Monday, December 04, 2006

Wi Fi for free

Today Manchester City Council has unveiled plans for a citywide Wi-Fi network which will cover 90 percent of the Greater Manchester area. The proposal is part of the council's bid for the nationwide Digital Challenge which will award a prize of £7 million (US$13.8 million) to the council which best shows how it's using IT to improve community interaction.
“So what?” you may ask.
The answer is simple and significant in that the service is going to be free. It is proposed that this broadband wireless network will eventually cover an area of up to 400 square miles and give Internet access to 2.2 million people. It follows on similar initiatives in San Francisco and Amsterdam and could offer small businesses and citizens speeds of up to 10Mbps and explode the use of internet telephony and access to online information.
This is a huge step forward and starts to unlock the access to information we all seek. The question now is will publishing be ready to participate? Will people expect the information as well as the network for free? How will local libraries and learning centres exploit the bandwidth and will they be in conflict with commercial organizations?
We are fast moving towards an “information on the move” environment where you can keep in touch and access your world from anywhere at anytime form any device. We are no longer tied to the wires and are information and access is becoming truly portable.

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