Industry News

EC Withdraws 5-Day-Old Roaming Fair-use Proposal

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For more than a decade, the European Commission has been working to reduce the huge surcharges telecoms operators imposed on their customers each time they crossed a border for business or holiday.

"After a long battle, these huge bills belong to the past. We have progressively dismantled them," announced the EC on 9th September in a statement by Andrus Ansip, Commission Vice-President in charge of the Digital Single Market, and Günther H. Oettinger, Commissioner for the Digital Economy and Society.

Due for implementation on 15 June 2017, the EC aimed to abolish roaming charges for at least 90 days per year, much more than the average time that a European is roaming with their phone (12 days on average). 

Only five days later--"in light of the initial feedback received"--EC President Jean-Claude Juncker has instructed the services to withdraw that text to work on a new proposal.

EC President Jean-Claude Juncker

A reason for Juncker’s decision were not given-- no one knows if the feedback came from consumer organizations or operators.

[Photo left : EC President Jean-Claude Juncker]

But Spanish and Portuguese operators made their thoughts known publicly: 90 days is too long. Both suggested only 30 days. And operators also made it known their quarterly results suffered big declines during European vacation season, after the EC pressure on roaming charges. (That drop, of course, would be expected if you removed the big profits from gouging charges on roaming...)

The Commission’s initial proposal had been to allow mobile users to ‘roam like home,’ at the same price as domestic services, for a minimum 90 days a year. Consumers would also be expected to connect to their home network at least once every 30 days. In addition, operators could impose a fair-use amount on customers with unlimited plans, based on their average usage in their home market. After exceeding the fair use, mobile customers would be subject to additional charges, at the same level as the proposed wholesale roaming rates in the EU.

Now it's back to the mobile drawing board...

Go EC's Original Announcement on Roaming Proposal

EU Presents 5G Action Plan

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The European Union shows commitment towards faster mobile networks at MWC 2016 as it announces an action plan for "essential" 5G infrastructure within the continent before companies start offering related products and services by 2020.

5G Action planThe action plan builds on previous EU investments in 5G research-- to be worth €700 million by 2020-- and earlier proposals for the coordination of 700MHz band use. The 700MHz offers higher-speed and higher-quality broadband while covering wider areas, thus allowing the EU to catch up with mobile broadband leaders such as S. Korea and the US.

Further work on the spectrum coordination should take place during the Q3 2016 EU telecom rules review.


FT: Apple, Samsung to Adopt e-SIM

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The Financial Times reports Apple and Samsung are in "advanced talks" to join the launch of electronic SIM (e-SIM) cards, an evolution on regular SIM cards that does not lock device users to specific carrier networks.

iPhone SIM Card Reportedly the GSMA is close to an agreement on a common architecture for a standard embedded SIM for consumer devices. Networks supporting the plan including  AT&T, Deutsche Telekom, Etisalat, Hutchison Whampoa, Orange, Telefónica and Vodafone.

“With the majority of operators on board, the plan is to finalise the technical architecture that will be used in the development of an end-to-end remote SIM solution for consumer devices, with delivery anticipated by 2016,” the industry association says. “We have got everyone back on one point, with Apple and Samsung agreeing to be part of that specification.”


An Initiative in Universal Stylus

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A number of OEMs, stylus and touch controller makers announce the Universal Stylus Initiative (USI), an organisation with the aim of developing and promoting an industry specification for an active stylus.

Stylus tabletUSI founding members include Atmel, Hanvon, Intel, Lenovo, Sharp, Synaptics, Wacom, and Waltop (at the Promoter level), as well as Dell, eGalax_eMPIA, Elan and Focal Tech (at the Contributor level).

The organization's plan is to create a cross-platform stylus standard allowing for seamless communications between active styluses and touch-enabled devices from multiple vendors. It hopes to publish an initial USI specification by Q2 2015.


Wireless Charging for Larger Devices

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Freescale launches a 15W Qi-compliant wireless charging solution-- one the company claims is suitable for the cable-free charging of larger devices, such as tablets and handheld medical devices.

Wireless charging tabletCurrent wireless charging solutions handle just 5W, meaning the Freescale system would also enable faster charging for smartphones, as well as tablets armed with a 4000mAh battery.

The Freescale solution comes in the shape of two 15W ICs-- the WPR1516 receiver and the MWCT1012 transmitter chips. It supports several industry standards, including the Wireless Power Consortium (WPC) and the Power Matters Alliance (PMA), and is complemented with "flexible enablement technologies" such as a pair of evaluation board options for different output power topologies.