Displaying items by tag: London

F(x)tec brings the keyboard back to smartphones

Written on Thursday, 31 October 2019 12:29

F(x)tec is a London based smartphone manufacturer which initiated in 2018. Its mission is to bring back technologies and features that we love into modern smartphones. F(x)tec released the Pro 1, designed to allow the user to choose between a virtual keyboard or a physical keyboard, among many other features. Telecom Review had the chance of meeting Adrian Li Mow Ching, CEO and co-founder of F(x)tec, at GITEX technology week in Dubai.

What challenges do start-up companies face at the moment in such a saturated market?

It’s very important that start-ups find their niche. In a saturated market like smartphones, this is paramount. You need to have a very clear picture of what you are good at, what you want to achieve and who you want to target. There are many brands who make the mistake of packing every feature they can into a phone and try to sell it for the cheapest possible price. The problem is that you will never succeed against big global manufacturers like Apple or Samsung. For us, we have a niche that we are really passionate about. We know our target market, we understand our customers and we know what they like. With this understanding, we can create the best product.

Tell us about Pro 1, what is different about your product?

We formed last year and we brought our first product to the market. It’s called the Pro1. It provides the total android experience for our customer base. It is purposely designed for everyday use where true multi-tasking comes to life. The Pro 1 packs a slim design that conceals a full slide out keyboard. This allows users to choose between a virtual keyboard or a physical keyboard, providing the best of both worlds. The main purpose of this has been is to enhance productivity for the end user, whilst remaining functional. The landscape QWERTY keyboard combined with the large 5.99 inch dual-curve AMOLED display allows for optimum efficiency, so users can complete everyday tasks such as answering emails and browsing the internet without compromising screen size. The split screen experience also helps users multitask by allowing two apps to be displayed on screen at the same time. With an optimum viewing angle when opened, the device is perfect for watching YouTube videos or films on the go. The device is perfect for everyday use, working on the go and travelling. Our main mission is to bring technologies and features that we love back into modern smartphones.

Aside from the keyboard, what are other preloved features that you think might be of interest to your customers?

As well as the keyboard, the Pro 1 has a 3.55mm headphone jack which is universally simplistic and we also love the nature of using plug in headphones. There is also a physical camera shutter button along the right side of the device for taking photos. Both of which are simple yet effective to operate. We believe that incorporating such preloved features into the device allows us to put our own spin on the modern smartphone, a nostalgic nod to the past. 

Published in Devices

Uber’s new CEO has jetted into London for negotiations with the city’s transport regulator following the TFL’s (Transport for London) decision to suspend the license of the global ride-hailing service. The TFL deemed Uber unfit to run a taxi service and refused to renew its license.

The decision by the TFL left Uber reeling, as the UK, and in particular London is a massive market for the US firm. It was the latest setback in a long line of controversies and blows endured by Uber who have in recent months had allegations of sexual harassment within its work environment labelled at them.

In addition to this, Uber has faced countless legal battles in different markets all over the world – and pressure from stakeholders forced former CEO and founder Travis Kalanick to resign. TFL stated that it didn’t renew Uber’s license due to the firm’s approach to reporting serious criminal offences – and also highlighted safety issues in relation to Uber’s vetting process on its drivers.

London’s Mayor Sadiq Khan, who is also chairman of the TFL, told Uber that it would serve the organization better to actually attempt to address the concerns raised by the transport regulator, instead of hiring a team of PR experts and lawyers.

However, it has emerged that Uber’s new CEO, former Expedia boss Dara Khosrowshahi has arranged a face-to-face meeting with TFL commissioner Mike Brown who is tasked with the responsibility of running TFL’s day-to-day operations. It was further disclosed that Khan, a member of the Labor Party had sanctioned the meeting.

While Uber’s license was suspended with immediate effect on September 30th, its 40,000 drivers can still pick up fares until an appeal process has been exhausted, and that is likely to take up to several months.

Uber’s CEO facing a tough task to restore order to a firm which has been battered by a host of controversies, and his job hasn’t been helped by the calling of a board meeting in San Francisco which will look at curbing the influence of former CEO Kalanick.

Many expect Uber to resolve the issue with the TFL and claimed that Khosrowshahi made a good start by penning an open letter to Londoners in which he acknowledged that the company had made mistakes, before vowing to adopt a new approach to penetrate new markets globally.

It has been reported that Uber will learn its fate when a judge will rule on its appeal when it is officially submitted on October 13th. Uber’s competitors have wasted no time in attempting to gain its business. London’s second-biggest private hire firm Addison Lee said on Friday it was planning to increase its driver numbers in London by up to a quarter.

Published in Apps

Uber vows to stop using diesel cars in London by 2019

Written on Sunday, 17 September 2017 11:45

Global ride-hailing incumbent Uber has announced that it will cease using diesel cars in London by the end of 2019. City officials in the English capital are aggressively pursuing initiatives and programs aimed at reducing the number of diesel vehicles being driven in and around the city, with London recording alarming levels of pollution.

Uber have shown their support for this movement by vowing that they will be using no diesel cars for their services by 2019, with a spokesman for the firm claiming that by that stage the vast majority of rides will be in either hybrid or electric vehicles.

Uber says currently almost half of its fleet that embark on journeys in London are undertaken in greener vehicles on the company’s standard low-cost Uber-X service, which enables users to book their journeys on their smartphone device.

A number of leading car manufacturers has announced plans to electrify a large proportion of their new cars. The most notably automaker was Swedish giants Volvo, who earlier this year became the first manufacturer to set a date on when it was phasing out vehicles powered solely by the internal combustion engine.

The UK has followed the lead of France and cities such as Mexico City, Athens and Madrid by declaring that it will prohibit the sale of new petrol and diesel cars from 2040. Uber, which has around 40,000 drivers based in London, has indicated that they will only offer hybrid or electric vehicles on Uber-X by the turn of the decade – but plans to roll-out the program on a nationwide basis by 2022.

Uber’s Head of UK Cities, Fred Jones said Uber shared the concerns expressed by city officials in London in relation to growing problem of air pollution, and said the US-based ride-hailing service was keen to its part.

Jones said: “Air pollution is a growing problem and we’re determined to play our part in tackling it with this bold plan. Londoners already know many cars on our app are hybrids, but we want to go much further and go all electric in the capital.

Uber has endured a difficult number of months with the firm being at the center of a number of salacious scandals ranging from sexual harassment to allegation of bullying, investor pressure eventually led to controversial and high-profile resignation of Uber co-founder and CEO Travis Kalanick.

However, Uber has also faced stinging criticism in London, and has been locked in legal rows with trade unions, lawmakers and traditional black cab drivers over working conditions and the legality of its operations. It has also been reported that Uber intend to appeal a decision by a British judge which ruled that the tech company should treat two of its drivers as employees and pay them the minimum wage and holiday pay.

In addition to this, Uber is also waiting on the decision by the capital’s transport regulator who will determine later this month how much the ride-hailing app will need to pay in order to renew its new license.

In Uber’s statement in relation to its phasing out of diesel cars, it also announced its plan to help drivers switch from diesel cars to greener cars with a £150 million-pound fund, which would pay up to 5,000 pounds per upgrade from a petrol or diesel vehicle. Uber will generate the funds for this initiative by taxing an each fare with an additional 35p in London.

Published in Apps

An Estonian taxi startup company has announced its bold ambition to take on global ride-hailing colossus Uber in both London and Paris. Taxify announced that it will initially launch its services in London after it signed up 3,000 private hire taxi drivers following an intensive recruitment process which was needed to meet UK licensing and regulatory requirements.

Its expansion into the UK serves to indicate that Taxify is confident it can replicate the success it has enjoyed in other markets. The Estonian company have already benefited from the uncertainty and scandal that has plagued Uber in the last six months - by stealing a march on them in Eastern Europe and Africa.

London is a saturated market when it comes to taxi services. The English capital is home to the world-famous black cabs and private hire firm Addison Lee, who compete with other ride-hailing apps such as GETT and HAILO, which is now incorporated in Daimler’s MyTaxi.

Uber has a large slice of the market share in London, it boasts over 40,000 drivers and has 3 million London users, with the Silicon Valley based company claiming that users make over 1 million trips a week.

Taxify operates in 25 countries which is in stark contrast to that of Uber, who rollout its services in 600 cities across the world. However, its USP is that it allows passengers to pay marked-down fares which in turn lets drivers retain a bigger share of the profits, whilst it’s run on a much lower cost business model that Uber.

Taxify is directly targeting Uber’s customer base by offering a 15% commission on rides booked through the online platform. Uber charges between 20-25% in London. In addition to this, Taxify will accept cash as well as electronic payments unlike Uber.

The CEO and founder of the Estonian startup Markus Villig insisted its policy is that it will always be cheaper than Uber. Uber has just appointed a new CEO in order to bring much needed stability to the organization. It has endured a hugely difficult year, it has been embroiled in sexual harassment cases, legal disputes over the legality of the services it provides, and co-founder Travis Kalanick was forced to resign as CEO.

Uber’s new boss is former Expedia CEO Dara Khosrowshahi and he has vowed to take the company public in the next few years, and said the company had to change in order for it to continue to expand. Taxify has enjoyed incredible success since its inception and will be confident it can penetrate the UK market.

It’s based in the Baltics and it first staked out in major cities all across Eastern and Central Europe, before expanding operations in Africa. Its CEO has declared that he believes they will overtake Uber by the end of this year. The taxi company has been boosted by investment from China’s rife-hailing firm Chuxing DiDi and aim to expand into Paris before the end of 2017.

Published in Apps

US technology firm Cisco Systems has announced that its technologies will be used to help roll-out free public Wi-Fi in London. Last week, London Mayor, Sadiq Khan vowed to make London the ‘smartest city’ in the world - and one way of ensuring that vision is to enhance ‘connectivity’.

In a statement released by the US conglomerate which is headquartered in San Jose, California, it said Cisco hardware is set to underpin O2 and Vodafone in an effort to implement free public Wi-Fi across the city. It was further disclosed that the new network will use Cisco’s outdoor access point, the Aironet 1560 series, to provide high bandwidth connectivity points in the square mile area.

In addition to this, Cisco’s technology will sit in passive physical infrastructure provided by O2’s joint-venture with Vodafone, Cornerstone Telecommunications Infrastructure, while 02 will provide the network core. The new network will replace the existing service entitled ‘The Cloud’ which is provided by Sky. The new roll-out is expected to be complete by autumn - and users will be able to access the network for free after completing a one-time registration process.

Chief Operating Officer for O2, Derek McManus emphasized the importance of continuous investment in new infrastructure and digital technologies. McManus said, “Continued investment in infrastructure is essential to maintain the UK’s reputation as a digital leader and we needed a partner that would be able to provide cutting-edge technology to help us realize this." McManus also expressed his delight that they were able to broker an agreement with Cisco, and said the organization’s technology was robust, fast and seamless.

According to Cisco SVP, Global Service provider, Peter Karlstromer access to free Wi-Fi and enhanced connectivity is now a basic requirement for any city looking to drive ‘innovation’. He said, “Free Wi-Fi connectivity is now a pre-requisite for any city looking to drive innovation and compete on a globe scale."

The multi-million pound contract with the City of London was announced in April, and it aims to improve the city’s ‘smart infrastructure’. 4G connected cells will be implemented in street furniture such as street signs, lamp posts and buildings in an attempt to make London ‘connected’. It’s also been reported that Cornerstone Telecommunications Infrastructure Limited will offer all ‘smart infrastructure’ on a wholesale basis to all UK operators, as part of a collective effort to enhance mobile coverage in the area.

In May, O2 said it would invest £80m to install 1,400 small cells in London in a collaboration agreement with Cisco in order to improve mobile coverage for its own subscribers.

Published in Telecom Operators

Ericsson has been named connectivity partner for Stamford Bridge – Chelsea Football Club’s home stadium in Fulham, London. Free Wi-Fi coverage will be provided via the Small Cell as a Service connected venue business model whereby Ericsson designs, builds and operates the network on the customer’s behalf.

As a result, Chelsea FC will be able to provide fans throughout the stadium with a richer experience that enables them to interact digitally with each other, the club, friends and family.

In winning their fifth Premier League title in 2016/2017, Chelsea FC sold out every home match day at Stamford Bridge. Many fans used their smartphones to share photos and videos via social media, often stretching cellular networks to the limit. To ensure visitors can enjoy a seamless digital experience, Ericsson will design, build and operate a carrier-grade Wi-Fi access network and then manage it on Chelsea FC’s behalf.

“We look forward to a rich partnership with Ericsson which will directly assist the thousands of fans who come regularly to Stamford Bridge,” said Chris Townsend, Chelsea FC commercial director. “Ericsson leads the way in providing innovative digital solutions and we welcome them to the Chelsea family.”

Arun Bansal, Senior Vice President, Europe & Latin America, Ericsson, added, “Our research indicates that people want to use their digital devices wherever they go – and the urge to connect is even greater at a Chelsea FC home game. Through this partnership, we will ensure the connectivity at Stamford Bridge matches the quality of the football and look forward to exploring further options that will enable Chelsea FC to take the digital experience to the next level.”

Small Cell as a Service supports service providers’ cellular go-to-market models, enables businesses to monetize Wi-Fi, provides a business case for network build-out and improves end-user experience.

In 2015, Legia Warsaw became the first football club in Europe to sign a Small Cell as a Service contract with Ericsson. In 2016, Ericsson became the connectivity partner for the Ricoh Arena stadium in Coventry, England, home to Aviva Premiership rugby team Wasps and Wasps Netball.

Through four weeks of football mania in Brazil in 2014, the Nordic World Ski Championships in Sweden in 2015, the 2016 European football tournament in France, and the 2016 summer sports event in Rio, Ericsson ensured the networks kept pace with the fans.

Published in Infrastructure

ZTE Corporation showcased Qcell Plus, its next-generation digital indoor mobile broadband solution, at the 11th global Small Cell World Summit in London on May 24. The upgraded Qcell Plus solution helps operators build evolving-towards-5G digital indoor infrastructure with a view to providing enhanced digital architectures, digital services and digital operation and maintenance, as to deliver a full indoor digital experience to users.

Supporting key Pre5G technologies such as 256 quadrature amplitude modulation (QAM), massive carrier aggregation (CA), distributed multiple-input multiple-output (D-MIMO), and LTE augmented access (LAA), the Qcell Plus solution can bring an nGbps experience to users. It adds to 300MB full broadband, which ZTE first implemented as an industry first to meet operators’ demands for sharing and co-building indoor infrastructure and to improve economic benefits.

The Qcell Plus solution can provide various digital services, such as indoor high-precision positioning, local distribution, local caching, big data, and the Internet of Things. With open APIs, this solution allows a variety of third-party applications and content to enter operators’ network channels in order to meet the diversified service needs of indoor users and to add value to the channel.

With all nodes visible, measurable and manageable, the digital operation and maintenance of the Qcell Plus solution, which includes various operation and maintenance scenarios, can implement in-depth indoor performance analysis and optimization to dramatically improve the precision level of fault location and operation and maintenance efficiency. The upgraded Qcell Plus solution has already become the new engine to accelerate the drive towards indoor services in the 4G era.

Published in Telecom Vendors

Snap Inc. (Snapchat) announces London as its international HQ

Written on Wednesday, 11 January 2017 07:09

Snap Inc. is the company behind the popular photo and video sharing messaging application Snapchat. The company announced on January 10 that it has chosen London as the location of its international headquarters, and highlighted the United Kingdom’s creative industries as the reason for its choice.

Other tech leaders including Facebook, Google and Apple also announced their investments in London last year. The city has garnered a reputation for being a technology hub, which could stand it in good stead as the UK prepares to leave the European Union.

“I am happy to confirm that the UK is the Snap Inc. family’s hub outside the US,” said a Snap Inc. spokesperson. The company’s UK general manager, Claire Valoti, added: “The UK is where our advertising clients are, where more than 10 million daily Snapchatters are, and where we’ve already begun to hire talent.”

Snap Inc. has around 75 staff in the UK, up from six a year ago, and is said to be looking to add a nearby site to its office in London’s Soho district. The success of the company’s popular disappearing message application in the region is clear, with a reported 50 million daily Snapchat users out of a total of 150 million daily users worldwide.

Snap Inc.'s UK entity will book revenues from customers in the UK and countries where there is no local entity or sales force. The company’s only other European entity is in Paris.

In line with Snap Inc.’s growing profile, reports surfaced in November 2016 that the company filed confidential paperwork for a public share offering which valued the messaging platform at more than $20 billion. It would be among the biggest IPO’s in the tech sector in recent years.

Published in Apps