Feeds

Lib Dem mayor candidate jumps aboard muni Wi-Fi failboat

Targeting the key tight-fisted cappuccino-drinker vote

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

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. ®

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

More from The Register

next story
YOU are the threat: True confessions of real-life sysadmins
Who will save the systems from the men and women who save the systems from you?
Download alert: Nearly ALL top 100 Android, iOS paid apps hacked
Attack of the Clones? Yeah, but much, much scarier – report
Broadband sellers in the UK are UP TO no good, says Which?
Speedy network claims only apply to 10% of customers
Virgin Media struck dumb by NATIONWIDE packet loss balls-up
Turning it off and on again fixes glitch 12 HOURS LATER
Ofcom snatches 700MHz off digital telly, hands it to mobile data providers
Hungry mobe'n'slab-waving Blighty swallows spectrum
Fujitsu CTO: We'll be 3D-printing tech execs in 15 years
Fleshy techie disses network neutrality, helmet-less motorcyclists
prev story

Whitepapers

Choosing cloud Backup services
Demystify how you can address your data protection needs in your small- to medium-sized business and select the best online backup service to meet your needs.
Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Getting ahead of the compliance curve
Learn about new services that make it easy to discover and manage certificates across the enterprise and how to get ahead of the compliance curve.
Intelligent flash storage arrays
Tegile Intelligent Storage Arrays with IntelliFlash helps IT boost storage utilization and effciency while delivering unmatched storage savings and performance.