With Affirmed Networks purchase, Microsoft looks to plug 5G into Azure

With Affirmed Networks purchase, Microsoft looks to plug 5G into Azure

Microsoft has agreed to acquire mobile core startup Affirmed Networks, a move the software giant said will allow it to sell virtualized mobile core network functions running on its Azure cloud computing offering.

Microsoft did not disclose the financial terms of the deal. Affirmed, founded in 2010, has so far raised $155 million in six rounds of venture funding from the likes of Centerview Capital, Qualcomm, Eastward Capital Partners and others. On its website, Affirmed boasts of more than 100 mobile network operator customers including behemoths like AT&T, Orange, Vodafone and Telus.

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Vodafone UK to Hit Brits Stranded in Turkey with Roaming Hike

Vodafone UK to Hit Brits Stranded in Turkey with Roaming Hike

Mobile operator Vodafone UK appears to have picked a lousy time to inform customers in Turkey, many of whom will have been left stranded by the mass cancellation of flights until at least June 2020, that they’re about to impose a £6 per day charge for them to continue using their text, call and data allowances.

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UK govt introduces coronavirus information service on WhatsApp

UK govt introduces coronavirus information service on WhatsApp

The UK government has rolled out a free to use service on WhatsApp for providing official, trustworthy, and timely advice and information on coronavirus (COVID-19) to citizens.

The government expects the GOV.UK Coronavirus Information Service to further bring down the load on NHS services.

According to the government, the WhatsApp service will help fight the spread of misinformation on coronavirus in the UK. Additionally, it will also help ensure that people stay at their homes, protect the NHS, and eventually in saving lives.

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VPN – The Magic Ingredient?

VPN – The Magic Ingredient?

Snom explains how employees who currently cannot, or would rather not, go to their offices can use their employer’s IP phone network to work safely and efficiently from home.In the wake of the coronavirus,

Companies and organisations have called on their workforces to avoid crowds and, if possible, to avoid using public transport to get to work and instead work from home.

In addition, schools have closed in the UK to prevent the virus from spreading.

For some employees, working from home is a long-cherished dream come true. For others, this situation is more of a challenge as they are not sure how they can stay in touch with all team members, customers, partners and suppliers from their home office.

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Mobile phone industry explores worldwide tracking of users

Mobile phone industry explores worldwide tracking of users

Talks about global data-sharing to counter coronavirus will raise privacy concerns.

The mobile phone industry has explored the creation of a global data-sharing system that could track individuals around the world, as part of an effort to curb the spread of Covid-19.

The Guardian has learned that a senior official at GSMA, an international standard-setting body for the mobile phone industry, held discussions with at least one company that is capable of tracking individuals globally through their mobile devices, and discussed the possible creation of a global data-sharing system.

Any move to create such a global tracking system would represent a major escalation in efforts to use mobile phone location data to help stem the pandemic, and would be likely to raise concerns among privacy and security experts.

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Virgin Media Onshoring Brings 500 Jobs Back to UK

Virgin Media Onshoring Brings 500 Jobs Back to UK

Broadband ISP Virgin Media has confirmed that they will attempt to rapidly bring 500 customer support (call-centre) jobs back to the UK in order to help counter Coronavirus (COVID-19) related lock-downs in countries where they’ve previously outsourced such roles, including India and the Philippines.

Quite how effective this hiring spree will be in the current climate, where even UK support centres are already suffering from staff shortages due to similar problems and high demand, is uncertain. Nevertheless Virgin Media has suggested that it will aim to hire new workers via remote job interviews (video conferencing), but after that they will still be expected to enter existing call centres in Teesside, Sheffield, Manchester and Birmingham.

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Openreach engineers only to serve ‘Government Critical’ premises

Openreach engineers only to serve ‘Government Critical’ premises

n response to PM Boris Johnson’s latest announcement last night (Monday 23rd March) Openreach is to limit its engineers visiting customer premises with immediate effect. Work will be limited to ‘essential’ services and limited to:
·Self-install activities (i.e. where there is no engineering visit to the end customer premises)
·Service to vulnerable end customers (in-home and carried out safely, only where essential)
·Those end customers who have no other form of broadband or telephony available – and we will look to deal with these via escalation channels jointly with the CP to find a solution that doesn’t require a home visit
·On-premises work for critical national infrastructure customers (NHS, pharmacies, utilities, emergency services, retail and wholesale food distribution outlets, financial services businesses and other categories defined by the Government).

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Working from home makes you vulnerable to hackers. Here’s how to stay safe

Working from home makes you vulnerable to hackers. Here’s how to stay safe

Now’s the time for good tech hygiene, too.

Working from home doesn’t have to expose you to hackers. Here’s what you can do to make it safer.

Working at home can leave you open to hackers, even in normal times, and these aren’t normal times. With millions of people in the UK under orders to stay home to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus, many more people are now working in their personal space, sometimes on their personal computers or phones. That makes a much wider target for hackers, cybersecurity experts say.

At home, it’s less likely you’re protected by the corporate software that can scan every link you click and file you download for signs of danger. Additionally, your brain might be fried with worries over the spread of a disease that’s threatening to overwhelm health care systems around the country, and by all the logistical problems that staying inside present.

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CCS highlights home working options for public sector

CCS highlights home working options for public sector

The Crown Commercial Service (CCS) has urged public sector organisations to ensure their broadband bandwidth and data deals can cope with a surge in home working by employees.

It is part of the agency’s new guidance on how to facilitate home working in response to the spread of coronavirus.

CCS says that public authorities’ staff are now accessing networks and applications in much greater numbers, and that they need to consider the external network bandwidth to the services. This will be dependent on the organisation, service types and potential number of staff using them.

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Keep paying suppliers, councils told

Keep paying suppliers, councils told

Councils, schools and hospitals should continue to pay their suppliers for “at least” three months even if services are halted or disrupted by coronavirus, according to the latest government guidance.

Companies seeking payment must reveal any requested data, including from accounts forecasts, to prove that they are paying staff their salaries on time.

Suppliers have been warned that authorities will take action to recover payments should they learn of companies “taking undue advantage, or failing in their duty to act transparently and with integrity”.

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Who is set to benefit from the COVID-19 outbreak?

Who is set to benefit from the COVID-19 outbreak?

For millions of individuals and businesses, the threat of COVID-19 is financial ruin, but there are parts of the technology industry that are benefiting from the considerable changes forced on society.

The FTSE 100 Index is likely to close below 5,000 today, a 27% decline in a month, while the Dow Jones is currently down (at the time of writing) 31% over the same period. Economies around the world are being hit disastrously hard, but some will see gains out of this pandemic at least temporarily, if not permanently.

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UK employees working two extra hours daily during self-isolation

UK employees working two extra hours daily during self-isolation

Data from NordVPN suggests UK employees are working an extra two hours per day, up to 11 hours, after ditching commutes during this period of self-isolation and social distancing.

While there might still be images circulating of cramped Underground trains in London, NordVPN data suggests there are a huge number of home workers. Analysing the data from VPN logins, the team believes the time being saved from the daily commute is being driven back into work.

“The analysis of our clients indicated that their 10,000s of corporate employees that have started working from home in the past week are typically working 11 hours a day, some of the longest hours in the world at this time,” said Daniel Marcusson, Digital Privacy Expert of NordVPN Teams.

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Openreach Limit UK Broadband ISP and Phone Work

Openreach Limit UK Broadband ISP and Phone Work

In a significant development Openreach (BT) has issued a status of Matters Beyond Our Reasonable Control (MBORC) across a variety of popular products, which from 23:59 tonight will effectively stop, limit or delay many new broadband and phone provisions (installs), repair jobs and engineer appointments on a “national basis.”

The move is surprising since the Government, and consumers alike, generally consider broadband and telephone services, as well as leased lines for businesses, to be absolutely essential. Nevertheless the current situation is truly unprecedented and Openreach will still aim to maintain as many of their normal operations as possible in order to support consumers, particularly with so many people now needing to work from home.

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A Look at Monday’s UK Internet Traffic and ISP Speeds

A Look at Monday’s UK Internet Traffic and ISP Speeds

Yesterday was an important day for broadband ISPs in the United Kingdom because it was the first working Monday after the mass closure of schools, which has concentrated the demands of both home (remote) working and family internet traffic on to residential connectivity. But as expected the day was busy, albeit uneventful.

Over the past few weeks we’ve all heard the often scaremongering TV and newspaper reports, which have claimed that broadband in the UK would be “unable to cope” with the change in internet traffic as more people suddenly find themselves stuck at home. We’ve already explained – repeatedly – why such an interpretation, which fails to understand both the nature of the traffic change itself and how ISPs actually manage it, is so misleading

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Phone location data could be used to help UK coronavirus effort

Phone location data could be used to help UK coronavirus effort

BT, owner of UK mobile operator EE, is in talks with the government about using its phone location and usage data to monitor whether coronavirus limitation measures such as asking the public to stay at home are working.
The ability to create movement maps of anonymised data, meaning individuals could not be identified, could prove invaluable in evaluating and shaping the state response to the spread of the virus.

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Could remote working be the future of work?

Could remote working be the future of work?

Working remotely has become a lifeline for UK businesses

As all the normal rules for business and social interactions are shredded daily by the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, working remotely has become a lifeline for UK businesses.

Many organisations that have previously ignored remote working are making an overnight u-turn, or those that only allowed hybrid working when team workloads overflowed, now need a framework, some rules and fast ideas for keeping morale up.

But with enforced working from home likely to last for weeks and months, how will teams sustain their productivity? How can executives reorienting their businesses hope to ensure remote workers’ focus and mindfulness?

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iOS 13.4 update is landing on March 24, and it may fix an annoying iPhone issue

iOS 13.4 update is landing on March 24, and it may fix an annoying iPhone issue

Fixing up Personal Hotspots

Apple has acknowledged issues with the Personal Hotspot feature on iPhone and iPad within iOS 13, and it’s thought the next software update may be able to fix this problem.

Apple confirmed iOS 13.4 will be landing on Tuesday, March 24, and it’s set to be a fairly big update to your iPhone. Your iPad will also get an update to iPadOS 13.4, if it’s compatible.

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Home office, sofa, or bedroom: which Is the best place to work from home?

Home office, sofa, or bedroom: which Is the best place to work from home?

Choosing a place to work takes planning

Remote working can often mean working from home. But with a household full of family members, finding a suitable, quiet space to set up your desktop PC or laptop can be difficult. So, what can you do about it?

While you should be prepared to work from anywhere in this scenario, some rooms and places in your home are better than others.

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Competition law suspended

Competition law suspended

The government has said that, because of the coronavirus, public sector bodies can now award contracts directly without any competitive tender.

A procurement policy note (PPN) in response to Covid-19 last week said that regulation 32(2)(c) of the Public Contract Regulations 2015 could now be invoked.

Not only can contracts be awarded directly, existing contracts can be modified or extended.

Existing framework agreement or dynamic purchasing system should also be considered, it said.

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Broadband is not immune to COVID-19

Broadband is not immune to COVID-19

Telecom has been one of the few uplifting notes in this week’s morbid chorus of COVID-19 news. Defying the worriers, networks have coped admirably with a surge in consumption as Europeans have sheltered in their homes.

Only today, the UK’s BT was trumpeting statistics about the resilience of its largely copper-based network. Europe’s networks have also withstood the assault. “We are not currently seeing any major congestion problems,” said Dan Sjöbolm, the chairman of BEREC, a club of European telecom regulators.

Contrast that with the market for groceries and essential household items, where supermarkets have not been able to handle the soaring demand triggered by panic buyers. In the first few days of this crisis, the telecom sector has looked better prepared than just about any other part of society.

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NHS Digital rolls out Microsoft Teams messaging tool for NHS amid COVID-19 outbreak

NHS Digital rolls out Microsoft Teams messaging tool for NHS amid COVID-19 outbreak

The NHS Digital has announced the roll-out of the Microsoft Teams messaging and conferencing app across the NHS for supporting remote working amid the coronavirus outbreak (COVID-19 outbreak) in the UK.

The messaging tool will be made available for free for a limited time period to counter the increased risks pertaining to COVID-19.

The agency said that Microsoft Teams offers secure instant messaging, direct audio and video calls between colleagues across the NHS. The messaging tool also has virtual meeting capabilities.

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Stress testing your Remote Working strategy

Stress testing your Remote Working strategy

s the workforce transitions to Remote Working several businesses are stress testing to ensure their services don’t fall over as employees connect to the business from outside the network. I wrote a piece on the importance of stress testing last week, the importance cannot be understated.
Paul Gibbs, Sales Director at MyPhones, shared his experiences from within the business. “The unprecedented situation we are in is definitely testing the technology and policies business have put in place to cater for unexpected events such as fire, flood and power outages, however, I think it is safe to say no-one expected the true test to be the result of a global pandemic.

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