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24 September 2014
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Computer network cable
Wires a thing of the past.

Cambridge is WiFi'd up

Tom Edge
Imagine sipping an espresso while ordering your film tickets and emailing a friend you've been thinking of, sat slouched in a city centre café. The possibilities are endless with wireless computing.


Top 10 countries for WiFi hotspots

  • United States 22,081
  • United Kingdom 9,356
  • Germany 5,713
  • France 3,239
  • Japan 2,197
  • Switzerland 1,311
  • Italy 1,111
  • Spain 1,073
  • Canada 826
  • Australia 800

Source: Jiwire

WiFi is short for Wireless Fidelity, also knows as Wireless Area Network (WLAN).  It provides short-range, high-speed connections between mobile devices (mobiles, PDAs, laptops, hand held games consoles) and nearby hardware such as WiFi access points which are connected to the wired network.

WiFi access points (hotspots) usually have a range of about 100m.  This range is dependant upon on interference caused by microwave ovens, walls and even cordless telephones working on the same frequency.

Each hotspot will turn broadband-speed internet radio signals to allow people to surf the net, send emails, play online games and make cheap calls over WiFi.

Nearly all public hotspots are commercially operated so you pay a fee for the use of that hotspot.  The big providers offer you pay as you go and monthly options. 

laptop wifi

However users often find that they only need fifteen minutes to check emails, but are forced to pay for a 24 hour access, which is around £6 for one hour.

There are currently three standards for WiFi: 802.11a, 802.11b and 802.11g, with varying speeds.  There is soon to be a new standard which will be even faster.

The UK has the second highest number of hotspots after the US with 12,004 hotspots.

BBC Cambrideshire spoke to Rend Shakir of Cambridge Matrix who are providing a free wireless network in the city. Read our interview:
Cambridge ready to go wireless >

last updated: 21/02/06
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Ian Sanderson
Geoff I'm sure the stuff your IT consultancy recommends is far better!? Seriously if you want wireless in Cambridge, it's your best bet. By the way I am sending this over the Cambridge Matrix!

Margaret Jones
Matrix is the only service where I don't need a phone line or contract for my broadband at home. If you sit in front of a cellular base station and don't get a line on your mobile you can say: "Not so sure Vodaphone are there yet, was holding my mobile only inches from the mast." On the other hand a power failure or the transmitter no longer being in operation or your mobile not working properly can explain why numerous attempts will lead to no connection even when only stood a few metres away from the transmitter. Next time you are in Cambridge visit the Corn Exchange. You will get Matrix in the historic centre without even seeing a transmitter. I was at Strawberry fair when they demo'd TV, radio and phone on the mesh network. The services were mobile the technology is definitely there.

Malcolm Baker
I was at the strawberry fair last year and saw the demo and - cos it was so crowded (vodaphone busy) - and i had wi-fi on my phone used it to call my girlfriend. Bonus no harm to my love life at the end of the day would have been a disaster if I'd lost her!!! Malcolm

Sarah Miller
George, next time you go to Cambridge and want something a lot cheaper (£2 a day), try the Matrix. I use it on Mill Road, no problem getting a signal in the White Swan and it's an Irish pub as well. Also if you're in the centre of town pop into the Corn Exchange cafe instead. Again just £2 for the day, £15 for the month and the same all over Cambridge. If you have a problem give them a ring their telephone number's on the website. I've always found them personable and helpful. Last time my friend visited and stayed at the Centennial hotel and connected to the Matrix from their during her stay so they obviously have coverage in more places - hope this helps! Sarah

george patterson
can i get access now. i can most places in the world. im sitting in the bodega in cork, ireland right now sending this free and ireland is still pretty much concidered a 3rd world country at least 20 years behind. but when i come to uk cambridge i have to pay 5 pound for one hour in starbucks, cant find any where else. plus the price of a coffee or two. tell me what to do please

Maria Henderson
I have been doing some research into wireless mesh networking in Cambridge, Mass. These types of systems have been stopped by lots of problems this company seems to have solved. I am very excited that this makes it easy to deploy such systems in place of 3G, GSM, GPRS and other types of mobile network! I'm looking forward to the next developments.

chris s
This sounds absolutely wonderful! What a great space age idea that would put cambridge in the world news once again. Pushing us further to the future. Just one question, will the system be available for macs?

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