You read it here first - London gets free wifi

The mass media have finally caught up with the December 28th entry in “When IT meets politics”. Note the speed of the roll-out (due for completion inside 3 months) compared to the snail-like progress of BDUK with agreeing the allocation of funds to support rural broadband, let alone allowing those receiving the funds to get with the job. Note also the implications of “convergence” as BT (Openzone) competes head to head with BT (Openreach and the “unbundled” local loop suppliers), O2 and Vodafone for the urban smartphone, on-line social networking,  browsing and transaction markets (alias ubiquitous broadband) across the UK – because no-one can afford to wait for Ofcom to finally sort out 4G spectrum.

Of course the technologies and spectrum range available are not ideal and the products and services are not yet easily substitutable or seamless (except in the eyes of Internet savvy teenagers), but needs must … 

The other question is whether the bandwidth and service reliablity on offer will be sufficient for major business users to transition large parts of their operations direct to mobile working.

If so, how quickly will we see “trusted computing” (alias the ability to check that you are dealing with a known device in the hands of a known user at a known location) on smart phones. Is the deal between Samsung and Wave a sign of the way ahead?

In a couple of weeks I am due to chair the next meeting of the Information Society Alliance sub-group tasked to draft procurement guidance for those planning to use trusted computing products and services to deliver better significantly security at much lower cost. They will be beginning with top end security. I will ask how practical it is to move rapidly down the spectrum of applications while retaining a sustainable open market (i.e. with inter-operability standards between competing suppliers).  In the same week I will be attending a similar meeting (again organised under the aegis of the Information Society Alliance) on infrastructure sharing.

The O2 deal illlustrates the value of Local Authorities comparing notes, working together and bypassing central government attempts at “co-ordination”, let alone their “advice” and “guidance”  as to what is, or is not, legal or compliant with EU law.

But does that have to be the case?

Is it really too late for central government and its agencies and regulators to play a constructive role? 

I would like to think not – but given the pressure on HMG to cut costs and overheads at the same time as it seeks to transfer responsibilities to local government  while also cutting their funding …     

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