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BBC Radio 4 - 92 to 94 FM and 198 Long WaveListen to Digital Radio, Digital TV and OnlineListen on Digital Radio, Digital TV and Online

News and Current Affairs
SHOP TALK
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Tuesdays 16:00-16:30
Intelligent and entertaining conversation about business, money, technology and workplace issues.

Presented by Heather Payton, each programme picks up on trends and returns to stories that have moved out of the headlines.
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Listen to Shop Talk for 30 September 2003
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HEATHER PAYTON
Heather Payton
 
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Tuesday 30 September 2003
a wreath.
Alec Waters using his laptop on the Brighton seafront - the first wi-fi beach in the UK


Wi-Fi world

Just as we came to believe all those techies who told us the future was wired - they've changed the goalposts again. It's not wired at all, it's apparently wire-less.

Over the next half an hour we'll be talking about information and communication without wires, something we've already achieved with phones, mobile and cordless, and radio of course, but is now extending itself to take in the internet.

Just imagine the freedom. A lap top allows you to work curled up on the sofa. But the minute you want to pick up your e-mail or check something on a website, you have to plug into a phone line. The wire trails across the room and your partner steps on it.

Imagine being able to connect to the internet on the beach, in the garden, in the bath if you like without wires of any sort. And you already can.

Just as long as you have the right gear on your computer and are within 100 metres or so of a transmitter. It's called wi-fi, short for wireless fidelity, or more prosaically, wireless local area network.

It's reckoned there'll be 23 million wi-fi users within three years. It's fast and it can be cheap and it's great news for regions and countries that lack telephone coverage.

It sounds perfect, but of course there's a risk. Some new technologies take off like wild fire and others fall as flat as a pancake - what will happen to wi-fi?

Contributors

Dave Hughes
BT Openzone

Brian Parker
Wialess

Mike Woodward
Boeing

Tom Last
Gaia Technologies

Bryan Glick
Computing newspaper

James Stevens
Consume.com

Alec Waters
Piertopier.net

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