Ubiquitous Wi-Fi heads for Oxford

Ubiquitous wi-fi is just around the corner. The involvement of Skype is particularly interesting...

A UK company that has created wireless hotspots in stations, coffee shops and hotels around the UK is planning to launch city-wide wi-fi this spring.

The Cloud will bring wireless broadband to nine cities including London, Manchester and Birmingham. Hundreds of hotzones will be rolled out across the cities, giving access to the internet for anyone using a wi-fi enabled computer or mobile phone. More cities are expected to be announced during 2006.

The first phase will see hotzones set up in Edinburgh, Leeds, Manchester, Birmingham, Nottingham, Oxford, Cambridge and three London boroughs - Islington, Kensington and Camden.

[...]

"Providing ubiquitous wireless broadband access, over a network that is available to millions of wi-fi devices, and will be available to the new generation of wi-fi phones, gaming devices and other applications will have a major impact on the way people communicate, work and play in city centres," said George Polk, chief executive of The Cloud.

The hotzones will rival existing mobile phone networks. Around 25 mobile phone handsets currently have wi-fi chips installed. Pressing a button on the phone allows users to bypass their own mobile phone network to connect to the internet and make cheap broadband phone calls.

Initially the networks will be available to people using BT Openzone, O2, SkypeZones and Nintendo WiFi.

Link: BBC Technology.

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Convergence. No such concept error. Abort. Retry. Cancel.

Martin Geddes writing over at Telepocalypse, a weblog I'd not come across before. Important stuff.

I'm presenting to the International Bar Association's Communications and Competition Law conference in Madrid today.

There are around 170 attendees. I'm the only one with a laptop open. This is not my usual crowd. There are no seats near power sockets - zero. But there is the general (and free!) hotel Wi-Fi. All praise the connectivity gods! Oh, and I might be the only person who isn't a lawyer or regulator. As I was invited to come after I'd left home for my holiday, I didn't bring my expensive consultant uniform. But I borrowed a tie from my Dad to make me look less conspicuous, so only my words and ideas should stand out from the crowd.

I'm curious to see how far away from reality the mindspace of this audience is. I'm going to present a short pitch that three of the words they use are in fact intellectually bankrupt, and should be avoided:

Convergence. No such concept error. Abort. Retry. Cancel. Think: displacement, divergence, fragmentation.

VoIP. Nul points. Fatal misunderstanding of what creates value in this new world. Think: Presence, social network integration, identity, transaction integration.

Telecom. Bad news - they're getting a divorce, into Tele (the connectivity) and Com (the application). Good news: Divorce makes for good business for the family lawyers. Bad news: Com was making all the money, but just got replaced by six guys from Estonia armed with laptops. Worse news: Tele was cross-subsidised from Com. Terrible news: Tele is fundamentally impossible to fund from network operation. Need new ownership structure that aligns interests of network users and owners.

From what I'm hearing so far, this Eurotelco world is very different from the US one I'm more familiar with. Different jargon, outlook, structure.

Link: Telepocalypse by Martin Geddes: All bar one.

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Westminster aims for Wi-Fi everywhere

Westminster Council's Wireless City project received a boost today when BT announced that it would be providing the network infrastructure for the initiative.

The project seeks to integrate Wi-Fi technology into all areas of the council's responsibilities, providing access for remote workers, linking CCTV and microphones to council headquarters and providing hotspots for consumers.

Link: Westminster aims for Wi-Fi everywhere - vnunet.com.

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Rescue By Cell Triangulation

Tracking mobile phones with triangulation has come in handy for locating stranded tourists after the tsunami in Sri Lanka.

Using "cell triangulation", more than 600 people had been tracked with the use of mobile phones along the devastated areas. Thirty-six stranded British tourists were rescued early Tuesday thanks to a mobile phone with one of them. The Britons were picked up from the southern beach resort of Hikkaduwa where they were stranded after the tsunami lashed three-quarters of the island's coastline, killing nearly 17,800 people.

Authorities say some 10,000 international roaming phones were working on Sri Lankan networks at the time of the tragedy. Nearly 6,000 roaming phones had gone dead since the disaster while 4,269 phones had been used to make at least one call after the tragedy.

"Whenever anyone used the phone, we could track where the person was and restrict our search to affected areas of the country," said a government official. Instructions are sent to phone users to call a toll-free local number that will be answered by a call centre manned by some 100 people.

The mobile phone networks were knocked out after Sunday's tragedy, but 90 per cent of the services were restored quickly by arranging mobile generators to power base stations.

Link: DailyWireless.org.

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Mobiles track down wi-fi hotspots

BBC Technology

Although the UK has a few thousand wi-fi hotspots, London alone has more than 800, that still means they are spread pretty thinly.

Many places that offer wi-fi do advertise the presence of fast, wireless net access but, unless you know where they are in the first place, they can be hard to find. But now website Totalhotspots.com has joined up with phone services firm Mobile Commerce to let people consult a directory of hotspots while on the move.

Anyone using the service can find their nearest hotspot by texting the word "hotspot" to the 84140 SMS short code number. In return they will get data about the name, address and telephone number of the nearest wi-fi locations. Each use of the service incurs a £1 charge.

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The world’s largest wireless Internet hot spot?

Yahoo via Lockergnome; David B Caruso, Associated Press Writer

Forget finding an Internet cafe. For less than what it costs to build a small library, city officials believe they can turn all 135 square miles of Philadelphia into the world’s largest wireless Internet hot spot. The ambitious plan, now under discussion, would involve placing thousands of small transmitters around the city — probably atop lampposts. Each of these wireless hot spots would be capable of communicating with the Wi-Fi network cards that now come standard with many computers.

Once complete, the $10 million network would deliver broadband Internet almost anywhere radio waves can travel — including poor neighborhoods where high-speed Internet access is now rare.

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T-Mobile to Offer Free Wi-Fi in Florida

Wi-Fi Networking News

Nice.

T-Mobile said most of its 300 hotspots in Florida will be free to use through Monday: Kinko’s, Starbucks, and Borders Books and Music stores that remain open will offer free access to their hotspots. T-Mobile and other hotspot operators made similar offers during hurricane Charley in an effort to help fleeing residents and tourists communicate.
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