Mobile Wi-Fi hot spots banned from London Olympics

By on July 25, 2012, 3:30 PM

It appears that the LOCOG (London Organizing Committee of the Olympic Games) plans to prohibit the use of mobile hotspots during the Olympics. Various news outlets managed to notice the fine print just before the event begins Friday this week. Although non-sanctioned hotspots are banned, smartphones, tablets and other mobile devices are definitely allowed -- and so are their data (i.e. 3G) connections. It's the "sharing" part that LOCOG intends to stamp out.

Here's the official line from London's Olympic committee:

Personal/private wireless access points and 3G hubs (smart devices such as Android phones, iPhone and tablets are permitted inside venues, but must not be used as wireless access points to connect multiple devices)

Source: london2012.com (pdf)

How the London-based committee plans to enforce this rule is unknown. It may be merely a platitude paid to British Telecommunications who aims to generate revenue from the event via their enormous web of Wi-Fi access points.

BT -- UK's largest ISP -- is the "official communications services partner" of the Olympics, having won a contract deal with Olympic organizers. According to GigaOm, the committee green lighted BT's plans to deploy roughly 1,500 Wi-Fi hotspots throughout Olympic venues while 1,000 access points are expected to be placed in the Olympic Park. 

While it is clear the 2012 Olympics will be sopping wet with connectivity, there's one thing to consider: BT's hotspots aren't free. Infrastructure certainly isn't free and BT is likely anxious to recoup its expenses (and maybe even turn a profit). As a result, many spectators will find themselves paying £5.99 for 90 minutes of access, £9.99 for 24 hours or £26.99 for five days. In other words, that's about $9.27, $15.46 or $41.77, respectively. Existing BT, O2 and Tesco Mobile customers will be exempt from the fees though, able to enjoy the same access as everyone else without the cost.

While there is an obviously a monetary incentive to prohibit mobile hotspots, there may be other valid concerns regarding wireless network interference, malicious hotspots or putting a stop to enterprising capitalists aiming to provide their own premium Wi-Fi solutions. Without an effective way to enforce the prohibition though, I don't suspect the ban will make much difference.




User Comments: 9

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Scshadow said:

Wouldn't too many wifi signals in one place start to **** everything up?

PinothyJ said:

Can they legally stop you from spitting out a hotspot?

wastedkill said:

Seriously this is stupid there will be the same exact amount of people using there phones as a hotspot, and the cost to use the BT hotspots... that is just pathetic why does it cost so much I just hope a hacker or someone breaks the code and gets everyone free wifi complimentary of BT

Emexrulsier said:

There is no law to stop you but you could be asked to leave any venue/event where such activities is prohibited.

gwailo247, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

Considering what the visitors will be paying for everything else while in London, I don't think $40 for 5 days it that egregious, they'll probably end up spending that for a pint at a nearby pub, but I wonder just how many British people are customers for all 3 of those vendors?

If, lets say, 70% of the people use those services, then it won't be that bad for your average British person.

DanUK DanUK said:

Considering what the visitors will be paying for everything else while in London, I don't think $40 for 5 days it that egregious, they'll probably end up spending that for a pint at a nearby pub, but I wonder just how many British people are customers for all 3 of those vendors?

If, lets say, 70% of the people use those services, then it won't be that bad for your average British person.

O2 certainly have a big market share. Thing is the olympic venues will be full of people from all over the world!

However your point still stands.. the prices people are paying for tickets.. an extra few quid for a 5 day pass is a relatively small amount.

I can't really blame them for doing this (and I'm going to make the same assumption that this is BT driven), it's akin to cinema's stopping you from taking your own food and drink in etc.

1 person liked this | slh28 slh28, TechSpot Paladin, said:

Considering international roaming charges I think tourists to London won't be too put off by BT's charges.

I'm really looking forward to the Olympics in my city but all this commercialisation and exclusivity crap has just gone too far. I'm waiting for someone to turn up to an event wearing a Pepsi t-shirt, Reebok cap and a Burger King take away and seeing what happens.

abdultraya abdultraya said:

Speaking as the owner of one the worlds largest Wi-Fi networks based in Calgary, I am going to add this is awful. In 2012 they should (OC) be providing free Wi-Fi, make london a "smart city" like Calgary.

cliffordcooley cliffordcooley, TechSpot Paladin, said:

I'm waiting for someone to turn up to an event wearing a Pepsi t-shirt, Reebok cap and a Burger King take away and seeing what happens.
LMFAO

Edit:

I wouldn't be opposed to them keeping new Wi-Fi hotspots from forming. I would be opposed to them taking preexisting Wi-Fi Hotspots down simply because they are in range of the event.

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