Feeds

Lib Dem mayor candidate jumps aboard muni Wi-Fi failboat

Targeting the key tight-fisted cappuccino-drinker vote

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

Brian Paddick, the Liberal Democrats' London mayoral hopeful, has pledged to build a city-wide free Wi-Fi network, despite the high failure rate of similar projects internationally.

The former plod said he would fund the £7.5m scheme by cancelling Transport for London's advertising budget. Each borough would have its own start page that would be larded up with ads for local businesses, which would also contribute to the cost.

Paddick added the network would be limited to 256Kbit/s to reduce its impact on commercial wireless broadband providers, while still offering universal web access. "London is a 21st century city and as Mayor I would want to see 21st century technology accessible to all," he said, presumably gazing heroically at the horizon.

The issue of interfering with commercial ventures has been just one of the major stumbling blocks that have nixed municipal Wi-Fi initiatives in the US. Even San Francisco, the natural habitat of the latte-supping mobile non-worker has failed to get a free city-wide network up, despite heavyweight backing from Google.

On the face of it the cost-benefit case for free Wi-fi in London seems pretty weak. Central London is awash with commercial providers, and with rich people. Poor neighbourhoods are generally reasonably served by cyber cafes and would probably rather their local government provided better transport, rubbish collections or street lighting than a crippled net link.

There's a failed local precedent, too. A project to provide wired broadband to a deprived Shoreditch under the banner "Digital bridge" began in 2005 with ambitious plans to roll out across London. It was quietly shut down last year amid spin it was only ever a pilot.

It's worth noting that the mostly-reasonable Paddick has form as a web fancier. While in charge of policing in Brixton, he won plaudits by frequenting Urban75, a webzine and forum where locals would air their gripes against officers. Apparently learning from that, his campaign made some fairly desperate mainstream media capital out of its use of blogs, Twitter and other cheapskate ways of getting its message heard above the Ken'n'Boris circus.

Unfortunately for him and London Wi-Fi utopians, he stands about as much chance of winning as London does of hitting its Olympic budget targets. ®

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
Brit telcos warn Scots that voting Yes could lead to HEFTY bills
BT and Co: Independence vote likely to mean 'increased costs'
Phones 4u slips into administration after EE cuts ties with Brit mobe retailer
More than 5,500 jobs could be axed if rescue mission fails
New 'Cosmos' browser surfs the net by TXT alone
No data plan? No WiFi? No worries ... except sluggish download speed
Radio hams can encrypt, in emergencies, says Ofcom
Consultation promises new spectrum and hints at relaxed licence conditions
Google+ GOING, GOING ... ? Newbie Gmailers no longer forced into mandatory ID slurp
Mountain View distances itself from lame 'network thingy'
Vodafone to buy 140 Phones 4u stores from stricken retailer
887 jobs 'preserved' in the process, says administrator PwC
Bonking with Apple has POUNDED mobe operators' wallets
... into submission. Weve squeals, ditches payment plans
EE buys 58 Phones 4u stores for £2.5m after picking over carcass
Operator says it will safeguard 359 jobs, plans lick of paint
Drag queens: Oh, don't be so bitchy, Facebook! Let us use our stage names
Handbags at dawn over free content ad network's ID policy
prev story

Whitepapers

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops
Balancing user privacy and privileged access, in accordance with compliance frameworks and legislation. Evaluating any potential remote control choice.
Intelligent flash storage arrays
Tegile Intelligent Storage Arrays with IntelliFlash helps IT boost storage utilization and effciency while delivering unmatched storage savings and performance.
WIN a very cool portable ZX Spectrum
Win a one-off portable Spectrum built by legendary hardware hacker Ben Heck
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Beginner's guide to SSL certificates
De-mystify the technology involved and give you the information you need to make the best decision when considering your online security options.