Mark Bridge writes:
The telecommunications industry was making plenty of headlines last week – but much of it wasn’t particularly upbeat.
The debate about privacy and security continued in the wake of allegations about US agents intercepting internet traffic. Here in the UK there was a grey cloud hanging over O2 as the Communication Workers Union called a strike ballot over the outsourcing of customer service jobs. Meanwhile, Nokia prepared to make its last Symbian smartphones and Tradedoubler warned that mobile devices were having a negative effect on high-street consumer loyalty.
Fortunately there was some cheering news from Apple, which revealed its forthcoming iOS7 operating system. Meanwhile rival Samsung did its best to steal some of the limelight by announcing a Galaxy S4 variant with a 10x optical zoom lens.
There were also upbeat stories about mobile technology being used for travel and payments. Europe moved a step closer to having cars that would call for help after an accident, Google bought social navigation app Waze, Juniper Research predicted that transport-related services would drive mobile ticketing to almost a billion users by 2018 and iZettle announced a mobile payment partnership with Santander in the UK.
But the most unexpected news from the past 7 days was an innovative plan that could transform the notion of a mobile network. Google is working on a system that uses balloons instead of satellites to provide internet access to remote areas. It’s launched [no pun intended] a pilot scheme [still no pun intended] that covers some of the area around Christchurch in New Zealand. The name of this scheme? Project Loon, of course.
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