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Find out the week’s top mobile stories from around the world.

This week..  Billionaire Mikitani’s Mobile Plan Shakes Up Japan Carriers, Economic recovery spurs Africa smartphone market, Nintendo in talks to make more mobile games and much more.

Billionaire Mikitani’s Mobile Plan Shakes Up Japan Carriers


Japan’s mobile carriers are bracing for what may be the biggest industry shakeup in a decade after billionaire Hiroshi Mikitani’s Rakuten Inc.unveiled plans to become the country’s fourth major mobile-phone operator.

The online retailer, which already operates a mobile service by leasing existing networks, said on Thursday it will participate in upcoming government auctions to win its own wireless infrastructure.

Rakuten plans to raise as much as 600 billion yen ($5.3 billion) by 2025 to fund the project, and attract at least 15 million subscribers after it launches in 2019, it said.

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Economic recovery spurs Africa smartphone market

Mobile World Live

Africa’s smartphone market recovered from two consecutive quarters of declines to record sequential growth of 4.4 per cent in Q3 2017, spurred by ongoing economic recoveries in some of the region’s major markets, IDC announced.

While the 21.7 million units shipped was down 5.5 per cent year-on-year, this still marks an improvement over the performance in previous quarters.

In the feature phone space, shipments of 33.7 million units were down 3.6 per cent quarter-on-quarter after increasing for the three previous periods. But year-on-year, the feature phone market was up 11.5 per cent.

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China Mobile International launches its first UK MVNO in partnership with EE

Capacity Media

China Mobile International (CMI) has launched its first MVNO (mobile virtual network operator) in the UK choosing EE as its network partner.

The new offering called CMLink, it’s specifically designed for Chinese immigrants, students and professionals, living and travelling to the UK and through it, enables its users to connect to their loved ones in China at no extra cost.

Speaking on the launch of the new service, Dr Li Feng, chairman and CEO of CMI, said: “China Mobile’s ‘Big Connectivity’ strategy affirms its vision of becoming a leading global operator with innovative digital services. While China Mobile serves 880 million domestic mobile subscribers, CMI is breaking new ground in overseas markets.

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NatWest introduces Face ID for mobile app log-in


NatWest customers who have an Iphone X are now able to use facial recognition technology to log into their mobile banking app.

Using Apple’s Face ID functionality, NatWest customers with an iPhone X can now securely log-in by having the phone recognise their face. The NatWest app will still retain the option for customers to access their accounts using a passcode. NatWest customers are increasingly using digital technology to access their banking with 1.1 billion mobile and online transactions carried out in the first half of 2017, an increase of 41% since 2014.

Mobile transactions have increased by 73% since 2014 and there were 3,531 log-ins per minute to our apps in Q3 2017.

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Nintendo reportedly in talks with GungHo to make more mobile games


Nintendo is aiming to increase its output of mobile games and it’s looking for mobile developers to help out, The Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday.

Nintendo already has a partnership with the mobile developer DeNA, formed in 2015, but according to The Wall Street Journal, Nintendo also recently had partnership talks with developer GungHo Online Entertainment. GungHo is the developer behind the Puzzle and Dragons series, which has games on smartphones and Nintendo’s 3DS line of handheld consoles.

GungHo denied to The Wall Street Journal that any such talks have taken place and did not respond to our request for confirmation. Nintendo declined to comment.

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Is It Time for Mobile Payments to Take Off in Brazil?

The Market Mogul

Two years is a long time for technology development. Back in 2015, several home-grown mobile payment apps were taking off. Still, none of the big players was showing a real interest in the country.

Fast forward two years and the mobile payments landscape is very different. The major players are betting big on Brazil: Samsung Pay arrived in 2015, and Google Pay was launched in October 2017.

Now, Android Pay finally arrived in Brazil too. It operates with near-field communication (NFC) technology, the same way Samsung Pay and Google Pay does. Despite coming just after Google Pay, the launch of Android Pay is a potential game-changer.

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France to ban mobile phones in schools from September


The French government is to ban students from using mobile phones in the country’s primary, junior and middle schools.

Children will be allowed to bring their phones to school, but not allowed to get them out at any time until they leave, even during breaks.

A proposed ban was included in Emmanuel Macron’s successful presidential election campaign this year.

Jean-Michel Blanquer, the French education minister, said the measure would come into effect from the start of the next school year in September 2018. It will apply to all pupils from the time they start school at age of six – up to about 15 when they start secondary school.

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Mobile apps: The new frontier for hacking your smartphone

The Hill

Picture this: an application developer creates a popular new app, quickly gaining 500,000 user downloads and producing a decent amount of revenue (about $5,000 — $7,000 per month). No sooner is he approached by someone who is interested in acquiring the application for $100,000, so he sells it and makes a profit; however, the buyer ends up turning that same application into malware and half a million users end up running a malware-infected application on their device. What now?

This case is rare but it proves an important point — mobile security is a moving target and even though an app is safe today, that doesn’t mean it will be safe tomorrow. Take Telegram, for example. The well-known application promoted its “Secret Chat” function as a way for users to send end-to-end encrypted messages but it has been found lacking in multiple areas. By simulating an attack that gains permissions by running a kernel exploit, our research team was able to uncover and read Secret Chats written in plain-text in the process memory. Not so safe after all.

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India Ranks 109th – Behind Nepal and Sri Lanka – in Mobile Internet Speeds: Speedtest


India is ranked 109th – behind countries like Nepal and Sri Lanka – in mobile Internet speeds and 76th for fixed broadband speeds globally, according to November data from Ookla’s Speedtest Global Index.

“At the start of 2017, the average mobile download speed in India was 7.65Mbps. Heading into the end of the year, average mobile download speed is 8.80Mbps as of November. That’s a 15 percent increase,” the company said on Monday in a release announcing the results.

“While mobile speeds increased modestly, fixed broadband speeds increased dramatically. Average fixed broadband download speed in January was 12.12Mbps. As of November, it’s at 18.82Mbps, a close to 50 percent jump,” it added.

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