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back to article O2 to fling out free Wi-Fi for all

O2 is planning to deploy 13,000 Wi-Fi hotspots over the next two years, with free internet access in exchange for your mobile number and a few quid from the venue. The network won't just be for O2 customers: anyone with a mobile phone will be able to sign up to the service, which will provide free internet access while logging …

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MAC address as unique identity

Of course, I've never ever edited my MAC address with that 1337 haxor tool called regedit.exe...

Not that there would necessarily be any great benefit in this case, but it's not entirely foolproof.

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FAIL

Because...

everyone has 'regedit.exe' on their mobile phones*! Unless your Windows desktop/laptop comes with a phone number, in which case, carry on.

*Yes, if you jailbreak/root your iPhone/Android phone one may change the MAC address.

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Am I being too dumb?

Register with a throwaway PAYG SIM. Then switch back to the real one. MAC number correct. Connect while on the road. Texts go to ... errr the SIM in my drawer at home?

O2 could check my SIM was active in that area. OK if the registering SIM is o O2 but if it were on another network?

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Boffin

Except...

... that nowhere is it specified that it's for mobile phone access only. Yes, the authentication is done via mobile (which could equally be a 3G stick or internal device, think about it - that does indeed grant a phone number as sarcastically described) but the mechanism could be that the SMS sent contains a one-time WPA password for use on a laptop or other wi-fi connected device.

Assumptions, assumptions.

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@AnotherNetNarcissist

Wrong way round. Register with the phone, edit your computer's mac to be the same as the phone. Free laptop wifi. Genius!

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Big Brother

Mobile number, MAC address?

Time to go PAYG methinks...

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Conflict of interest?

When 3G works well, it's brilliant. Make it better and you wouldn't need wifi out the home. But now, O2 have an interest in you needing/wanting wifi rather than good mobile connectivity.

I dunno if that's obvious or I need a tinfoil hat...

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Well

T-Mobile used to have a respectable wifi hotspot and o2 data users have been recommended to use cloud wifi since the iPhone, so nothing new here really.

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3G doesn't work so well when congested

The 3G network is expensive to set up and operate compared to WiFi and also due to the size of each cell where you have a large number of users all trying to use data it can run out of bandwidth quite quickly. A WiFi "hotspot" makes for a very cheap micro cell to take load of the expensive network.

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jai
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only one device then?

so is it a one off thing? will their network remember the phone number - MAC connection, or will you have to re-register each time?

cos if it remembers the connection, then it's only possible to use mobiles? i can't decide sometimes to connect on the phone (when in a department store perhaps) and at other times to connect with my tablet (when sat down in starbucks or a supermarket cafe)?

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You have to *supply* a phone number.

As you have to supply a phone number, this cannot be fully integrated. It would seem likely that you connect to wifi, get greeted with a login page, enter your phone number and activate. The MAC address and phone number are in different parts of the system, and only seem to be linked by the user's actions., not tech.

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Stop

coincidence?

Is it a coincidence that one of their WiFi Partners, the cloud, was gobbled up by sky just a few days ago?

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I do have a theory....

.... about all this free stuff.

For me, the world would be a much nicer place, more relaxing, less frustrating and, possibly, fractionally cheaper, without advertising.

Advertising is paid for by all, by everybody, regardless of whether one uses that service or not. For O2 to call the service "free" is disingenuous, as it is of all 'ad-funded' service; the retailer or service provider wraps up the cost of the advertising into their "over head" and is passed on to all it's consumers.

Now think of a world without advertising : you pay for the services you use, nothing more. There are no adverts sucking bandwidth, getting in the way of what you actually want to do, both in terms of screen space and time.

For me, I use FireFox and Add Block Plus which works like a dream. On the rare occasions I have to use IE, I despair at the amount of trash, gunk and rubbish there is on the web, in the form of banners, adverts and click-throughs.

Really, the last thing we need is more advertising. It would be nice if the UK made something, rather than just pumping adverts out all the time…….

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Big Brother

Would you like eggs with that?

"O2 can see you're looking at email - Our partner Tesco would like to advise you that SPAM can be found in aisle 11".

Hmm. Tempted if you only have to 'sign-in' once and its available in lots of places. Plus, you could just register using a PAYG sim then bin that to avoid text/phonecall based o2 spazming.

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MAC address is unique?

Interesting. I can change the mac address on my netbook and laptop to mimic my phone, so once I've registered that's free wifi on those devices.

Can I change the mac address on an android device though, that's the big question? Time to hit google.

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Unhappy

Sms ads?

I have been getting sms spam for months now and I can tell you it is intensely anoying.

I have installed a spam filter but all it really does is disable the alerts

Why cant they put the ads on web pages?

This is a service I wont use.

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Go

There's only one place I really need free wifi.

and thats in a hotel!

c'mon sort it out.

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Hell yes

Knowing what is involved in startup costs and monthly charges for running a wifi in a smallish hotel (call it less than 50 rooms), they could offer it 'for free', jack up the rack rate by 50p per night and be in profit. I refuse to believe they make much money out of their 'Deposit £6.50 for one hour of wi-fi' deals. I have even gone to the extreme of re-activating my 3G dongle which I always thought was extortionate as it comes out cheaper than these helpful offers.

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FAIL

Internet access

Is something I can live without, if the price of it is some gimp flinging ads for crap I don't want at me.

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One-off registration?

If so, what's to stop me buying the cheapest PAYG mobile, signing up for this WiFi service with my laptop, then dumping the phone in the nearest phone recycling point? Will I be able to use WiFi forever while the SPAM MMS heads for some network black hole? Sounds like a good deal to me.

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Looks like O2...

...will be getting this rolled out instead of upgrading their mobile network. So glad I'm in the process of leaving them. I do hope 3 lives up to the tests I was running on a PAYG sim.

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A simple solution to spam free surfing

Assuming you have an unlocked phone, buy a sim kit in any supermarket, poundland etc. Use that to register for your free wifi. Then remove the sim and stick it on a shelf somewhere, only checking it if the wifi goes for some reason. Let O2 spam away as much as they like as you won't be listening.

If O2 start using countermeasures like using delivery receipts to monitor who is receiving messages then stick the sim in some crappy old phone which you turn on from time to time to clean out the backlog, to read a validation code or whatnot.

At the end of the day they're still paid by venues so it doesn't matter to O2 and probably never will.

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Alert

SMS Delivery reports

Well that would be something as O2 are the only network AFAIK that don't support SMS delivery reports. You can force it on the network by starting the SMS with *0# but its a non standard way of doing it. Other networks will enable it with a menu option in the handset.

O2 have this really odd network implementation that is non-standard, and no delivery reports is only one symptom. Not having on handset conference calling is another (its only available to iPhone customers)

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Heart

Good article

Gets closer to the real detail than any of the other articles I've seen this morning. Well done on not just parroting the press-release.

Still two questions though:

(A) Will the spamming be in the form of SMS/MMS to the authed phone, or injected into web content via the inevitable proxy that your wifi traffic will go through?

(B) How easy will it be to reassign your number to a different device? (It must be possible, what with mobes being short-lived things.)

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Anonymous Coward

Public wifi generally very disappointing

O2 iPhone tariffs previously included access to BT openzone but i rarely had much success with them - generally so many simultaneous connections they'd be slower than GPRS.

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But it's illegal

Changing your phone's MAC address is an offence under the Mobile Telephones (Re-programming) Act 2002 and section 62 of the Violent Crime Reduction Act 2006.

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Coat

Is it really... ?

Now that is something I did not know.

Question : is changing the MAC on a laptop which access 3g : wi-fi, is /that/ illegal ?

Another question : is the MAC address on a mobile 'phone hardware dependant or is it linked to the sim/device combo, like the IMSI ?

If it is the latter, then it will change often, if it is the former, then there is one MAC on multiple networks.....

Something I never thought about.

P.

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WTF?

Buh...

Only in the UK is changing a MAC Address a Violent Crime.

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WTF?

Are you sure that you're not...

....thinking about a phone's IMEI? Changing that definitely is illegal in most circumstances, but changing a WiFi or Bluetooth MAC address seems to be entirely different as the law was changed to prevent stolen phones being returned to service with a new IMEI to avoid the blacklists.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: But it's illegal

Is that true? The act only refers to "a unique device identifier" which is usually the mobile phone IMEI (and must be on phones that don't have WiFi). You could change your MAC address without changing the uniquely-identifying IMEI of the same phone and argue that you are still uniquely identifiable. Anyway, as commented above, just change your laptop MAC to match the phone MAC and avoid breaching this act.

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Confused

O2 are rolling this out but venues have to pay for it? So O2 are not coughing up anything?

How is this different to the venues themselves just sticking a few APs around and offering free WiFi?

Or am I missing something (as usual).

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FAIL

But... Why?

What is the logic in this ?

Only idiots sign up for mobile phone contract then use public WIFI instead of HSPA?

If you ever use WIFI (even at home) you are shooting yourself right in the foot.

ALWAYS use your local cell site. Otherwise O2 will never spend the money to upgrade your area if the traffic lessens on the cellsite then some other area gets the all important network upgrade.

Are you really willing pay high monthly line rentals for Super Fast HSPA technology and for this money they then CON you into using 3rd party wifi ??

If you love WIFI so much I really must insist you swap your iPhones for the iTouch instead

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I can see the point about public wifi

But why the hell do I want to wait for very average speeds on "super fast HSPA" when I'm at home in the hope that the network notice and may upgrade my mast.

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