Displaying items by tag: United Kingdom

MYCOM OSI, an independent provider of assurance, automation and analytics solutions to the world’s largest Communications Service Providers (CSPs), announced that telecom provider Three UK has selected MYCOM OSI to assure its next generation core network which deploys NFV (Network Functions Virtualization), SDN (Software Defined Networks) and will be part of the world’s first Telco Cloud.

“MYCOM OSI was the best fit for our strategy of delivering a quality and reliable network experience for all of our customers,” said Bryn Jones, Chief Technical Officer of Three UK.

Three UK is deploying the world’s first fully integrated cloud native core network that will enable massive scalability, elasticity, and better reliability, so as to provide the highest quality and service experience possible for Three’s customers, as demand for VoLTE, high definition video and other digital services continue to grow. In addition, it will provide improved agility to rapidly respond to customers’ dynamic service demands while preparing for IoT and 5G.

MYCOM OSI’s Experience Assurance and Analytics™ (EAA) product suite will be deployed to monitor Three UK’s all-new Telco Cloud which is based on the ETSI NFV MANO framework, incorporates open-source technologies, such as Red Hat® OpenStack Platform, and spans several new state-of-the-art datacentres architected for full geo-redundant high-availability.

EAA will assure both new virtualized and existing physical networks, and provide closed-loop assurance-driven orchestration based on end-to-end network and service quality. Three UK selected MYCOM OSI’s Experience Assurance and Analytics™ (EAA) after a detailed investigation of the market and ranked MYCOM OSI’s capabilities and roadmap as the best solution to meet their requirements.

The MYCOM OSI Experience Assurance and Analytics™ solution provides Three UK with:

  • Single, integrated assurance suite that manages end-to-end network and service quality across all hybrid (virtual and physical) Telco (3G/4G RAN, Backhaul/transmission, Core, Messaging) and IT (Cloud/Datacenter/Application) network domains
  • Proactive and real-time surveillance with automated bottom-up service impact and top-down root cause analyses
  • Dynamic on-boarding and lifecycle management through catalog-driven service modeling with automated discovery, monitoring, visualization, alerting and analysis for virtual and physical infrastructure components
  • Closed-loop assurance, with policy- and analytics-driven auto-recovery and self-healing support integrating to Orchestration engines (Service and Domain), Inventory/Configuration Management and IT Service Management
  • Ecosystem and framework-agnostic interoperability to NFV, SDN, virtualization and Telco Cloud vendors and open source technologies through industry standard open APIs (such as TMF Open APIs)
  • Cloud-native and self-orchestrated assurance suite that is based on micro-services architecture principles, containerization, big data storage, elastic auto-scaling and agile DevOps development / deployment

 “We are excited and privileged to be selected by Three UK for the world’s foremost network virtualization project. While others are debating various approaches and standards, Three has designed a leading architecture, selected leading partners and is now leading its peer group in deploying Telco Cloud,” commented MYCOM OSI President and CTO, Mounir Ladki. 
“MYCOM OSI’s Assurance suite will enable Three to deliver market-leading customer experience, agility, scale and reliability whilst embracing exciting new opportunities with digital services, IoT and 5G,” Ladki added.

Published in Telecom Vendors

Vodafone UK launches first youth dedicated mobile offering

Written on Sunday, 10 September 2017 10:14

Vodafone UK has launched VOXI, a new mobile offering for people aged 25 and under, that enables them to “use their phones the way they want to,” the company said. The VOXI brand, products, customer experience and marketing have all be co-created with Vodafone’s audience. The VOXI offering is powered by Vodafone’s network.

The VOXI SIM, available from 8 September, lets users indulge in selected social and chat apps (Facebook, Messenger, Instagram, WhatsApp, Pinterest, Snapchat, Twitter and Viber) as much as they like, without affecting their data allowance.

The offering is seen as “flexible and affordable” giving users the freedom to use their phone in Europe with no extra cost, and no contract or credit check required.

VOXI users get unlimited data on social and chat apps while roaming in the Europe Zone, but outside the zone, standard roaming charges apply. The company said it will also soon introduce the ability for users to access video and music apps as much as they like without using their data allowance.

“Why should young people make do with the same mobile plans as everyone else, when they use their phones differently and often can’t access the best deals?” said Dan Lambrou, Head of VOXI.

“We’ve worked with hundreds of people aged 25 and under, and have really listened to them. They are a generation that’s tired of being stereotyped and talked at. We created VOXI, a transparent new mobile service that gives our audience a platform to connect to the things that matter to them, whatever they’re into,” Lambrou added.

To ensure VOXI is relevant to its youth audience, Vodafone said the content on its marketing channels will be created by a community of young artists, filmmakers and designers from across the UK.  

“They will showcase their diverse passions, talents and experiences across the entire VOXI marketing campaign – from social posts through to live events – reflecting the things our audience really cares about,” the company said in a release.  

“Vodafone has been working hard to understand the specific needs of our customers. We know today’s young generation use their phones in a completely different way, with social media at the very centre of their lives,” said Vodafone UK CEO Nick Jeffrey. “They want services that put their needs first.

“VOXI gives young people just that: access to the content and channels they love, simple and cost-effective price plans, and a mobile network they can count on,” Jeffrey added.

The company said VOXI may intervene in extreme situations if usage adversely impacts the service for other customers, or if someone is using the service fraudulently, or for commercial purposes.

The cost of providing unlimited use of the social media and chat apps is included in all VOXI plans, the company said, and users are free to opt-in or opt-out of their plan at any time.

Published in Telecom Operators

Citizens of the United Kingdom will soon be able to force social media platforms to delete information about them, including content published during their childhood, due to government proposals that will bring data laws into line with new European regulations, Reuters reported.

Digital Minister Matt Hancock said Britons will be given more control over their data by having “the right to be forgotten” online and ask for their personal data to be erased. The new measures will force companies to seek permission to obtain personal data rather than rely on pre-selected tick boxes, which are often ignored, Hancock said.

The European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), to become enforceable from May 2018, tightens and extends the scope of data protection law in Europe, and the UK’s new rules will fall in line with this.

Despite the UK planning to leave the European Union, it will have to comply with GDPR, according to lawyers and tech experts, to avoid disruption to the data traffic that is essential to international business. The new rules would give the UK one of the most robust, yet dynamic, set of data laws globally, Hancock claims.

"It will give people more control over their data, require more consent for its use and prepare Britain for Brexit," he said, adding that the data protection regulator, the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO), will be given scope to issue higher fines (up to 17 million pounds), in cases of serious data braches.

Published in Government

The UK government says it will introduce drone registration and safety awareness courses for owners of small unmanned aircraft (drones). The policy will affect all those who own a drone which weighs more than 250 grams (8oz).

Drone maker DJI has spoken out in support of the new measures. However, details of how the registration process will pan out have not yet been released, and the Department of Transport said “the nuts and bolts still have to be ironed out.”

The Department added that the drone safety awareness tests will involve owners having to “prove that they understand UK safety, security and privacy regulations.”

The UK government also plans to include the extension of geo-fencing, where no-fly zones are programmed into drones using GPS co-ordinates, around areas such as airports and prisons.

“Our measures prioritize protecting the public while maximizing the full potential of drones,” said Aviation Minister Lord Martin Callanan, BBC reported. “Increasingly, drones are proving vital for inspecting transport infrastructure for repair or aiding police and fire services in search and rescue operations, even helping to save lives.”

Callanan added, “But like all technology, drones too can be misused. By registering drones and introducing safety awareness tests to educate users, we can reduce the inadvertent breaching of airspace restrictions to protect the public.”

While drones are undeniably useful and innovative, there have been reports of the aircraft being used to deliver drugs to prison inmates. There have also been incidents of drones narrowly missing commercial aircraft in the sky. However, no significant accidents involving a drone have been reported yet.

Dr. Alan McKenna of the University of Kent told BBC: “Registration has its place. I would argue it will focus the mind of the flyer – but I don’t think you can say it’s going to be a magic solution. There will be people who will simply not be on the system, that’s inevitable.”

The US attempted to introduce similar rules which were successfully challenged in court in March 2017 and as a result are currently not applicable to con-commercial flyers.

Dr. McKenna raised the issue of how it would be difficult for police to identify drone owners and whether personal liability insurance should also be a legal requirement in the event of a drone causing an accident.

DJI spokesperson Adam Lisberg said the plans sounded like “reasonable common sense.” He said, “The fact is that there are multiple users of the airspace and the public should have access to the air – we firmly believe that – but you need system to make sure everybody can do it safely.”

Lisberg added, “In all of these issues the question is, where is the reasonable middle ground? Banning drones is unreasonable; having no rules is also unreasonable. We’re encouraged that [the UK government] seems to be recognizing the value drones provide and looking for reasonable solutions.”

Published in Gadget

Having abolished roaming charges in 50 destinations and introduced industry-leading care initiatives like TOBi the chatbot in April, Vodafone UK has made even more improvements that put customers’ needs at the heart of its service including new AI digital customer service initiatives.

The initiatives include 24/7 social media care on Facebook and Twitter; 24/7 ‘Message us’, a new support service that puts customers in control of how they contact Vodafone; and trialing of new voice authentication services, making it easier for customers to verify their identity, access their details quickly and receive an account update through Amazon’s personal assistant, Alexa.

Vodafone has been working with some of the world’s most sophisticated voice recognition technology companies to improve services for customers calling its 191 number for help. This includes testing a new capability that will free customers from having to remember passwords to access their account. By registering and repeating a pre-recorded phrase, customers can confirm their identity based on the unique sound of their voice. The operator is trialing it now and aims to complete its pilot study by the end of the summer.

The company also developed a fresh skill for Amazon’s Alexa that will enable customers to ask the digital assistant for information about their Vodafone account. Once the customer has followed a simple authentication process, they can ask Alexa for billing data, account details and information about extras. The operator expects to launch the ‘Ask Vodafone’ skill later this summer.

Vodafone UK is also expanding its service capabilities using its chatbot TOBi, to provide customers with instant answers to specific questions about their account as well as advice on the best deals. When Vodafone launched TOBi in April, it became the first UK mobile provider to deploy an artificial intelligence chatbot to speed up responses to customer queries.

Initially used to answer popular support questions in Web Chat, TOBi’s role has now been expanded to answer account-specific questions on subjects like roaming. TOBi can also offer advice on SIM only price plans. Already learning new skills, TOBi understands what a customer needs help with more than 90% of the time, and will be handling even more account transactions by year’s end.

The operator has also been working on enhancements for better mobile coverage. This includes using existing masts to enhance indoor 4G coverage across many areas of the UK.

“Our new service offerings illustrate our commitment to putting our customers at the very heart of everything we do,” said Nick Jeffery, Vodafone UK CEO. “Whether it’s providing 24/7 customer care, developing innovative new digital services or outstanding indoor 4G coverage, we are determined to make our network and services easier to use, faster and more engaging for our customers than ever before.”

Vodafone’s current multi-billion-pound network modernization program has resulted in its most reliable network ever, with its call setup success rate at an all-time high, fewer dropped calls and the best indoor coverage the operator has recorded to date.

As part of Vodafone UK’s commitment to deliver outstanding network performance, the company is combining some of its existing spectrum bands to increase the availability and quality of 4G services across major UK locations. This includes both outdoor and, crucially, indoor locations, to give customers confidence that Vodafone’s network will be there when they need it.

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

The UK’s telecom regulator Ofcom announced that later this year it will auction licenses to use 190 MHz of spectrum in two frequency bands, to increase the airwaves available for mobile devices by almost one third. Ofcom said it is helping meet strong demand by releasing extra spectrum, allowing mobile operators to increase their networks’ capacity.

However, UK operator Three publicly disapproved of Ofcom’s announcement in a statement, saying Ofcom’s proposal is “a kick in the teeth for all consumers and in particular for the near-200,000 people who signed up to the ‘Make the Air Fair’ campaign.”

Three launched the campaign in late 2016 calling on consumers to help it fight for a 30 percent spectrum cap before the spectrum auction. The campaign aimed to tackle rival operator BT/EE’s alleged “spectrum dominance”. BT/EE own more than 40 percent of the UK’s available spectrum, and Three has expressed concern that the upcoming auction will enable the two operators to gain more spectrum, thus increasing their dominance.

“By making decisions that increase the dominance of the largest operators, Ofcom is damaging competition, restricting choice and pushing prices up for the very consumers that it is meant to protect,” said Three’s statement. “The mobile market is imbalanced and failing customers. Ofcom has shown little interest in tackling the problem. We will consider our response as a matter of urgency.”

40 MHz of spectrum will be auctioned in the 2.3GHz band by Ofcom. This band is already supported by mobile devices from manufacturers such as Apple and Samsung. These airwaves could be used immediately after release to provide extra capacity, meaning faster downloads and internet browsing for mobile users, according to Ofcom.

In addition, 150 MHz of spectrum will be auctioned in the 3.4GHz band. These airwaves are not compatible with most current mobile devices, but are expected to be usable by future phones and tablets. The 3.4GHz band has been identified as central to the rollout of 5G mobile across Europe.

Ofcom has expressed its intention to reduce BT/EE’s overall share of mobile spectrum by imposing two different restrictions on bidders: “These will limit the amount of spectrum operators can win in the 2.3GHz band; and place overall limits on the spectrum an operator can win across the 2.3GHz and 3.4GHz bands in aggregate,” said the regulator in a statement.

Ofcom said it will place a cap of 255 MHz on the “immediately useable” spectrum that any one operator can hold as a result of the auction. This cap means BT/EE will not be able to bid for spectrum in the 2.3GHz band. In addition, Ofcom will place a new, additional cap of 340 MHz on the overallamount of mobile spectrum a single operator can hold as a result of the auction. This cap amounts to 37 percent of all mobile spectrum expected to be useable in 2020, which includes not only the spectrum available in this auction but also the 700MHz band.

“Taken together, the effect of the caps will be to reduce BT/EE’s overall share of mobile spectrum; the company can win a maximum 85 MHz of new spectrum in the 3.4GHz band,” said Ofcom. “The overall cap also means that Vodafone could gain a maximum 160 MHz of spectrum across both the 2.3GHz and 3.4GHz bands.”

Philip Marnick, Ofcom’s Spectrum Group Director, said: “Spectrum is a vital resource that fuels the UK’s economy. We’ve designed this auction to ensure that people and businesses continue to benefit from strong competition for mobile services.”

Marnick added: “We want to see this spectrum in use as soon as possible. With smartphones and tablets using even more data, people need a choice of fast and reliable mobile networks. These new airwaves will support better services for mobile users, and allow operators to innovate and build for the future.”

Published in Telecom Operators

UK regulator Ofcom on June 16 fined mobile phone provider Three £1,890,000, after uncovering a weakness in the mobile operator’s emergency call network. An Ofcom investigation found that Three broke an important rule designed to ensure everyone can contact the emergency services at all times.

Three fired back at Ofcom saying it acknowledged Ofcom’s decision to fine the company for a single point of vulnerability on Three’s network, but claims the vulnerability “has not had any impact on our customers and only relates to a potential point of failure in Three’s network,” the operator said.

On 6 October 2016, Three notified Ofcom of a temporary loss of service affecting customers in Kent, Hampshire and parts of London. Ofcom’s investigation found that emergency calls from customers in the affected area had to pass through a particular data centre in order to reach the emergency services. This meant that Three’s emergency call service was vulnerable to a single point of failure.

Three’s network “should have been able to automatically divert emergency calls via back-up routes in the event of a local outage,” Ofcom said. But these back-up routes would also have failed because they were all directed through this one point. To resolve the incident and address the underlying network weakness, Three added an additional back-up route to carry emergency call traffic.

Following Ofcom’s investigation, the regulator found Three had “breached the requirement to ensure uninterrupted access to the emergency services.” The breach of the rules was not the incident itself, but rather the weakness identified in Three’s network.

Ofcom’s investigation acknowledged that Three did not act deliberately or recklessly. However, the fine “reflects the seriousness of the breach, given the potential impact on public health and safety,” it said. Ofcom also acknowledged the steps Three took to ensure ongoing compliance with its emergency call service rules.

“Ofcom identified this vulnerability when investigating a separate, unprecedented and unforeseeable October 2016 fibre break outage on Three’s network,” said Three in a statement. “This resulted in a temporary loss of emergency call services affecting some customers. Three took immediate action and the issue was quickly resolved.”

Three highlighted that Ofcom recognized that the circumstances surrounding the October 2016 fibre break outage were exceptional and outside of Three’s control.  Therefore, Three claims the incident itself was “not a breach of Ofcom’s rules.”

As a result of the investigation, Ofcom said it expects all providers to “satisfy themselves that their networks do not have any single points of failure in the routing of their emergency call traffic, which could reasonably be avoided.”

Gaucho Rasmussen, Ofcom’s Enforcement and Investigations Director, said: “Telephone access to the emergency services is extremely important, because failures can have serious consequences for people’s safety and wellbeing.” Rasmussen added that the fine “serves as a clear warning to the wider telecoms industry. Providers must take all necessary steps to ensure uninterrupted access to emergency services.”

Published in Telecom Operators

 Broadband users in London experience slower speeds than the nationwide average, according to new figures from the consumer group Which?. In some areas of London, users barely achieve speeds above 10 megabits per second which is considered the acceptable standard by British telecom regulator Ofcom.

Other areas below the national average include boroughs such as Southwark, Westminster and Lambeth. Campaigners claim the findings will put pressure on the industry to increase broadband speeds across the country. The findings were sourced from average speeds reported by internet users in each local authority, which shows the real service customers are dealing with and not just maximum available speeds.

According to the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), Which?’s data does not reflect the speeds that households could achieve in the UK. The consumer group’s figures showed Southwark in South East London recording average speeds of 10.4 megabits and Westminster recorded 12.9, both below the nationwide average of 17 megabits, The Telegraph reported.

Rural broadband coverage is said to have been prioritized in recent years by Ministers who are introducing a “universal service obligation” that will come into effect in 2020. The obligation will force internet providers to offer speeds of 10 megabits, which is roughly enough to download a film in just under 15 minutes.

Other cities in the UK such as Hull and Canterbury fell well below the national average, according to Which?’s figures, and less than half the average in the fastest areas, which include Tamworth in the West Midlands and Adur on the south coast boasting more than 30 megabits.

Which?’s Alex Neill said: “Far too many households across the UK are suffering from slow broadband speeds, which can stop them being able to carry out essential daily tasks.” Neill predicts the figures will “put pressure on the government and providers to help everyone get a good broadband connection.”

“Superfast Broadband is now available to 93 percent of the UK, and we are reaching thousands more homes and businesses every week,” said a spokesperson for the DCMS, defending against Which?’s findings. “These figures don’t show what broadband is available – they show many people haven’t taken up speeds that are already available to them.”

The government has admitted, according to The Telegraph, that urban constituencies can be underserved by high-speed broadband. This is because state aid rules prevent investment being put into areas where BT and others have announced network upgrades, and some inner city areas have few residential households because of the high number of businesses, making internet providers less concerned about providing residential access.

Busy towns can also make installing improved equipment more difficult due to issues of accessibility and the high cost of street-works.

Published in Infrastructure

EE demonstrates fastest download speeds in UK with 4G+

Written on Sunday, 11 June 2017 10:10

EE, the UK’s largest mobile network operator and part of the BT Group, has switched on the next generation of its 4G+ network and demonstrated live download speeds of 429Mbps in Cardiff city centre using Sony’s Xperia XZ Premium, which launched on Friday 2 June.

The state of the art network capability has been switched on in Cardiff and the Tech City area of London. Birmingham, Manchester and Edinburgh city centers will have sites upgraded during 2017, and the capability will be built across central London. Peak speeds can be above 400Mbps with the right device, and customers connected to these sites should be able to consistently experience speeds above 50Mbps.

Sony’s Xperia XZ Premium is the UK’s first ‘Cat 16’ smartphone optimized for the EE network, and EE is the only mobile network upgrading its sites to be able to support the new device’s unique upload and download capabilities. All devices on the EE network will benefit from the additional capacity and technology that EE is building into its network.

“Sony has raised the bar in smartphone speeds, and we’re investing and innovating to match that and give our customers the fastest network speeds in the UK,” said Marc Allera, EE CEO. “What we’ve demonstrated live in Cardiff is more than ten times the average mobile download speed. We’re rolling out this new capability in Cardiff and London’s Tech City, and we’ll keep expanding to the busiest areas of the UK so that our customers always have a great connection to do the things they love.”

The sites that are capable of delivering these maximum speeds are equipped with 30MHz of 1800MHz spectrum, and 35MHz of 2.6GHz spectrum. The 1800MHz carriers are delivered using 4x4 MIMO, which sends and receives four signals instead of just two, making the spectrum up to twice as efficient. The sites also broadcast 4G using 256QAM, or Quadrature Amplitude Modulation, which increases the efficiency of the spectrum.

These two cutting edge technologies applied to EE’s 4G network help to further improve customer experience by increasing capacity, meaning faster speeds and a more reliable data experience.

Published in Telecom Operators
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