London Underground plans WiFi for 120 stations

London Underground logo

After successfully running a trial at Charing Cross Tube Station, Transport for london has decided to go ahead and commission wi-fi at up to 120 stations across the network in time for the London Olympics in 2012.

The trial was was carried out in partnership with BT Openzone and was enthusiastically received by passengers. Tenders will now go out and the winning bidder chosen by the end of this year.

Research during the trial at Charing Cross Tube station found that over half of LU passengers surveyed felt that access to wi-fi would make their experience of using the Tube better.

In related news, Transport for London (TfL) and the Mayor of London are currently in discussion with mobile phone operators and other suppliers about the potential provision of mobile phone services on the deep Tube network.

WiFi Gaming Card Released

Bigfoot Killer WiFi Gaming CardBigfoot Networks are known for their gaming networking kit and today they have announced their latest piece of kit – the Killer Wireless-N Laptop Network Adaptor. Normally we focus on mobile wireless networking and configuring your static network, at home and in the business environment. However, wireless networks are becoming much more common with many homes having several computers on a wireless network. Often these are used for gaming so kit like that which Bigfoot is known for is becoming more popular.

So, what does this ‘killer’ piece of kit have to offer? Bigfoot claims that the Wireless-N offers transfer speeds up to five times faster than those of standard WiFi adaptors. It’s claim is that this will give any gamer using it’s kit an advantage over other players by reducing lag and latency.

To achieve it’s performance, the card uses some clever 802.11n technologies that Bigfoot have developed in-house. The card also comes with the same software that Bigfoot ships with existing networking kit for desktops.

Whether all this adds up to something to write home about is another question. In the past Bigfoot’s claims have come under some criticism for not being backed up by real-world experience. Let us know if you take the plunge and share your experience of putting Bigfoot’s claims to the test.

Features:

• Cutting-Edge 11n Performance – Advanced, dual-band (2.4 GHz and 5 GHz) adapter supports IEEE standards-based 802.11a/b/g/n. Killer Wireless-N 1102 enables PHY rates up to 300 Mbps over 2 stream MIMO and offers up to 5x better latency than the competition.1

• Advanced Stream Detect – Automatically classifies and prioritizes online games, HD video and high quality audio for better quality and fewer interruptions in your online experience.

• Visual Bandwidth Control – See which applications are hogging bandwidth and tune performance for each, so they don’t interfere with your online gameplay or multimedia applications. Download files or watch a video or browse the web simultaneously – it’s all possible now with Visual Bandwidth Control.

• PC Monitor – Monitor and manage the health and performance of your wireless notebook PC with graphical displays, detailed logging and an intuitive user interface.

Note: There are two versions of the card, the 1102 and the 1103.

Os redefines Wi-Fi with launch of Os WiFi

A diagram showing a possible WI-FI network.

Image via Wikipedia

O2 outlined it’s plans recently to offer seamless, fast and free internet for all, in venues across the country. Here is what it said in it’s Press Release:

“O2 announces it’s plans to deploy a market-changing public Wi-Fi platform in the UK, with the launch of O2 Wifi. O2’s premium hotspots will be managed through partnerships with key venue owners and will be open for all customers to access for free, no matter which mobile or broadband provider they are with. O2 is aiming to create a scaled Wi-Fi platform that will be at least double the number of premium hotspots currently offered by BT Openzone and The Cloud combined by 2013.

It will begin rollout immediately by replacing its existing 450 Cloud hotspots in its retail and office estate. It will continue to extend the reach and scale of O2 Wifi through partnerships with strategic venues, to include shops, restaurants, retail outlets and outdoor and indoor locations across the UK. The O2 Wifi service will address the many shortcomings of current public Wi-Fi offerings by being genuinely free to customers, simple, fast and secure. O2’s mobile expertise and insight, allied with an enhanced quality of network connectivity and strong venue partnerships will now deliver a significantly enhanced user experience.

O2 Wifi will introduce a new level of customer engagement, driving increased value for both the Wi-Fi hosting venue and the user by bringing together O2 Wifi with the capabilities of O2 Media and O2 Money to offer the potential to deliver relevant timely content that customers want in a format that suits them. Access to the hotspots will be through a simple sign-up process and will be free to both O2 and non-O2 mobile customers, providing seamless connectivity to a high quality network. The sign up process will be auto provisioned for all O2 customers with Wi-Fi devices by the end of the year.

All hotspots will be premium public hotspots, as opposed to using residential connections with limited bandwidth. O2 has long been a market-leader in provision of public Wi-Fi services across mobile devices, introducing unlimited Wi-Fi access included in iPhone tariffs over three years ago. Through O2’s partnerships with BT Openzone and The Cloud, adoption and growth of Wi-Fi services has been significant with customers seeing real usage benefits. O2’s New Business Development Director Tim Sefton said: “Building networks is a core capability. We have pioneered the explosion of mobile data over the last three years and know better than anyone where people are accessing data.

O2 Wifi hotspots will bring high quality public Wi-fi access to the majority of mobile users. “Only 20% of people who have access to free public Wi-Fi on O2 tariffs actively use it despite the majority of devices being Wi-Fi enabled. We know that Wi-Fi as a technology has great potential and can be a very fast service, however customers are discouraged by barriers which include complexity in activation, uncertainty of where Wi-Fi is free and the variable quality of the current experience. “O2 is integrating new layers of technology into the existing network to enable a seamless and sustained customer experience. We are technology-agnostic and driven entirely by our customers’ needs. We believe that services should be delivered in the best possible way, across multiple networks, supported by different technologies.” In addition, O2 is increasing investment in its mobile network by 25% in 2011.

These investments will allow O2 to offer customers access to a suite of layered technologies, including 2G, EDGE, 3G, 4G, HSPA+ and Wi-Fi, seamlessly, simply and at speed. These technologies will enable customers to access a new range of ‘smarter’ services and experiences. ”

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The Future of Wi-Fi

A photograph of a metro Wi-Fi antenna in Minne...

Image via Wikipedia

Wi-Fi is growing in popularity, according to the WiFi Alliance (but then it would say that, wouldn’t it!). However, it appears to be the case, with increasing numbers of smartphones coming with built-in Wi-Fi and one only has to think of the iPad and the iPhone sales numbers to realise that there is a growing number of wireless devices out there.

So, what can we expect from our wi-fi in the future? Well, 802.11n is becoming more ubiquitous and now the Wi-Fi industry has its sights set on increasing Wi-Fi throughput and range, with upcoming certification programs for Wi-Fi in the 60 GHz frequency band and with Very High Throughput (VHT) Wi-Fi in 5 GHz.

There is also the introduction of Wi-Fi CERTIFIED Wi-Fi Direct™, a certification program for device-to-device communication without a wireless network or access point. This may well see the death of bluetooth.

Certainly, the rapid growth in wireless devices (device shipments expected to reach two billion by 2015 )  means we all need to think  more about security and avoid using unsecured networks whenever possible. It’s thought that some 400, 000 of the 3.5 million hotspots around the world are unsecured and vulnerable to hacking, so beware.

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East Midland Trains to have free Wi-Fi for 1st Class Only

East Midlands Trains Class 43 Power Car No. 43...
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East Midlands Trains’ is the latest rail company to announce plans to equip its services to London with on-board WiFi. A total of 27 Meridian trains can now provide access to the internet and four of its High Speed Trains fleet have also been fitted with the technology.

From September this year First Class passengers have had free access to the service, with other passengers having to pay a nominal charge. Plans are in place for additional services by early 2011 when the remaining seven High Speed Trains will be equipped with internet access.

David Horne, customer service director for East Midlands Trains, said: “We are very pleased with how the WiFi service has been received by our customers. Now that the Meridian fleet has been completed, customers will be able to access WiFi on the vast majority of our trains to and from London.”

How long it will be before the whole rail network is equipped with Wi-Fi is anybody’s guess. In the meantime, here a list of what’s currently available:

Virgin Trains

Virgin Pendolino and Super Voyager trains have Wi-Fi access available with either a one-hour or 24-hour pass. Virgin Trains Wi-Fi is provided by T-Mobile so passes can be used at any of T-Mobile’s 20,000 Wi-Fi hotspots. First-class passengers get free Wi-Fi on board.

National Express

East Coast Trains offers free Wi-Fi access on all its trains.

Eurostar

Eurostar offers Wi-Fi hotspots at its major UK stations, including London St. Pancras International, Ebbsfleet International and Ashford International, operated by Cityspace and The Cloud.

Business Premier customers get free Wi-Fi internet in Business Premier Lounges, and free Wi-Fi access is available to all Eurostar customers at St Pancras International.

Heathrow Express

Heathrow Express – on-train Wi-Fi access is available via T-Mobile HotSpots between London Paddington and Heathrow Airport.

Grand Central Trains

Grand Central Trains offer free Wi-Fi throughout their trains.

This list is courtesy of  Which magazine (http://www.which.co.uk/).

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WiFi issues with Windows 7 devices

Image representing Dell as depicted in CrunchBase
Image via CrunchBase

Seems that not everything is going smoothly for Microsoft, with reports of various problems and mixed reviews for it’s new Windows 7 smartphone devices.

Already, PC giant Dell’s new Windows Phone 7-powered smartphone Venue Pro reportedly has a WiFi glitch. According to the company, a firmware glitch is the culprit behind the connectivity issue faced by some users. Dell, have confimed in the blog that the issue that was reported in blogs like Boy Genius Report and Ubergizmo is indeed genuine. 

HTC Windows 7 handsets have also been reported as experiencing problems with WiFi, atlhough HTC has remained strangely quiet on the front, for now.

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Thousands of UK Wi-Fi users still vulnerable to hackers

A diagram showing a possible WI-FI network.
Image via Wikipedia

It seems the message still isn’t getting across. A recent report by insurance firm CPP shows some 40,000 wi-fi networks across the UK could be easily hacked, often within a few seconds. What’s most shocking about this finding is that almost half of them had no password at all – that’s nearly 20,000!

These networks are vulnerable to even the most inept hacker. With little more than a laptop, a wireless connection and some easily obtained software all of these networks could be hacked and the owner wouldn’t even know it. That means if they are using their internet connection to do online banking that they could find their logons stolen, followed soon after by their cash. They are also vulnerable to having their online identity stolen, their computers taken over and turned into zombies spewing forth spam and sending more viruses and Trojans around the net.

Another surprising finding of the research is that 82% of those interviewed thought their networks were secure. This just underlines the fact that most of the public have little understanding about Wi-Fi security and are oblivious to the risks they are facing. When one considers that Wi-Fi is very common now on smartphones and other devices (iPods and iPads for example) then this is a very worrying situation indeed. Its difficult to know what can be done about it too as most of the public develop a glazed look whenever you try and explain Wi-Fi security through the use of WPA2 security etc.

One solution would be for manufacturers to design devices with automatic security configuration and the SSID and wireless keys stuck on a label on the device. SKY do this with some of their routers so it’s possible to do it. Until all Wi-Fi devices come automatically configured with WPA2 encryption however, it’s down to the end-user to educate themselves and make sure their devices and networks in general are all properly secured.

Check out my post here for some tips on how to do this. I intend to write another post on how to secure your Wi-Fi network step by step so keep visiting.

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