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Should BT be split?

July 14, 2015 By: Dr Search Principal Consultant at the Search Clinic Category: Broadband, Computers, Dr Search, internet, Search Clinic, Telecommunications Companies, Uncategorized

Ofcom has suggesting that its highly lucrative Openreach division could be sold off from BT.

Ofcom has suggesting that its highly lucrative Openreach division could be sold off from BTOpenreach is the “utility” bit of BT- which is the delivery mechanism for broadband to millions of customers.

Think Network Rail owning the railways bit of the train network, or National Grid owning the electricity grid which delivers power to our home.

Openreach is virtually a monopoly service, with Sky, TalkTalk, Virgin and others obliged to pay BT for access to the broadband “pipes”.

And as such it is heavily regulated already- although according to John Fingleton, the former head of the Office of Fair Trading- the “enormously profitable” Openreach would be likely to perform better as a standalone company.

Mr Fingleton argues that a separate Openreach would be likely to invest more in improving broadband connections.

As an example he cites Worldpay, a former division of the Royal Bank of Scotland.

Worldpay operates a “plumbing business” for banks – providing payment services for card transactions and mobile phones.

Since RBS sold it, as a condition of the bank’s taxpayer bailout in 2008, its new private equity owners, Bain and Advent, have significantly increased investment.

Many believe that Openreach would travel the same route, and the amount invested in it as a standalone business would be more than the present £1 billion BT provides each year.

It could also mean accelerated investment in changing the network from the older copper network to “super-fast” fibre.

To enforce a sale, BT’s ownership of Openreach would probably need to be referred to the Competition and Markets Authority which has more muscle in this area than Ofcom.

Mr Fingleton agrees this is the best route to decide whether Openreach would be better out of BT’s hands.

Sky – of course a major competitor to BT – concurs, calling this morning for a referral to the CMA.

It says that BT’s performance on broadband delivery leaves a lot to be desired, and that under investment means that appointments to connect its customers to broadband are often missed and that faults regularly remain unfixed.

Sky and BT don’t like each other very much, particularly since the latter took a healthy portion of Sky’s lunch by piling into sports television and winning the rights to broadcast Premier League matches.

There are dark mutterings that BT uses the vast profits from Openreach to fund its incursion into television, a claim the company hotly denies.

BT insists that Openreach’s service has improved, with 2,500 engineers added in the last year and 700 more coming this year. It says it reaches or exceeds all of the 60 service targets set it by Ofcom.

And that it is only because of BT’s large and healthy balance sheet that so much investment has been made in upgrading the network to super-fast broadband.

What won’t be superfast is the Ofcom process. This is just the latest stage in a far wider review of the UK’s digital market which will take months to conclude and years to implement.

More UK people using internet

June 01, 2015 By: Dr Search Principal Consultant at the Search Clinic Category: Dr Search, Ecommerce, internet, Technology Companies, Uncategorized, Website Design

More people are using the Internet in the UK- according to official statistics.

More people are using the Internet in the UK- according to official statistisIn the first quarter (Jan to Mar) 2015, 86% of adults (44.7 million) in the UK had used the internet in the last 3 months (recent users), an increase of 1 percentage point since the quarter 1 (Jan to Mar) 2014 estimate of 85%.

11% of adults (5.9 million) had never used the internet, falling by 1 percentage point since quarter 1 (Jan to Mar) 2014.

The South East had the highest proportion of recent internet users (90%) and Northern Ireland was the area with the lowest proportion (80%).

In quarter 1 (Jan to Mar) 2015, the proportion of adults who were recent internet users was lower for those that were disabled (68%), compared with those that were not disabled (92%).

In quarter 1 (Jan to Mar) 2015 the proportion of adults aged 16 to 24 years who were recent internet users was lower for those that were disabled (95% recent users) compared with those that were not disabled (99% recent users).

The proportion of adults aged 75 years and over who were recent internet users was also lower for those that were disabled (27% recent users) compared with those that were not disabled (40% recent users).

Moral of the story is that if you are a business, you want more business- and you are not on the Internet you are missing a trick.

So if you need help with making money online then please contact us now either by clicking the contact us button or ring us 01242 521967:contact search clinic

Facebook reports slow growth and higher costs

April 23, 2015 By: Dr Search Principal Consultant at the Search Clinic Category: Facebook, internet, Pay Per Click, Search Clinic, Social Media, Social Networking, Technology Companies

Facebook shares fell after the company reported slower revenue growth, while research and development costs ate into profits.

Facebook reports slow growth and higher costsThe social networking company said profit in the first quarter of 2015 was £341 million, down 20% on a year earlier.

While revenue rose 42% to £2.33 billion- that was slightly below analysts’ forecasts. A bright spot was the rise in monthly active users, up 13% from a year earlier to 1.44 billion.

Notably, for those investors concerned about the firm’s efforts to appeal to younger users who access Facebook on their smartphones, monthly mobile users increased by 24% to 1.25 billion, a majority of the site’s users.

Facebook has been particularly adept at channelling that growing mobile user base into advertising dollars.

The company said that during the quarter, revenue from mobile ad sales made up nearly three quarters of total ad sales.

“This was a strong start to the year,” said founder and chief executive Mark Zuckerberg in a statement.

Investors have been worried about slowing revenue growth, as well as increasing costs at the company. Facebook has been spending more on research and development as it moves beyond its original social networking operation.

Spending on research and development jumped to £377 million from £120 million a year earlier.

The company has warned that those costs are set to increase, as it looks to expand some of its acquisitions including photo-sharing site Instagram, messaging service WhatsApp, and virtual reality firm Oculus Rift.

The trends are all going in the right direction. The cost rise is one thing that can derail this story. The question is, can they keep costs under control and what will be the new revenue streams around video, Instagram and virtual reality around Oculus?

Smaller broadband companies are better

March 18, 2015 By: Dr Search Principal Consultant at the Search Clinic Category: Broadband, Customer Service, Dr Search, internet, Search Clinic, Technology Companies, Telecommunications Companies, Uncategorized

Customers of smaller broadband companies are much happier than those of the big three BT, Sky and TalkTalk according to the consumer group, Which?

Smaller broadband companies are betterThe three largest providers received customer satisfaction scores below 50% in a survey.

Smaller broadband companies such as John Lewis Broadband, Plusnet, Utility Warehouse and Zen Internet had customer satisfaction rates over 70%.

Which? is campaigning for greater clarity in the broadband speeds companies are allowed to advertise.

The consumer campaign group says most of the internet service providers in the survey received scores of three stars when people were asked to rate their broadband speed.

TalkTalk customers were least happy, giving their provider two stars for speed.

Which? is campaigning against rules which it says allow providers to advertise broadband speeds that only 10% of their customers actually receive.

Broadband companies should give customers the speed and service that they pay for, the consumer group Which? has said.

A survey carried out on its behalf claimed that 45% of customers suffer slow download speeds. Over half of those customers said they experienced slow speeds frequently or all the time.

Ofcom already has a voluntary code of practice on broadband speeds in place that it says ensures customers are protected.

Providers who have signed up to it must give customers a written estimate of their broadband speed at the start of a contract and must allow them to leave a contract without penalty if they receive speeds significantly below the estimate.

A mystery shopping exercise carried out by Ofcom revealed that the code was working effectively. However, there were areas where it could be improved and a revised code of practice would be published in the coming months.

Which? said in practice it supported the code but it was voluntary, not compulsory and providers needed to go further. Rather than providing an estimated speed range that a customer could expect to receive, providers should pinpoint a more accurate speed that customers can expect at their home address and provide this in writing.

This written confirmation should be accompanied by information explaining what consumers can do at different speeds – what they could download and how long it would take – and how to test their speed, Which? said.

According to the survey of 2,000 people, a quarter of those who had reported a loss in service said they had had to wait two days to get it fixed, with one in 10 waiting a week or more.

Twenty per cent said they had contacted their internet service provider at least three times when trying to resolve a problem with their broadband connection.

Which? is calling for broadband companies to fix connections as quickly as possible and refund customers for any loss of service.

Cyber criminals raided by police

March 06, 2015 By: Dr Search Principal Consultant at the Search Clinic Category: Computers, Cyber Security, data security, Dr Search, Hackers, internet, Personal Security, Search Clinic, Technology Companies, Uncategorized

The UK’s National Crime Police Agency has arrested 56 suspected hackers in part of a “strike week” against cybercrime.

The UK's National Crime Agency has arrested 56 suspected hackers as part of a strike week against cybercrimeIn total, 25 separate operations were carried out this week across England, Scotland and Wales. Those arrested are suspected of being involved in a wide variety of cybercrimes including data theft, fraud and virus writing.

The week long series of operations was co-ordinated by the NCA’s National Cyber Crime Unit (NCCU) as well as specialist officers from regional organised crime squads and the Metropolitan Police.

West Midlands police arrested a 23 year old man in Sutton Coldfield who is believed to have been involved in breaking into the network of the US defence department in June 2014.

The biggest operation saw the arrest of 25 people in London and Essex suspected of using the net to steal money, launder cash and carry out other frauds.

The hackers behind that attack stole contact information for about 800 people and data on the network’s internal architecture was also pilfered.
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The action also resulted in the arrest of people thought to be part of some well known hacking groups.

In Leeds, a suspected member of the Lizard Squad group was arrested, and in London a 21-year-old man was taken into custody on suspicion of being part of the D33Ds Company hacking collective.

The D33Ds group is believed to have been behind a 2012 attack on Yahoo that stole more than 400,000 email addresses and passwords subsequently published online.

Investigations about suspects in Sutton Coldfield, Leeds and Willesden were aided by forensic information provided by the FBI.

The other actions targeted alleged phishing gangs, intellectual property thieves, users of financial malware, companies that offer hosting services to crime groups, and many people who took part in so-called DDoS (distributed denial of service) attacks in an attempt to knock websites offline.

One 21-year-old man from County Durham allegedly knocked out the Police Scotland website mounting such a DDoS attack.

“Criminals need to realise that committing crime online will not render them anonymous to law enforcement,” said Andy Archibald, deputy director of the NCCU. “It’s imperative that we continue to work with partners to pursue and disrupt the major crime groups targeting the UK.”

In addition, this week the NCA coordinated visits to 70 firms to inform them about how vulnerable their servers were to attack and how they could be used by cyberthieves to send out spam or act as proxies for other attacks.

The strike week also involved four forces setting up pop-up shops to give advice to the public about staying safe online and to get their devices checked to make sure they are free of malware and other digital threats.

Queen Elizabeth sends first Tweet

October 24, 2014 By: Dr Search Principal Consultant at the Search Clinic Category: Computers, Dr Search, internet, Search Clinic, Technology Companies, Telecommunications Companies, Twitter, Uncategorized

The Queen has sent her first tweet to launch the Science Museum gallery.

Queen Elizabeth sends first Tweet“It is a pleasure to open the Information Age exhibition today at the @ScienceMuseum and I hope people will enjoy visiting. Elizabeth R.”

That was the Queen’s first tweet – sent through the @BritishMonarchy account – heralding the launch of a major new exhibition at London’s Science Museum.

Three years in the planning, the exhibition is one of the most ambitious projects the museum has undertaken.

The Information Age gallery, opened by the Queen this morning, takes visitors on a journey through the history of modern communications from the telegraph to the smartphone.

There is the first transatlantic telegraph cable which connected Europe and North America, the broadcast equipment behind the BBC’s first radio programme in 1922, and Sir Tim Berners-Lee’s NeXT computer, which hosted the first website.

The gallery’s chief curator Tilly Blyth hopes that visitors who may be somewhat blase about the digital revolution will come away with a longer view.

“We really want them to see that our predecessors lived through similar periods of change. Ours isn’t the only revolution – just the latest. in a series of transformations since the electric telegraph in the 1830s.”

You can construct a 1980s mobile phone network, making sure your cell towers are efficiently positioned. You can go into the web story box to find out exactly what happens when you click on a link. And you can plug headphones into a 1950s telephone exchange, and listen to the operators describing what their work involved.

Baroness Lane-Fox, who has campaigned for better access to and understanding of the internet, welcomes the new gallery: “It’s an amazing opportunity for people young and old to come and see the extraordinary developments in technology over the last hundred years or so. It really reminds me of the scale of ambition that people have had to change things.”

She hopes too that visitors will learn of the great contribution made by Britain to the development of communications – from Ada Lovelace, the woman who conceived the idea of computer programming in the 1830s, through to the 1950s when Lyons Corner Houses introduced the first business computer Leo, and on to Sir Tim Berners-Lee: “I hope that people who visit will have their ambition and excitement lit so we can continue to be world leaders in this field because it’s so important.”

The gallery certainly does show off the role Britain has played, and a number of British companies including BT and the chip designer ARM Holdings have sponsored the Information Age and supplied exhibits.

New Twitter popularity chart launched

March 31, 2014 By: Dr Search Principal Consultant at the Search Clinic Category: Customer Service, internet, Search Clinic, Social Media, Twitter, Uncategorized

The music Billboard organisation has announced a new set of music charts based on Twitter data.
New Twitter popularity chart launchedWorking with the social media platform, the Billboard Twitter Real-Time Charts will rank tracks and artists based on Twitter traffic.

Trends will be ranked in real-time over extended periods of time to track the longevity of successful songs and artists’ popularity.

The charts will also highlight the most talked about and shared tracks by new and upcoming acts.

The Twitter Real-Time Charts are set to launch in America over the next fortnight.

Bob Moczydlowsky, Twitter’s head of music, said: “When artists share songs and engage with their audience on Twitter, the buzz they create will now be visible to fans, other musicians and industry decision makers in real-time.”

Katy Perry is currently the most followed musician of Twitter with 51.8 million followers.

Official accounts of Justin Bieber, Lady Gaga, Taylor Swift, Britney Spears, Rihanna and Justin Timberlake are also in the top 10 most followed users on the site.

Billboard’s Hot 100 chart, which is based on radio play, streaming online, and sales, was recently expanded to include Spotify and YouTube streams.

They also launched an artist chart called Social 50 in 2010, which collects data from social media.

The new chart will be available on Billboard.com and will be shared on their Twitter account @billboard.

Number of people in UK games industry employment increases

March 21, 2013 By: Dr Search Principal Consultant at the Search Clinic Category: Customer Service, Gaming, internet, Search Clinic, Technology Companies, Uncategorized, Website Design

A new report by video games industry trade association Tiga has found that both employment and investment in the UK sector increased in 2012.Number of people in UK games industry employment increasesBy the end of the year there were 118 more studios and 336 more creative staff than there had been in 2011. Studios also invested £427 million in games.

The rise in employment figures followed a three year period of decline in staff numbers, said the report.

Tiga said the rise of mobiles and tablets had provided a boost.

“The sector’s return to growth has been driven by three factors,” said Tiga chief executive Richard Wilson.

“Firstly, the increasing prevalence of mobile and tablet devices have created a growing market for games: studios are setting up to meet this demand. Secondly, the closure of big console based studios has been followed by an explosion of small start up companies.

“Thirdly, the advent of games tax relief, which Tiga was instrumental in achieving, is already stimulating growth.”

The games tax relief initiative was introduced in the March 2012 budget and is due to be implemented next month.

A similar scheme already exists in the UK film industry and is due to run until 2015.

British productions with a budget of £20 million or less can apply for a 25% rebate on any new games productions.

Google to shut it’s Reader RSS news feed service

March 14, 2013 By: Dr Search Principal Consultant at the Search Clinic Category: Customer Service, EReaders, Google, internet, Social Media, Social Networking, Technology Companies, Uncategorized, Website Design

Google is to shut down its Reader RSS news feed service in July as usage has declined.Google to shut it's Reader RSS news feed serviceA petition to save the service, which aggregates news content from web feeds, had 25,000 signatures in a few hours.

Experts say shutting Reader is part of Google’s plan to migrate more people to its social media service, Google+.

Google said in its official blog: “There are two simple reasons for this – usage of Google Reader has declined, and as a company we are pouring all of our energy into fewer products.”

It added users and developers who wanted to use alternatives could export their data, including their subscriptions over the next four months, using its Google Takeout service.

Google Reader launched in 2005, when Really Simple Syndication (RSS) feeds were a new way to keep tabs on favourite websites and blogs.

The news of its demise has led to a debate about the service on Twitter. Some said its launch had effectively destroyed other RSS competitors.

Security consultant @cortesi tweeted: “Google – a destroyer of ecosystems”.

In his blog, he added:” “Google destroyed the RSS feed-reader ecosystem with a subsidised product, stifling its competitors and killing innovation.  It then neglected Google Reader itself for years, after it had effectively become the only player.”

Now, he said, Google wanted people to experience their favourite websites in a more social way and was seeking to migrate its aggregation platforms to its social media service.

“This has been on the cards for a while. It is part of Google’s strategy to shift people to Google + and other social tools,” he said.

But Chris Wetherell, one of Reader’s chief engineers, told tech news site GigaOm it had been “doomed to fail from the very beginning because Google “never really believed in the project”.

EU Commission’s IT shortage- despite 26 million unemployed

March 06, 2013 By: Dr Search Principal Consultant at the Search Clinic Category: Computers, Dr Search, Ecommerce, internet, Search Clinic, Technology Companies, Uncategorized

Despite record EU unemployment, the European Commission has launched a “grand coalition” to address the region’s IT skills shortages.EU Commission's IT shortage- despite 26 million unemployedDigital agenda commissioner Neelie Kroes told delegates at the CeBIT exhibition that the EU’s competitiveness is “under threat” if it cannot fill the expertise gap.

The shortages come at a time of high unemployment across Europe, she added, calling for greater awareness of IT career opportunities.

Together with European Commission president Jose Manuel Barroso, Ms Kroes said that 1 million euros (£860,000) will be invested into the coalition.

“This coalition is not about reinventing the wheel. It should be about building on existing success,” she said.

“I want people to be open in their commitments, join forces where they see the chance, and recognise we need to do things differently.

“Quite simply, facing hundreds of thousands of unfilled vacancies, we cannot continue as we were; and we must all do our bit.”

The commission’s own figures suggested that there will be 900,000 vacancies for IT-related roles by 2015. There are currently about 26 million people unemployed across Europe.

The number of “digital jobs” – jobs based around IT – is growing by about 100,000 every year, yet the number of skilled IT graduates is failing to keep pace.

Jose Manuel Barroso launched the digital jobs coalition

Ms Kroes said she now wants to have companies move “from ‘wouldn’t-it-be-nice-if’ to, ‘here’s-what-we-are-going-to-do’.”

The commission highlighted several new initiatives already taking places, including Telefonica’s investment in start-ups, and Cisco’s pledge to train 100,000 people to install smart-meters into homes.

The commission’s proposals include simplification of the certification system, making it easier to prove what skills a graduate has, regardless of the EU country in which they have worked or studied.

Technology skills shortages have been cited as a pressing problem for several companies which rely on highly-skilled engineers to further their development.

In January, Google chairman Eric Schmidt announced that his firm was to contribute to a scheme to give schools 15,000 free microcomputers.

The British Raspberry Pi devices will also be used to encourage young children into learning coding skills.