UK Completes 4G Airwave Clearance

UK Completes 4G Airwave Clearance for Mobile Networks
The UK’s 4G airwave clearance is set to be completed later this Wednesday, five months ahead of the original deadline. Engineers are expected to sign off on work in the north-east of Scotland and the Western Isles, paving the way for more super-fast mobile networks. The spectrum was previously used for analogue TV. More than 270 transmitters have had their signals realigned.

Despite the achievement, most of the UK’s networks have yet to set a date for the launch of their 4G services. At present, EE is the only firm with a fourth-generation network in the UK.

EE launched its service last October by using some of the 1800MHz spectrum bandwidth previously used for its 2G services. It also sold on a chunk of the frequency to three, but made it a condition that its rival could not use it until October this year.

In February Ofcom auctioned off other parts of the spectrum to allow more companies to get involved. These were:

•             The 800MHz band previously used by the TV signals. The low frequency is best for providing long-distance 4G services, helping give access to the countryside, as well as offering superior indoor coverage.

•             The 2.6GHz band, which had previously been used by operators of cord-free video cameras to send back footage of live events, including London’s Olympic Games. The high frequency can deliver faster speeds but across smaller distances, making it best suited for densely populated cities.

Vodafone paid just over £790m for parts of both the two bands. O2 paid £550m for part of the 800MHz spectrum and Three paid £225m for other parts of the same band. In addition, EE and BT also submitted winning bids.

O2, Three and Vodafone had previously opposed EE’s early 4G launch claiming it would give the firm an unfair advantage.

Yet more than five months after paying their auction fees, the firms are only providing rough targets for when they plan to launch their next-generation services. Vodafone and O2 say they intend to begin “this summer”. But when questioned they were unable to clarify what they meant by the term.

According to some – including the Met Office – the season runs until the end of August. But it could also mean up to 27 October if used to refer to the day the clocks go an hour back. Three said it was “on track to launch in Q4”, meaning some time in the last three months of the year. The lack of clarity might appear to offer their competitor a marketing advantage.

Last week, EE announced its 4G service now covered 95 towns and cities offering access to 60% of the UK’s population. It added that it had signed 687,000 people up to the facility. However, some experts believe the other networks have little to gain by rushing out news of their services.

“EE’s launch prices were punitive and put quite a lot of people off, which has prevented it from achieving the momentum it could have done,” said Marek Pawlowski from the PMN Mobile Industry Intelligence consultancy. “The user research we’ve done also suggests few people have seen a tangible benefit. In areas where there isn’t much population density the network doesn’t exist and in the areas where it is deployed the fact that there are so many people using it means you are unlikely to get the speeds 4G is capable of delivering.”

To address such complaints EE is running a price promotion and is rolling out “double-speed” 4G equipment to offer downloads that should average between 24 and 30 megabits per second (Mbps). In theory that is fast enough to download a 45 minute high definition TV show in about three minutes. “We’re on course to cover 98% of the UK’s population with 4G coverage by the end of 2014, providing the fastest and biggest network,” a spokesman told the BBC.

Even so, others agree most UK subscribers have yet to be convinced they need to upgrade. “At the moment the demand for superfast data speeds isn’t there, unlike in places like South Korea,” said David Cleevely, a telecoms expert at the University of Cambridge. “Most people are using their phones for social networking or email, and when they do use them for video it’s often stuff they have preloaded.  “Demand will build as people see their peers using high speed services and go ‘wow’ – but we don’t have the critical mass yet.”

Meanwhile as the UK’s switchover comes to an end, another European country is beginning the process, Fourteen counties in Hungary had been given until the end of July to switch off their analogue terrestrial TV transmissions. The others must do so by the end of October.

Create a Staircase That Reflects the Style of Your Home

Create a Staircase That Reflects the Style of Your Home
Redesigning or renovating the staircase is not a simple undertaking. You need to remember that the staircase is one of the most important features of your home. It is also a focal point and in many homes, it is often the first thing people see when they walk in. The staircase is therefore highly important in helping ensure that your staircase reflects your home’s style, for example architecture and interior design, as well as being a functional part of the home.

There are plenty of things that would work when looking to transform your home and you are not simply limited to updating your staircase. The key to ensuring that you get the right type and style of staircase for your home is to select the one which best reflects your approach and design. Understand this and you can begin looking at online most appropriate staircase parts that will fit into your home.

Your staircase needs to fulfill its primary function, which is involves providing you with access from one level in the home to another. Once you fulfill this basic requirement, you can then proceed to look at the aesthetics and create a staircase that will reflect on the style of your home and personality.

Looking at Staircase Designs
There are various types of stairs and some of these include:

Straight Stairs: Straight stairs do not have to be dull and they can be as modern and chic as you want them to be. These staircases work great with modern architecture and the good thing about them is that they are great for limited spaces. If your home does not have much space then you may want to consider straight stairs.

Spiral Stairs: If you are thinking of having a spiral staircase in your home, you need to ensure that you have the space. This design sometimes takes up additional space (when compared to straight staircases) in the home and it is important that you recognise that these stairs can sometimes make it difficult for you to move furniture easily up and down the stairs. However, these types of staircase can greatly enhance your home’s aesthetic value.

Cantilevered Stairs: These staircases are very often stunning to look at and can work with many different architectural designs.

Of course, there are more other types of stairs and before you can pick out the right design for you, you may need to consider factors such as the height of your roof and the surrounding walls.


Important Considerations When Selecting the Right Staircase
As we have mentioned previously, when updating your staircase you should always look to blend the style and finish with your desired (or current) home decor. To achieve this you need to consider the following options:

Architectural Design: The design of the stairs must complement the home’s design. For example, glass staircases are contemporary and may not really work well in a home built with Victorian architecture. You need to remember that you cannot really alter the architecture and what is seen on the outside must reflect with what is inside.

Furniture: Your furniture and general interior décor also matter a lot. You want the new staircase to reflect your home’s style and not look out of place. Wood staircases are the most versatile and can blend in with contemporary, modern and traditional interior décor.

Staircase Design: The stair parts need to blend with the staircase and if you are going to mix up wood stair parts with metal ones, then you need to ensure that they complement each other.

No matter what stair case parts design homeowners choose. The important thing is that it complements the house design and furniture.

People now have a lot of options available to them when looking to improve their home with a new staircase or other DIY improvement. There are many staircase part designs available nowadays which are ready made and companies such as the UK online staircase parts provider, Stairparts Direct are likely the best place to start for most people.

If you are planning a new staircase project and would like to include help in the design and planning, then send staircase parts your plans and we can offer you a quotation for stair treads and the required components to suit your theme. Simply contact us via the Stairparts Direct website or email us on

Business:         Stairparts Direct


UK ‘Losing Fight’ against Internet Crime, warn MPs

UK ‘Losing Fight’ against Internet Crime, warn MPs
The UK must do more to stop online fraud and deter state-sponsored cyber-espionage or risk losing the fight against e-crime, MPs have warned. The Home Affairs Select Committee said much low-level internet-based financial crime was falling into a “black hole” and was not reported to the police.  The MPs said more officers should be trained in digital crime detection and e-crime experts protected from cuts.

The Home Office said the authorities must “keep pace” with criminals.

The internet is a “reasonably safe place” as long as people take “sensible precautions” – that was the conclusion of the Science and Technology Committee in its report on e-crime in January 2012.

The committee said the government should focus on raising awareness of how to stay safe online.

How, then, has another group of MPs – on the Home Affairs Committee – produced such sharply contrasting findings?

There’s nothing to suggest that internet safety has nose-dived in the 18 months between the two reports, but it may be that the Home Affairs Committee heard more worrying evidence about the response of the authorities to e-crime.  Perhaps the Home Affairs MPs also hoped that their vivid use of language (“war” and “black hole”) would prompt ministers into action. The message has certainly been sent – though more analysis and less hyperbole might yield better results.

Publishing its first report on the subject, the cross-party committee said e-crime took various forms, did not recognise national borders and could be committed “at almost any time or in any place”. It called for a dedicated cyber-espionage team to respond to attacks, many of which are believed to be backed by foreign governments because they are so sophisticated.

Offences range from attacks on computer networks and the use of viruses to steal data to the use of cyberspace to facilitate traditional crimes such as forgery, sabotage, drug smuggling and people trafficking. The committee said it was worried by the evidence it had heard during its inquiry about the UK’s e-crime fighting capability. It said it had been told by Adrian Leppard, deputy assistant commissioner at the City of London Police, that up to a quarter of the UK’s 800 specialist internet crime officers could be lost due to budget cuts.

This was despite evidence the UK was a prime target for many of the 1,300 criminal gangs specialising in fraud. A quarter of the gangs, many of which are based in eastern Europe and Russia, use the internet as their principal means of deception.

The MPs said police cutbacks came on top of proposed 10% cuts to the budget of the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (Ceop).  “At a time when fraud and e-crime is going up, the capability of the country to address it is going down,” the report concluded. “Ministers have acknowledged the increasing threat of e-crime but it is clear that sufficient funding and resources have not been allocated to the law enforcement responsible for tackling it.”

As well as calling for a cyber-espionage team, the report’s recommendations include:

  • Requiring banks to report all e-fraud, however      small, to the police
  • Obliging web firms to explain data security      tools to new users
  • Prosecutors to review sentencing guidance for      e-crimes
  • Increased funding for European e-crime      co-operation
  • Mandatory code of conduct for removal of      indecent material
  • New body to report on and remove online      terrorist content

Keith Vaz, the Labour MP who chairs the committee, said the UK’s response to e-crime was too “fractured”. He added: “It’s much easier and more lucrative to steal on the internet than it is to go out and rob a bank.These are real e-wars. At the moment we are not winning the e-wars.” Mr Vaz said the gangs committing e-crimes were “predominantly” from Eastern Europe, including European Union countries such as Romania.

The UK’s eavesdropping centre GCHQ suggested earlier this year that 80% of cyber-attacks could be prevented by better management of information online.

The Police Federation of England and Wales said the MPs’ report was further evidence that recent figures showing a 10% fall in recorded crime last year were “misleading”. Javed Khan, chief executive of the charity Victim Support, called the findings “worrying”, adding: “E-criminals cannot be allowed to get ahead of our police and their partners.”

The government announced increased funding for cyber-security in 2010, while a single National Cybercrime Unit will be formed later this year as part of the new National Crime Agency.

Deputy Chief Constable Peter Goodman, who speaks for the Association of Chief Police officers on e-crime, said the new unit would bring a “real step change in our response to e-crime”.

A Home Office spokesman said: “Crime is at record low levels and this government is taking action to tackle the cyber-threat, investing more than £850m through the national cyber-security programme to develop and maintain cutting-edge capabilities.” He said the new cybercrime unit would “target the most serious offenders and provide enhanced intelligence for Ceop so they can protect even more children from harm”. “But we know we need to keep pace with criminals as they target the web and so we continue to consider ways to ensure the police and security services have access to communications data,” the spokesman added.

Herdman Jones Commercial Photography

Herdman Jones Commercial Photography
With a strong background in photography, design and marketing, Herdman Jones Photography have worked for a range of different businesses for over 20 years in Europe, Middle East and Far East. A key aspect of the various roles has been providing quality imagery for marketing materials. Although our core business is in providing bespoke and high quality photographs, we also have experience and qualifications in a range of disciplines including Graphic Design, Web Design, Engineering and Marketing. However, at Herdman Jones our primary focus is on providing high quality photography Services to help promote and market the business community.

Herdman Jones Marketing Consultants began in 2009, managed and inspired by Nigel Herdman, and quickly realised we could offer a little extra by including photography to our list of services – the demand for which has grown quite considerably. The main focus is basically providing bespoke images for businesses, with a background in engineering, design and marketing if have quite a unique eye for detail – the details that matter to your potential customers.

Photography was originally a service we provided for clients to help product bespoke images for websites, literature, presentations adverts and a range of other marketing materials. However over the past year or so, this has become a major part of the business, warranting it’s own website. Hence we have now finally having got around to setting up a website specifically for photography.

A Confucious quote that has stuck in the mind ever since school “Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.” – that is exactly how Nigel feels when working with cameras, whether it is photographing a beautiful Ferrari or just a clients office or their operations – working life does not get much better than that!

Originally becaming interested in photography at the age of about 10, Nigels dad taught him to use his 35mm Leica and light meter – and he can still remember the very first photograph – of York Minster. Nigel originally graduated as an engineer but then went on to study marketing, graphic design and photography. Having worked in mechanical or civil engineering for the past 20 plus years in Europe, the Middle East and Far East.

In all of the roles employed, Nigel has always ended up with a camera in hand, photographing products, equipment, job sites, factories, manufacturing etc for literature, adverts, technical papers, presentations and websites.

We offer our clients a range of commercial photography and produce unique and representative photographs for your business. Located in the North East of the UK, we provide commercial photography services throughout the whole of the UK. Rather than using the same stock imagery that appears on a huge number websites, contact Herdman Jones and let us work with you to provide high quality images specific to your business.

Business:             Herdman Jones Photography



Millions of Sim Cards are Vulnerable to Hackers

Millions of Sim Cards are Vulnerable to Hackers
A flaw with mobile phones’ Sim card technology is putting millions of people at risk of being spied on and robbed, according to a leading security expert. Karsten Nohl has said he has found a way to discover some Sims’ digital keys by sending them a special text message. He warned criminals could potentially use the technique to listen in on calls or steal cash.

Industry organisation – the GSMA – said it was looking into the findings.

“Karsten’s early disclosure to the GSMA has given us an opportunity for preliminary analysis,” said a spokeswoman for the association, which represents global network operators, “We have been able to consider the implications and provide guidance to those network operators and Sim vendors that may be impacted. “It would appear that a minority of Sims produced against older standards could be vulnerable.”

Mr Nohl has posted preliminary details of the vulnerability on the website of his company, Berlin-based Security Research Labs.

Sim (subscriber identity module) cards effectively act as a security token, authenticating a user’s identity with their network operator.  They also store a limited amount of data such as text messages, contacts’ telephone numbers and details used for some applications – including a number of payment and banking services.

Africa rely on the security offered by their Sim cards

Mr Nohl said he had found a way to discover the authentication code by sending a device a text message masquerading as a communication from the user’s mobile operator. The message contained a bogus digital signature for the network.  He said most phones cut contact after recognising the signature as being a fake – but in about a quarter of cases, the handsets sent back an error message including an encrypted version of the Sim’s authentication code.

The encryption is supposed to prevent the authentication code being discovered, but Mr Nohl said that in about half of these cases it was based on a 1970s coding system called Digital Encryption Standard (DES), which was once thought secure but could now be cracked “within two minutes on a standard computer”.

Once the attacker had this information, Mr Nohl said, they could upload malware to the Sim written in the Java programming language.  He said these could be used by the hacker to send texts from the device to premium rate numbers they had set up, to discover and listen in to the target’s voicemail messages and to track their location.

In addition, he warned that combined with other techniques, it could act as a surveillance tool. “Sim cards generate all the keys you use to encrypt your calls, your SMS and your internet traffic,” Mr Nohl told the BBC. “If someone can capture the encrypted data plus have access to your Sim card, they can decrypt it.  “Operators often argue that it’s not possible to listen in on 3G or 4G calls – now with access to the Sim card, it very much is.”

Mr Nohl said that his research suggested about an eighth of all Sim cards were vulnerable to the hack attack – representing between 500 million to 750 million devices.

Although Mr Nohl would not reveal at this time in which countries DES encryption remained most common, he did say that Africa-based users had particular cause for concern. “Here in Europe we use a Sim card to make phone calls and texts, but many people in Africa also use them for mobile banking,” he said. “Someone can steal their entire bank account by copying their Sim card.  “That adds a certain urgency because you imagine fraudsters would be most interested in breaking into their Sim cards – especially when it can be done remotely.”

Mr Nohl said he expected network operators would not take long to act on his study, and should be able to provide an over-the-air download to protect subscribers against the vulnerability.

The GSMA said that it had not yet seen the full details of his research, but planned to study it to pinpoint any issues that could be fixed. It added that “there is no evidence to suggest that today’s more secure Sims, which are used to support a range of advanced services, will be affected”.

The UN’s telecoms agency – the International Telecommunications Union – said that it would now contact regulators and other government agencies worldwide to ensure they were aware of the threat.

Mr Nohl said he planned to reveal more information about the vulnerability at the Black Hat security conference in Las Vegas later this month. However, he said he would not publish a survey showing which phone owners were most at risk until December to give operators an opportunity to address the problem.

Easy Seal Industrial Roofing & Cladding

Welcome to Easy Seal Industrial Roofing & Cladding
Easy Seal UK Ltd was formed in December 2001, based in Washington, Tyne & Wear in the North East of England UK. We specialise in renovation and maintenance services to Industrial and Commercial flooring, roofs, asbestos roofs and external wall claddings such as plastic coated steel and asbestos cement.

We have a team of nationwide experienced surveyors on hand to recommend the most economical solution to your entire industrial roofing, flooring and wall-cladding problems.

Contracting services we provide include:

Asbestos & Felt Roofing, Asphalt & Steel Roofing
» High-Performance Renovation Coating Membrane Systems
» Emergency Repair & Waterproofing
» Maintenance
» Gutter Cleaning
» Gutter Lining Systems
» Gutter Replacement
» Oversheet Roofing
» Roof Skylight Replacement
» High-Performance Liquid Coatings
» Emergency Repairs

Concrete Floors
» Vacuum Blast Track Preparation
» Single Pack Moisture Cured Floor Coatings
» Anti-Slip Floor Coatings

We provide a FREE site survey by one of our technical consultants based throughout the UK, to advise on the most economical solution to all your roof, wall cladding and flooring problems. You then receive a full specification and costing of the work to be carried out by our highly trained site operatives.

Industrial Commercial Roofing Services
Easyseal roofing operatives are specialists in applying single ply and liquid applied waterproof membrane systems to Industrial and Commercial buildings. With our expertise and experience in supplying system specification and the application of High Performance Renovation Systems we can provide our clients with peace of mind.Easyseal can carry out renovation works to Asbestos, Asphalt , Felt and Steel roofs.We can supply economical solutions to all your roofing problems.

Industrial Commercial Wall Cladding Services
External wall cladding requires protection from the weather and pollution.
Easyseal can offer a range of coating systems which will protect most surfaces
from plastic-coated metal cladding to Asbestos wall cladding sheeting.

Industrial Commercial Flooring Services
Our team of skilled flooring operatives can overcome the most difficult industrial
& commercial flooring problems. Easyseal can provide floor coating systems for
concrete substrates old and new. These fast curing systems are ideal for factory
and warehouse buildings who require a fast turn around.

Asbestos Roof Cleaning and Asbestos Removal Services
Asbestos roofs are still widespread throughout the Uk.Easyseal offer specialist
cleaning to these Asbestos roofs using our specially designed cleaning unit which
removes all moss and lichen, with water filtration system included. After the cleaning process, problem areas can be easily identified and repairs can be carried out. New roof lights can be installed and a wide range of protective coatings can be applied to extend the life of the Asbestos Roof if desired. Easyseal can provide Asbestos removal work which is strictly controlled and carried out to up to date Health & Safety guidelines and regulations.

Business:             Easy Seal UK


Google Competition Plan ‘Not Good Enough’

EU Official: Google Competition Plan ‘Not Good Enough’
Google has not done enough to address concerns it is unfairly stifling competition, an EU official has said. Google stands accused of using its 90% market share of internet search in Europe to promote its own services. The company has offered to change the way it displays some results to address the worries.

But European Commission competition chief Joaquin Almunia said Google must rethink its response and “present better proposals”. “I concluded that proposals that Google sent to us months ago are not enough to overcome our concerns,” Mr Almunia said on Wednesday.

In response, Google spokesman Al Verney said the search giant remained committed to settling the case, and that its offer “clearly addresses” the four areas of concern highlighted by the EU.

Those areas of concern, first highlighted in 2010, were:

How Google favours its own services in its search results
How it displays content from other websites
How it manages adverts appearing next to search results
How its actions affect marketers’ ability to buy adverts through rival networks

On advertising, competitors have complained that it is too difficult to place ads on Google’s Ad service using third-party software.

Both sides of the dispute have said they are eager to reach a settlement, but if necessary, the commission could formally file a case – leaving Google open to the prospect of being fined 10% of its annual revenue.

Google submitted in April its proposal to solve the problem. It agreed to display links to rivals close to where it displayed its own services on its results page. It also offered to more clearly label results from YouTube, Google Maps and its other sites.

But lobby groups from other companies, including Microsoft, disputed the effectiveness of the changes. “It is clear that mere labelling is not any kind of solution to the competition concerns that have been identified. Google should implement the same ranking policy to all websites,” Microsoft said in April.

Google had also been subject to an earlier US Federal Trade Commission probe into competition issues – which ruled there were no concerns. After receiving Google’s proposals in April, the EU submitted the offer to the complainants – Google’s rivals – for their consideration.

Until recently it had seemed that European competition authorities would follow their American counterparts in deciding there were no serious concerns for Google to address.  But now after studying the small print of the search company’s proposed remedies, EU officials are clearly taking a much tougher line.  They seem to have some sympathy towards the view – vigorously expressed by Google’s opponents – that the search giant’s plans to give greater prominence to links to rivals’ sites were essentially cosmetic, and would not lead to significant changes in the flow of internet traffic.

The EU has in effect thrown the ball back into Google’s court, demanding that it volunteers more meaningful concessions, backed with a still-distant threat of a legal battle and severe penalties if it fails to do so.

The interested third parties include Microsoft, Expedia and Trip Advisor – who form part of Fairsearch, a group of businesses looking to increase competition in the search industry.

A study of UK web users commissioned by the group, conducted by a pair of US academics, suggested that, even under the new proposals, Google-owned services enjoyed “better placement, richer graphics and better visuals” than competitors. It said that as many as one in five of the 1,888 people studied clicked on Google’s commercial web services, compared to one in 200 clicking on its rivals.

Another group, the Microsoft-backed Initiative for a Competitive Online Marketplace (Icomp), called for a “tight deadline” for Google’s revised offer. “It is reassuring that the commission has recognised, as had been argued by many, that Google’s offer of proposed remedies was inadequate,” said Icomp’s legal counsel David Wood. “Frankly, Google’s offer made rather surprising reading and clearly fell far short of meeting the key requirement.”

Microsoft and Blackberry Cut Prices

Microsoft and Blackberry have both cut prices on their flagship products in a bid to boost sales. Microsoft dropped the price of the 32GB Surface RT to £279 from £400 in the UK, with the 64GB model’s price down by the same amount to £359. Both have done so to try and compete with Apple, Google and Samsung on smartphones and tablets – with limited success.

“It’s a big deal for both companies,” Tony Cripps, a telecoms analyst at Ovum, told the BBC.  “Competing with the Apples and Samsung’s of this world is tough, and it’s a difficult climate to put out high-end products when the market is so dominated by a couple of players.”

In the US, the cheapest Surface tablet went down to $349 (£230) from $499.

Blackberry in particular is battling to revive its share of the smartphone market with the touchscreen-only Z10, which shows off its new BB10 operating system.  Users can get the Z10 through US carriers AT&T and Verizon Wireless, for $99 with a two-year contract, but the phone costs $49 with a contract at retailers Amazon and Best Buy.

It is not clear whether the price cut has been implemented to people looking to get the phone on contract in the UK. The company reported an $84m loss for its last quarter and refused to say how many devices running BB10 it sold – but it sold fewer phones in those three months than in the same period the year before.

Blackberry has said it shipped one million Z10s in the first three months of 2013. “For Blackberry, it really bet the farm on its new BB10 operating system and it needs to regain market share in smartphones,” Mr Cripps said. “In that sense, the Surface’s success is perhaps not quite as important for Microsoft but if they want Windows 8 to be a key driver for the future, they need to get it into the hands of as many people as possible.”

Microsoft’s Surface tablet is intended to challenge the iPad and Android-based tablets and runs Windows RT, a slimmed-down version of its latest Windows 8 operating system.

Recent figures from analysts IDC show that 49.2 million tablets shipped in January, February and March – and about 900,000 of those were Surfaces.

Other Windows-powered tablets totalled 1.8 million units sold across all vendors. Apple’s iPad and iPad Mini accounted for 19.5 million of tablets sold.  “We’ve been seeing great success with pricing and cover promotions over the past several months on Surface RT in the US and other markets,” a Microsoft spokeswoman said. “People who buy Surface love Surface, and we’re excited about all those additional people out sharing their excitement for Surface with other people.”

Microsoft also offers the Surface Pro, which runs the full version of Windows 8 and starts at $899 for the 64GB model. It has not had its price cut.

Sound Testing & Building Regulations

Sound Testing & Building Regulations
Sound insulation testing for Part E of Building Regulations has been a mandatory requirement since July 2003. All new build dwellings and conversions which were built after this date require 10% of each party wall/floor construction type to be tested.

Sound Tests needs to be carried out between pairs of rooms separated by party walls or floors. In most cases the rooms to be sound tested will be the two main habitable rooms – living rooms and bedrooms. The sound test procedure involves setting up a noise source in a room on one side of the party wall or floor and measuring the noise on both sides of the partition.

Airborne wall sound tests are undertaken horizontally between a separated pairs of rooms. The sound tests are undertaken by using a sound source, amplifier and loudspeaker to generate a high noise level in one room (the source room). Noise measurements are then taken in both the source and receiver rooms using a prescribed number of source and microphone positions. The background levels in the receiver room are measured and the reverberation time in the receiver room is also measured. From the results, the airborne sound insulation (DnT,w + Ctr) is calculated and compared to the requirements of Approved Document E.

Airborne floor sound tests are usually required between vertically separated pairs of rooms, i.e. from a ground to 1st floor flats.

The sound tests are undertaken using the same method as above.

For vertically separated rooms, an Impact sound test may also be required. This sound test is undertaken using a “tapping machine”, (as above) which drops a series of weights onto the floor of the upper room. The noise level in the lower (receiver) room is measured for a prescribed number of source and microphone locations. The background levels in the receiver room are measured and the reverberation time in the receiver room is also measured. From the results, the impact sound insulation (L’nT,w) is calculated and compared to the requirements of Approved Document E.

We use the latest acoustic equipment which is class one rated and UKAS calibrated to the highest standards. We provide full ISO & UKAS complaint sound testing.

Basically, for new build properties you need to achieve 45dB or higher for airborne wall and floor sound tests and 62dB for Impact sound tests. For Converted properties the levels are slightly easier to achieve with 43dB for airborne wall and floor sound testing and 64dB for impact sound testing.

Building Regulations Part E require that builders demonstrate the sound insulation performance of separating walls/floors in new-build dwellings and/or converted dwellings or rooms for residential purposes (as well as those newly formed by a material change of use).

This applies when separate dwellings are attached via a common partition not exclusively used by the same occupants. The only way to satisfy the relevant compliance with building regulations is to undertake sound insulations testing.

The regulations set minimum performance requirements for sound insulation between spaces, as to provide reasonable conditions for living. Performance can be demonstrated either by sound testing a sample of as-built constructions/properties.

Pre-completion sound insulation testing may also be required in non-residential buildings such as schools, hospitals, workplaces, where the as built acoustic performance needs to be demonstrated to ensure noise sensitive areas (e.g. classrooms, wards, meeting rooms) are suitably insulated from noisier areas or to comply with BB93 & BREEAM requirements.

If you would like more information in regards to sound testing please contact us at: or visit our website at:
Business:         APT Sound Testing



Rural Broadband Roll Out to UK is Criticised by Auditors

Rural Broadband Roll Out to UK is Criticised by Auditors
The UK government’s rollout of “superfast” broadband to rural areas is about two years behind its original schedule, an official audit has found. The report said only nine of 44 rural areas would reach targets for high-speed internet by 2015, and four areas could also miss a revised 2017 target.

The National Audit Office also raised concerns that BT would be the only firm likely to win contracts. It said the company would benefit from £1.2bn of public funds as a result. “The rural broadband project is moving forward late and without the benefit of strong competition to protect public value,” said auditor general Amyas Morse. “For this we will have to rely on the Department for Culture Media and Sport’s active use of the controls it has negotiated and strong supervision by the regulator Ofcom.”  He added the scheme was also expected to cost the taxpayer more than first thought.

In 2011, then Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt announced that 90% of premises in every local authority area of the UK should have access to internet speeds above 24 megabits per second by May 2015 and a minimum of 2Mbps for others.

To do this he pledged £530m of cash for rural broadband projects which would become available to councils if they also provided funds. He said this would give the country the “best superfast broadband network in Europe”.

However, the scheme was hit by delays, in part because it took longer than expected to get approval from the EU. The NAO said once officials revised their projections, they found it was going to take 22 months longer than first envisaged for 40 of the areas to reach the goal. Last week the Treasury revised its target, saying it now wanted 95% of UK properties to have access to superfast broadband by the end of 2017, effectively shifting the goal until after the next general election.

The NAO warned four areas – Highlands and Islands, Cumbria, Norfolk and Suffolk – might still miss this new deadline because the local authorities had failed to request sufficient funds.

A spokesperson for Cumbria County Council told the BBC that since the report was compiled it had signed a contract with BT to deliver superfast broadband to 93% of Cumbrian homes by 2015.

The DCMS said that a pledge to invest an extra £250m meant it would meet the goal. However, the NAO said that past experience suggested the “government is not strong at taking remedial action to guard against further slippage”.

The revelations prompted claims that DCMS did not have a “good enough grip” on its programme and that BT had been “cagey” about its costs. “Opaque data and limited benchmarks for comparison means the department has no idea if BT is being reasonable or adding in big mark ups,” said Labour MP Margaret Hodge, who is the chair of Parliament’s Public Accounts Committee. However, a spokesman for the DCMS said its efforts to deliver value-for-money were “strong and robust”. “We agree that effective enforcement of the contracts is important and are working with local authorities to ensure this,” he said. “As the NAO report makes clear, the project’s funding model greatly reduced the cost and financial risk to the taxpayer.”

BT also defended its record.

“There was strong competition when prices were set at the start of the process and that has ensured counties have benefited from the best possible terms,” it said. “Deploying fibre broadband is an expensive long-term business and so it was no surprise that others dropped out as the going got tough.”

Sixteen organisations had originally shown interest in competing for the rural broadband projects. The NAO noted that “competition was envisaged to be a key value-for-money safeguard”.  However, it said suppliers had complained the bidding process was “difficult and complicated” and that the process favoured large companies with secure revenue streams.

By early 2013 only BT and Fujitsu were left in the running, and in March Fujitsu dropped out after it said various factors had made winning the work unattractive. The audit highlighted that officials only scored BT’s financial model eight out of 20 – the minimum pass rate. It said it remained unclear how much of the firm’s bids covered “contingency costs” – a safety-cushion to protect it against unexpected charges.

It also raised concern that BT said 40% of its costs would be on staffing – a figure the NAO said was hard to verify. The report revealed that there had already been one instance when BT had been caught overcharging for management costs by £3m. It also pointed out that BT’s figures were based on the assumption that only 20% of properties would sign up to superfast broadband within seven years of it being enabled. The study said this was lower than the figure suggested by both industry experts and international comparisons.

A clawback rule is supposed to ensure that if uptake is higher the firm should share the extra profits with the public. However, the NAO said government workers would have to scrutinise hundreds of thousands of invoices to make sure this happened, and that some councils have already said they might not have enough resources to do this.