Internet News (September 2018)

Gatwick flight display system under a cloud

Gatwick Airport may have a new cloud-based flight information system…even so, the system experienced a difficult landing earlier this month, bringing the airport authorities down a peg or two. Back in May, the airport claimed that its new screens were ‘innovative and cost effective’, when receiving an award at the Real IT awards for project of the year. They also claimed that they had developed a system that was easily scalable, flexible and resilient, requiring less maintenance and supporting infrastructure.

Passengers were left with no working information boards at Gatwick following an issue with the system. Staff were rallied to resolve the problem and quickly wheeled out white boards and marker pens in order to provide passengers with the information that they needed. The response of the unhappy passengers alas, was to take to social media in order to air their views.

The Flight Information Display System (FIDS) is a cloud-based system which has been designed to replace the old system which required a PC working in the background behind most of the airports screens in order to update the information. FIDS does not require a PC, runs off of a meagre 3Mbps of bandwidth and is made up of 1,200 cloud-based screens. It made its first appearance in December 2017 following two years of hard work.

The issue was not with the system itself. The issue was caused by a fibre cable that supplies the airport, provided by Vodafone. In a hurriedly rushed out statement, Vodafone had said that they had engineers working on the cable to fix the problem as soon as possible and restore the information to the flight boards in Gatwick. The hope is now that the airport operator will stop trying to cram more stores into the airport, and instead focus on improving the running of the 3Mbps system to ensure that this issue does not happen again.

Video streaming goes ballistic

Official video streaming figures recently released show that the streaming of commercial videos has surged to a high level across the United Kingdom. Netflix, Now TV, Amazon or similar streams have been viewed by over half of all adults during a recent three month survey.

In 2016, only a third of those surveyed had accessed any of these streams, which in turn supports the recent results from the Office of National Statistics (ONS). The most recent survey saw 2750 participants taking part, when individuals were asked about their opinions and lifestyles.

The recently released report also reveals that 90% of houses have some form of internet access, the figure for which has not significantly altered since a similar report was released during 2017. The report did however show an increase in usage; 86% of people aged over 16 have reported that they access the internet daily, a 6% increase on last year when only 80% of people over 16 obtained access. For the first time in history, the survey says that 100% of households with children have internet access.

Surveys have revealed that the internet is used mostly to access email facilities, with 84% of adults having sent and received emails during the last quarter. The internet opens up access to other services including videos on demand. Figures released showed that users watching of video on demand from commercial services, was up from 29% in 2016 to 46%. The use of YouTube and similar platforms is up from 47% to 62%, and music streaming levels are also up from 49% to 58%. Internet banking has also seen a rise, up 9% from 60% to 69%, and the finally there has also been an increase in the number of people selling items on the internet – up 7% from 18% to 25%.

The media industry believes that due to the growing demand for online TV, pressure is applied to other providers to adapt what they are offering. Enders Analysis, a management consultancy based in London, observed the breakdown of service usage. The evidence supports the view that audiences are getting younger, and there is increasing usage by the older generation. Shows offered by online providers such as Netflix have fuelled the increase in usage however, with indications from the figures of extensive competitiveness between providers.

The competition for online streaming continues. Sky, are currently in the process of making all of their content available online, Apple are expected to launch their own TV subscription service in the near future, and following the takeover deal between Disney and 21st Century Fox, the newly released DisneyLife app will almost certainly attract many new viewers.

The ONS reports reveals a noticeable difference between male and female internet usage too. Women seem to use the internet for engaging more with social networks such as Facebook and Twitter – 69% of women admitted to recently using one of these platforms in comparison to 60% of men. The report also revealed that 69% of men streamed videos from YouTube or other similar sites available, compared to just 56% of women.

The report also revealed that a high number of female users used the internet to research health conditions and health information, whilst a high proportion of male users accessed online video games that could either be played online or downloaded for the net.

Smoked Apple leaves employees breathless

It was recently reported in various news sources that an Apple iPad battery exploded in a shop in Amsterdam causing minor injuries to three employees. They are believed to have inhaled vapours released when the battery exploded. The incident occured on 19th August in Leidseplein, Amsterdam, resulting in the shop being evacuated and closed. The local fire service dealt with the iPad on their arrival and ensured that the shop had been aired to ensure no fumes remained before it was allowed to re-open.

The Amsterdam Fire Department confirmed in a tweet that they had attended the incident, and stated that the three members of staff had received medical treatment for breathing issues. Apple have said that they are investigating the ‘incident’, and have also confirmed that staff acted quickly to remove everyone from the shop in a safe manner, and that the shop was not reopened until it was safe to do so.

A Dutch media report stated that staff had dealt with the iPad by placing it in a bucket of sand, however this alone did not stop the fumes from being released and staff inhaling them. The Apple media website, 9to5Mac has said that it has been aware of similar incidents, especially since the start of the iPhone battery replacement programme.

The battery replacement programme was introduced following customer criticism towards older iPhones that were slowing down due to aging batteries. Apple now offer discounted or free battery swaps for some customers.

Facebook bans  3D gun website links 

Facebook announced last week that they have banned any websites that host and share blueprints of 3D printed guns. A spokesperson for the social network said that the sharing of instructions on how to print firearms using 3D printers is not permitted due to the company’s community standards policy. The policy states that any websites containing this content w will be removed.

Facebook’s actions have followed a ruling made earlier this month by a Seattle judge who had granted the issue of a restraining order to temporarily block the publication of 3D gun designs online. The US State Department, and Defence Distributed (the creator of the blueprints) has been sued by no less than nineteen state attorney generals’ following the settlement of a lawsuit which allowed for the free distribution of gun blueprints.

According to reports, the designs that were available on line have been there for a number of years. which is the website for Defense Distributed, has demonstrated that the blueprints have in fact been downloaded over 20,000 times.

The site is currently closed with a message on their home page announcing; “This site, after legally committing its files to the public domain through a license from the U.S. Department of State, has been ordered shut down by a Federal Judge in the Western District of Washington.” A link to donate towards the un-censoring of the information on the Defcad site can also be seen.

In addition to this there is a “shop now” link on the company’s Facebook page for Defense Distributed Ghost Gunner, which allows the purchase of a key component for the production of the gun which is made from metal. Once this part has been made, it allows for the production of an untraceable firearm.  Facebook have yet to comment on the Ghost Gunner webstore feature.

EE to respond to challenges from rivals

The reliability and data performances of EE have been challenged recently following the improvements that have been made by its rival networks. A survey by Rootmetrics, that measures nationwide performance, has revealed that EE remained in the main top five categories during the first quarter of 2018.

During last five years, EE have remained at the top of the Rootmetrics rankings without moving. Hutchinson’s 3 took a hammering from O2 for data performance, however they have improved their call score and reliability, eventually coming a very close second to the BT-owned company Behemoth. Three UK were eventually ranked second overall, following their network reliability, text and call performances, with only their data performance letting them down in the final analysis. Vodafone moved into second place following some heavy investment in its services over the past couple of years.

In the Rootmetrics rankings, O2 came bottom in every category. Although Three demonstrated a poor performance in the capital and home counties, they did demonstrate a much stronger performance in other regions such as the North East.

In 2012 Vodafone and Telefonica began a mast sharing arrangement called Cornerstone, also known in the industry as CTIL. Because of the way in which arrangement works, regions were divided up geographically; Vodafone were responsible for sites in the west of the UK and Wales, while O2 were responsible for sites in the East and Northern Ireland. O2 took the sites north of the river in London, while Vodafone took on the Home Counties. Due to the size of London and the coverage requirements, the split of London was revised last year. This resulted in more coverage and improved results for the London area.

The improvements made by Vodafone has allowed them to provide the best all round-trip package time. The rankings were calculated following drive testing along a distance of 20,000 miles. This also included testing indoors as well as outdoors. When you are travelling on trains, it is more a case of where you travel rather than what network you are with.


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Internet News – August 2018

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