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Europe to abolish mobile roaming charges by 2017

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Woman lying on beach abroad while using her mobile phone

The European Union has reached a provisional deal to scrap mobile roaming charges across the 28 member states in mid-2017, in an attempt to boost growth and innovation across the region.

Most mobile operators currently charge extra fees for using a mobile phone to call, send text messages or access the internet in another EU country.

According to recent research by uSwitch.com, a fifth of UK holidaymakers have returned home from an European trip in the past year to find their bill was, on average, £61 higher than usual – amounting to £573 million collectively.

For the past seven years the EU has been forcing prices down by placing a cap on the charges operators can impose and reducing that limit each year.

Current charge caps are €0.19 per minute for calls, €0.06 per text message and €0.20 per megabyte of data. On 30 April 2016, these will go down to €0.05, €0.02 and €0.05 respectively.

Under the new agreement, mobile phone users travelling within the EU will pay the same price for calls, text messages and data as they do in their home country from 15 June 2017.

However, roaming providers will be able to apply a ‘fair use policy’ to prevent abusive use of roaming. This would include using roaming services for purposes other than periodic travel.

Although the removal of roaming charges could wipe two per cent off mobile operators’ revenues, the EU said that safeguards will be introduced to address the recovery of costs by operators.

The expected consolidation in the industry will also allow greater economies of scale for the high costs of building networks capable of handling ever-growing volumes of data.

Commenting on the news, Which? executive director, Richard Lloyd, said the abolition of roaming charges would put an end to uncertainty about using mobiles abroad, and cut “bill shocks” off at the source.

“This long-awaited move to scrap EU mobile roaming charges would be a huge win for millions of travellers, especially those who have faced expensive charges for data roaming when their mobile hasn’t even left their suitcase,” he said.

While the announcement is potentially good news for travellers in Europe, this is not the first time the EU has promised to end roaming charges. Last year, the European Parliament voted to abolish roaming charges from 15 December 2015.

However, the move was delayed amid concerns about the impact on the overall telecoms market, and speculation that mobile operators would increase domestic tariffs to make up for the shortfall in roaming revenues.

“Let’s hope there’ll be no more backtracking after Europe’s mobile networks have had their say,” said Ernest Doku, telecoms expert at uSwitch.com.

“The ‘safeguards’ to address the recovery of costs by operators will have to be suitably robust to financially protect mobile customers and make sure bills don’t rise.”

Member states’ ambassadors will be debriefed on the new deal at the Permanent Representatives Committee on 30 June. The agreed text will then be presented for confirmation by member states later this year, according to the EU.

source:http://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/mobile-phones/11707837/Europe-to-abolish-mobile-roaming-charges-by-2017.html

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Apple disables its walkie-talkie Watch app due to vulnerability

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Apple has disabled its Walkie Talkie Watch app due to a vulnerability that could’ve allowed someone to listen in on other iPhones, the company told Techcrunch. In a statement, Apple said that the vulnerability — which requires specific conditions and actions to exploit — hasn’t been used against anyone as far as it knows. It apologized to users and said it would restore the app once a fix is found.

We were just made aware of a vulnerability related to the Walkie-Talkie app on the Apple Watch and have disabled the function as we quickly fix the issue. We apologize to our customers for the inconvenience and will restore the functionality as soon as possible. Although we are not aware of any use of the vulnerability against a customer and specific conditions and sequences of events are required to exploit it, we take the security and privacy of our customers extremely seriously. We concluded that disabling the app was the right course of action as this bug could allow someone to listen through another customer’s iPhone without consent. We apologize again for this issue and the inconvenience.

Walkie Talkie is a FaceTime feature that enables push-to-talk calls between users, provided they grant permission. The feature was added to Watch with the release of watchOS 5, and gives users a fun, Dick Tracy-like way to communicate, anywhere in the world.

Facetime has been Apple’s biggest security headache of late. Early this year, a teenager discovered a vulnerability that allowed someone to listen in on a call before it was picked up. Apple failed to respond promptly to that issue, which drew the attention of a US House Committee.

The company seems to have learned its lesson, handling the bug (reported on its vulnerability portal) promptly and taking action to mitigate it. Apple also took decisive action just yesterday after a major bug was reported with Zoom’s videoconferencing software.

Source: https://www.engadget.com/2019/07/11/apple-walkie-talkie-feature-disabled-vulnerability/

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Google shuts down Nest app for Apple Watch and Wear OS

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People take control of their smart thermostat from their wrist so infrequently that Google has decided to completely scrap its Nest app for both Apple Watch and the company’s own Wear OS platform. The smartwatch Nest app offered a quick way to adjust the thermostat’s target temperature or operating mode. But now it simply displays a “Nest is no longer supported on Wear OS” message when opened and instructs customers to uninstall it.

“We took a look at Nest app users on smartwatches and found that only a small number of people were using it,” a Google spokesperson told 9to5Google. “Moving forward our team will spend more time focusing on delivering high quality experiences through mobile apps and voice interactions.”

Is this some monumental loss? No, not really. You can still just pull out your phone and do those same things (and more) with the Nest mobile app on Android and iOS. Notifications from the Nest smartphone app will continue to show up on your watch. Plus, anyone with a Wear OS watch can use Google Assistant to control Nest devices with their voice. Apple Watch owners don’t have that fallback, however.

So even Google has concluded one of its own Wear OS apps — one that was a good example of a smartwatch’s convenience — just isn’t worth the effort any longer. It’s putting even less work into supporting the Apple Watch, with 9to5Google noting that Google Keep is the company’s last remaining watchOS app.

Source: https://www.theverge.com/2019/7/10/20689455/nest-app-wear-os-apple-watch-discontinued-google

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Huawei looking to Russia for technology to cut reliance on US tech

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Chinese telecom giant Huawei has contacted several Russian tech firms to create joint ventures and use their technologies, sources told business news outlet RBC. Huawei plans to significantly increase its sales in Russia.

Over the past few months, Huawei has contacted several Russian firms, including the developers of Elbrus processors and Alt operating systems (OS), as well as a producer of software and information security equipment.

People familiar with the matter said the Chinese corporation is interested in using the Elbrus processor in its hardware, including the servers. Talks on cooperation are currently underway.

Huawei is also in talks with Basalt SPO, the Russian developer of a software platform, which is producing the Alt processing systems. Russian operating systems for workstations and servers are being produced on the basis of the company’s software platform.

“Huawei wants to license Alt operating systems in order to use them in its own computers and servers. Negotiations have been ongoing for several months already, with both sides strongly interested in cooperation,” one of the sources said. According to another source, after the Alt licensing process is complete, Huawei computers and servers will be sold both in Russia and on Asian markets.

The general director of Basalt SPO, Aleksey Smirnov, told RBC that the company is interested in cooperation with large international corporations. He, however, declined to give any details.

All the sources noted that Huawei has intensified its presence on the Russian market after Washington barred US tech companies from dealing with Huawei.

Last month, the Chinese telecom reportedly started negotiating a replacement for Android OS with the Aurora OS which is currently being developed by Moscow-based firm Russian Mobile Platform. The possibility of installing the Aurora operating system on Huawei smartphones has even been discussed during a meeting of Russian and Chinese leaders. They have also talked about the potential localization of some of Huawei’s production facilities in Russia. Huawei has also launched a pilot 5G project with the Russian telecom MTS.

In May, the world’s biggest telecom equipment supplier and second largest smartphone manufacturer, Huawei, was put on an “entity list,” as part of the trade war between Washington and Beijing. The Trump administration severely restricted American companies from trading with the Chinese tech firm.

Source: https://www.rt.com/business/463835-huawei-russian-technologies-cooperation/

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