Feeds

4G hobonet stunt was riddled with flaws, doomed to ridicule

Surely we can do better than penniless Wi-Fi porters?

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

People have criticised the the Homeless Hotspots concept for reducing homeless people to moving bits of network infrastructure, but the idea has some practical flaws too.

Presented as an update to the model that puts homeless people to work selling street newspapers and magazines like The Big Issue, ad agency BBH was at tech and music fest South by Southwest (SXSW), floating the idea of allowing people to purchase access to internet hotspots from homeless vendors.

BBH may be right that the idea of selling street newspapers is near its expiry date – as print media slides towards extinction – but selling Wi-Fi access instead is a poor concept, mainly because the the idea wouldn't be practical anywhere outside of a technology conference.

Would you sit on a kerb in London and work on your laptop?

Homeless Hotspots works at SXSW because it's one big media circus, filled with people who need to blog and upload videos etc on the fly.

The heavy demand on the mobile network is more than normal infrastructure is designed to cope with, and Homeless Hotspots adds a useful temporary mobile infrastructure.

A flashmob at SXSW 2011, credit SXSW

A flashmob at SXSW 2011 Credit: SXSW

But outside of SXSW, could you imagine this working on an average day in London or Birmingham? More than two people sitting on the street in one place in central London would cause a public obstruction.

Five people sitting down with there laptops would block off a whole street. And then who would want to pull out their laptop on a street kerb to sit down and get some work done? It would rain, someone would spill coffee on you, someone else would try and nick your Macbook; it's not practical.

Yes, people might want to check the internet quickly to send an email or check a website, but the people who do want to do that already have smartphones and 3G contracts, and mass gatherings aside, existing mobile networks will work fine. People who want to sit down, pull out their laptop and get something done go to cafes with Wi-Fi and tables.

The telcos have designed their networks to work without the need for homeless people with femtocells.

Would a telco give a homeless person a phone contract?

And even if there were a demand for such a service, there could be some financial obstacles too. The 4G LTE mobile hotspot Elevate device comes with a deal from AT&T costing $69.99 a month on a two-year contract, for 5GB of data month. Extra data costs $10 per 1GB, and there's also an activation fee. It can connect up to five devices. The device can run for five hours before needing to be recharged.

It works out as only $2.33 a day, assuming that it's kept within the 5GB limit, which would make it financially viable. However, the contract commitment is an obstacle to the scheme: it would land the homeless person with a monthly bill for two years. Also, you need a credit rating and a bank account to get a mobile contract, something that many homeless people won't have, not least because they're homeless.

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

More from The Register

next story
Mighty Blighty broadbanders beg: Let us lay cable in BT's, er, ducts
Complain to Ofcom that telco has 'effective monopoly'
BT said to have pulled patent-infringing boxes from DSL network
Take your license demand and stick it in your ASSIA
Yahoo! blames! MONSTER! email! OUTAGE! on! CUT! CABLE! bungle!
Weekend woe for BT as telco struggles to restore service
Fujitsu CTO: We'll be 3D-printing tech execs in 15 years
Fleshy techie disses network neutrality, helmet-less motorcyclists
Ofcom tackles complaint over Premier League footie TV rights
Virgin Media: UK fans pay the most for the fewest matches
NBN Co screws lid on FTTP coffin
Copper and HFC dominate in new corporate plan
prev story

Whitepapers

Designing and building an open ITOA architecture
Learn about a new IT data taxonomy defined by the four data sources of IT visibility: wire, machine, agent, and synthetic data sets.
5 critical considerations for enterprise cloud backup
Key considerations when evaluating cloud backup solutions to ensure adequate protection security and availability of enterprise data.
Getting started with customer-focused identity management
Learn why identity is a fundamental requirement to digital growth, and how without it there is no way to identify and engage customers in a meaningful way.
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.
Business security measures using SSL
Examines the major types of threats to information security that businesses face today and the techniques for mitigating those threats.