Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Is everybody going wi-fi?

I wonder, is everybody going wi-fi and adopting portable computing? I am relatively old school with my internet access. I have a broadband modem at home that runs a cable into the back of a traditional desktop computer, with a CRT monitor, 101 button keyboard and a mouse on the end of a cable. This equipment sits nicely on a tidy desk and I sit on a comfy chair whilst reading and writing on this wonderful machine.

But whilst doing my day job I notice that a lot of people have these portable computers, netbooks and laptops with various screen sizes. There appears to be a lot of people accessing the internet either with mobile broadband dongles or free wi-fi from a number of locations. Today I read that
Swindon is to become the first UK wi-fi town
with free internet access available to all its 186,000 residents. A £1 million network of 1,400 “access points” similar to the wireless routers installed in millions of homes will be sited at strategic locations around the Wiltshire town. The network is being named the Swindon mesh.

I notice a lot of signs around our country offering free wi-fi and this service is appearing to be catching on. I do wonder if the mobile phone companies who sell mobile broadband are feeling the cold here as there appears to be a growing number of free wi-fi internet hotspots. Maybe one day all the coaches of a nationwide company may have free wi-fi installed. It has already fitted wi-fi to it's coaches running from London to Portsmouth and Southampton because a rival service, named after a slim breed of racing dog, is offering wi-fi to their passengers.

I have often wondered about buying a netbook or laptop for use outside the home. Had I not discovered the joy of reading paperback novels, I may have bought one because I had become so disappointed with newspapers. The joy of books is that once who have chosen a book, whenever you open that book, it is a 100% quality reading experience. Internet use is a very different experience indeed, a mix of searching, reading and writing. My typical internet session has many different destinations and does not have the single focus that a paperback novel provides. If things turn bad with a paperback book then it could be up to £8 down the drain, even a dog could chew it. If things turn bad with a netbook or laptop then you could say goodbye to £200 to £350 - enough to make a grown man cry!

Still, I will play safe for now, with my throw-away £8 paperback books but one day I may trade up to this very popular technology.
Most wi-fi hotspots are provided by people such as O2, T-Mobile and Orange, so try not to feel too sorry for them (I doubt you will, lol)!

Stagecoach opts for Vodafone to operate its entire wi-fi operation across its entire company. To date, only a select few services have free 'tinterweb', the most recent convert being the new Stagecoach Gold service linking Cheltenham-Gloucester, though more high-profile service have had wi-fi for ages (Oxford Tube, cross-Forth services in Scotland...)
Thanks Graham, I have noticed locally that the Stagecoach X4 Cardiff to Hereford service has a new fleet of vehicles. Out have gone the coaches where the passengers were legally obliged to wear seat belts and in have come some brand new service buses that at a glance do not have seat belts. The X4 service is now advertised as offering free wi-fi to passengers. One small step forward but a big step back in my opinion!
Yes, it does seem a little perverse when a 'decker replaces a coach and operates to an identical route, that seatbelts are no longer a legal requirement.

From the top deck, completely different hazards and potential injuries are identified; some considerably more serious than on a coach.

From what I remember, the seatbelt law, unlike many others forced on the coach industry, is home-grown - we can't even blame Johnny Foreigner!
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