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Exeter dominates UK Wi-Fi scene – Intel

Many hotspots, small population, spurious survey

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Exeter has been dubbed Britain's Wi-Fi Capital by Intel. The chip giant came to choose the county town of Devon because it has more hotspots than any other place in the country.

Sorry, that should read 'more hotspots per person', which explains why London comes a mere 33rd on the list. It has more hotspots than any other location in the country, but by sharing them among six million or so people, down toward the bottom of the list it goes. Birmingham, Britain's second biggest city, comes in at a paltry number 57.

Following Exeter in the top ten Wi-Fi towns are Bangor, Newcastle, Loughborough and Oxford, Exmouth, Banbury, Cardiff, Portsmouth and Southampton. There are some large towns in the list, but Exmouth? Exmouth?!?

It's all highly spurious. According to the company, "the primary data source" used to calculate the top ten was its own online hotspot locator which "lists all public hotspots verified on Intel Centrino mobile technology". How many hotspots does that leave out? All those more than "three miles from the centre of each town", for starters. Intel only counted hotspots within that radius, immediately tilting the result toward smaller settlements. Then there are all those set up by individuals.

The last point is crucial given that there's no measure of the extent to which any of the listed hotspots are used. A 3000-head village with a dozen hotspots may not make Intel's top ten, but you can bet those Wi-Fi set-ups are shuffling a darn sight more packets than many of the public ones.

Indeed, it appears that pubs are the main location for British hotspots, according to Intel, with 1300 of them listed on the company's web site. Since that's been the focus of The Cloud's aggressive hotspot roll-out programme, we're not surprised. But we've yet to see anyone in a tavern actually whip out a notebook and get down to some serious drinking... er... surfing.

Looking at the global picture, London comes in at number five, behind New York, Taipei, Vienna and Melbourne, but ahead of Stockholm, Vancouver, Hamburg and Tokyo. Intel used the same source to determine the number of hotspots in each location, but this time didn't factor in the size of each city's population.

Not so long ago, Intel chiefs admitted they might have contributed to the hype surrounding Wi-Fi. Specious surveys like this aren't helping either, guys. ®

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