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UK mobile payment service Paym to close in March 2023

UK mobile payment service Paym will close on 7th March 2023. The service, which allowed users to make and receive payments using their mobile phone numbers, was launched in 2014.
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How AI technology is transforming the smartphone experience

How AI technology is transforming the smartphone experience

From improved performance to personalized recommendations, AI is enhancing the functionality and usability of smartphones for users

By incorporating advanced algorithms and machine learning capabilities, AI can help to optimize a smartphone's performance, providing users with a faster, more efficient and user-friendly experience.
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European smartphone shipments fall to lowest Q1 total since 2013

A new report from Counterpoint Research's Market Monitor service shows European smartphone shipments dropping by 12% year-on-year in the first quarter of 2022. That's the lowest Q1 total since 2013.
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Qualcomm legal action moves forward in the UK

Qualcomm legal action moves forward in the UK

Which? seeks payout for Samsung and Apple smartphone owners

Consumer protection organisation Which? has been given permission by the UK's Competition Appeal Tribunal to represent Apple and Samsung smartphone buyers in a legal case against chip manufacturer Qualcomm.
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Google announces new devices

Google announces new devices

Pixel Watch, smartphones, earbuds and more

Google's 2022 I/O conference for developers has seen the company previewing new products, including its Pixel 7 smartphone, a Pixel tablet and the first smartwatch entirely built by Google.
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Opinion Articles

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Are mobile networks about to cut down on free WiFi?

Mark Bridge writes:

I don’t mind paying for a spot of WiFi when I need it. Admittedly I’d prefer to find a coffee shop with a free hotspot but I’ll pay if I really need a connection. Not just here in the UK but abroad too.

It seems I’m not alone. Today I saw details of a survey from cloud-based communications provider MACH. It caught my eye, not least because I’d spoken to the company at Mobile World Congress last year. Anyway, MACH had commissioned some research into roaming - and it’s revealed that many customers prefer WiFi to 3G when abroad because they can manage their costs better.

Lokdeep Singh, Chief Technology Officer at MACH, is quoted as saying “If operators can provide a seamless experience for the user to log onto WiFi and also integrate billing into their overall service capability, then their addressable market can be significantly expanded. It is also interesting that for a subscriber, control of costs is as much of a concern as the costs themselves. Consumers feel more in control of their costs with WiFi: it is not about just knowing that WiFi is cheaper, it is also about knowing that they will only spend a set amount and not go over it accidently.”

The idea of mobile operators charging for WiFi when abroad is a contrast to some services in the UK, where WiFi is included as part of the monthly cost. It’s an arrangement that suits everyone nicely: customers get a faster connection on WiFi, so it’s seen as a benefit... and networks get to offload some usage, freeing capacity for other customers.

T-Mobile has done this with The Full Monty tariff, which not only includes free 3G internet access but throws in free WiFi as well. However, there was a turn of phrase in the announcement that caught my eye.

“The Full Monty plan provides access to our preferred WiFi partner’s WiFi network; presently this is BT Openzone network excluding any sites providing access to any organisation or location which is part of the Olympic Games in London in 2012.”

Leaving aside the question of special Olympics WiFi zones, it seemed to me that T-Mobile wasn’t particularly committed to its current preferred partner. There was, at the very least, an implication the provider could change.

After all, that’s just happened over at O2. Gone is The Cloud from the list of suppliers, leaving T-Mobile’s current mate BT Openzone and O2’s own smaller hotspot collection.

Why?  Well, given the commercial nature of the agreement, I’d say money was the most likely cause.

And that raises a question.

With many mobile network operators uncomfortable about the idea of ‘unlimited’ mobile tariffs because of the cost implications and the risk of reduced quality for other users, is WiFi the next battleground?  Are those deals between mobile networks and hotspot providers getting a bit pricey as smartphone usage increases?

What’s next?  Will we soon be back to paying for wireless hotspots because it’s not viable to give away the bandwidth?  If so, I wonder what kind of incentives will be offered. I’m hoping someone will think of giving away a free cup of coffee with their WiFi.

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Recent Podcasts

Reviewing our 2015 mobile industry predictions... and looking forward to 2016

Podcast - 15th January 2016

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Podcast from Mobile World Congress 2015

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Looking back at February: from security scares to multiple MVNOs

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Interview with Chris Millington of Doro about mobile retailing, wearables and technology for older consumers

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A month of mobile: O2 counts on 3, Microsoft counts to 10 and Apple counts its profits

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