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Mobile operators must embrace power of the ‘and’

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Operators need to take a holistic approach to their network and embrace the ‘power of and’ if they are to meet rising customer demand, improve scalability and reduce network complexity.

Speaking during a keynote conference session at Broadband World Forum, Federico Guillén told the conference session there is no single technology or access mode which will deliver ubiquitous ultrafast connectivity, and instead a combination of technologies is required. This is especially true if the industry is to deliver on the promise of 5G.

Those operators which don’t recognize the ‘power of and,’ he warned, could fail to meet speed and connectivity targets and lose ground to competition.

“The strategy of deploying fiber to the most economical point in the network is still valid, but the combination of fixed fiber, wireless and other access technologies is now even more crucial to the operator’s business case,” said Guillén. “Fixed networks are going to be essential for the growth of 5G, for example, as they will complement wireless for mobile transport. We will also see a combination of fiber and fixed wireless access to deliver ultra-broadband to the home using technologies such as WiGig. This convergence of fixed and wireless is one aspect of what we are calling the ‘power of and’.”

According to Guillén, the second element of this approach is delivering a gigabit experience both to and into the home. This, he continued, has been a pressure point for operators with poor in-building wiring or Wi-Fi, and can comprise more than 30% of calls to a broadband operator’s helpdesk.

“With all the focus on getting ultra-broadband to the front door, it is also important not to neglect the in-home network,” said Guillén. “Wi-Fi is a critical part of the end-to-end service, but is often the weak link. Delivering a gigabit experience both to and throughout the whole home is crucial, and we need to reach a point where end-users don’t have to think about their Wi-Fi – it’s just there.”

Guillén went on to explain that virtualization will have a key role keeping operational costs low as the network gets more complex, provided it is used in the right way.

“There is no doubt that virtualization can simplify networks, and the third ‘power of and’ is in the network and the cloud; moving hardware here makes networks easier to manage and scale,” he said. “However, virtualizing everything is not the answer. Operators must look at the business case for virtualization and identify which areas are going to provide the most value.”

Guillén’s presentation comes as Nokia launches Intelligent Access, an enhanced portfolio of access solutions to build gigabit-ready networks. This includes Software Defined Access Network (SDAN) technology and a new carrier-grade in-home Wi-Fi solution.

“The ‘power of and’ is the driving concept behind Intelligent Access. By taking a holistic approach, operators can enhance their network, deliver a gigabit experience to the end-user and make their operations faster, better and smarter,” Guillén concluded.

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Huge appetite for foldable phones – when prices fall

Samsung, Huawei and Motorola have all shown their cards, but consumers are concerned about durability, size, and enhanced use cases, according to Strategy Analytics

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Foldable devices are a long-awaited disrupter in the smartphone market, exciting leading-edge early adopters keen for a bold new type of device. But the acceptance of foldable devices by mainstream segments will depend on the extent to which the current barriers to adoption are addressed.

Major brands have been throwing their foldable bets into the hat to see what the market wants from a foldable, namely how big the screens should be and how the devices should fold. Samsung and Huawei have both designed devices that unfold from smartphones to tablets, each with their own method of how the devices go about folding. Motorola has recently designed a smartphone that folds in half, and it resembles a flip phone.

Assessing consumer desire for foldable smartphones, a new report from the User Experience Strategies group at Strategy Analytics has found that the perceived value of the foldable form does not outweigh the added cost.

Key report findings include:

  • The idea of having a larger-displayed smartphone in a portable size is perceived as valuable to the vast majority of consumers in the UK and the US. But, willingness to pay extra for a foldable device does not align with the desire to purchase one. Manufacturers must understand that there will be low sell-through until costs come down.
  • But as the acceptance for traditional smartphone display sizes continues to increase, so does the imposed friction of trying to use them one-handed. Unless a foldable phone has a wider folded state, entering text when closed is too cumbersome, forcing users to utilize two hands to enter text, when in the opened state.
  • Use cases need to be adequately demonstrated for consumers to fully understand and appreciate the potential for a foldable phone, though their priorities seemed fixed on promoting ‘two devices in one’ equaling a better video viewing experience. Identification and promotion of meaningful new use cases will be vital to success.

Christopher Dodge, Associate Director, UXIP and report author said: “As multitasking will look to be a core selling point for foldable phones, it is imperative that the execution be simplified and intuitive. Our data suggests there are a lot of uncertainties that come with foldable phone ownership, stemming mainly from concerns with durability and size, in addition to concerns over enhanced use cases.

“But our data also shows that when the consumers are able to use a foldable phone in hand, there is a solid reduction of doubt and concern about the concept. This means that the in-store experience may more important than ever in driving awareness, capabilities, and potential use cases.”

Said Paul Brown, Director, UXIP: “The big question is whether the perceived value will outweigh the added cost; and the initial response from consumers is ‘no.’ The ability for foldable displays to resolve real consumer pain-points is, in our view critical to whether these devices will become a niche segment of the smartphone market or the dominant form-factor of the future. Until costs come down, these devices will not take off.”

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New exploit exposes credit cards on mobile phones

Check Point Security has found that handsets using Qualcomm chipsets that hold credit and debit card credentials are at risk of a new exploit.

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Now it’s more important than ever to update your phone.
Check Point security has found a vulnerability in mobile devices that run Android, which allows credit card details to be accessed by hackers.

Mobile operating systems like Android offer a Rich Execution Environment (REE), providing a hugely extensive and versatile runtime environment, which allows apps to run on the device. However, while bringing flexibility and capability, REE leaves devices vulnerable to a wide range of security threats. A Trusted Execution Environment (TEE) is designed to reside alongside the REE and provide a safe area on the device to protect assets and to execute trusted code. Qualcomm makes use of a secure virtual processor, which is often referred to as the “secure world”, in comparison to the “non-secure world”, where REE resides. 

But Check Point “fuzzed” a “hole” into this secure world 

In a 4-month research project, Check Point researchers attempted and succeeded to reverse Qualcomm’s “Secure World” operating system. Check Point researchers leveraged a “fuzzing” technique to expose the hole. Fuzz testing (fuzzing) is a quality assurance technique used to discover coding errors and security loopholes in software, operating systems or networks. It involves inputting massive amounts of random data, called fuzz, to the test subject in an attempt to make it crash.

Check Point implemented a custom-made fuzzing tool, which tested trusted code on Samsung, LG, and Motorola devices. Through fuzzing, Check Point found 4 vulnerabilities in trusted code implemented by Samsung (including S10), 1 in Motorola, 1 in LG, but all code sourced by Qualcomm itself. To address the vulnerability, the runtime of Android needs to be protected from both attackers and users. This is typically achieved by moving the secure storage software to a hardware-supported TEE.

Check Point Research disclosed its findings directly to the companies and gave them time to patch vulnerabilities. Samsung patched three vulnerabilities and LG patched one. Motorola and Qualcomm responded, but have yet to provide a patch, and there is no confirmation of a release date yet.

Check Point Research has urged mobile phone users to stay vigilant and check their credit and debit card providers for any unusual activity. In the meantime, they are working with the vendors mentioned to issue patches.

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