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Manchester Wi-Fi Proposal - Good News for Bloggers?

  • Robin Hamman
  • 5 Dec 06, 11:25 AM

BBC News has reported that Manchester City Council plans to make a bid for money from the Government's Digital Challenge Initiative to create the largest free wireless internet hotspot in Europe. Although not the first UK city to offer wireless internet connections - Norwich launched their network at the end of August - the proposal, initially covering 100 square miles and expanding to as much as 400 sq. miles, would create the UK's largest blanket of wi-fi internet coverage so far.

Wi-fi, for the uninitiated, is a wireless method of connecting to the internet. A base station connected to a high-speed internet connection broadcasts signals through the air, those signals are picked up by compatible computers, and commands made on those computers are passed back to the base station.

So what would this mean for Manchester Bloggers? Well, having been a wi-fi user for about three years myself, I think blanket wi-fi coverage opens up whole new avenues of possibility. Not everyone has highspeed internet at home, nor can everyone afford to pay the often high access charges for internet access offered by many coffee shops these days. At a very basic level, a city wide wi-fi network would help people who wouldn't normally have the resources to get online do so - as long as they have wi-fi capability in their computer. Hopefully this will lead to more interesting and creative people creating and sharing their content online.

As for existing bloggers, it will get easier to take your blog with you wherever you go and you'll be more easily able to blog as you down an egg butty at the local greasy spoon after a hard night out, write posts about the people and places you observe as you sit in the park or in another public place, and to post content live from sporting matches, public meetings or cultural events. This sort of thing is already starting to happen, of course, with increasingly powerful multimedia mobiles with fast data connections appearing - Newsnight's Paul Mason blogged about his recent visit to a Manchester City match where just about everyone seemed to be holding their mobiles aloft, snapping photos and sending videos to friends.

There are also lots of new wi-fi enabled devices appearing in shops - from handheld gaming machines which allow users to compete with other users over the network to mobile phones that, rather than routing your call via the usual telephone network, can connect your call cheaply (or for free) using high quality voice over internet (VoIP) technologies such as Skype.

All that's fine and good, if not a bit geeky, but what's it actually going to do? Well, for me at least, all sorts of possibilities have been opened through my being able to connect to the internet from almost anywhere via a combination of my laptop's wi-fi connection at home and public places already offering free wifi and, where there isn't an open network, via my 3G mobile phone's data connection. I can read my RSS feeds on buses or trains. I can post a short entry while I wait for my lunch. I can live blog events, as I did from the Manchester Blog Awards until my battery packed in on me, and show people stuff, look up things, or check up on email from just about anywhere.

A city wide blanket of wi-fi like the one being proposed by Manchester City Council would certainly allow me to blog more often and from more places, but is that a good thing?

Would internet access anywhere, anytime throughout Manchester make it easier for you to blog? Would it affect where you blog from or what you blog about? Will it change your relationship with your blog, your blog's audience, and with the people around you? Will you take your blog with you everywhere or will you leave it at home? Tell us what you think, as people who create and post content online, the pros and cons of a city wide wifi network are for you personally.

[The photo in this entry Blogging the Manchester Blog Awards was originally uploaded to flickr by robinhamman.]

Comments   Post your comment

For this blogger at least it'd be motivation enough to buy a laptop.

I beat the BBC to this story, by the way. Though The Times beat us both...

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  • 2.
  • At 05:50 PM on 05 Dec 2006,
  • Hugo wrote:

Some of these fancy Nokia phones have wifi support, so you'll be able to blog directly from them.

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Mancubist - I bet LOTS of people are thinking the same thing.

Hugo - I have experimented a bit with typepad's mobile blogging client that works on symbian based 3G phones. It's a bit fiddly trying to type anything other than a headline to accompany a photo. Wifi phones do sound appealing though.

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I wonder what the telcos companies selling broadband acces in the Manchester area think about this idea?

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  • 5.
  • At 02:51 PM on 16 Jan 2007,
  • Jimbo wrote:

Godzilla is a fish and it is cool and it isnt a dinosaur

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  • 6.
  • At 02:56 PM on 16 Jan 2007,
  • Andy wrote:

This will be amazing. Now with my Nokia WiFi phone & Barablu dialler, I will hardly ever have to use my mobile service. This will save me a ton.

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