Lib Dem mayor candidate jumps aboard muni Wi-Fi failboat
Targeting the key tight-fisted cappuccino-drinker vote
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. ®
@Ishkandar - It was proven in court the he wasn't smoking anything... ;)
@Dangermouse - Does your Granny from Edinburgh or all of the other examples you site put thousands of pounds a year into the London economy? No? Are tey affected by the decisions that are made about transport, services etc.? not really. I am aware that I don't pay local tax in London, but the company I work for shure pays a whole shedload of tax. I don't really think that I should have a vote, but I am concerned that there is no incentive for the people running for mayor to consider the transient workers, who basically make London work, have no voice but contribute a shitload of cash to the London economy.
Industry back-hander ALERT!!!
WOW maybe i should hang out in london more with my War Driving setup hacking the numptys using the open (free to hack ) wi-fi idiots out there.
should make a small fortune from raping thier free access PC's.
really inspires confidence in politicians...., it shows just where thier loyalties are............filling thier own pockets from the industry that pushing an UN-safe, UN-tested technology on a test population... Us!.
When did we get the asked to take part in a long term medical trial.
I don't remember giving verbal or signing authorisation for some multi-national industry to test some product on me 24/7 anywhere in the UK. Especially concidering that that this technology trial may kill me.!!!!
We have council Wi-Fi in Norwich, we also have over saturation 3G coverage as well as over saturation of home based Wi-Fi basestations.
We also have the Post Office fleet of vehicles going about with GSM/3G-GPS fitted (running at maximum power), driving about from all day and night across the city/country.
The background microwave radiation levels are over WHO limits, not that anyone cares if the population gets cancer or anything else for that matter.
I mean it has to be safe, the all the politicians say it is so, least all those in the UK,
unlike those in Germany, who are having fizzy-fits about the health implications that are now surfacing. At least they are looking out for thier population.
even Lloyds of london are getting nervious, sounds like some serious shit will eventually hit the fan, and you know what, the politicians will wash thier hands of the whole matter, when it was them that forced this on us.
can we sue(or take other action) those that made the decision against us.
mines the crinkly tin-foil one lined with law books taped on the outside...
So do don't live in London, just work here - yes? Well, my Grandmother from Edinburgh has visited London a couple of times before and is coming up again next year so do you think she deserves a vote as well?
After all, she will also have no say as to the policies that will be undertaken in the city, which will directly affect her when she comes to visit. How about my mate Dean in Sydney? He's coming here to work for 6 months next year. Should he get a vote as well? I occasionally work in San Francisco. Should I be able to vote there?