Breakfast Briefing: Chrome kills noisy tabs, BT facing wholesale price cuts, EU carriers in mobile power play

Today's technology stories feature Chrome, BT, European telecos and their staff, plus the building materials hurting your mobile signal

Stewart Mitchell
26 Feb 2013

Today's tech stories include Chrome highlighting noisy web pages, why BT's facing a pricing clampdown, a power play for European mobile networks, and how building materials can throttle mobile signal by 88%.

Shhh... Chrome to tell you which tabs are playing audio

Google Chrome hopes to address the annoying issue of unwanted and unidentified audio playing in an open website that requires users to trawl through their 15 open tabs to find the offending sites. According to The Next Web, the advertising and web giant is working on a small icon in the tab that will throb to show that there's active audio content. The feature is already in the experimental Canary build of the Chrome browser and could be headed for the mainstream version to highlight which tabs to close down.

Ofcom planning 11% price cut on BT wholesale products

Ofcom is looking to force BT to cut its leased line prices for high-speed data links used by UK businesses, as well as mobile and broadband providers. The plans remain subject to European approval, but because BT has "significant market power" in wholesale leased line services at speeds above 1Gbit/sec Ofcom wants to impose cuts of 11% everywhere except in London and Hull. Full details are in Ofcom's statement, but it's hard to see how the move will realistically, "help ensure the UK has a backbone of high-speed business networks capable of supporting not only companies, but also consumer services", as Ofcom says.

European giants in power play to catch US rivals

Inside Mobile World Congress there's plenty of positivity around all the new shiny devices, but outside the show Telefonica workers were protesting job cuts, as European companies seek permission for more mergers in a bid to compete with industry giants Apple and Google.

The Guardian reports how UK-based Vodafone, Spain's Telefónica and Telecom Italia called for lower taxes and never ending spectrum licenses, but perhaps most importantly they want EU regulators to "let consolidation happen" so a handful of EU companies can compete against US giants. Basically the businesses are hoping to help consumers beat the devil of powerful companies by, er, creating a smaller number of more powerful competitors to rival their US counterparts.

Building materials cut mobile signals by 88%

New-build homes have come under question over the radio blocking qualities of energy efficient materials before – notably when PC Pro editor Barry Collins picked it up on his radar – but a study covered by The Register suggests the problem can cut mobile signal strength by as much as 88%. The research – admittedly funded by a company selling kit to resolve the issue – suggests the signal confusion created by materials on company and university campuses can cripple batteries as handsets switch between signals in a bid to access the network and overload carriers with connection requests.

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