British PM said the extra towers are necessary to improve broadband speed and coverage, adding that the government must “make sure we change the law” to allow for the new masts to go up.

The statement was made during PMQs after a question from MP Andrew Murrison, who highlighted the fact that rural areas in the UK have below-par Internet connections.

The government currently has a target of 90 percent “superfast” (over 24 Mbps) broadband coverage in the UK by early this year, which it says will be met.

Also earlier in the month, it was reported that the slowest Internet speed in the UK was measured by cable.co.uk in Miserden, Gloucestershire at just 1.3 Mbps. The firm commented that the village has “worse broadband than Mount Everest base camp”.

On a personal note, I recently discovered that my ISP has quietly upgraded my Internet connection for free from my subscribed speed of 50 Mbps (down) / 10 Mbps (up) to an incredible 100 Mbps / 35 Mbps!

5. Study reveals that London is one of the worst UK cities for mobile signal

London Skyline

You may be surprised to know that London ranks poorly in the UK for mobile phone signal, according to a new study from RootMetrics who assessed our major cities examining factors such as the reliability and speed for texts, phone calls and the Internet.

On the other hand, residents of Manchester will be pleased to know that the city came out top in the survey with 95.4 points out of 100. But of the 16 largest urban areas, London ranked 13th (scoring 90.1), beating Bristol, Cardiff and Hull at the bottom (with scores of 87.1, 79.2 and 77.9).

Scott Stonham, RootMetrics’ general manager for Europe, said that London is perhaps just be too big for a reliable mobile network: “Providing a good mobile coverage in London is always going to be difficult due to the density of the population, the architecture and changes in demand on capacity”.

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