Monthly Archives: February 2018

Liberty’s Mobile World Congress 2018: Day Three and 5G is still the talk of the halls

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It may be three quarters of the way through Mobile World Congress 2018, but 5G continues to dominate most of the headlines. Today saw another leading operator draw a line in the sand and commit to timeframes for launching 5G services, as T-Mobile US confirmed plans to build 5G in 30 US cities this year. Top of the list, according to the operator’s CTO Neville Ray, are ‘places that matter’ – namely New York, Las Vegas, Los Angeles and Dallas.

While Ray acknowledged that it won’t be until 2019 that 5G mobile devices can take advantage of the network, he explained that T-Mobile will use equipment from Nokia and Ericsson to build a network spanning the operator’s 600MHz, 28GHz and 39GHz airwaves.

But it isn’t just American operators aiming to lead the 5G charge. Telenor Norway’s CEO Berit Svendsen today expressed confidence in her country’s capability to continue its impressive track record with 4G and keep the ‘leader jersey’ in 5G while speaking to Mobile World Daily. Given Norway’s similarly impressive pedigree in the Winter Olympics, I’d have been tempted to go with ‘flag bearer’. But that’s just me.

Outside of 5G, one of the other big stories to emerge from day three of MWC 2018 was the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) by the GSMA and the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN).

Signed by GSMA Director General Mats Granryd and ICANN President & CEO Göran Marby, the MoU aims to advance the organisations’ shared objective of fostering the continuous expansion of interoperable networks and ongoing deployment of information and communication technology. Both organisations have committed to a number of joint activities as part of the agreement, including a series of workshops and regional events.

Away from the technology talk, the weather has been a topic of conversation amongst many. Reports and pictures of the aftermath of the ‘Beast from the East’ have caused many here in Barcelona to worry about flights being cancelled, redirected or rescheduled.

It’s a far cry from the warmth on display from the 900+ exhibitors welcoming thousands of delegates to their stands; not to mention the heat sensing cameras on display between halls 5 and 6, which we couldn’t help but stop for a selfie in front of.

So bring on tomorrow MWC and the final day of what has been another fascinating show.

Celebrating 20 years of technology – when the apocalypse comes, beep me

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These days we buzz about the latest technologies. But back in the late 90’s, the latest technology buzzed us!

As part of Liberty’s look back on 20 years of technology, I’m talking about the pager, or what the cool kids colloquially coined, “the beeper”. Before there were texts, Slack channels, Tweets, Facebook messages, and emails, the best way to reach someone was sending them a beep. And if you really wanted someone’s attention, you’d thumb out a “911” beep, which was code for a VIB (Very Important Beep). 

Pagers were the status symbol of the day, and the more beeps you got, the more VIP you were. Looking back, it’s hard to believe that “my beeper is blowing up” was a saying, but each generation has their own unique idiosyncrasies, and this was ours.

These days we stay glued to our emails and phones, even when we leave the workplace. But back then, if you were on call at work, then you were on “beeper duty”. And that meant having your beeper positioned snugly in your waistband at all times, not wanting to miss something important. It’s how bosses stayed in touch with employees, how moms stayed in touch with kids, and how loved ones checked in on you.  

So, what happened to the pager? It’s the same story as anything else that becomes obsolete; something new and shiny came along, in the form of the cell phone. But at its cultural and technological peak in the mid-to-late 90s, there were roughly 61 million pagers in use. That’s a lot of buzzing.

It was a different time, a different place, and a different way to communicate. And for a generation on the cusp of some of the greatest technological advances in history, the pager will always hold a special place in our hearts. Or at least within our belt buckles.

Liberty’s Mobile World Congress 2018: Day Two and we’re heading to the moon!

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It’s day two at Mobile World Congress 2018 and the news keeps coming. This morning was dominated again by 5G. FCC chairman, Ajit Pai, told the conference in his keynote that the US plans to launch 5G auctions later this year. Pai stated that the US needed “modern, flexible, light touch network regulation,” to help it progress rapidly with the development and roll out of 5G services.

Meanwhile, for the UK, the national telecoms regulator, Ofcom, announced it has approved six telecoms operators to take part in the forthcoming auction of 4G and 5G friendly radio spectrum, which will see 40MHz of frequency in the 2.3GHz band and 150MHz in the 3.4GHz band being distributed. Vendor, Airspan and urban Wi-Fi provider, Connexin have been named as two surprise bidders alongside mobile operators EE, O2, Three and Vodafone.

In further 5G related news, Sprint announced that it will be bringing 5G networks to Los Angeles, Washington DC, Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, and Houston first, with the six cities beginning to experience “5G-like capabilities” from April whilst China Mobile plans to start large scale 5G trials in the second quarter across 17 cities.

And taking a more stratospheric view, Nokia and Vodafone Germany have launched plans to build a network weighing less than a bag of sugar to live stream HD video from the moon. In addition to Nokia, Vodafone Germany is working with PTScientists, a volunteer group of scientists and engineers, and Audi in what has been described as the first privately funded moon landing.

What will tomorrow bring? Stay tuned and we’ll fill you in! As for us, we’re off to apply our blister plasters and hand sanitiser and walk the halls with a tortilla sandwich at the ready! See you tomorrow!

Make sure to follow Liberty on Twitter for all the latest updates at MWC this week.


Liberty’s Mobile World Congress 2018: Day One

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Mobile World Congress Barcelona has once again welcomed thousands of delegates to see the latest innovations, hear from industry leaders and network with the great and good of the technology world. With a healthy selection of AR/VR, 5G, IoT and AI there’s more than enough to get the blood pumping – especially for those of us inclined to appreciate a good abbreviation.

This year’s overarching theme is ‘Creating a Better Future’, a concept that ties together devices and content along with the likes of 5G, IoT and AI to highlight the maturity of the global tech ecosystem. In 2018, MWC is about showing how these technologies are all transforming the tech playing field on a global scale.

Take 5G for example. According to new GSMA Intelligence research, 5 billion people will be connected to mobile internet by 2025, representing an increase of almost 1.7 billion from today. As 5G quickly turns dreams into deployments, millions of people around the world will enjoy high-speed access to the internet, opening up new possibilities for work, education and leisure. Meanwhile, as 5G grabs the limelight, vendors are turning their attention to the next-generation mobiles to harness the powerful new networks. Nokia in particular impressed onlookers with the reveal of its Sirocco 8 model, showcasing a high-end device that includes wireless charging and an ultra high definition curved display.

With day one drawing to a close we’ve already seen flying taxis, next-generation virtual reality (as modelled by Liberty’s very own Finbarr Goode Begley) and more lightning fast connectivity solutions than we ever imagined.

Celebrating 20 years of technology – the company with a vision for the future

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As we continue to celebrate the last 20 years of technological innovation, I’ve chosen to give credit to video-sharing platform, YouTube.

As a member of the so-called ‘millennial’ generation, I was 13 when YouTube launched in 2005. At the time, it was difficult to predict just how ubiquitous the platform would become.

The most successful video in YouTube’s first year was an online tutorial for paint design titled ‘I/O Brush’. It’s a pretty dry video and amassed just 247,000 views that year. By contrast, as of January 2017 – the latest figures to be announced – the music video ‘Despacito’ had been seen almost three billion times.

YouTube’s growth in views year on year correlates perfectly with how video content has shaped our daily lives. The founders behind YouTube predicted the move towards video consumption, which left a lot of industries playing catch up – not least our beloved journalism sector.

13 years since the platform’s inception, however, it is common for users to associate YouTube with cute (or grumpy) cat videos or getting “Rickrolled”. It’s easy to forget that YouTube is a platform for all kinds of content. From video game walkthroughs to party political broadcasts, YouTube has a user base of over a billion users who benefit from the platform almost every day. That’s almost one-third of everyone on the Internet – so YouTube says.

It’s important to note that YouTube has its problems, too, most recently in battling the spread of terrorist videos. These problems must be addressed, but it’s also important to recognise the positive impact that online video content has had on society, and few companies have been as instrumental in that movement as YouTube. I look forward to seeing how the company adapts its technology the next 20 years!

Celebrating 20 years of technology – the birth of GPS

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As we continue the countdown to our 20th anniversary next month, so we resume with our series of blogs detailing our favourite technology innovations of the last 20 years. And today it’s the turn of in-car GPS navigation.

The best way to celebrate how fantastic an innovation it was when the likes of Garmin, Magellan, TomTom and others flooded the market around the mid-2000s, is to think back to how it was before.

Remember those joyous car journeys of 20 years ago with the front seat passenger sifting through a stack of print out directions from AA Route Planner? Ah the heady days of mum and dad cursing at each other as the final piece of paper highlighted that you’d ‘arrived at your destination’ and you glanced out the car window from a layby on the A466 to see a herd of cows staring back at you.

In many ways it can be difficult today to imagine how people actually got anywhere 20 years ago. Having a strong sense of direction and being able to recall every inch of the M6 from the trip you’d done the week before seems almost superhero-esque. Nowadays we are surely guilty of taking being able to get from A to B so easily for granted.

The introduction of in-car GPS navigation really was quite revolutionary. A perhaps little known fact is that publicly available GPS devices had actually been around since the 1980s, but it was only after an intervention from Bill Clinton that the accuracy of consumer-based GPS navigation systems increased dramatically and devices became more mainstream.

While it’s true that sales of TomToms and the equivalent have fallen over the past few years, largely due to market saturation and the exponential growth of smartphone technologies, many of the cars of today continue to offer the very latest by way of in-built and voice activated GPS systems.

Unfortunate incidents aside (driving into a Canadian lake is never a good idea), today it really is easier than it has ever been to simply not get lost. Go back 15 years or so and we have in-car GPS navigation to thank for taking us on that journey.

On the Day Liberty was Born

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Twenty years ago, our fearless leader Dee Gibbs decided to drop the shackles of company life and start her own agency. Thank God, she did, because that was how Liberty was born.

Let’s take a look at what was going on March 15th, 1998, a day we might consider the birthday of Liberty Communications:

The songs at the top of the charts that day were: My Heart Will Go On by Celine Dion in the UK and Getting’ Jiggy Wit It by Will Smith in the US.

Two pretty drastically different musical choices if you ask me. But Liberty ourselves are pretty different on both continents, but combined we know how to get hit after hit. If these two songs combined, the mashup could be called My Heart Will Get Jiggy Wit It (probably NOT going to be a hit).

Movies & TV
On that day, the Titanic rose back up from the depths and surpassed the stars (Star Wars) to become the highest grossing film in North American box offices. And the show If I Ruled the World starring Clive Anderson was, in fact, ruling the UK airwaves as the leading show on TV.

In a somewhat, unsurprising way, the best-selling book was the Beanie Baby Handbook, 1998 edition. Why people needed a handbook for a toy stuffed with tiny plastic beans we might never know, and even more perplexing was the fact that there were yearly editions of it.

However, the publishers clearly knew what the audience wanted to read, much like Liberty stays on top of the trends that help our clients stay relevant and get their brands in the hands of the public.

At the core of Liberty, we strive to have our finger to the pulse of what news is breaking every day. On that day, the headlines were:
Bay of Pigs: the Secret Death of Pete Ray in the LA Times
FedEx Worker Trapped in Belly of Cargo Jet in the Associated Press
PBJ Takes on New Meaning for Kids; This ‘Headmistress’ is Cloaked in Surprise; Reprise of Alex Haley’s ‘Roots’ on Cable’s Family in the LA Times
I do – and Hang the Expense Wedding Bills are Soaring in the Daily Mail
A Stew of Hatred Stirred by Hacks in the Independent

Sounds like 20 years ago was a pretty interesting time. I’m personally looking forward to the day in 20 years’ time, when we look back on today’s news and wonder, “What the heck was going on back then?”

Happy Birthday Liberty – 20 technology innovations from the last 20 years

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In our first series of blog posts as we enter the 30 day countdown to our 20th anniversary in March we thought we’d have fun looking look at some of our favourite technology highs and lows.

It’s incredible thinking back 20 years and remembering we didn’t have much of the technology that today we take for granted. Much of this technology has helped shape our current lives – helping make it easier to connect with and enjoy the things we love. For me one of the main things was the introduction of online streaming and it’s add on services.

I can still remember the times I would go to Blockbuster to rent a film which came in a big plastic box. In 2007, Netflix introduced online streaming to personal computers and the next year saw the addition of streaming to Xbox 360s, blue ray disc players, and TV set-top boxes. At Liberty we have been lucky enough to have worked with some of the biggest names in this space helping make TV on demand a reality for many.

The last 20 years has also seen a whole slew of new mobile technologies capture the public’s imagination – from smartphones to MP3 players, USB sticks and touchscreens to Wi-Fi, 3G and now 5G and more. As a nation we have become increasingly plugged into an always-on, totally portable, always-connected existence.

But whilst these innovations may have helped change the quality of our lives in the lucky developed world, it’s the technological changes further afield that I think really matter – those advances that have literally changed lives – helping give people access to clean water and electricity for the very first time, to immunisations and healthcare services and to education.

As consumers in the UK and US, our view of ‘technology’ is often limited to smartphones, tablets and other gadgets that make our daily lives better but there is so much innovation happening –ways in which technology is changing people’s lives for the better, where poverty is high and quality of life can be poor.

It’s this innovation which I think is so humbling. It certainly makes me proud to be involved in tech!

Celebrating 20 years of Storytelling

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It’s hard to believe, but today marks the 30 day countdown to our 20th anniversary celebrations. And what an incredible 20 years it has been! We’ve worked with some of the best in the industry, partnered with some amazing companies, connected with inspiring people and helped launch the careers of so many rising PR stars.

In this next succession of blog posts we will look back on the last 20 years – celebrate some of the milestones that have helped shape our industry, make predictions for the next 20 years ahead and have fun remembering some of our highlights.

Thanks for sharing the ride with us – we are looking forward to continued collaboration with you all in the months, years, and decades ahead.

How to tackle the payola tombola

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Communications and public relations can be confusing at the best of times.

The suite of services that PR professionals provide to clients can appear overwhelming; the methods that firms employ strikingly diverse.

But from pitching, event hosting and press release distribution to social media management, an important line in the sand bisects all communications activity: the distinction between editorial and non-editorial content.

By way of context, editorial content refers to ‘earned’ media, that is to say, content penned– (or facilitated by) a member of the press based on its value to the story alone. ‘Unearned’, meanwhile, refers to content placed using additional funds provided directly by the client on a sort of ‘pay-to-play’ basis.

This type of article, while   still legitimate, often appears as an ‘advertorial’ or ‘partnership’ piece that, crucially, looks markedly different from an earned, editorial opportunity.

Over the last few months, a number of articles have surfaced that claim a new type of practice is quickly gathering momentum – one that straddles the imaginary line in the sand. This ‘payola’ journalism looks to take something of a Hovis approach: supposedly embracing the best qualities of each with the limitations of neither. Yet in reality, payola sees some members of the press offered unofficial and undisclosed compensation in return for including a business in a seemingly editorial capacity, directly contravening journalistic norms in the process.

In 2018, where the boundaries between earned and unearned media seem to appear more blurred than ever, the onus is on responsible agencies to communicate the distinction between editorial and non-editorial content to their clientele.

With a renewed emphasis on transparency and trust, public relations and communications specialists can ensure clients understand the different types of media, their own unique value to businesses and the dangers of diluting editorial integrity now and in the future.

What We Learned at Learning Technologies

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I’ve just got back from Learning Technologies at Olympia – with more than 8,000 visitors and 200 exhibitors it was buzzing! I was lucky enough to meet with some fascinating people – all of whom shared the same view that development in education technology is moving at a rapid pace. In fact the EdTech market has changed more in the last 5 years than in the previous 100 years that came before it. Digitisation, personalisation, automation and globalisation are ripping up old models, bringing out a massive change in how people learn and train.

But looking at the long view – where do we go now? How do you create brands that are global and will be digitally recognised? Currently, 2.5% of education has been digitised but we need much more than that to truly drive change. According to one person I spoke to we need to see a $100 billion spend in digitisation in education by 2020. The money is there but we need the drive behind it to make it happen. Done right, education could be the economic driver of the 21st century. That’s really exciting and makes events like the one today feel so important.

If you want to talk through how we could help your brand do get in touch!