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24 September 2014

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You are in: Jersey > Places > Place features > Net on the go

Girl on a laptop in a park

Net on the go

Imagine being able to check your email, blog or read the latest from BBC Jersey on the beach.

“WiFi: Short for ‘wireless fidelity’. Many airports, hotels, and other services offer public access to WiFi networks so people can log onto the Internet and receive emails on the move. These locations are known as hotspots.”

Using a laptop in the park

At least that’s what the British Library has to say about the technology, with the more technical bits of the definition removed.

The British Library quote above is a pretty accurate description of WiFi, except that it isn’t exclusively public; there are private WiFi connections in people’s homes and offices as well.

But it also expands beyond indoor places like hotels and airport – for example, one group have set up free WiFi access on Brighton Beach.

Expanding even further than that – an increasing number of cities and towns, right around the world, are setting up WiFi connections for people to use anywhere outside.

Man on a laptop

You can now sit in Central Park in New York and check your email, chat to friends on My Space, upload a photo you’ve just taken of a dog to Flickr or write about writing in a park on your blog.

The idea of only having the net in the office or in your house is becoming less true each year.

Norwich

In the UK you can browse the net, at a much lower speed than at home or work, from large parts of the City of Norwich and it was pretty well used.

Kurt Frary, who managed the project at the local authority said: "We had 1,800 connections in the first week, more than 2,500 in the second and 3,000 in the third. It's been glitch free so far - we have had very few technical problems."

The biggest concern of an island, or at least town wide, free public WiFi system would be the affect on internet cafes.

Girl on a laptop

But we can take another look at Norfolk for a solution to this problem. They’ve kept the connection speed relatively slow and limit time to one hour.

Mr Adams, director of corporate resources and cultural services said “the one thing we don't want to do is compete with commercial companies, we have a speed of 256Kbps in order to not compete with wireless hotspots."

Users are also limited to a one-hour session and have to reconnect after 60 minutes – with the speed and time limit this restricts people from doing things like Skype and other bandwidth hungry tasks.

The Library and Schools

Recently students in Jersey have been calling for free WiFi in the town Library and other public places.

David Edwards, who studies Biological Sciences at Exeter says not having wireless has prevented him from taking advantage of the peace and quite Jersey Library can offer those wanting to study.

Working in the park

But it goes beyond students. Having the ability to connect from anywhere in the island – on a park bench, on the beach, in a bar, restaurant or café is good for business too.

People working in the islands finance, technology or in fact any other industry can take their meeting out of the office and into a different environment.

It’s also good for tourism. If you get a team that’s considering a trip to the island for a conference or team building exercise – having free public WiFi would enable them to keep in touch with the office from anywhere.

Commercial approach

The alternative approach to a States sponsored, or States run and commercially sponsored WiFi system is for business to do it themselves.

Using a laptop in the city

A number of Jersey coffee shops, cafes and bars are already introducing free WiFi connections, or at least low cost connection for people eating or drinking in their business.

It could also just be introduced in key areas like the Library, Cyril le Marquand House and the major parks.

Over to you

Do you think the island could benefit from a free, low speed WiFi network? If so how far should it go – should the network cover the whole island or just town?

What about having it just in key areas like the library and parks?

Or would you rather leave it to private companies. For example, would you rather Jersey Telecom, Newtel or Cable & Wireless installed a town wide WiFi connection and then charged a small monthly fee to use it?

How important do you consider internet access to be?

last updated: 29/04/2008 at 16:42
created: 16/04/2007

Have Your Say

The BBC reserves the right to edit comments submitted.

intrigued
Well Mohamed, Airtel have launched but I don't see any island wide wi-fi service. Are you sure you actually know what you are talking about?

mohamed
Airtel are launching a free island wifi service when they launch their new mobile network next week. can't wait!

Low speed?
Wait for WiMAX and do a high speed, IPv6 free WiFi service throughout town. Or at least some pseudo dynamic WiFi mesh; anyone seen Fon routers?

What's the point, really, of this WiFi stuff if you can't use Skype, video on demand and so on with them. Limits you to browsing your text only BBC stuff without any videos.

This "rich" content stuff is the most important thing about where the internet is heading. Sure shape it and share it fairly through the system, but just blocking it is a bad idea.

Wireless internet in public places, particularly high speed so that people want to use it for things other than news, provides a very good social environment and no doubt is good for business and tourism.

I disagree with the notion that computers are killing social life; go down to The Bean and look at people leeching the Apple Store's signal and all talking to each other while using laptops. Important point too for holiday planning for a lot of people.

Plus, there are a lot of ideas that us techies have that basically internet anywhere.

Oh.. and about the health freaks: the fact that we're outside in Jersey with all the radon, UV, car fumes, and indeed the dangers posed by other people by far outweighs the danger from WiFi hotspots.

And maybe we should get some modern artists to sort of style the routers to look like statue things or something. We all know Jersey has paid for more pointless things than that in the past.

Joker C
Personally I think it would be a good idea but due to the number of people with technophobe attitudes here it would be far too costly and time consuming for the Island to get it up and running.

Given that it uses very similar technology, the same wingers who moan about mobile phone masts will be now moaning about WiFi routers appearing all over the place.

These people (who are happy to use mobiles as long as the “masts aren’t in their back yard” jumping on the band-wagon) will play the same card:

1) They will be convinced that the WiFi signals are damaging their health and wellbeing even though there is no hard evidence to prove such claims.

2) They will complain about the unsightliness of the routers even though they wouldn’t be any bigger than a small laptop in size.

Lets save money and hassle and stay in the dark ages.

On the Subject
Free Wi-Fi is already available on the island. By using a 3G mobile phone SIM card as the connection for a laptop you can already acheive download speeds of 384 kb/s which is faster than the the speeds mentioned in Norwich.

Jersey Telecom currently offer free WAP internet access on their mobile network and have a 3G network covering over 70% of the island.

When HSDPA (or 3.5G) is launched download speeds will be able to reach as high as 10 Meg which is faster than most landline based internet connections.

Services like these are already available, people just aren't fully aware of them. If they were, we wouldn't be walking through town watching students sitting in doorways bleeding from other peoples connections.P.S. How was my spelling?

Student
I Am afraid that one is not doing English Language at A-Level. One is quite good at spelling. If one is so old that one does not understand the concept of textual messaging speech, then one should learn. doesnt one agree? Fear of the Future is OAP's complaining about spelling and one wearing hoodies.

I fear for the future
A-levels? I think you should be doing GCSE English instead! You get marked in some A-levels for your spelling ability (about 5% of the total mark)... oh dear god...

Student!
Astonished?! hey i may not b able to spell, but im not dumb! im doing my A Levels for a reason, i dnt have any common sense but im celver..ish! lol

Louise
I think it is terrible that the library does not have wireless internet access. I do not have a good place to study at home so need to use the library but as I also need the internet for research, I cannot sit in the library so am forced to go to cafes where there is free wireless internet. Obviously this is not ideal! I do think that the idea of free wireless internet in the town area is a good one and probably more realistic than having it over the entire island.

Chris
Kelly has a good point.. soon it will be pure Wi-Fi everywhere...

Astonished
Interesting piece but more interesting was the grammar and spelling of the A Level student. Who says schools and their students are dumbing down?

Kelly
I think we spend too much time on computers and staring at the tv as it is - leave the outdoors as a place to interact with each other, enjoy nature and be a bit active, not sit silently staring at a screen.

Student
Definately, i am currently study for my A Levels! and i need to revise and i wish i could go down to library where its peacful! but i also need my laptop and the internet! so WiFi places would be great! and i think it shud b FREE! us students cant afford much!

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