Follow Slashdot blog updates by subscribing to our blog RSS feed


Forgot your password?
The Internet

UK to get Public Wireless LAN 140

shanksd1 writes "The IEE Review for May reports that BT is announcing the UK's first public access wireless LAN, with a little help from Motorola and Cisco. 400 wireless hotspots of range 100m should be implemented by June 2003, and 4000 by June 2005. These 500 kb/s access points will be located in hotels, railway stations, airports, bars and coffee shops."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

UK to get Public Wireless LAN

Comments Filter:
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Will the EMP from the coming nuclear war in central Asia adversly effect my reception on the public wireless LAN here in the UK?

    Hey India : "Turn on main screen!"
  • What's The Catch? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by donnacha ( 161610 ) on Friday May 24, 2002 @01:03PM (#3579971) Homepage

    Given BT's appalling record [] on broadband so far, I find it hard to get excited about this.

  • Will you be able to access the network of cameras that are all over the place over there? That would make for an interesting service....
    • This is not a new idea - it was suggested years ago in an article in Wired.

      Actually nobody in the UK (apart from the criminals) does anything but enthusiastically support the CCTV systems, particularly when a child goes missing.

      As a district councillor I have been invited several times to visit our council's control room, but haven't bothered to find time yet because, whilst it would be an interesting visit, it's not a bit deal as I have precisely 0 constituents worried about CCTV who need to be reassured. (I think that in fact anyone who asks to visit the control room will get a tour. So in fact I think we already have public access to the CCTV pictures.)

      The only complaints we get are that CCTV sometimes fails to catch criminals; and that there aren't enough CCTV cameras, which is a complaint we get every time there is a crime not covered by the camera system.

      [Of course, in a country where everyone is entitled to own guns and they have more shootings than we have burglaries they might simply be used to being victims of crime as a way of life, and "privacy" nutters might, with the backing of the NRA, make more noise than they do here?]
      • US POP: 287,116,334
        UK POP: 59,647,790

        US Area: 9,629,091 sq km
        UK Area: 244,820 sq km

        Sorry...we are talking about two completely different sports. I respect the UK, and actually have little problem with cctv in public places. However I also support our right to bear arms. Criminals tend not to register or legally obtain s, or apply for carry permits. ;)

        Cant compare apples and oranges.
      • Actually nobody in the UK (apart from the criminals) does anything but enthusiastically support the CCTV systems

        I don't support them (at least not to this extent), and I'm in the UK. Does that make me a criminal? I hate being watched wherever I go. By all means put them in car parks and on private property, but other than that there should be serious restrictions on where the police can put them. (And it's nice to see that this is finally starting to happen with those damned gatso cameras).

        Oh, and I also think the gun laws in the UK don't work, and have prevented many people from enjoying a legitimate hobby, while actually contributing to an increase in crime. Doesn't look as though we agree on much, does it? :-)
        • serious restrictions on where the police can put them

          The police don't put them anywhere.

          Not here, in Cambridge, anyway - it's run by the local council under democratic control, which means me and 41 other councillors. I can assure you that we get endless requests for extensions to the system and have not had a single complaint except where the system has failed to catch a criminal.

          Sure, the council-employed operators cooperate with the police, but the police don't get to see anything that the council employees don't think they're entitled to according to the rules. For example, there needs to be a reasonable certainty that there is something serious in progress right now before the privacy screening can be turned off.
          • I can assure you that we get endless requests for extensions to the system and have not had a single complaint except where the system has failed to catch a criminal.

            Hmm... it may be because many people like having cameras, or it may be that you have lots of people who don't like them, but don't feel strongly enough about it to say so. Myself, I don't see that much of a problem at the moment... I just don't trust the authorities enough to only put them where they're needed. Surely putting more policemen on the street (diverting them from the motorways, maybe) would be a better solution?

            Just out of interest, what party are you a member of?
            • I just don't trust the authorities enough to only put them where they're needed

              I can assure you that like most other things local authorities do there is nowhere near enough money available to put cameras everywhere they are needed, and anyone who wasted precious resources putting a camera where it wasn't needed would be in trouble. With such a long backlog of requests for cameras where they are needed it is inconceivable that we'd put one somewhere it wasn't needed.

              Surely putting more policemen on the street (diverting them from the motorways, maybe) would be a better solution?

              I'm too lazy to look up the figures just right now, but it'll be something like a choice between one policeman, who can only be in one place at a time, for only eight hours a day, with no automatic recording for evidence of what his eyes see, or about eight cameras for the same money being monitored 24/7 and recording 24/7.

              Just out of interest, what party are you a member of?

              Lib Dem, but that doesn't make any difference to CCTV policy which is supported locally by all parties.
    • Go to the BBC website and look at their jam cams, these are police cctv cameras.

      see here! []
  • Gee, between the DMCA, CBDTPA, the Content Protection Status Report, a Congress that's bought and paid for (not by us the people), and the *AA's, perhaps it's time to move to Europe..
    • Haven't read much about copy protection laws in the UK, have you? Or the EU, which recommends that member nations ban web caching as a form of copyright violation?
    • No thanks. I really don't care to be monitored by big brother wherever I go.

    • Sure, just don't expect to keep as much of your paycheck. And don't forget the VAT. most geeks that read slashdot like myself love purchasing electronics. See how much you can purchase with a 17% overhead, not to mention other local taxes.
      • You'd save money on lots of other expenses we normally incur here:

        * Steaks, Hamburgers, other beef products
        * Football/Baseball/Hockey Tickets
        * Dental care
        * DirectTV subscription
        * Ammo
        * Starbucks

        Hmm, it looks like I might save hundreds a month!
      • On the other hand, we actually have public services (remember them?) and spend less per capita on pointless defence schemes like Star Wars (the system, not the movie). Oh, and remember that VAT is already added to the things you buy, it's not an additional overhead, and of course, if you're an IT contractor, then you're a small business, VAT registered, and you claim every penny back.
      • See how much you can purchase with a 17% overhead, not to mention other local taxes.

        Huh? There are no 'other local taxes' on purchases. What are you talking about?

        As opposed to the US, where half the things I've bought while visiting had the wrong price on them, because they don't include the X% local sales tax.

        Look to the mote in thine own eye.


      • Actually, being a Brit who moved to the US, I pay about the same % overall here as I did in the UK if you include basic healthcare costs and the suchlike. YMMV of course.
  • Where's the article (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward
    Maybe its just a lack of caffeine, but I can't find anything regarding a wireless network on those two linked pages....
  • When will we wake up and adopt this in the USA? This is an awesome idea.

    • Re:Wake up Call? (Score:2, Informative)

      by Zelet ( 515452 )
      This isn't really feasable in the U.S. Our country has too small of a population density to make this really worthwhile on a federal government scale. The only way that I could see this happening in the U.S. is if each city paid for the wireless network then the Federal Government footed the bill for backbone access. Thus splitting the costs between local and national levels and making it affordable to each party involved.
  • by laserjet ( 170008 ) on Friday May 24, 2002 @01:09PM (#3580004) Homepage
    Does anyone trust a telecom company that puts spaces in their directory names, thus causing problems with some web browers? Not to mention, it's just bad style. Damn kids. Don't know how to do anything anym...grumble grumble.. and technology/
    • Any half decent browser can deal with that, now complain about something worthwhile.
    • spaces in their directory names

    • Does anyone trust a telecom company that puts spaces in their directory names, thus causing problems with some web browers?
      Worked fine in Mozilla and konqueror. So yes, I think I trust them, at least with this. Getting broadband to my home is another matter.


    • Hell no... but then again, ask a Brit with a net connection when was the last time he/she trusted good ol' BT anyways?

      "I'm sorry your unmetered internet connection wasn't properly registered, so we charge you £14.95 a month plus £450 a month for your phone bills" or the absolute classic of "well, it's like this, when we said 'unlimited internet access' we didn't really mean it..."
    • Well, they did invent the hyperlink, so I suppose BT are the experts on what's allowed.
    • Re:spaces? aagh!!! (Score:3, Informative)

      by T-Punkt ( 90023 )
      Actually it's not just bad style, it's a violation of the URI syntax (RFC2396).

      Even further: RFC2616 (HTTP/1.1) recommends that spaces should be stripped out of the URI (at least the default squid.conf says so and I'm to lazy to verify that) - but I bet the result would be a 404 in this case.
    • but you're forgetting - BT invented [] the internet.

      -- james
  • by RatOmeter ( 468015 ) on Friday May 24, 2002 @01:10PM (#3580015)
    I couldn't find anything on the links provided above. Google found me this:

    BBC []

  • Ah, when Stellarium [] gets the ability to track satellites, THEN i'll be more than happy to go wireless with my net connection. :)

  • Hijacking someone's 802.11 connex and ordering some smack--maybe even charge it to their [insert charming British expression for "Credit Card" here].

    • by Anonymous Coward
      In Britain, they're generally known as "Gumbies". This is because the original credit cards, produced in the 1850s, were made from an indian rubber - gum - like substance.

      They were around the same size and shape as a modern card, but about four times as thick, with most of the details of the credit card issuer, and credit card number, together with a seal, being etched into the card. Retailers would coat the reverse-image etched side of the card with ink and then print the image onto the bill. It provided a relatively secure means of authentication.

      Modern cards in Britain, of course, contain smart-chips, similar to full-size SIMs in GSM cellphones, which has lead to "simmies" being another name for the things, which is gaining popularity.
    • 'Charming British Expression'?

      Funny - I call my Credit Card a.. er.. Credit Card!
  • 100 meters doesn't seem like much to get excited about..
    • Right. And lest you get too excited, it ain't gonna be free. No pricing was discussed, but in the article here [] it says:

      "Once the service is opened up to consumers, BT plans to offer access through subscription or pay-as-you-go."

      I sincerely doubt that it will revolutionise the average UK person's roaming connectivity.

      • This move, by itself, may not revolutionize wireless net in the UK, but it's certainly a step in the right direction and, perhaps, will turn out to be a critical step toward what will turn out to be a revolution.

        Sites like this one [] show what appears to me to be a continuous stream of similar news. The announcement of publicly accessible Wireless LANs, free, public and private, is on the rise. I believe that this is a trend that will not only continue, but grow. I also believe that just a few years down the road, wireless access (esp. in metropolitan areas, of course) will be the norm, not the exception. However, I think the 'free to the public' efforts will not be the norm; they are financially unsupportable and often of questionable legality (upstream provider TOS stuff).

  • Until the internet radically changes? Eventually all of Europe and the United states will be wireless networks, and perhaps backbones wont seem as important? It makes me wonder if P2P will be come a necessity in other ways. Hang on tight guys, but it will be a while before a major wireless push hits the US.
  • cambridge thought it would be a good idea to give people public bikes

    they got stolen by a few people and then they didnt try it again

    it'll be the same with the wireless points some people will abuse it and all the rest of us wont be able to use it

    who cares really ....

    I want my 384Kbs to my mobile phone NOW......

    then I dont have to share my bandwidth if I dont want to


    john jones

    p.s. it also means that I can stream my MP3's from home (as well as Mpeg ;-)

    • p.s. it also means that I can stream my MP3's from home (as well as Mpeg ;-)

      Yeah, I would *love* to be able to watch The Matrix or whatever on my cellphone's 100x100 pixel, black-and-green screen. :)

    • by azzy ( 86427 ) on Friday May 24, 2002 @01:55PM (#3580280) Journal
      Actually.. Cambridge coucil 'recycled' old and unclaimed stolen(recovered or lost) bikes. Painted them green and left them around to be free to use. They were less likely to be stolen due to being obvious (green) and were very popular. And guess what.. theft of other bikes was reduced because the green ones were easier to steal. That was part of the whole thing. There was no real monetary loss for the green ones stolen.. and a gain because property of individuals was safer. It was a _very_ good plan.
    • I want my 384Kbs to my mobile phone NOW......

      So you mean 3G? yeah right. no way you are gonna get 384Kbs for a long, long time. They can bearly get 100Kbs standing still with the wind blowing in the right direction.

    • "I want my 384Kbs to my mobile phone NOW...... "

      Speak for yourself. I want my faster than 28.8 internet access from home NOW!

      It makes me cry when I realise that people in Japan can get 13X the bandwidth on their phones than I can get at home.

      Such are the drawbacks of living in Rural Canada. Widespread public wireless access points will never be the case here because the populastion density is too low. If you installed one at my place with a 100ft range, it would only serve about 5 people. And there's no cable, no ADSL, and extra A/D conversions in super-long copper phone loops so you can't get 56K.

  • In Stockholm if you have a laptop with a wlan card you can sniff for open access points from wlans used by companys.
    Quite a lot of them don't use encryption or locked down MAC addresses so you can leech bandwidth from about half a dussin open networks while sipping coffee at a nice cosy coffee shop.

    I imagine this must be ten times worse in big cities like NY.
  • by Hornsby ( 63501 ) on Friday May 24, 2002 @01:36PM (#3580168) Homepage
    Every time I hear about this type of thing, the exact same question springs into my mind. How is user accountability enforced in this type of "wide open" network enviroment. Normally, people can be back-tracked to their ISP, and a name can be connected to an IP for a given time frame. What's to stop someone from using these public networks as a means to perform malicious behaviour anonymously? In a setup like I'm picturing, there wouldn't even be a need to spoof your IP address.
    • First, the network isn't open. You have to log on to get any access (It will even block acess to other users on the same WLAN). Once you are logged on they can track you.

      Also, If you are smart and using a WLAN you VPN into your corporate network, don't trust any of the built-in 'security' of WLAN...

    • I was going to pretty much say the same thing. I can imagine a cheap 286 notebook being left behind a garbage can, serving kiddie pr0n and plenty of other nefarious things happening on that there wireless LAN thingybop.
  • When is San Diego going to get something like this?
  • By winning the patent case that they own hyperlinks! These guys aren't nice. If every website in the world has to pay them, then they'll be able to put up wireless networks everywhere! Which would you rather have?
  • ...well, there is a 2 pound charge for every hyperlink clicked while accessing the LAN...
  • by fireshipjohn ( 20951 ) on Friday May 24, 2002 @02:20PM (#3580422) Homepage
    The RA (equiv to FCC over here) has not actually licensed any commercial use of the 802.11 band here yet and it may be BT trying to force a decision from them.
    As yet what they propose is illegal in the UK.

    Consume the net anyone? []
  • News? (Score:5, Informative)

    by barnaclebarnes ( 85340 ) on Friday May 24, 2002 @02:24PM (#3580445) Homepage
    BT announced their intentions a while ago about getting into this space...The fact still remains that it is illegal in the UK sell 802.11b bandwidth at the moment (AFAIK). They are banking on the fact that the government will change the laws regarding this (It does seem fairly likely).

    Once the laws have changed expect a lot more public for-profit WLAN's to emerge.

    I can't wait until someone actually puts them in though. Broadband in public spaces is sorely missing. If BT were smart they would build a 802.11b/Bluetooth AP into every phone box in the country. You can already SMS/Phone/Internet access at all the new ones anyway, adding wireless would be a small cost increment.


    PS: It is legal to use WLAN in business in the UK but not to provide a commercial service from it. So having a WLAN connection in your cafe and chargin for it is not OK, having a WLAN in the office for staff to use is OK.
  • When a consultant I know moved to our part of the world, BT told him he could have DSL in six months. That was two years ago. And you know how long before he gets DSL? Still six months. And he lives a mile from a great big central office.

    I suspect that this is purely a ploy by BT. Look, regulator, so we haven't rolled out broadband. But it's obsolete anyway: we're going wireless. Real soon. You wouldn't want us to raise the rentals to pay for a technology no-one will want, would you?

    Should give them another few years of failing to make progress.

    Back in 1990, I was talking to some guys from BT labs. The future was going to be video phones. They were just 6 months from commercialising the technology.

    All the above, of course, is just my personal opinion.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    when installing all those cameras to spy on their citizens.
  • What's the big deal (Score:2, Informative)

    by 00_NOP ( 559413 )
    We already have public access wireless in the UK - look at this [] for instance.

    And this is running at a faster rate!
  • Free Wireless (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward
    Then there are all the initiatives to setup free access WLANs:
  • BT are simply trying to squash the free-Wireless networks springing up all across the UK []. High-speed, free internet without going through the local loop? As if BT would ignore it.

    You'll probably see them moving to make public wireless illegal soon, or at least to difficult to do properly.

    Now is the most important time to setup a wireless network in your local community! Or join an existing one!

  • An Australian ISP (Alphalink []) was just awarded a Carrier Licence to undertake a similar programme in Australia - although they are only going to be deploying in two site with more to come depeneding on interest.

    I hope telstra doesn;'t follow - if their performance in ADSL is anything to go by, their 802.11x performance will be flapping every 10 minutes!

System restarting, wait...