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Wireless Networking Communications United Kingdom

London's Mayor Promises London-Wide Wireless For 2012 Olympics 130

Pax681 writes "[London Mayor] Boris Johnson declared that London will have all bus stops and lamp posts Wi-Fi enabled by 2012 for the Olympics. In an article on Tech Eye, Boris waxes lyrical (or as lyrical as he can get) about how it would be done at a Google Zeitgeist event in Hertfordshire. These would be public Wi-Fi hotpots; as such, would these break the new law on open access points? Would they be just the thing for people to use to infringe with impunity and anonymously bypass the chances of running foul of the Digital Economy Act?"
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London's Mayor Promises London-Wide Wireless For 2012 Olympics

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 21, 2010 @05:58AM (#32290908)

    For whoever can download the Al Queda Operators Manual while at the table next to the Mayor.

    You may also get a congratulatory beating.

  • Someone needs to (Score:3, Interesting)

    by OrwellianLurker ( 1739950 ) on Friday May 21, 2010 @06:01AM (#32290920)
    Someone needs to pirate the Olympics on this wireless.
  • by bothemeson ( 1416261 ) on Friday May 21, 2010 @06:03AM (#32290932) Homepage
    how many lamp-posts there are in London? He's a well-meaning right-wing buffoon.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      He's neither a buffoon nor particularly well meaning.

      Doesn't stop him being vaguely likable..
      • he is a buffoon but he is not well-meaning.

        rather, he is well mean!

      • I agree hes not an idot (he puts on act to atract totty) - and he did introduce the London Living Wage which is more than Labor did
    • by $RANDOMLUSER ( 804576 ) on Friday May 21, 2010 @06:30AM (#32291044)
      So that's 1 WAP and 3 CCD cameras on every lamp-post in London, then?
    • by commodore64_love ( 1445365 ) on Friday May 21, 2010 @06:37AM (#32291090) Journal

      Laws don't apply to government. "No open access hotspots" unless of course a politician does it.

      • by delinear ( 991444 ) on Friday May 21, 2010 @07:44AM (#32291398)
        The obvious answer is that the hotspots will be declared legal but anyone who uses them will be branded criminals, in that way Boris gets to keep his promise, the copyright holders get their own way and everyone's happy. Well, everyone apart from the public, but they don't really matter since they're just a machine for generating cash.
        • So the good news is that everyone has wireless. The bad news is that the only thing on the internet is sporting events and reruns of Bleak House.

          Unless you buy the premium package.

      • For those who didn't read the article (i.e. most Slashdotters), the phrase "This will most likely require some sort of payment..." seems to imply some form of access control and thus user tracking, so it wouldn't run afoul of the DE bill anyway.
      • Or just widely publicize that all the passwords are London.
      • Laws don't apply to government. "No open access hotspots" unless of course a politician does it.

        Or you could just think about it for five minutes and come to the conclusion that the contradictions could be resolved by not using open WiFi but instead using secured WiFi with a registration system so that any access to the system could be associated with a verified ID. Pretty straightforward really. Just show your passport or driver's license to someone at the airport, your hotel, or whatever the DMV is called in England, and they give you a WiFi login.

    • Has Boris thought....

      Doesn't seem likely.

      He also promised to get rid of Bendy Buses, improve rail and cycle services at no cost to the taxpayer (lolwut?) and (most likely) something about a badger in every pot.

      I think we all know that he's an entertainer, not an executive, and was voted for on that basis.

      • by Spad ( 470073 )

        The Bendy Bus replacement: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/london/8685486.stm [bbc.co.uk]

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          Ye have only had those articulated "bendy" buses 8 years. Seems like a huge waste of money to just dump them. According to wikipedia: "Research by London TravelWatch has indicated that such a withdrawal could prove costly to TfL. A study conducted in September 2008 found that replacing articulated vehicles on routes 38, 507, and 521, whilst maintaining overall route capacity, would cost an additional £12.6 million per annum."

      • by value_added ( 719364 ) on Friday May 21, 2010 @06:58AM (#32291200)

        He also promised to get rid of Bendy Buses, improve rail and cycle services at no cost to the taxpayer (lolwut?) and (most likely) something about a badger in every pot.

        Not being English, I read the above and guessed that a "bendy bus" was some sort of English desert. I was disappointed to learn that it has nothing in common with spotted dick, trifle, brakewell tart, or even a roly-poly, but rather it's just a frigging bus. Or more specifically, an articulated bus [wikipedia.org].

        The badger reference I'm still working on.

        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          It's bakewell tart. Don't make Mr. Kipling angry.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by jonbryce ( 703250 )

          A bendy bus is something you find in in places like France, where the roads are much wider and can cope with them. In England they might work in places like Milton Keynes or Swindon, but not London.

          • They've just finished moving all of the roads in the centre of Swansea to accommodate the bendy busses. I've no idea who thought this was a good idea; it's quite rare for me to see one more than half full, and the old double-decker busses seemed to have the same capacity and not require the roads to be moved...
      • by gazbo ( 517111 ) on Friday May 21, 2010 @07:07AM (#32291242)
        Had I lived in London I would have voted for him solely for his appearances on Have I Got News For You. And I am not in any way ashamed of this fact.
        • by delinear ( 991444 ) on Friday May 21, 2010 @07:48AM (#32291404)
          Ditto - in fact, having seen time and again what a mess "serious" politicians have made of running things, I think from now on we should all vote based on the candidate's comedic value. The country will still be screwed, but at least we'll get some laughs.
          • On this note, Colbert for President in 2012!
          • by MacWiz ( 665750 )

            I think from now on we should all vote based on the candidate's comedic value. The country will still be screwed, but at least we'll get some laughs.

            That's how Bush got elected. But we misunderestimated his stategery.

        • In other words, the giant douche was more visually appealing than the turd sandwich?

          • by dkf ( 304284 )

            In other words, the giant douche was more visually appealing than the turd sandwich?

            Well, at least he wasn't a tub of lard [youtube.com].

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Opportunist ( 166417 )

        Help me here, please, what's wrong with the busses? I've been to London twice, and so far I can't say that I found anything wrong with their public transport. Well, aside of the price tag.

        • by jo_ham ( 604554 )

          They were brought in by Labour, so are automatically evil in the eyes of Boris and his paymasters.

          They also annoy drivers of Chelsea Tractors (SUVs) because they are physically large articulated busses that require plenty of room and considerate driving from other motorists.

          I thought they were pretty good - a huge improvement on the routemaster for space and access, and they were comfortable and quiet to ride.

          • I was under the same impression. We have them too in my country, and nobody really complains about that. Granted, we also don't drive SUVs and our people treasure their cars enough that they keep their distance from our (quite reckless) bus drivers.

          • by N1EY ( 817702 )
            I think that only Irish bus drivers are worse than British Bus Drivers. They give no quarter to bicyclists. Bicyclists can not also pass those long buses when they are stopped. In general they are just too long. I am not one of those daring cyclists. Top Gear even tried to demonstrate that articulated buses are dynamicly unstable through turns at moderate speeds. ;)
        • by Gordonjcp ( 186804 ) on Friday May 21, 2010 @08:45AM (#32291746) Homepage

          Help me here, please, what's wrong with the busses?

          They don't fit in the streets very well. They are unreliable, spending roughly a quarter of their life in the workshop - assuming they haven't gone on fire. On a long, straight bit of road (not many of them on a typical London bus route) they return a stunning 3mpg! Thanks to their antiquated engine designs, they burn slightly less fuel and emit only slightly more unpleasant fumes when they're on fire than when they're on the road. The only way to get them above 1.5mpg on a normal route is to tow them with a recovery truck.

          • On a long, straight bit of road (not many of them on a typical London bus route) they return a stunning 3mpg!

            They must be quite archaic. A local manufacturer here started producing a (bending) bus model with approximately 6-7 mpg (inter-city traffic in winter, according to the first info from a local tech news site).

        • by locofungus ( 179280 ) on Friday May 21, 2010 @09:41AM (#32292404)

          Nothing wrong with London's public transport. The problem is very large vehicles in London (centre). The roads are generally too narrow, too bendy and have too many junctions for very long vehicles.

          Many junctions have had their stop lines moved right back (20-30m from the junction) to allow the buses to turn into them. It's all too common for a car driver to be unable to see the point of stopping so far back so they stop a cars length or two in front of the line. Then one of these buses comes around the corner and everybody is stuck. (over the years this has got to be a lesser and lesser problem as more and more car drivers have directly experienced the problems it causes but it's never gone away completely)

          Or when the buses are going along a main road with two lanes they should wait until their exit is clear before entering a box junction (yellow hatched area where you are not allowed to enter unless your exit is clear and are not allowed to stop on unless you are turning right and are prevented from oncoming traffic). But cars in the other lane will "overtake" the bus and then pull across into the buses lane meaning that the 18m gap that the bus needs in front of it never happens. So the buses just block the junctions. (and pedestrian crossing are blocked even more often - it's not at all uncommon for once of these buses to end up slap bang across a pedestrian crossing for the entire green man phase - which tends to be fairly short anyway even when you've got a direct route across the road)

          These buses have a surprisingly brisk acceleration - and there is a significant proportion of bus drivers who will just pull away when there is a car or cyclist overtaking. Typically for a car it's not too much problem but many cyclists cannot then get past them but end up stranded in the middle of the road with a bus that is now going slightly faster than they are but has 15m of vehicle behind them preventing them from getting back in.

          For the people who use them, these buses are very good. But, unfortunately, they do not work well on the road infrastructure in central London.


          • "stop lines moved right back (20-30m from the junction)"

            "entering a box junction"

            "entire green man phase"

            I spy another Traffic Engineer.

    • by SmallFurryCreature ( 593017 ) on Friday May 21, 2010 @07:03AM (#32291228) Journal

      Everyone in England thinks he is a buffoon, who still somehow manages to earn a very high salary indeed as an editor, get his government pay and somehow won the election for Major from Ken Livingston (who himself was an outsider, a left wing socialist who ran against his own party candidate when right wing "labour" Tony Blair was still somewhat popular).

      Search for "boris hignfy" on youtube, seriously funny stuff. The guy gets away with gaffs that people have torn Bush and Blair apart for. NO journalist even dares to jump on any slight mis pronunciation or botched fact Boris makes. It is BRILLIANT. He has given himself a license to say what he wants to say and not have to worry about weighing every word on a silver platter. Nobody will ruin his career because he "claimed to have invented the internet" or he mixed up the date the US declared independence.

      Watch his appearances on the show and then realize he makes more money then you ever will.

      • Re: (Score:1, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward

        he mixed up the date the US declared independence.

        I dunno, but to us Euros the date of American independence is not as important as for the US. Europe lost many colonies including Guinea-Boisseau.
        We cannot keep track of every single colony running away...

      • It seems to be a trend that we vote people into public offices that appear dumb or inept. Maybe the train of though is "he's just as much a douche as the other guy, but we might at least get a good laugh out of him once in a while".

      • Easy to come out on top when you've been to Eton and Oxford, been a member of the same exclusive private drinking club as the Prime Minister and Chancellor of the Exchequor, and have nobility as your ancestors.

        If social networking is as useful as it is supposed to be for getting you £250K jobs, this man is well connected...

        • by jeremyp ( 130771 )

          You get to be Mayor of London by being voted for by a majority of its population. Having gone to Eton and Oxford with David Cameron might be considered a liability in that situation.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by __Reason__ ( 181288 )

      how many lamp-posts there are in London?

      There's approximately 20,500 bus stops in Greater London - I have a database (NaPTAN) of them. I'd estimate there's as least 50 lamp posts for every bus stop. So, thats over 1,000,000 WiFI access points to be rolled out by 2012! Wow!

    • He's a well-meaning right-wing buffoon.

      A right-wing buffoon wouldn't be providing public wi-fi, he'd be building them with public money and then giving them to private enterprise to charge the public to access what they already paid for. He's a left-wing buffoon.

      • I don't think political ideology really meshes well with Boris world view. His policies seem to come from seeming like a good idea at the time. The only party that he really belongs in is the one with copious quantities of champagne.
  • by KiloByte ( 825081 ) on Friday May 21, 2010 @06:08AM (#32290954)

    So, one branch of the government (central) is a bunch of nazi control freaks, and another (local) is reasonable?

    But too bad, it's the central one who gets to issue laws, and sadly, in this case it looks like the local initiative will be ruled illegal.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by gbjbaanb ( 229885 )

      to be fair, the nazi control freak central government was kicked out at the election we had a fortnight ago. Give the new ones a chance - they'll have their faults for sure, but they won't be quite as control freak as the last lot. More nazi, perhaps.

      • by commodore64_love ( 1445365 ) on Friday May 21, 2010 @06:49AM (#32291152) Journal

        >>>Give the new ones a chance - they'll have their faults for sure, but they won't be quite as control freak as the last lot.

        That's what we said over here in the American Union, and yet the "new lot" happily renewed the Patriot Act rather than let it expire, and they just passed legislation to start collecting DNA

        • by jecblackpepper ( 1160029 ) on Friday May 21, 2010 @07:11AM (#32291270) Homepage
          At least the new lot in UK have explicitly said that they are going to repeal some of the civil liberty infringing laws, including ensuring the removal of innocent people's DNA from the DNA database. Of course they've only be in power a couple of weeks haven't even yet placed their programme for government before parliament, but I'm at least hopeful that they will do some (all) of the things they've promised on civil liberties.
        • by PhilHibbs ( 4537 )

          That burns because you elected a liberal who is behaving like a Nazi. We elected the Conservatives (plus their little helpers) so we expect them to behave like Nazis and so aren't as shocked and upset by it.

          • Re: (Score:1, Troll)

            Why do people keep called the National Socialist German Workers Party (Natzis) conservatives? They were best buds with the 1920s Communists, who were leftists. The Nazis did eventually have a "family squabble" with the communists, but they were still leftists (supported strong central government) (and centralized markets).

            • They weren't conservative however they, like most current "conservatives" in America, where right-wing as all fucking hell.

              Conservative/Liberal and Left/Right are fairly orthogonal traits.

            • by Improv ( 2467 )

              I think you're confused about history - the Nazis were primarily recruited out of the Freikorps and found the socialists (SPD and leftwards) profoundly threatening to German society. They sold themselves to the German public as being the best hope against socialism. They never were "best buds" or even remotely friendly. Philosophically, the Nazis were reading Herder while the SDP were reading Voltaire (well, not exactly Voltaire, but you get the picture).

              I don't think "liberal" or "conservative" apply very

            • Any attempt to classify all political views along a simple left-right access will get some things badly wrong, because things just aren't that simple.

              Here's one example of trying to open things up:
              http://www.politicalcompass.org/ [politicalcompass.org]

              although of course you can add as many dimensions as there are different things to hold political views about.

            • They were best buds with the 1920s Communists, who were leftists. The Nazis did eventually have a "family squabble" with the communists

              Freikorps - what later became the core of Nazi party, supplying it with most of rank-and-file - were vehement enemies of communists, in 1920 and beyond. Indeed, they were the ones who are primarily responsible for suppressing the communist revolution of 1918-19 in Germany!

              As well, NSDAP before Hitler was very different (and extremely insignificant) compared to NSDAO under Hitler, and he was always strongly anti-communist (in his mind, marxism was a plot for jewish world domination).

            • Why do people keep called the National Socialist German Workers Party (Natzis) conservatives?

              Oh, and to answer the actual question: because a lot of their values were conservative, especially compared to liberalism (in all senses) of Weimar Germany, which was ahead of many european countries in that. This includes things such as family values.

              Of course, for that, you'll have to understand that politics and political labels aren't all just about economic policies, and there is much more to them.

          • Except that, so far, the Conservatives have been sounding quite reasonable. Before the election, every time Cameron opened his mouth I respected him slightly less. Since the election, he keeps saying things I agree with. It's unnerving.
  • What a load of Wiff-Waff! [youtube.com]
  • by Landak ( 798221 ) <Landak@gmail.com> on Friday May 21, 2010 @06:14AM (#32290980) Homepage
    To the joy of nerds everywhere in the UK, it seems like the Digital Britain bill might not last very long with the current Government [telegraph.co.uk].

    Whether or not Cameron and the conservatives can splinter away from Murdoch enough to let this happen remains to be seen, but I am currently naive enough to be genuinely optimistic about the results of having liberals in power for the first time in over a century.
    • Please note: anyone who seeks and obtains the power to tell others what to do is axiomatically not a liberal. While Clegg was off waffling about Freedom Acts and devolving power, Cameron was actually busy eviscerating the 1922 committee and centralising power to his cabal. Stalin in a cycle helmet.

      Remember also that the real power in the land always was, and always will be, Sir Humphrey Appleby, GCB, KBE, MVO, MA (Oxon) [wikipedia.org].

      So while Clegg blubbers FREEEEEDOM for the 6 months their coallition will hang tog

    • You don’t seem to know how politicians work:
      1. Do a couple of speeches or something in front of whoever you want to take over.
      2. “Promise” some things, anything, doesn’t matter if it’s even physically possible, let alone sensible, that those people really want.
      3. Link whatever you (or rather your “shareholders”) want as a precondition to that promise.
      4. Use the people to get that precondition trough in parliament.
      5. Forget about the original “promise”.
      6. Find a “scandal” (something those people really do not want) to get them to hate the opposition again, be distracted and forget about what you did.
      7. Rinse, repeat.

      Real professionals make up the things, that those people think they want, themselves. E.g. by inventing non-existing dangers with the use of their media outlets. This also makes it much easier to void the “promise”, since you don’t need to fix something that never existed in the first place. Your “promise” already was fulfilled from the start.

      • by geekoid ( 135745 )

        If that was true, no public works project in the last 100 year would ever have gotten done.

        Here is a clue: It's a little more complex then you think.

        • Protip: It is generally assumed that a little half-joking “algorithm” does not describe the physics of a complex interaction dynamic in real life in every detail of its entirety. ;)

  • I agree that wires can be dangerous to your health when you stumble over them, but are they really ready to run all systems from battery and recharge using induction?

    Sorry, couldn't refuse...

    • Also in the news, after promising WiFi net access, he followed up promising WiFi power.

      Asked how he wants to do it he replied "Huh? Why not? My advisor told me there's other computer thingamajigs that are powered via their network, why shouldn't that work with the WiFi ... computer stuff?"

  • I recall Telstra Australia coming up with a plan to put WIFI in all the old payphone booths, instead of junking them beacuse everyone was going to mobiles (but may now swing back, thaks to cancer concerns). I don't know if it took off or not. Any other readers know?
    • Re: (Score:1, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      In Sweden many Telia (old Televerket= state monopoly) phonebooths had wifi installed. You need an account to use them, so while it's "public" it's not like anyone can use them at any time for free. I have the service included in my iPhone plan (at a cost of 0 SEK), but I've never bothered to connect to one.

  • Monitoring use (Score:3, Insightful)

    by dexmachina ( 1341273 ) on Friday May 21, 2010 @07:58AM (#32291456)

    Would they be just the thing for people to use to infringe with impunity and anonymously bypass the chances of running foul of the Digital Economy Act?

    Not necessarily... there are ways of having public WiFi without letting everyone use it anonymously. Singapore has pretty much full coverage, but to use the public hotspots you need to create an account, and your account has to be tied to a cell phone number (with a confirmation text that you have to respond to). Now I'm sure a clever person could find ways around the system, but it's still just another barrier. I wouldn't be suprised if London did something similar- from TFA:

    Not only will this allow people walking the streets to access the wi-fi connections, but it will also allow local homes access too. This will most likely require some sort of payment, however, but may be significantly cheaper than current packages offered through internet service providers.

    If it's going to be payment system, then there has to be some sort of personal account that people can create (and the ability to individually monitor people can then be spun as an added bonus).

  • And every phone box to be a TARDIS.

    See you in the future Borya.

  • Better idea (Score:3, Funny)

    by ChromeAeonium ( 1026952 ) on Friday May 21, 2010 @08:10AM (#32291518)

    Instead of investing money on this, they should have gotten better Olympic mascots. I mean, have you seen those weird assed things? What generic anime did they them out of? Wenlock and Mandeville, more like Angry and Creepy. They look like something you'd see pestering Scooby Doo.

    • Wenlock and Mandeville, more like Angry and Creepy. They look like something you'd see pestering Scooby Doo.

      They're tonties [eyezmaze.com].

  • hell i'd actually vote for him. he cant do worse than brown and he is crazy enough that i like him.
  • Boris 'waxing lyrical' goes something like this:

    Er, well, yes, you see it's about, oh she's locked me out, er, so yes, you see you can't, oh sorry I seem to have spilled, er, so as I was saying, yes, please could you pass me the, yes, it's all about how much, oh, this cloth is soaked, yes, it's about how much you can really, oh thank you, I'll just clean that up...


    In short, he's the ultimate politician: Talk lots, say nothing.

    As for free wifi - well, one wonders how this is really going to work. When

  • 1) Get your works people to design set up and instal wireless devices. Make it an access point with no hoops to jump through. Call it good.
    Here is how NOT to do it:
    Partner with smoen hoping to leverage it to make money through people connecting.

    That is what royally screwed Portland wi-fi. They partenerd witha company that want to sell an addition tier of faster service, wanted you to jump through there website, and generally made it too hard for most people to get onto.

    Thanks Matt Lamp for funking that up.

  • "Free" London Wifi eh?

    I am sure there will be no spying or monitoring, and that all privacy will be maintained. They certainly won't use that connection to infiltrate your computer to search for illegal files such as movies and music!

    Though if they play the bond music every time you connect it might be worth it. That shit makes everything more exciting...

  • by Budenny ( 888916 ) on Friday May 21, 2010 @03:37PM (#32297538)

    Boris is what is known as a national treasure in the UK. That is, someone whose utterances should be greeted with an amused smile of appreciation, but is sometimes, maybe a lot of the time, very much on target and right. But usually not conventionally right, right in a sort of coming out of left field way. Boris is as likely to be heard making comparisons to ancient history, complete with Latin or Greek quotations in the original, as to opine on Wifi. Don't take this stuff too seriously. On some things, like the subway, Boris will be crisp, matter of fact, to the point, and obviously correct when you think about it. On other things, like these here lamposts, all Londoners will know this is Boris being a national treasure, and smile indulgently. There is a code for when to take Boris seriously, which is most of the time, and when to take Boris as joking, which is some of the time, and when to take Boris as being a national treasure, as in the present instance. In this case all Londoners know that he is not to be taken all that seriously. There will be some wifi, and there will be some lamposts. But no, the whole of London will not be blanketed with open relays, and Boris, as soon as someone explains that to him, will see immediately that it is not on.

    How you have to see Boris, he is Mayor Koch, but in London. That is, he is like Koch was a real New Yorker, Boris is a real Londoner. The code is different, but its the same animal. Like Koch, he will get elected over and over again. He's what the Londoners think of as one of us. Though, of course, he is not at all one of us in any real sense. But he is a real Londoner, and people look through differences of class and education, and see that. As they looked through Koch's differences from them and knew they were looking at a real New Yorker.

God made the integers; all else is the work of Man. -- Kronecker