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Dreaming of 5G mobile? Many are still waiting for 4G to arrive

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4G and 5G spectrum auction signals coverage boost
Nearly half of all rural homes have access to poor or no mobile coverage.

The UK’s communications regulator Ofcom today said that it will release more airwaves in 2020 to auction for mobile network operators, while also removing the legal requirement for them to extend their coverage to more remote areas.

The move comes after the announcement last week that the government is working with Vodafone, O2, EE and Three in a £1 billion deal to expand 4G coverage to 95% of the country by 2025.

Airwaves are a finite resource managed by Ofcom, and the rights to transmit signals over specific bands are sold in an auction system. Network operators can bid to determine how much spectrum they get and for which specific frequencies. 

To ensure that operators extend the reach of 4G to more isolated regions, Ofcom previously intended to rule that the two winning bidders should have to extend their outdoor data coverage to 90% of the UK’s land area by 2024, long after 5G will is due to be rolled out in many metropolitan areas.

Last week, however, the government put forward an agreement with Vodafone, O2, EE and Three that would let each of them individually reach 92% coverage by 2025, with the collective effect of extending coverage to 95% of the UK.

Ofcom said: “In light of the commitments, we are no longer proposing to include coverage obligations in our auction. This is because the companies’ new agreement will achieve higher coverage than the requirements we could have set through an auction”. 

The removal of coverage requirements does means, however, that the companies are no longer legally tied to achieving the targets laid out by the government. Ofcom said that it will therefore still “write conditions” into the operators’ spectrum licenses, and “monitor and report” on their progress in its yearly Connected Nations report. 

Instead of coverage obligations, the new agreement will rely on a new shared rural network (SRN) to connect isolated areas. A £1 billion budget was announced for the project, divided between £532 million industry funding from the four operators, and a further £500 million from the government.

This will go towards building a network of new and existing phone masts that all the operators will share to run their networks, and therefore avoid the unnecessary duplication of infrastructure. 

In addition, infrastructure built as part of the emergency services network (ESN) and owned by the government will be made available to the four operators, which it claimed will expand geographical coverage to an additional 2% of the country in the most remote locations. 

Digital secretary Nicky Morgan said: “Brokering an agreement for mast-sharing between networks alongside new investment in mobile infrastructure will mean people get good 4G signal no matter where they are or which provider they’re with”.

The government claimed that this will provide additional mobile coverage for 280,000 premises, and ultimately close almost all “partial not-spots” – areas where there is coverage from only one, and not all operators. This is still the case of 22% of UK premises according to Ofcom’s latest report on connectivity.

Richard Neudegg, head of regulation at service comparison website uSwitch, said: “The idea of allowing national roaming between networks in rural areas has been considered many times over the years, but ultimately proved too difficult to implement.

“This solution could greatly improve the coverage for residents in rural areas, while giving them a wider choice of networks and tariff options”.

It is not the first time that operators attempt to join forces to increase 4G coverage in rural areas, but until now they had failed to compromise. The four providers, however, have now defined the terms on which they will share existing masts; and the new SRN scheme will also let each of them invest amounts that are reflective of their current position in rural coverage. 

They reached this agreement last May and said then that they were prepared to go ahead with the plan on the condition that the government would provide some funding and remove coverage requirements from the spectrum auction. Both demands have now been met.

Neudegg, however, warned that this doesn’t mean that the promised extra connectivity will come in the near future. “While potentially exciting, this agreement still isn’t signed and has several legal hurdles to clear, so people in rural areas need to maintain pressure on the government and network providers to get this over the line”, he said.

The SRN proposal is still subject to legal agreement, and the government hopes to reach this early next year. 



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Here’s How Long A Tesla Model Y Battery Will Actually Last

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Many of us have found ourselves at the side of the road waiting for someone to arrive with a gas can to fill our empty tank. Pushing your gasoline-powered engine too far when the gauge is reading “E” will do that. And like pushing your luck with these types of vehicles, you’ll find yourself in a similar situation with an all-electric model if you aren’t planning your journey with care, requiring roadside assistance or an emergency charging solution.

The Tesla Model Y is equipped with a long-range battery that will last you a full day on the road in the vast majority of situations. If you are driving the Performance Model Y, this vehicle will carry you an average of 303 miles on a full charge, according to Tesla. Should you be considering the Long-Range Model Y, you can expect the battery to last longer, getting 330 miles on the same charge. 

By charging the EV overnight when you are finished, you’ll have a fully charged battery to begin your day, assuming you have a home charger. And if you are running low on juice, you’ll find over 35,000 Tesla Supercharging Stations around the world, around 1,400 of which are in the United States, according to the latest data from Scrape Hero. Plug your Model Y into one of these spots and Tesla says on its website that you can expect to get around 200 miles of range after 15 minutes of charging.

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The Most Luxurious Features Of Leonardo DiCaprio’s $1.5 Million Motorhome

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The features inside DiCaprio’s trailer are over-the-top, to say the least. It is 53-feet-long with four slide-out sections that can extend from 400 to 700 square feet at the touch of a button (via The Sun). According to Rovsek, it is the largest and most luxurious motorhome in the entire fleet.

It comes equipped with two fireplaces (in case one was not enough), and state-of-the-art technology including seven TV screens throughout the entire trailer. The motor home features mirror-covered ceilings and heated marble floors in the bathrooms, living room, and kitchen. It also features a wine bar and heated marble floors, according to Bloomberg Quicktake.

Surprisingly, the crown jewel in this upscale trailer is not the lounge area or the master bedroom. Instead, it is a custom-designed £40,000 walk-in shower. The shower was reportedly made with recycled glass and took craftsmen two weeks to install (via The Sun). 

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Here’s The Easiest Way To Scan Your Android Phone For Viruses

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There’s a common misconception about smartphones, and it’s a dangerous one: many people believe they don’t need to worry about viruses, spyware, and malware when they’re using a phone. If only that were true! Unfortunately, there are tons of smartphone viruses out there, and it’s more important than ever to try to protect yourself. After all, it’s not uncommon for our phones to hold access to some of our most private data, including passwords, messages, and even bank accounts. If you want to stay safe, it’s a good idea to scan your phone with an antivirus app.

You might often hear about various computer hacks and exploits, but when it comes to smartphones, things are usually pretty quiet — but that’s not due to a lack of malicious software. According to AVTest, the number of Android malware is steadily growing. In 2021, the company registered 3.28 million instances of Android-specific malware, and there might very well be many more in reality. Even if you’re normally careful, it’s important to go the extra mile if you want to secure your phone alongside some of your most important data.

Remember that even phones that come with various protective measures from the get-go, such as the Samsung Galaxy handsets, can become compromised. If you already have an antivirus app on your phone, make sure to use it regularly. However, if you don’t or you do but you’re looking to switch to something else, read on to see some of the options available.

Popular antivirus apps for Android

Much like there are plenty of viruses that affect Android phones, there are also lots of antivirus apps that might seem great at first glance. However, upon closer inspection, some of them are riddled with ads and don’t actually do much to help you stay protected. When you search for the right app to suit your needs, some of them will be free and some will require an upfront payment or a monthly subscription. Here are some of the most popular options (based on download numbers and ratings) for you to explore.

  • BitDefender for Android: You can use the free version of this app that will passively protect your phone as well as allow scanning for viruses, but you can also pay to use the full-fledged version that expands the security and adds VPN access.
  • Avast One Essential: Avast is a well-known antivirus company in the PC space, but it also has a popular Android app. You can use the app for free to receive virus protection and a small amount of VPN bandwidth, but there’s a premium option too — and, unfortunately, the app will constantly remind you of that fact.
  • Norton 360: This is yet another PC giant that made its way to Android. Norton doesn’t offer a free version of its app, but if you’re willing to pay for it, you will get a number of features, including an ad blocker and a Wi-Fi analysis tool. The app costs $14.99 per year for the first year and then goes up to $30 per year.
  • Kaspersky for Android: This is a solid antivirus option even if you use the free version, but unfortunately, you only get real-time protection if you pay $15 per year for the premium version.

Pick the app that best suits your needs, download it from the Google Play Store, and install it onto your Android smartphone or tablet.

How to use antivirus software on Android

Each of the apps mentioned above should provide you with enough protection to not have to worry about Android viruses too much. Whether you chose a paid or a free version, you will have access to a tool that will scan your phone for malicious software. You should do this periodically. Doing so every couple of weeks is a safe approach, especially if you use your phone often. Make it a habit to always run a scan if you accidentally find yourself clicking a link that doesn’t seem all too trustworthy, too. We’ll now give you a quick rundown of what to do with your new antivirus app.

  1. Pick your app and install it through the Google Play Store. 
  2. You will most likely have to register an account to use the app.
  3. If you are picking a paid option, pay for your chosen service.
  4. Each of the apps will offer to scan your phone as the first step after set-up. This will check all of the apps on your phone and your storage for viruses.
  5. Once the scan is concluded, you can review the results. If any viruses were found, you’ll be told where they were. Remove all of them through the app.
  6. Go into the app settings and look for options to set up regular scanning. Depending on the app, you may also be offered real-time protection, which will run in the background as you use your phone.

Make sure to repeat these scans every so often. After you’ve had the chance to familiarize yourself with the free version of the antivirus product, you might want to consider upgrading. In the case of BitDefender and Avast, it’s most likely going to be worth it — especially if you want to regularly use a VPN and don’t already subscribe to one.

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