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back to article Dublin's free Wi-Fi falls foul of competition law

Dublin has abandoned its plan to blanket the city with free Wi-Fi as it thinks it might breach EU law on state aid, and they haven't got the €27m it's going to cost anyway. The opposition Labour Party, who originally proposed the plan, are claiming the council has been nobbled by telcoms companies who don't want to see free …

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Mopre "competition" hypocrisy

So something that is state-funded has an advantage over private sector telecomms and yet every time the government wants to privatise something it's claimed that the private sector is inherently more efficient and competitive than anything a government could run.

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How about a Mesh system?

Instead of having access to the internet, how about just making it a city-wide WLAN?

If someone wants to put an internet pipe on there and charge for access through their AP, no worries. If the CBD is willing to FUND internet access to increase their utility, then they can give this money to the city to organise it (so that no one business can squeeze out a rival, the city would seem to be the best guess at an uninterested third party).

All the city is doing is adding infrastructure. After all, they build the urban roads, the sewers etc. WLAN is just the 21st Century urban road.

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Ed3

What about libraries?

Sounds like a precedence which would allow book stores to shut down public libraries...

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Alert

@Steve

There's no hypocrisy involved - the advantage of any state-funded industry is that it can take money from taxpayer's pockets anytime it likes. On the other hand private industry has to *persuade* people to give money by offering a compelling service/product, as it can't simply take money from them like the government does.

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Clearwire

Dublin actually has a city-wide WLAN, more or less, as the Clearwire service can be received in most parts of the city. You just buy a 'modem' and plug it in - no landline required. I thought the service was great, but as I didn't pay the bill I can't comment on the value for money.

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Re: private industry has to *persuade* people

Hmmm. You don't read El Reg much. Counter examples:

EDS

RIAA

MPAA

MS

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No Such Thing as 'Free' Wifi

'Free' WiFi? It's only 'Free' if there is no increase in the council tax bill, or if no other goods or services provided by the council are axed to release the required funds. I suppose it is free if you are a visitor to Dublin, but for the residents - it aint free!

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IT Angle

LLU's

They'de be better off giving Eircom a kick in the goolies, BT have a few 8Meg capable switches in Dublin on a 'trial basis' ffs. 3Meg broadband is the max most people can get.

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Coat

So

Next time I visit Dublin, I can leave my tin foil hat at home safe form all those pesky penetrating radio waves

The beige one, ok, thanks, bye

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Anonymous Coward

@ John H Woods : Clearwire

Clearwire is pretty poor. Pants in fact.

Mind you , the telco market in Ireland is pretty poor anyway, like the UK market 10 years ago. Mind you for a third world country I suppose it's ok.

Value for money ? Third world service at first world premium prices.

Most Dubs don't really care about service [service for anything] except making sure they get a line of jars on the go.

Being on the lash is pretty much all they are bothered about.

P.

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Paris Hilton

@ed3

That depends on the setup of the library. Many libraries (at least here in the US) are actually non-profits that (sometimes) recieve municiple funding and in return for that money subject themselves to government oversight.

Yeah I'm being pendatic over here.

Oh and Paris Hilton angle blah... blah... blah....

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Rubbish

Such systems benefit the better off and if it was popular would only have given Dialup speeds. ISPs I know just thought it a huge waste of time and money rather then worrying about the competition.

The competition issue is a face saver for the council for a system that whould been very expensive and not delivered.

Clearwire is an example of how good it would be.

http://www.boards.ie/vbulletin/showthread.php?t=2054918402&highlight=Clearwire

This is how good HSDPA can be too:

http://www.boards.ie/vbulletin/showthread.php?t=2055115306

For semi nomadic or Mobile Internet in Dublin there is

Digiweb Mobile: Up to 5.4Mbps Flash-OFDM (with upto 16Mbps capacity per sector) (900MHz)

IBB Ripwave: SCDMA, upgradable to WiMax (3.6GHz)

O2: GPRS/EDGE/3G/HSDPA up to 3.6Mbps a sector

Vodaphone: GPRS/3G/HSDPA (no 220k EDGE)

3: 3G/HSDPA only.

Clearwire: Semi WiFi like service.

There is also choice of several high performance fixed wireless services and Cable, one can do up x3 better than typical DSL from eircom (Digiweb Metro). More Alternatives to eircom in Dublin than anywhere,

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Gates Halo

@Mark Re: private industry has to *persuade* people

The RIAA a counter example? More like a perfect example! Have the RIAA ever forced you to buy a CD? I don't think so...now try not paying your taxes and see how far you get.

The whole point is that with any private industry you always have a choice to show your displeasure by taking your business elsewhere but with publicly funded organisations you're stuck with them no matter goddam awful they are.

So if Clearwire want to provide city wide internet then I don't mind since that's their own money that they're burning through. However if Fingal county council want to have a go then that's a problem - since as a previous poster said - that's the council tax I pay being wasted.

( P.S. I tried Clearwire Ripwave when it came out and it was dreadful, even with a line of sight to the nearest transmitter. I've sinced move to NTLs 3MB cable offering and it really flies!)

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IT Angle

Fonero?

Couldn't Dublin do a deal with Fonero to pay for the Fonero points to be given away and all residents given free wifi in return, then only visitors need to pay, at least if they dont have a Fonero themselves.

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Anonymous Coward

There is no "council tax" in Ireland

At least not for homeowners. About 30 years ago Fiann Fail "bought" an election by abolishing "rates" (council tax). Businesses still have to pay local taxes, but all local authorities receive a subvention from the Government to cover what they might notionally have received from "rates".

So there's absolutely no local control over raising revenue, and as a result there's a lot less local control over "discretionary" spending (because the local electorate can't decide to increase or decrease taxes in return for increased or decreased taxes).

You do have to pay to have your rubbish collected though!

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Unhappy

You do have to pay to have your rubbish collected though!

And to use the motorway

And pay for kids water (from the tap no less) at school

And pay for all GP visits

And Pay fire service if house catches fire

And subsidise your kids poorly funded school

And... oh why bother.. rope anybody?

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Clearwire

Clearwire is pricey - 50 euros a month for 2Mbits with an effectively unenforced cap (no specification of what they do if you go over it at that), but it does work virtually anywhere in the city and a fair few of the suburbs. Pity the AP (an ethernet bridge) is a wee bit massive, there's a PCMCIA version from the makers though

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Try a hybrid WiFi system like Adelaide Australia

A parallel to this happened in my hometown Adelaide, Australia. Back in March 2002, the World Congress in IT was held at the Adelaide Convention Centre. 70 Wifi transmitters were installed for the event. Afterwards, the transmitters were pulled down and the Adelaide City Council was approached to have permission to install the transmitters in public places (ie: on top of light poles) and permission was approved. The angle being, to 'boost the states IT reputation', 'increase city worker mobility', and to draw in youth to the city area. Now, most the main streets for shopping, wining and dining in Adelaide are WiFi hotspots. Perhaps in Dublin a fresh approach needs to be taken.

Check the article:

href="http://johnnymestizo.com/2008/01/11/how-to-use-wifi-on-rundle-mall/

How to use free WiFi Internet on Rundle Mall for an Adelaide point of view on this Dublin debacle.

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@ No Such Thing as 'Free' Wifi - not so

We have free wifi here in central Helsinki - some rich businessman got so tired of sitting in his favourite cafés but without being able to access his emails, that he simply installed wireless internet covering several blocks of whole city centre by himself, and then allowed the public to use his connection freely. So, yes, free as in beer. Wish it would happen more often...

Add to that the fact that outside of that wifi zone, all of my favourite pubs also offer free wifi of their own (and good, competitive prices on beer), so that's me pretty much covered. Just believe, people, it's all possible!

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IT Angle

Dublin...

As an IT installer in Dublin, I can confirm:

Irish Broadband - rubbish - I have had several clients who installed it and removed it again (speeed as FAST as 2kbs!!! at times)

Clearwire - seems a bit better but this might only be due to lack of customers

3G - 3 is very good (relatively) for a wireless solution - 250-500 kbs for €20 per month - great if you are out and about. Vodafone does achieve higher speeds but costs €49 per month. Don't know about O2 but similar in price to Vodafone.

I am not a believer in WI-FI (need 3 wireless routers just to cover a basic 1950's style house of 2,000 sq feet!!) the other solutions (IB and clearwire) are limited by bandwidth - the best solution for wireless must be 3G as there are so many base stations - if the provider has each linked with enough bandwidth there is little competition from other users.

Anyway Have DSL at home (3Gbs) and 3G on my pda so am happy out.....

W.

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Pants to free wi-fi....

....just buy more beer!

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