The UK’s advertising watchdog is looking into the way so-called “fibre broadband” services are marketed.
In some cases, ISPs are advertising services as fibre that rely on slower copper wires for the final link to a customer’s home.
The probe has been prompted by consumer complaints and calls from MP Matt Warman to investigate.
Mr Warman said ISPs were misleading customers by giving them copper when they expected fibre.
In a statement, the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) said it was acting because of “evolving concerns” about the way fibre broadband services were advertised, and recent changes to government policy, which meant far more people would potentially have access to such services.
Policy papers spelling out the government’s view made clear that fibre should be used only to describe services that rely on the faster cables from end to end, it said.
The ASA said it would consider whether ISPs should be able to continue using “fibre broadband” to describe both full and part-fibre services.
“We will be considering whether the use of that term is likely to cause people to be materially misled,” it said.
The ASA did not say when it would complete its work but said it would provide an update by the summer.
The UK’s Internet Service Providers Association has yet to comment on the ASA’s investigation.
Andrew Ferguson, co-founder of the ThinkBroadband website, said “clarity” on advertising would be welcome. “Then we can avoid adverts that promote fibre optic broadband but clearly show a coax cable with a metal core,” he said.
Telecoms watchdog Ofcom offers an app that can help consumers check broadband speeds and availability. Commercial sites. such as ThinkBroadband and USwitch, have also made tools that let people check deals and speeds available.
It also faces having to cover about $177,000 of legal costs.
“The Bossland hacks destroy the integrity of the Blizzard games, thereby alienating and frustrating legitimate players and diverting revenue from Blizzard to defendants,” the US games developer had argued.
The tools included the ability to see other players’ positions, health scores and other information from a distance within games.
The Zwickau-based firm could not be reached for comment.
Its website remains active and continues to advertise cheats for several Blizzard games, insisting “botting is not against any law”.
However, UK visitors are blocked from access and are instead shown a message saying the sale of its software to “any person resident in the United Kingdom, constitutes an infringement of Blizzard’s intellectual property rights and an inducement to players of Blizzard’s games to breach their agreements with Blizzard”.
One games industry analyst said the US games developer had a lot riding on its multiplayer titles remaining fair.
“If the cheats work then they fundamentally break the gameplay mechanics as it’s impossible to balance these types of game as a consequence,” commented Piers Harding-Rolls from IHS Technology.
“If you have a competitive game like Overwatch – which is starting to branch out into the e-sports playing-for-money scene – if cheats are being used it spoils the whole concept.
“And even outside the competitive scene, if casual games don’t feel they are experiencing a level playing field then they can be turned off playing.”
“We made a huge splash,” chief executive Alex Lubinsky recalls.
The site allows landlords to set a preferred rent. Prospective tenants then bid below that figure to see if they can get a good deal.
During the process, landlords see not only the bids, but information about the would-be tenants – including their credit score.
There are now about 100,000 properties and more than 50,000 users on the site, which is also expanding to offer listings across the whole of the United States.
Mr Lubinsky insists that the system is fair.
He argues, for instance, that it is better than going into a closed or partially closed bidding system where tenants do not know the full details of what others may be offering.
And he reveals a new feature: in the coming weeks Rentberry will implement a machine learning system that will analyse local rental market data to help landlords set reasonable prices.
It will also try to rate prospective tenants for landlords based on information that Rentberry has about them, such as how many years they have been working.
“People say we create competition, but competition already exists,” he adds, arguing that “only the market” can suggest what is a fair price for a property.
In New York, for example, around 4,000 properties are listed on the site – and in such a “hot market” they tend to be let on Rentberry within four or five days, says Mr Lubinsky.
What is the market like?
At the moment, the price of rental properties in many parts of the US is going up.
Mortgage rates are also up – so more people who would like to buy a house are having to rent instead, which further increases demand, explains Adam DeScantis at the National Association of Realtors.
“First-time buyers made up 32% of buyers in February, historically that should be closer to 40%,” he says.
More than a third of US households are renters – nearly 110 million people.
The rise in renters has also followed millions of foreclosures thanks to the financial crisis, points out Jonathan Spader at the Harvard Graduate School of Design.
“Rent increases in many cities in the US have outpaced incomes, making affordability a challenge,” he explains.
Rentberry has faced criticism from some who feel it is likely to push up prices – only those with the biggest budgets will fare well when bidding, they say.
In response, Mr Lubinsky says that, on average, agreed rents were 5% less than the landlord’s asking price on the platform. But how does that compare with what the rest of the market is doing?
“We compared the data on the rental platforms in US for the largest cities (including New York and Miami) and at this moment the final rental price on Rentberry is 4.3% lower than on other sites,” he adds.
Mr Lubinsky also points out that the site requires bidders to submit personal information such as their social security number in order to take part in an auction – an effort to stop people trying to drive up the cost with false bids.
“People who actually submit offers are dead serious about getting the place,” he says.
That might not be enough to satisfy some of the more traditional property managers, suggests New York estate agent Douglas Wagner at Bond New York.
“Sometimes they want to meet and interview a tenant personally before they offer a lease,” he explains.
UK-based property expert Kate Faulkner also points out that not everything can be decided on data alone.
In general, prospective tenants and landlords need to meet, she argues, and get “reassurance that they are going to be able to help each other over time”.
Mr Wagner explains, though, that at the moment the rental market is hotting up in New York so believes that perhaps some landlords will be tempted by a new approach.
“They may want to buy in and test it,” he suggests.
“But I also anticipate that the more traditional, older generation management companies might resist because they’re so accustomed to the way they do things.”
The music world is mourning the loss of Roland founder and electronic instrument pioneer Ikutaro Kakehashi, who has died aged 87.
The Japanese engineer created many popular drum machines, including the iconic TR-808.
Its sound is a staple of hip-hop and electronic music, used by everyone from Kanye West to Marvin Gaye.
Kakehashi received a technical Grammy in 2013 for contributions to electronic music technology.
Dave Smith – Kakehashi’s co-winner – told the BBC he “was just an amazing man, a good friend, a very good competitor of course and just innovative continually all that time”.
Before leading Roland for 40 years, Mr Kakehashi founded Ace Tone in the 1960s.
The firm made amplifiers and primitive drum machines, laying the groundwork for the engineer’s future success.
Roland TR-808: The drum machine that refused to die
The sound of the TR-808 proved a game-changer in the 1980s and 90s.
It appears on Marvin Gaye’s “Sexual Healing”, and in the opening bars of Whitney Houston’s “I Wanna Dance with Somebody”.
Rapper Kanye West’s 2008 album 808s Heartbreak showcases the machine throughout.
Musicians have shared their tributes to Mr Kakehashi online, calling his impact immeasurable.
Marc Almond of synthpop duo Soft Cell called him “a man who changed music”.
Martyn Ware, who played keyboards for The Human League, told the BBC: “Roland was central to everything that we did for the whole of the first two albums – they featured on every track.”
“We were loyal to them like people would be loyal to a football team.”
In 2015 the TR-808 was the subject of a documentary featuring Pharrell Williams, Fatboy Slim, and Phil Collins – among many others.
In a farewell to Mr Kakehashi, his colleague for almost four decades, Roland developer Tommy Snyder wrote: “He was a super funny, wonderful and gifted human being, and his contributions to the musical instrument world, and music, touched millions of people worldwide. RIP dear Taro.”
Google was charged £36.4m in UK corporation tax last year, according to its latest accounts.
The US search engine giant recorded sales of £1.03bn and a pre-tax profit of £149m in the UK for the 12 months to the end of June 2016.
Like other major tech firms, Google has come under pressure over its tax arrangements.
Labour said the firm was still not paying its “fair share” of tax in the UK.
Google’s accounts also showed it hired an extra 600 workers to take its UK workforce to nearly 3,000 last year.
Simon Gompertz, BBC personal finance correspondent
Google is adamant that it is paying the 20% rate of corporation tax on its UK profits that businesses have to pay.
But the debate over its tax affairs is likely to rumble on, because of the way in which it organises its activities across international borders.
Google declared turnover of just over £1bn in the UK in the year to last June.
But the latest accounts filed in the US by Alphabet, Google’s parent company, show UK sales of more than £6bn.
One reason for the discrepancy is that it treats its business here as a development and marketing services operation.
Sales are booked in the Irish Republic, where the tax rate happens to be lower.
A Google spokesman said: “As an international business, we pay the majority of our taxes in our home country, as well as all the taxes due in the UK.
“We have recently announced significant new investment in the UK, including new offices in Kings Cross for 7,000 staff.”
Google agreed to pay £130m in back taxes to the UK last year, which was widely criticised as not being enough.
The sum covered money owed since 2005 and followed a six-year inquiry by Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC).
George Osborne, who was chancellor at the time, described the deal as a “victory”, but Labour’s John McDonnell said the sums were “trivial”.
The agreement came after years of criticism of Google and other multinational firms over their tax arrangements in the UK and across Europe.
Mr McDonnell said the latest figures showed Google was still not paying enough tax.
He said: “It is a national disgrace that by paying just £36m in tax Google could have an effective tax rate lower than many working families in our country.
“And it exposes the complacency at the heart of this Tory government, which is allowing this to still continue despite last year’s scandal.”
He added: “It seems that the so-called ‘successful’ tax deal with Google that George Osborne boasted about last year has meant that they are still not paying their fair share under his successor Philip Hammond.”
Meg Hillier MP, chair of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC), said: “Yet again we see a large corporation paying a rate of tax that belies its significant presence and business transactions in the UK.
“This is why the PAC is working internationally to press for greater tax transparency so that we can all see clearly how much tax corporations pay and where.
She added: “There is already strong international support and growing collaboration for changing the way tax is reported by multinationals.
“This latest tax contribution from Google just underlines why this is so important.”
HMRC declined to comment on Google’s tax payment, saying it did not discuss identifiable taxpayers.
An HMRC spokesman said: “Everyone has to pay the tax due under the law and we do not settle for less.
“Our most recent figures show that HMRC brought in a record £26bn in extra tax for our public services, with £7.3 billion of that total coming from the 2,100 largest and most complex businesses in the UK.”
“A more recent factor contributing to the increase in pedestrian fatalities may be the growing use of smartphones by all road users, which can be a significant source of distraction for both drivers and pedestrians,” the report stated.
Other factors include increased driving, due to an improved economy, lower petrol prices and more walking for exercise and environmental reasons.
Alcohol is also blamed, with 34% of pedestrians and 15% of drivers involved in fatal crashes being intoxicated at the time.
The report is based on data from all states for the first six months of 2016.
The UK’s Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents said it also saw mobile phones as dangerously distracting.
“More and more older teenagers and young adults are being injured as a result of ‘distraction’, as a result of crossing [roads] while using their phone. This can be as a result of having a conversation, listening to music, texting or using the net,” said road safety manager Nick Lloyd.
Some cities around the world are taking measures to counter the issue of smartphone distraction.
In the Bavarian town of Augsburg, the station has fitted red and green lights in the ground to warn people who “stubbornly look at their smartphone”.
Officials in the Dutch town of Bodegraven ran trials in February of traffic lights that project a red or green lighting strip across the pavements to alert smartphone “zombies” who were glued to their mobiles as they cross the road.
“Social media, games, WhatsApp and music are major distractions in traffic,” town alderman Kees Oskam said at the time.
Dutch road safety group VVN said that the idea “rewarded bad behaviour”.
Some 40% of British gaming companies say they are considering relocating some or all of their business because of Brexit.
Companies cited losing access to talent and funding as major risks when Britain leaves the bloc.
A survey by industry group Ukie polled 75 of the more than 2,000 games firms in the UK, most of which worked in development.
The government said it hoped to “continue to attract” global talent.
A Department for Culture, Media and Sport spokesperson said: “The UK’s creative industries are one of our biggest success stories, and we want to make sure the UK remains a world leader in video games production.
“As the prime minister made clear, we will continue to attract the brightest and best global talent. And we will continue to work with our creative industries to help seize the exciting opportunities that will flow from a new place for Britain in the world.”
It is currently conducting a review of the creative industries.
Ukie said this week it wanted to work with the government to “shape a favourable post-EU landscape for our world-leading games and interactive entertainment businesses”.
Sales of UK games hit £2.96bn last year – more than from either video or music.
Ukie carried out extensive consultations between September and February and found the main concern about Brexit for companies was losing access to skilled workers, with more than 57% saying they employed staff from the European Union.
Some 98% of respondents said EU nationals with the right skills should have a “blanket right” to both live and work in the UK in the future.
“In very competitive, innovative global industries, like games, if UK businesses cannot attract the diverse talent they want and need, some firms are likely to relocate, taking jobs and economic opportunities with them,” Ukie said.
Others said divergences with EU laws around data could also pose a risk after Brexit.
A total of 63% said the cost of separating the data they hold on UK customers could impose “significant costs”, with one firm saying it may stop publishing games in the UK as a result.
There were also concerns that Brexit could leave UK companies unable to access funding from EU programmes such as Creative Europe – although Ukie said Brexit also offered an opportunity to improve public subsidies for the industry.
More than 60% of games companies forecast growth in their businesses this year, down from 80% in 2016.
The screen monopolises around 80% of the phone’s front, by Samsung’s count… Like the Note before it, it’s pretty impressive how much phone the company has managed to cram into a relatively thin piece of real estate that’s 1.5mm slimmer than its predecessor.
These phones are incredibly well-designed. There are no seams, only the barest of camera bumps, and everything seems milled down to sub-millimetre tolerances. They feel inevitable in a way that almost becomes boring.
The device comes with a glaring omission: a physical home button… In forsaking the button, Samsung has beat its major competitor to the punch. Journalists and analysts have long speculated that Apple’s next iPhone will also remove the home button.
I’m not upset the fingerprint sensor is on the back. I’m annoyed at precisely where Samsung decided to put it: off-centre, next to the 12-megapixel camera… The biggest problem is, of course, how smudged up the rear camera lens will get from your finger if you miss and touch it instead.
When Bixby does eventually launch, you’ll get a similar experience to Google Assistant but Bixby aims to go that little bit further, helping you control your device and find other information. Based on what we saw, Bixby seems to be very capable and worth the wait.
In a controlled demo of an early version of Bixby that Samsung showed me last week, I didn’t see much promise… I’m also not convinced that talking to your phone is always better than using the controls on the screen, and I’m definitely not convinced this is the solution to Samsung’s confusing user-interface problems.
Samsung faces gigantic competition in getting other apps, services and devices to join in. Bixby competes with Apple’s Siri, Google’s Assistant, Amazon’s Alexa and Microsoft’s Cortana. There just won’t be enough space on the island for all of them – and Bixby is last to arrive.
Shots fired!!! Let’s see how Apple answers. I’m not a Samsung fan but good job! Let’s just hope they don’t have battery issues like the last one. Javier Lopez
Disappointed! Specs are nothing like I was hoping for. No 4K screen, no improvement on camera/video quality. Same amount of RAM. There’s very little difference between this and the S7 Edge. I’ll stick to my theory of always skip a generation of phones. Jim Jackson
Me: Bixby, trade in my S7 Edge to S8+. Bixby: Sell your kidneys to me… Henry Dazo Jr