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back to article Blighty street has hottest Wi-Fi hotspot hottie in Europe: We reveal where

London's Oxford Street has Europe's greatest density of Wi-Fi hot-spots - and almost a quarter of them are openly accessible to the public. That's according to a new study that also puts the UK behind the US in terms of free wireless connectivity. Across America 32 per cent of Wi-Fi access points offer web browsing gratis to …

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So it's probably NOT a good place to connect?

Given that most folks running such systems have no clue about security?

Just askin' ...

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Anonymous Coward

free- only at point of use

Technically because somehow somewhere you do pay for it. As an extension of the advertising budget or through taxation

coffee shop ? Penny or two on that already exhorbitant mocha-whatever

library, public space? - from council tax or business rates.

bt-fon? Well at least you can see where you pay for that.

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Re: free- only at point of use

FON is great, that BT support it is great, simply by increasing the number of hotspots available, and the great thing is the more they roll out infinity, FON will just get better and better, althought actually providing decent routers would be nice too...

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Stop

Re: free- only at point of use

It would be if it worked.

I've never had a FON hotspot work without demanding money from me. Never.

These days I just ignore them completely.

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Re: free- only at point of use

BT Fon, Openzone and the Hubs are an abortion unto God, and if you really really beleive you can trust your network security and segregation to a Home/Business hub that was built by the cheapest possible bidder then fair play.

Not one customer I have visited, home or business has been away that these steaming pile of fetid steaming badger dropping broadcast both Fon and Openzone, BT arent too forthcoming about this aspect of the Hubs. Some of the Business users have been quite rightly less than amused.

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> Passpoint also identifies the user, so the operator can provide value-added services such as additional content without having to resort to a cellular connection, but that's of unknown value for the moment at least.

Unknown value to the user, but "quite a lot of value" to the passport providing company. They'll know who you are, what you are buying (you were on a Starbucks WiFi, right?), and pretty much exactly where you are all day as your devices hop from hotspot to hotspot. Marketing gold mine, and ever so slightly creepy.

Tin foil phone covers anyone?

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Holmes

Wi-Fi Tracking.

That's why all my devices that have Wi-Fi have them disabled until I enable them. My tablet stays in Airplane mode for 95% of the time (it is mainly a book reader). My phone does not do Wi-Fi and my Laptop has it switched off by default.

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Re: Wi-Fi Tracking.

Airplane mode is great. Not only does it stop you being distracted whilst reading, but it extends battery life immensely!

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The UK is still primitive and crap

Here, use our "free wifi" - just install some cookies, provide us your personal info, your phone number so we can send you an SMS to verify you're a chump for marketing and even a random app on your device for us to, ahem, ensure your secure browsing. Thanks, but no thanks.

In a number of other countries I have visited "free" means just that - many branded locations have a click-though page to accept T&Cs and will leave a cookie, it's true, but no hard sell and give-us-your-firstborn - and smaller non-chain cafes and shops don't even want that. The most complexity was in HK where many restaurants use their phone number as the access key, which seemed like a nice idea.

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"but no hard sell and give-us-your-firstborn"

Ooooh, you can get free wifi for trading in your first born child ? Sounds good, where can I sign up.......

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Childcatcher

Re: "but no hard sell and give-us-your-firstborn"

If your first-born has yet to reach the age of 21, I can say - from experience - that this would have been a very tempting offer...

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Boffin

What about any semblance of security...

Presumably these APs are all running open with no encryption - being run by unknown operators (who may well be nefarious and packet sniffing everything that passes through) - I'll be waiting for Watchdog telling us all how nasty and horrible it all is when Mrs Aylett from Basildon has her bank account emptied after she walked down Oxford Street minding her own business and used the free wifi to check her bank balance.

I'll be sticking to my own data connection that I control and know (as far as possible) where the packets are going.

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Re: What about any semblance of security...

"Presumably these APs are all running open with no encryption"

Why would you assume that? It's perfectly possible to have an open connection which sets up encryption when it first connects. That said, once you're connected even if it is encrypted you'll be on the same network as the rest of the public so encryption is kind of moot.

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Boffin

Re: What about any semblance of security...

used the free wifi to check her bank balance

You're confusing the security of the network transport (probably none) with security of the browser protocol (probably HTTPS) and security of the banking application (good, one would hope, but it seems to vary from bank to bank).

Anybody relying on the security of the network transport can expect break-ins, whether it's free WiFi or ADSL through a private phone line.

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Re: What about any semblance of security...

>t's perfectly possible to have an open connection which sets up encryption when it first connects.

But only if you use pre-shared information ie. information that is gained from outside of the WiFi connection.

But then you do need to remember that WiFi encryption is only equivalent to the level of security to be gained from a physical cable connection between your device and the AP. Hence if you really want to be secure and mobile you need to be using a persistent SSL VPN.

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Re: What about any semblance of security...

Relax, it's only for reading the latest Telepgraph headlines while drinking coffee. Common sense says nobody is going to do confidential computing activities in Starbucks. Amirite ? Phones and tablets are too small for doing real internet "work" anyway. Reading headlines is pretty much all you can do on them as a grown-up.

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Go

Re: What about any semblance of security...

That's why you fire up a VPN session to do anything sensitive, and have your email client insisting on using SSL/TLS for any and all communication.

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Unhappy

Oh, where is the app ?????

That can store WiFi login details, and *automatically* (presumably from a user-defined priority list) log you in when in range.

On a recent train journey to London, I had access to Wifi at the stations, on the train, and in a coffee shop on the way to the office. 4 sodding times I had to type my email address/login details in.

Maybe this is the biggest driver to actually *paying* for LastPass. But ideally, a dedicated app which allowed you to prioritise your free wifi points is needed.

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"" QUOTE "" Free Wi-Fi is spreading rapidly in the UK even if some users are billed for it. ""UNQUOTE ""

Then its NOT FREE

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It means that for example you can pay a subscription to access "the cloud" hotspots, but most of the hotspots it gives you access to are free anyway.

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Re:Paid for and Free hot spots

Need to dig into this, as there was a time where The Cloud severely limited the free service. Accessing the WiFi at the same 'hot spot' but through a subscription service gave significantly better performance.

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Hmmm... not sure - try getting free WiFi in NYC, one bar owner said no we can't offer it because we are too near to the Empire State Building.

I couldn't be arsed to mutter WTF? at him.

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Happy

one bar owner said no we can't offer it because we are too near to the Empire State Building.

Isn't it obvious? King Kong comes from a remote tropical island. He's going to want to call home, now he's in a new place - so he's going to need free WiFi to access Skype. After all, he's unlikely to have had a chance to get a US SIM, what with all the hassle the army are giving him.

So you'd be a fool to be the closest free WiFi hotspot and attract all that chaos and destruction.

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Unhappy

If you had...

You'd have discovered that the transmitters on the Empire State are so powerful they overload all kinds of electronic gear for miles around.

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Alert

What's the Frequencies, Kenneth?

I bet the experience of using wifi hotspots in this area is awful. No doubt, they're all set to channel 1 or 12 on the 2.4Ghz band and nairy a sniffter in the 5Ghz band.

Ironically, with all that wifi coverage, and given how congested the mobile networks are for data down there, it must be a pretty miserable time for those wanting to do anything useful whilst mobile.

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Unhappy

Oxford St the highest density of non-working wifi

As I'm litterally 5mins walk from Oxford St (just of Regent St) WiFi is totally unusable. There's way too many hotspots around here for it to work.

It's made worse because the only config anyone's done is to setup the SID & a password - everything's on either channel 1 or 6 so it's just way too congested for it to be of any use.

Before you asks, it's all on 2.5GHz, there's sod all on 5GHz around here.

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Re: Oxford St the highest density of non-working wifi

You're forgetting that WiFi SSID's with a maximum of 32 characters make excellent location specific advertising space.

When we were surveying Soho for a WiFi pilot back in 2006, we encountered many "interesting" SSID's; whether there was a network behind them or not we didn't investigate...

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I don't do anything financial or confidential on my tablet. I'm delighted with the free Wi-Fi I can get standing inside or outside my bank chain or local brewery pubs.

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