They call it Phreaking

I was recently interviewed by CHCH TV for a story related to the number of phone fraud cases in the Hamilton area. There were multiple small businesses that had their voice mail systems hacked (called phreaking), resulting in thousands of dollars of additional charges.

The customers struggled to work through the challenges in proving the fraud and the resulting financial implications (credit status, outstanding account balances with their carrier, time and effort to work this through, etc.).

We then received a letter from Bell Canada in our recent phone bill highlighting this growing trend, and providing guidance to us as customers on how to minimize the chance of this happening.

From the TV interview, we received numerous e-mails and calls about this trend. One e-mail was particularly interesting. It was from a corporate telecom manager who highlighted the best practices and procedures that he had always followed, but also commented on the trend for telecom to be managed by IT professionals, which may in fact have relaxed the practices and procedures to prevent the fraud.

All of this activity got us thinking about what customers and providers should do to prevent this trend from continuing to grow. We will have an in-depth article on this topic in our upcoming issue of the Telecom Journal, which will be coming out in March.

And then there is this phone

Sony Ericsson is working on a touchscreen phone with a 12.1-megapixel camera it announced on Sunday, but details on the upcoming Idou device were scarce. The company did say that the Idou will come equipped with a 3.5-inch touchscreen in the 16:9 format and a Xenon flash.

Just like when Sony Ericsson launched the Xperia X1, at Mobile World Congress last year, it will take many months before the Idou – which is only the concept name, according to Sony Ericsson – shows up in shops. The phone will start selling during the second half of 2009.

Keeping the momentum going from now until then will be a challenge for Sony Ericsson, according to Ben Wood, analyst at CCS Insight. It also gives competitors like Samsung the opportunity to launch and start selling devices with similar specifications ahead of Sony Ericsson, he said.

The Idou is based on what will become the Symbian Foundation operating system; the upcoming open source version of the Symbian operating system. It competes with, for example, the Goggle backed Android platform. Sony Ericsson is working on a phone based on that platform as well, but isn’t ready to announce any details yet.

Closer to being in stores is the W995 Walkman, which will be available during the second quarter. The phone comes with an 8.1-megapixel camera, support for AGPS (Assisted Global Positioning System) and a bunch of music features, including a 3.5mm audio jack. It surfs the using either Wi-Fi or HSPA (High-Speed Packet Access). Pricing was not announced.

Many upcoming Sony Ericsson phones will, just like the W995, combine music and camera plus also something extra – which, for example, can be support for watching movies on the device.

To back that up Sony Ericsson is also working on a movie download service, which eventually will fall under the Play Now umbrella. But yet again, Sony Ericsson is frugal with the details.

– With Files From Mikael Ricknäs

As always, we welcome your thoughts, feedback and comments on this article. You can contact the Editor-in-Chief at Roberta.Fox@FOXGROUP.ca or 905.473.3369 x 1001

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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