Weekly Cell Phone News in Review—June 19, 2017

Mobile Roaming ChargesScrapped Across EU
As of June 15, mobile roaming charges across the EU will be abolished, meaning it will be illegal to charge people more to use their phones in one EU country than another. It’s great news for smartphone users in particular, as it means you can use data, calls and texts exactly the same way as you can at home. However, exceeding agreed minutes, texts and data will still be charged in the EU as it would in the UK, with all providers charging different rates. Story by Josie Clarke, Emma Mountford and James Andrews for Manchester Evening News.

Canada Bans Locked Cellphones And Unlocking Fees
The Canadian Radio and Telecommunications Commission has announced that as of Dec. 1, 2017, all cell phones and other mobile devices sold in Canada must be provided unlocked. Further, as of that date, Canadian cellular carriers will also be prohibited from charging any fees for individual and small business wireless service customers to have their mobile devices unlocked. Over the past three years, almost all Canadian carriers have begun providing the service to unlock customers iPhones under certain conditions—usually after about 90-120 days on contract—but normally charge a fee of $50 or more to do so. According to the Financial Post, in 2016 Canadian carriers pulled in more than $37.7 million in revenue from unlocking fees alone, and that number has been steadily increasing. Story by Jesse Hollington for iLounge.

We Could Have Had Cellphones Four Decades Earlier
The basic idea of the cellphone was introduced to the public in 1945—not in Popular Mechanics or Science, but in the down-home Saturday Evening Post. Millions of citizens would soon be using “handie-talkies,” declared J.K. Jett, the head of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). Licenses would have to be issued, but that process “won’t be difficult.” The revolutionary technology, Jett promised in the story, would be formulated within months. But permission to deploy it would not. The government would not allocate spectrum to realize the engineers’ vision of “cellular radio” until 1982, and licenses authorizing the service would not be fully distributed for another seven years. Story by Thomas Winslow Hazlett for Reason.com.

Five Billion People In The World Use Mobile Phones
The number of mobile phone subscribers in the world has reached five billion, according to the research arm of the global mobile industry organization, GSMA. The world’s five billion unique mobile subscribers today account for approximately 7.7 billion mobile connections. This means that more than two-thirds of the global population is now connected to a mobile service. 55% of mobile subscribers are based in the Asia Pacific region, which is home to the world’s two largest mobile markets: China and India. China accounts for more than a billion of the world’s subscribers, while India accounts for 730 million. The most highly penetrated region in the world is Europe, where 86% of citizens are subscribed to a mobile service. Sub-Saharan Africa is the least penetrated region at 44%. Story in the Ghana Business News.

Parent’s Smartphone Use Can Affect Kids’ Behavior
Could your smartphone prompt a toddler tantrum? Perhaps, a new study suggests. Young children whose parents interrupt family time by pulling out their smartphones or tablets appear more prone to misbehaviors, such as whining, sulking and tantrums, the research revealed. “Do you like it when you feel snubbed by someone, when that person isn’t validating or listening to you?” asked the study’s author. “It’s the same thing with kids, but since they’re not adults, the way they show it is probably by acting out a little more,” he added. “Most parents really love their children, but it’s hard for a child to feel that if you’re staring at your phone.”  About half of the parents said technology typically interrupted their parent-child time three or more times a day, with 24 percent reporting twice a day and 17 percent reporting once a day. Mothers perceived their phone use as more problematic than dads did, the findings showed. Story by Maureen Salamon for Web MD.

Amazon Aims to Put Fire Phone Nightmare Behind With ‘Ice’ Smartphones
Amazon plans to have another go at selling its own branded smartphones. The ecommerce giant, which killed off its Fire Phone in 2015, is working on a new lineup of smartphones branded as “Ice”, according to two sources familiar with the matter. Unlike the Fire Phone—for which Amazon focused largely on the US and a couple of other western markets—the company is eyeing emerging markets like India for selling its new phones. Amazon’s upcoming smartphones run the latest version of Google’s Android operating system with Google Mobile Services such as Gmail and Google Play. Incorporating Google Mobile Services in its devices is a major change in strategy for Amazon, which currently offers a range of Android tablets without Google apps on them. Story by Manish Singh for Gadgets 360.

Mobile Payments Increasing Among Baby Boomers
A new report on how mobile banking is used in person-to-person transactions suggests that using a cellphone or tablet to make payments is a growing trend among baby boomers. A survey commissioned by Bank of America found that 49 percent of baby boomer respondents who aren’t currently making person-to-person payments using mobile technology offerings plan to do so before the end of 2017. Baby boomers only accounted for 20 percent of the survey respondents currently making mobile person-to-person payments. Sixty-eight percent of survey respondents said they made use of mobile person-to-person payments was in order to save time. The survey also indicates that the size of a payment is not an obstacle to whether a mobile person-to-person transaction is made. Nearly half of survey respondent said they would be comfortable sending making a payment of $1,000 or more. Story by Luther Turmelle for the New Haven Register.

Chinese Smartphone Brands Are Winning Over India
Chinese brands rule the world’s fastest-growing smartphone market. Between October and November last year, four out of the top five smartphone brands in India were from China, with Vivo, Xiaomi, Lenovo, and Oppo accounting for over 40% of the market, up from 14% the previous year. The number of smartphone users in India is expected to reach 990 million by 2020, up from about 800 million in 2015, according to Cisco, and Chinese vendors have recognized the huge opportunity ahead, particularly with growth flat-lining back home. Story by Ananya Bhattacharya for Quartz.

Inmates Fly Mobile Phones, Drugs And Porn Into Jail Via Drone
While large companies like Amazon test drone delivery systems, inmates in jails across the country are already using the devices to receive their own aerial shipments: smuggled contraband. Documents obtained from the Justice Department uncovered more than a dozen attempts to transport contraband—including mobile phones, drugs and porn—into federal prisons in the past five years. State facilities have also reported similar incidents. Experts say current anti-drone technologies fail to protect jails against the unmanned aerial devices that transport dangerous items, including firearms, which are almost impossible to sneak in via traditional prison smuggling methods. Story by Waseem Abbasi for USA Today.

ICE Agents Are Using Battlefield Surveillance Technology To Snoop On CellPhones
A federal warrant unsealed in May reveals how immigration authorities are using an invasive cell phone snooping tool, known as a “Stingray,” once confined to the battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan. It is the first evidence of the device being used for immigration enforcement, and it highlights the need for greater transparency about how state and local police deploy similar tools. Stingrays are fake cell phone towers about the size of a briefcase that force all phones in the area to connect to it – and by extension, law enforcement – instead of the phone company. They cause nearby phones to transmit unique identification numbers and can be used to accurately locate a particular device or even intercept its communications. Stingrays collect data from all phones in the area, not just the target phone, raising privacy concerns over what happens to the personal information that is collected incidentally. Story by Michael Price for the Huffington Post.

About John Oldshue

John Oldshue is the creator of SaveOnPhone.com. He worked for over 15 years in television and won an Emmy award for his reporting. He covers long distance and cell phone topics for SaveOnPhone.