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London Is Still World's Wi-Fi Access Point Capital 88

Posted by timothy
from the home-of-the-apostrophe dept.
ISP Review UK writes "The latest annual Wireless Security Survey from RSA has revealed that London is still the world's wireless network (Wi-Fi) capital, with a total of 12,276 access points detected, exceeding the number found in New York City by more than 3,000. However, the French capital of Paris broke all the records with a 543% year-over-year increase in the number of wireless access points, which compares with London's 72% (down from 160% last year) and New York City's 45% (down from 49%). The survey also examined how many of the wireless access points detected were secured with some form of encryption (hotspots excluded). In New York City, 97% of corporate access points had encryption in place (76% last year). In Paris, 94% of corporate access points were encrypted — although in London, 20% of all business access points continue to be completely unprotected."
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London Is Still World's Wi-Fi Access Point Capital

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  • well... (Score:3, Funny)

    by wjh31 (1372867) on Tuesday October 28, 2008 @12:28PM (#25542771) Homepage
    that will just make this [xkcd.com] a whole lot easier if i ever have to move to london
    • Re:well... (Score:4, Interesting)

      by omeomi (675045) on Tuesday October 28, 2008 @01:09PM (#25543533) Homepage
      How in the world are they detecting these? If I live on the 80th floor of a building in New York, are they going to detect my access point? Maybe London just has more lower buildings where wifi can be detected from the ground.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by wjh31 (1372867)
        correct, there arnt anywhere near the number of high rise buildings in london as there are in e.g new york
      • by Molochi (555357)

        From my place on the 25th floor, using a wrt54gl with stock hardware, I can survey about 2-3 floors up and down, plus APs in 3 hotels, some offices about a KM away and occasionally a WanderingWifi AP at an Arby's about 4KM away (direct LOS). From the pool or the top of the parking garage, I get the facing side of the whole 32 story building.

        I'd imagine a more formal survey would employ a directional/dish antenna so all the Linksys/Belkin/Netgear SSIDs on channel 6 wouldn't obscure each other.

      • by kramulous (977841) *

        Not to mention the tens of thousands of high rises in Seoul. You know, that country with nearly the fastest broadband in the world.

        These RSA guys are idiots and are just pushing their own agendas.

    • by Rakishi (759894)

      I don't know, where I live there are something like 15 access points near me. All of them are encrypted. Doesn't matter how many there are near you if you can't use any of them.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by wjh31 (1372867)
        encrypted!=secure
        can't=shouldn't
        especially WEP is a joke to crack
      • by TheLink (130905)
        Even if it's unencrypted it doesn't mean you can use them - depends on the laws in your country, and the unwritten laws in your area (it may be local custom to share WiFi, or not...).

        In some places, it is local custom to put a jug (or other container) of water outside for any passerby to get a drink from (it's not considered trespassing or theft). And the courts et all will probably be rather harsh on you if you're caught tainting the water.

        Which brings us to the next point- even if the SSID says "FreeWiFi"
        • Even if it's unencrypted it doesn't mean you can use them - depends on the laws in your country,

          No if its unencrypted (or tbh WEP (or wpa with a popular SSID & weak passphrase)) I defiantly can USE them. is it legal? who cares cannabis is also illegal, its not like your going to get caught stealing some bandwidth from joe blogs (maybe if i overdo it but he will probably reinstall windows several times before even suspecting me)

          Secondly there is currently no easy way to _intentionally_ _allow_ "anonymous" public users to use an _encrypted_ WiFi network, in a manner where the users can't successfully decrypt each other's traffic. In theory it is technically possible, but there is no standard to make it _easy_ (well at least as easy as using an https website).

          unencrypted connection, followed by a vpn, or secure web proxy Im sure when i had a read of the open router firmware pages, it was looked easy to set up. Although they are b

  • Fix the title... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by argent (18001)

    in London, 20% of all business access points continue to be completely unprotected.

    So the title should read "London is still world's Wi-Fi Wardriving Capital", yesno?

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      Wardriving has nothing to do with accessing networks. Wardriving is how these studies are done, just finding networks.

      If a wardriver chooses to access a network, that remains a different and separate matter. (And not one that's black and white either. How is somebody expected to know what networks are open on purpose for public use? In Seattle there a lot of such networks.)

      I myself have long taken the view that if I don't have to do anything more than just associate with access point to be fully conn
      • You've got Nichtlachen-Keinwortz Syndrome, right?

      • by PitaBred (632671)

        I wonder how they'd count me... I have two AP's, one is encrypted for my use, the other is unencrypted and rate limited on a separate VLAN as a community service (mostly 'cuz I wanted to mess with VLAN's).

  • I found it difficult to find free wifi in London. I always ended up having to pay for it. Boo.

    • by theaveng (1243528)

      Not free? Well that sucks. I get to watch 25 channels of high-definition digital television completely-and-totally free, and all I need is an antenna.

      >>>a total of 12,276 access points

      That's it? That doesn't sound like enough bandwidth to support streaming of 1,000,000 copies of Doctor Who (if broadcast television were ended, leaving only the wireless internet to supply television). I guess we still need the "freeview" broadcast television after all.

      -
      - posted with Lynx, a Commodore 64 web brows

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Anpheus (908711)

        Wow it sounds like someone is pushing an unsolicited agenda in their posts.

      • by Idiomatick (976696) on Tuesday October 28, 2008 @12:59PM (#25543347)

        "posted with Lynx, a Commodore 64 web browser (using 2 kbit/s modem)"

        I think that very well could be retro enough to requalify as nerdy. Most nerds go top end new gear but you should get your own categorization. 'Get off my lawn! You are blocking the mules from generating enough power for true AI on the difference engine 3.0.' Ok, maybe a little long for a title but you've obviously worked at it. Where did you even GET a 2kbit modem? Did you have to build it yourself? The rest of your post while just an opinion is kinda flamebaitish just because its blatantly ignorant, i'd rate it Offtopic... then i'd rate my post offtopic too.

        • by theaveng (1243528)

          I was just having a bit of fun with my Commodore - just to see if the web could be accessed with ancient technology. I'm now back on my 3000 megahertz PC. It's just a hobbyist thing; no different than someone who writes Linux code for fun.

          - The C64 I've owned since 1987 (purchased just a few months before Star Trek TNG premiered).
          - Ditto the modem which was made by Aprotek.
          - And I use an S-video connection so I can play the classic 8-bit games on my 27" television. Or surf the web. ;-)

          • Awesome, I wish I had some old computer stuff you could really play with. The most soldering you get to do nowadays is to overclock certain computers and often you can use pencil hah. When I was a kid I found a bag of random bits... capacitors and the like, I remember being able to turn the tv to static and shut it off, little things. Nowhere as cool as having computer hardware you could mess with. I think i'm going to go mod my snes so I can use PS controllers (lost the snes ones)...

            • by Dogtanian (588974)

              Awesome, I wish I had some old computer stuff you could really play with. The most soldering you get to do nowadays is to overclock certain computers and often you can use pencil hah.

              Well, to be fair, you can't exactly get inside a Z80 or 6502 and play around with it, can you? It's still a black box.

              I remember reading old computer mags my Dad had from the early 1980s, and one of the letters was someone complaining that his Dragon 32 [wikipedia.org] computer was a closed box whose inner workings were relatively opaque. Of course, compared to the early, self-assembled hobbyist computers with their hexadecimal keypads, such computers probably *were* closed consumer devices.

              And as I said earlier, a mic

              • You can't hardwire a 6510 CPU, but you can dump the OS and use all 65535 bytes for your own purposes. That's how the people behind GEOS were able to make the Commodore 64 look-and-act like a Macintosh even though it was only 1/10th as expensive. They dumped Commodore OS and replaced it with a brand-new one.

                IMHO software hacking is a lot more fun than hardware hacking.

            • by Nesman64 (1093657)

              When I was a kid I found a bag of random bits...

              Were they just pseudo random bits, or did you actually find the bit bucket?

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Der PC (1026194)

      Access Point != Free hotSpot

      London actually has the least HotSpots of the three cities surveyed.

    • by hughk (248126)
      There is a chain of wine-bars called Corney & Barrow in the City - Free WiFi for customers when I was last in London. It was just an open a/p no special rolling access codes needed. Several pubs have free wifi too.
  • Orwell would be proud [thisislondon.co.uk]

    • At least no one has suggested a system to correlate wireless access point data with the CCTV data, "to better protect against terrorist, etc." This picture of this guy, and this data was sent.

      Well, no one has suggested it, yet.

    • by Sockatume (732728) on Tuesday October 28, 2008 @01:07PM (#25543469)
      To be fair, it's not clearly how many if any of those cameras are government-run, and how many are just private.

      Two are supposedly on traffic lights and therefore may either by traffic cameras or, more likely, those familiar traffic sensors which have cowlings that make them look a bit like CCTV cameras. The author declined to investigate. Two more seem to belong to a conference centre (a private business) although the author didn't bother to look into that, assuming they were there on government edict to monitor Orwell's gardens for some reason.

      Of the remaining 28, all the cameras actually identified are private cameras belonging to businesses. Mind you there are also "hundreds of private, remote-controlled security cameras used to scrutinise visitors to homes, shops and offices" which for some reason they decided didn't count towards the 32-camera total the way the other 28 cameras belong to businesses did. I'm not suggesting that those "hundreds" of cameras are figments of the author's imagination, or that they are only mentioned to imply that the preceding 28 cameras were somehow related to the government, even though they clearly aren't, but this is a publication associated with the Daily Mail so I doubt that fact-checking got in the way of sensationalism.
      • by xaxa (988988)

        this is a publication associated with the Daily Mail so I doubt that fact-checking got in the way of sensationalism.

        Isn't the CCTV issue being in the popular press a good thing? If they aren't sensationalising something they aren't reporting it.

        • by Sockatume (732728)
          If they're sensationalising it, in this case by making up a story which doesn't actually exist (32 govt. + 100s private CCTV cameras in a 200yd radius), about a real problem which does exist (excessive government surveillance), then they're just feeding people a temporary, disposable bit of outrage rather than encouraging people to take these issues seriously.
          • by xaxa (988988)

            That's what they always do.

            But I did watch Panorama last night, and was surprised that it was on privacy (more data than surveillance).

            • CCTV isnt really effective enough for tracking, too hard to run face recognition over all that data, wifi connections on the other hand...

  • ".. in London, 20% of all business access points continue to be completely unprotected."

    Plausible deniability, baby!

  • by absent_speaker (905145) on Tuesday October 28, 2008 @12:46PM (#25543117)

    This press release is really misleading. In the last two years, RSA only surveyed these three cities, no others. So London is the world's wireless capital when they only surveyed NYC, Paris, and London? Not really.

    Besides, the gross number of wireless network doesn't tell us much. A per capita figure would have been a more useful comparison. NYC metro has 17 million people, London 8 million and Paris is at 9.6 million. It also looks like they only focused on the city's "financial hubs."

    If you read further into the press release, you see this other interesting note, most networks are closed:

    However, New York City remains the leader in regards to its concentration of hotspots. At 15%, New York City is well clear of London where just 5% of wireless access points were found to be hotspots. In Paris, hotspots represented 6% of all the access points we located.

    Press Release: http://www.rsa.com/press_release.aspx?id=9725 [rsa.com]
    Survey Results: http://www.rsa.com/node.aspx?id=3268 [rsa.com]

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by qmaqdk (522323)

      Besides, the gross number of wireless network doesn't tell us much. A per capita figure would have been a more useful comparison. NYC metro has 17 million people, London 8 million and Paris is at 9.6 million. It also looks like they only focused on the city's "financial hubs."

      Well, the result would be the same then. More people per access point = bad.

    • by Splab (574204)

      Was thinking something fishy was going on.

      Was in Prague and London this summer and both cities where nicely covered with wifi, however, subjectively the service was much much better in Prague than London - you have to look hard in Prague for a cafe without free wifi. Now the amount of AP's might be higher in London, but travelers/citizens ability to get online seemed quite a bit better in Prague.

    • by kramulous (977841) *

      Never mind Seoul ... 23.8 million people and one of the fastest internet infrastructure services in the world. I know that London and NY are big, but you'd be going gray before you were about to drive around all the streets in Seoul. Not to mention the tens of thousands of high rises where a wifi signal won't be detectable.

      RSA is full of shit and pushing the usual corporate agenda. Now we know they fudge statistics.

  • by YesIAmAScript (886271) on Tuesday October 28, 2008 @12:52PM (#25543211)

    I went to NYC in summer and took an iPod Touch. Everywhere I went, there were 2 or 3 networks, often some open, often over 8 networks.

    I went to London and Paris last month and took an iPod Touch. I'd open it and usually get no networks at all. It was odd going to a coffee shop and seeing no networks. Sometimes, if you went into them, there'd be a T-Mobile network, but it required you pay.

    I ended up getting no real use at all out of the iPod Touch other than the London Underground map I preloaded into it.

    London and Paris need to learn of this idea of free WiFi.

    London also needs to understand the idea of running their subway all night. It was insane that I had to take a taxi to St. Pancras because the train to Paris was boarding before the tube started running for the day.

    • by Muad'Dave (255648) on Tuesday October 28, 2008 @01:03PM (#25543409) Homepage

      ...I had to take a taxi to St. Pancras...

      Who the hell is St. Pancreas, and why did you need to visit him? Is he the patron saint of Endocrine/Digestive Duality? I suppose he could absolve you of alcoholic overindulgence, but St. Liver might be your better bet.

      • by bs7rphb (924322)

        Well, Liverpool St. will get you to Norwich, and if you've ever been there you'll realise why that might be associated with alcoholism. You've got to cope somehow.

      • No, it's a type of shellfish. The Saint Pan Crustacean.
    • by phayes (202222)

      London and Paris need to learn of this idea of free WiFi.

      WIFI in Paris has boomed because of the proliferation of ADSL services like Free [www.free.fr], Orange [orange.fr], N9uf/SFR [adsl.sfr.fr], Darty [darty.com], Alice [aliceadsl.fr], etc that all include a box that does ADSL, WIFI, telephone & TV. It is now rare to find someone who has ADSL without having an associated WIFI hotspot even when they do not use the WIFI. As all these boxes come configured with WPA PSK, finding open hotspots has gotten extremely rare as it takes someone who knows what they are doi

    • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Oh we understand all right. But logical arguments don't work here bureaucracy rules the roost here.

      Running the tubes all night would be awesome. But Londoners are the laziest people on the planet and no one is going to work all night in the public sector, they would strike if we tried to make them.

      Thus no tubes after midnight or before 6am.

      • by defnoz (1128875)
        Erm, except for the thousands of people who do work every night, maintaining the >100 year old lines. The NY subway can run all night because it has redundant lines for slow/fast trains, so there's no need to close the whole line for repairs.
    • by Jon Chatow (25684) *

      London also needs to understand the idea of running their subway all night. It was insane that I had to take a taxi to St. Pancras because the train to Paris was boarding before the tube started running for the day.

      Yes, well, the network was built without track redundancy (for all but a negligible part of the network, there's exactly one set of tracks in each direction). It's stupid, and we (Humanity) learnt to do it better in later subways (like New York). That's what you get for being first in the world.

      There's not much that could be done about it. I recall seeing a guesstimate price for "fixing" the problem - that is, building an entire secondary network - at US$50 billion. Not exactly in reach.

      Back on-topic, I did

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by xaxa (988988)

      There are very few subways that run all night. The New York Subway was build with four tunnels for each line -- at night, only two are needed, so maintenance can be done on the other two. The London Underground only has two tracks for each line, so they have to shut at night for maintenance. It's annoying.

      There are lots of night buses, many of them running as often as every 10-15 minutes all night (but if you want to go to outer London it might only be every half hour). They're quite safe to use, and the sa

    • by u38cg (607297)
      You mean Britain. Our public transport system was dreamt up by the Monty Python team after being mistaken for sensible people. Oh no, it only seems like that.
    • by Mr_Silver (213637) on Tuesday October 28, 2008 @02:12PM (#25544645)

      London also needs to understand the idea of running their subway all night. It was insane that I had to take a taxi to St. Pancras because the train to Paris was boarding before the tube started running for the day.

      Slightly OT but the reason they don't is because the geniuses that designed it didn't consider a second backup tunnel. Therefore if they want to do any kind of engineering work (and they do, as the UK loves the idea of running something without maintenance until it spectaculary breaks down) then they have to close the whole tunnel down.

      There has been pressure to run the underground later on Friday and Saturday evenings but due to the large amount of work required on the tunnels (see why in paragraph above), this doesn't seem to get off the ground.

      Oh, it also means that the slightest break-down or signal failure (of which there are a lot, again see why in paragraph above) then it brings the entire service to a grinding halt. Which is always handy at 8am on a Monday morning.

      Finally free public WiFi anywhere in the UK (let alone London) is a rarity. So much so I was rather surprised to find one in Kingston one afternoon.

      (Which explains why you don't see many people out with their iPod Touches surfing the web)

      • by ydrol (626558)
        >Slightly OT but the reason they don't is because the geniuses that designed it didn't consider a second backup tunnel. Well bear in mind it was the oldest in the world though not by much. Easy to criticise with hindsight. Though I did never understand why there are so many points failures.
      • by hughk (248126)

        Therefore if they want to do any kind of engineering work (and they do, as the UK loves the idea of running something without maintenance until it spectaculary breaks down) then they have to close the whole tunnel down.

        It was called PPI or something and basically involved a US escapee setting up some nice juicy contracts involving paying a maintenance company not do work.

      • Be fair to the designers, it was the first in the world (and as you say it's been creaking along since then). An analogy might be UNIX -- fair enough, not the oldest, but one of the oldest OSes, carelessly designed, somehow still working, and remarkably still the best OS by far.
    • London's Underground network can't run all night. It's closed during the night for essential works. It only has one set of tracks, unlike the NYC subway which has two (so when one closes, the other can be used).

      If it were being built today, no doubt they'd dig two tunnels, but unfortunately the network is over 100 years old and they didn't think of that back then.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        Lets not forget that in all honesty 24 hour tube isn't something people are that interested in, Brian paddock was proposing keeping the tube open all of friday & saturday (or atleast some of the tube), nobody cared much. There are plenty of 24hr buses to get you home between 1-2 and 5-6 (with the tfl.gov plasterd everywhere, aswell as the nightbus maps its not exactly hard to find them either). Ofc 24hr tube would be nice but id rather see money spend elsewhere than maintaining >250 stations open dur

    • by Splab (574204)

      The law might actually prevent free wifi, here in Denmark for instance you are liable for whatever is going on on the connection, leaving it open intentionally can get you into a lot of trouble. Any cafe running wifi will make damned sure they know who was using the connection at what point (ig. require authentication and most likely creditcards).

  • This is interesting to hear because I was in Paris 3 months ago and had a very hard time finding WiFi. Or at least open WiFi. They were ALL locked down, which led me to wonder if there were some type of French law banning open WiFi points.
  • by MythMoth (73648) on Tuesday October 28, 2008 @01:06PM (#25543461) Homepage

    As other posters have noted, the survey was only of three cities.

    Even aside from that, for most people it's something of an academic point because unless you have infinite funds and patience you will be constrained to a few networks. Free ones are relatively uncommon.

    It can still be useful though - just today I was able to work around a broadband outage in my office in Knightsbridge by buying a day's connection to the local BTOpenZone access point. Mind you, it was irritating that to circumvent a problem with BT's flakey internet I had to buy a service from BT themselves at an extortionate £10 for 24 hours, but still better than no connectivity for a day.

  • That's it? (Score:4, Informative)

    by repvik (96666) on Tuesday October 28, 2008 @01:06PM (#25543465)

    I found more than a thousand wifi networks walking down Oxford street with a PDA this spring, and London only has ~12k wifi networks?

    • Oxford street is the busiest shopping street in the world; I think you may have picked an edge case there.
      • by repvik (96666)

        Of course, but still. Oxford street is just a tiny part of London. I can't believe that that one street accounts for almost 10% of Londons wifi networks.

    • Bla bla bla
  • In New York City 97% of corporate access points had encryption in place, at first glance this is impressive, though I wonder how many of these are still using WEP... I would expect a large percentage, so even though companies are starting to smarten up by actually using *some means* of encryption, are they using a reliable method? Doubtful.
  • by PrescriptionWarning (932687) on Tuesday October 28, 2008 @01:11PM (#25543563)
    so let me get this straight: there's 3,000 less than 12,276 which is only 72% down from 160% net over gain loss from 49-45% with 97% up from 76% not publicly available.
  • It would be more interesting and productive to know which cities have the most (intentionally) open, publicly usable, free-to-use access points, in useful places.

    In London, I can generally only find a few I can use - and mainly only because I have access to the BT ones, in places like Waterloo station

    However, Paris is the bee's knees. Every public park has free to use WiFi, and it's simply wonderful. In the summer I lay on the grass working with my laptop, and noticed many local business people doing the
    • Here, intentional, free WiFi is generally a value added thing to get you use a business' services.

      Starbucks is the only coffee chain that made you pay locally AFAIK. Caribou, Panera, DunkinDonuts and all the smaller/independents offer "free" WiFi. Hotels generally offer WiFi on the ground floor. Sometimes it'll reach out to the pool.

      Bars almost always seem to have an open AP. Restaurants that cater to business lunchers are a pretty safe bet. If you get desperate there's always McDonald's.

      Even my local mall'

  • by sootman (158191) on Tuesday October 28, 2008 @01:36PM (#25543949) Homepage Journal

    America's #1 Free Wireless ISP. Nationwide, and now #1 in London too!

  • Stupid (Score:5, Informative)

    by nedlohs (1335013) on Tuesday October 28, 2008 @01:39PM (#25544005)

    From my NYC apartment my laptop picks up 39 wireless networks. If I take it down 40 floors to the street I detect 3.

    I can guess where they measured from...

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by xaxa (988988)

      If I wanted free WiFi I'm almost certainly on the ground though.

      It would be better to measure the number of WiFi spots reachable from public roads and parks, and usable without payment.

  • by kunwon1 (795332) * <dave.j.moore@gmail.com> on Tuesday October 28, 2008 @03:41PM (#25546073) Homepage

    although in London, 20% of all business access points continue to be completely unprotected."

    Probably not true. I'd wager that the lions share of those 'unprotected' APs would just funnel you straight to a VPN login page, with no other access of any kind.

  • by eggboard (315140) on Tuesday October 28, 2008 @05:02PM (#25547331) Homepage

    I had a briefing from RSA about this survey (writing it up for Ars Technica), and the wardriving that was done was not for the purpose of counting. Rather, it was a subsample of the city: a route that went through business and residential neighborhoods, and that has been driven consistently in London for 4 years. The same route in Paris has been driven for 4 years, and in New York for 7 years.

  • is another man's "available".

    I'd love to be able to go somewhere around here and find more open access points, instead of a dozen, all with passwords.

  • I'm pretty sure the title of "Wi-Fi Point Capital" would be given to some other city if the survey was extended to other cities.

    I'm actually thinking of Seoul. South Korea's KT (formerly Korea Telecom) has a well-known Wi-Fi service that covers 'nationwide' called Nespot. According to this article [findarticles.com], there were 27,000 Nespot APs back in early 2007. The figure was around 17,000 in 2006 according to this (in Korean) [daum.net], so the number's been growing pretty fast.

    Now, while this number is 'nationwide', the coverage i

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