April 25, 2003

They're Unwiring Westminster

Meanwhile, back in our time line according to The Register ...

London's City of Westminster Council is to bring 802.11b wireless networking to the streets of Soho. The scheme, dubbed the Westminster 4G project, will initially provide Wi-Fi connectivity for council operatives and remote systems.

But in a direct challenge to ISPs and the UK's wired and mobile telcos, the Conservative-led Council plans to extend the network to provide data and voice services to the public.

Westminster 4G, due to be rolled out next month, will see a number of "smart boxes" installed throughout the Soho district of central London. Greek Street, Old Compton Street and Dean Street will be among the first to be given blanket Wi-Fi coverage, project leader and West End ward councillor Ian Wilder told The Register.

(Full story here.)

The one thing that springs to mind is that if you combine this with a PDA like the new Palm Tungsten C -- with built in 802.11b -- and SIP (a basic but workable VoIP stack) it makes the mobile phone obsolete. You can tunnel phone calls over TCP/IP over 802.11b wireless, instead of tunnelling TCP/IP sockets over PPP over some kind of brain-dead 1980's PSTN system.

Posted by Charlie Stross at April 25, 2003 12:43 PM

Woo-hoo, using 802.11 to roll out more CCTV. With great power comes great...ah, whatever. Could always just jam the signals. Yet another tool to add to the criminal's toolkit...or the civil libertarian's.

Posted by: Danny Silverman at April 25, 2003 04:01 PM

Nokia are already selling a GSM phone that's actually a battery-powered CC still camera. You ping it with an SMS message and it sends back the last picture it took.

Remember, cameraphones mean the public are beginning to look back at everyone else.

(If I had a car, I would have to have a cameraphone. Think: you're in an auto accident, what do you do? You call the cops, you call the recovery service, you call your insurance broker. Is there even one of those whose ability to help you sort things out -- assuming you're in the right -- isn't going to be assisted if you can zap them a date-and-GPS-coordinate stamped picture of the accident scene?)

Posted by: Charlie Stross at April 25, 2003 04:05 PM

And just like Cisco (?) is making some phones that have ethernet instead of PSTN plugs, we might get to see cellphones that use wifi instead of GSM.

Posted by: Shay Elkin at April 25, 2003 04:14 PM
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