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Friday, March 25, 2011

This week at The Fonecast: 26th March 2011

Mark Bridge writes:

There was big news from the United States this week as Deutsche Telekom decided to sell T-Mobile USA to AT&T. Was it a shotgun wedding or is this a carefully calculated deal designed to benefit consumers?  Time will tell – assuming, of course, the merger gets approved by the US regulator.

Talking of regulation, Ofcom’s announced plans for a 4G spectrum auction in the UK next year. It’s hoping to start the auction in the first quarter of 2012 – but that’s also assuming everything runs smoothly. Everything Everywhere has already said it’s not happy with some of the proposed rules.

In the mobile-threatening world of WiFi (or should that be ‘mobile-enhancing’?), things are running a little more smoothly. WiFi network operator Fon has just announced a mobile payment deal with mopay, while London Underground is planning a WiFi network that’ll cover its tube stations.

When it comes to manufacturers, you’d have rightly expected much of their news to be coming from the CTIA Wireless trade show in the USA. It’s been described as ‘the American Mobile World Congress’, which isn’t too far off the mark. Samsung revealed a couple of new Android-powered tablets that out-thinned the iPad 2, while LG offered somewhat vague news of a new wireless charger. Pretty much everything else from CTIA 2011 wasn’t really aimed at the UK.

Back to the iPad 2 for a moment. It made its UK debut at 5pm on Friday… and the BlackBerry PlayBook tablet is right on its heels. The PlayBook will be available in the USA and Canada on 19th April, with a UK release expected to follow in the summer. As well as running its own apps, it’ll be capable of running Android applications as well (albeit with a little help).

While I’m on the subject of Android apps, Amazon opened its own Amazon Appstore in the USA (and was promptly hit with legal action from Apple). No sign of UK availability yet.

Finally – and still with a legal theme – five men were jailed this week for a total of 37½ years after a missing trader VAT fraud worth £140 million tax. HM Revenue & Customs said the men “blatantly deprived us all of millions of pounds for the nation's public services”. Almost sounds like they’re fighting the same cause as UK Uncut, who are planning to occupy Vodafone's flagship Oxford Street store as a tax protest today!


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