Unlike several telecoms companies in the US who are hell bent on blocking free Wi-Fi hotspots, BT has stated that it has “no problems” with the concept.
Although free wireless hotspots are becoming increasingly common worldwide, telcos in Philadelphia and Texas are camping in their lawyer’s offices in an attempt to get hotspots shut down, arguing that it is not in the government’s remit to compete with commercial services.
To a chorus of boos in our office, Andrew “meany” Allison, head of Intel’s mobility group in the UK, spat out; “Governments should do what governments are meant to do: govern. They don’t run, support and maintain networks. That’s for network operators.”
Clearly, Islington Council in London doesn’t agree. They launched a mile-long free Wi-Fi network, dubbed the ‘Technology Mile’, earlier this week.
The network covers the length of Upper Street – one of the busiest streets in Islington – with the Council donating PCs to some local businesses as part of its push to boost economic activity in the area and to encourage local residents onto the Internet.
Chris Clark, BT’s chief executive for wireless broadband approves, telling vnunet.com that he has no problems with free wireless hotspots, and that the more people using the technology the better.
“Free access doesn’t touch us,” he said. “It’s not a market we’re going after. We’re after the business market and in a lot of cases business laptops are locked out of such hotspots for good security reasons.”
Clark does not envisage US-style legal wrangling in the future for the UK and expressed confidence that if more people use Wi-Fi it will drive demand for BT’s services.
Clark also confirmed today that BT will be launching a seamless roaming GSM/Wi-Fi phone by the end of the year, adding that he expects Wi-Fi phones to be “very common”, although not ubiquitous in five years time.