Oh no, Apple are tracking my location

An article running in nearly all the British media outlets today reveals that Apple has been storing location data of iPhones and iPads customers.

How it took two British security ‘experts’ is totally beyond me, one of the iPhones key features in the ability to attach your location to many of the phones services, twitter, email and the facebook are a few. Photos can be ranked by location and the handy thing about google maps is it ability to guide you to your location based on where you are right now.

Of course, the ability to track a devise this is nothing new, Apple have just created some magical way if tracking people’s location, they just made the technology similar for the average person to use. Mobile Phone networks have been able to track user locations since the dawn of the mobile phone through the slightly complex yet simple method of triangulation, a measurement of the distance the devise sits between 3 masts giving a nearly pin-point accuracy.

The benefits for missing persons and for fighting terrorism far out way the nay sayers and privacy campaigners weak arguments.

It’s quite simple, if your a drug dealer, terrorist or having an affair and you don’t want to be found out – bin your phone (sorry if this inconveniences your life). If your a normal person with nothing to hide then stop crying, no one is that interested in your life location anyway.


What if the Internet got switched off? ….. And you owned a gun

Imagine a world with no Internet or cell phones. A scary thought eh? For the people of Egypt last week it became a reality as the Government pulled the plug to shut down all
communications in a hope to stop the rioters in their tracks. How wrong was that?

The Internet is the best form of communication and learning around, its both bias and un bias and what’s more IT’S LIVE. No waiting for a news bulletin or a daily news paper, the information contained is raw, both factual and bullshit, both regulated and unregulated.

We, as a race have never been as smart.

Yet the Government of egypt somehow think by pulling the plug, people will go back to state sponsored newspapers and television channels and back to ‘taking their word for it’. Of course what happened in reality was much different, people fought harder and
what’s worse, fundamentalists were able to work under the cover of darkness. Rumours and lies could spread easier and the only way to confirm things was to watch the correpted government broadcast. Total madness.

Dispite this and despite President Obamas plee’s to switch the Internet back on it has emerged that the USofA are actually planned their own Internet kill switch wrapped up in a lovely bill claimed to be ‘Protecting Cyberspace as a National security’

Don’t America’s have the right to bare arms? Good luck with that Mr President.

The future called, it said its going to be expensive

It’s difficult to be ‘all things to all men’ in fact many say it can’t be done, yet somehow Steve Jobs has managed to achieve this with the iPad, well in my house anyway. The iPad has became the most fount over device in my house, knocking the remote control of the top spot if has held for the last decade.

For me, the iPad is about constant communication and the perfect business tool for when I’m traveling and a good way to read books, for my wife (who hates technology) celebrity gossip websites, wikipedia and various online retailers get a nightly bashing and for my (nearly) 3 year old daughter, peppa pig is the game of the year and YouTube let’s her watch her favorite shows on demand.

The devise is so in demand in my house, I’m considering purchasing another one for ‘the family’ but then it hit me. The future is damn expensive.

Up until now (through my adult and teenage life), I’ve had all the toys. Right now my essentials include a MacBook hooked up to the TV, another MacBook, two iPhones and an iPad, not to mention the monitors scattered across my desks in Dublin and Moira and various GPS devises. This addiction to technology has never seemed expensive to me for two reasons, firstly, my wife was never really that into new tech so we were never having to buy two at once and secondly as a person working in telecoms, certain toys are passed of a ‘work essentials’ and thus, never paid for.

Fast forward 15 years and my house will contain an 18 year old girl, a 15 year old girl, an aging geek and a yummy mummy, who knows there may even be a 12 year old throw in for good measure.

If 15 years time was today, I should imagine that my two daughters would each demand an iPhone, then a netbook for school and probably an iPad just cause dad has one. Given facetime is what it is and with the LBS apps getting better, my wife may even want to upgrade her Nokia 1110 to some form of iPhone.

Slight heart palpitations begin. How am i going to pay for this?

Of course some of you will be reading this and thinking ‘spoilt brats’ but I have grown up with a passion or technology which I believe has helped me be were I am today. I think it would be wrong to deny them of the same, if the passion is there and they are appreciated correctly.

The changing business model of a public Wi-Fi provider.

It’s great to see Wi-Fi back in the news again.

In two separately announced deals this week the UK Wi-Fi market has been turned on it’s head.  Firstly o2 have announced they are to launch their very own Wi-Fi network and hope’s to have more hotspots than BTOpenzone and The Cloud within two years.

O2 said access to the hotspots would be through a simple sign-up process and would be free to both O2 and non-O2 customers.  It remains to be seen how they plan the roll out but for a kick off, they plan to replace ‘The Cloud’ solution in their retail estate with their own giving them a launch figure of 450 locations, not to shabby.

It’s difficult to know how o2 plan to make money from the enterprise, certainly there is benefit in offering complimentary Wi-Fi to o2 mobile users, they do this already through partnership deals with BTOpenzone and The Cloud however to make it free to non o2 users will have to be underpinned by something, perhaps they plan to charge the venue for hosting the service, perhaps it will come under a marketing budget or maybe they will encourage other mobile operators to make use of their new Wi-Fi network for 3g offload directly competing with ‘The Cloud’ and ‘BTOpenzone’

In a second separate but loosely connected announcement BSkyB have announced they are purchasing ‘The Cloud’ for less than 50 million.  I would have thought that o2’s announcement was un-timely given a large amount of ‘The Clouds’ revenue comes form 3g offload and a lot of this is from o2, something o2 by the looks of it won’t be needing after 2013, The removal of 450 ‘cloud’ hotspots from o2 stores will certainly put a dent in ‘The Cloud’s’ site numbers but perhaps the deal had already gone to ink.

I should imagine that once the legal side of the BSkyB ‘Cloud’ acquisition has gone through Sky Broadband customers will start to receive complimentary Wi-Fi when they are out of the house, what BSkyB plan to do with the rest of the EU Cloud estate remains to be seen.

I always thought ‘The Cloud’ would be bought by a mobile operator much in the way AT&T purchased Wayport a couple of years to shore up their failing data network.

The Sky deal is interesting to say the least as it brings with it some conflicts.  Orange mobile customers for example can make use of ‘The Cloud’ hotspots, Orange also have a home broadband business which is direct competition to Sky.

The business model for a Wi-Fi provider is changing, it has changed.  Wi-Fi operators who are not concerning themselves with 3g offload and subscription based roaming plans are dead in the water.  Consumers aren’t demanding ‘Free Wi-Fi’ but rather to ‘Pay one price for data’ whereby you take out for example a home broadband package and it includes access to X amount of Wi-Fi hotspots, pay for a data plan on your phone and you can use it via the cell towers or in X amount of Wi-Fi hotspots.

I was reading our business plan from 2004 last night and oddly enough, the plan was then to build a Wi-Fi network that could be used as a data offload resource for mobile networks, something that is only becoming realised in the last 18 months.

o2 make an interesting point,

“Only 20% of people who have access to free public wi-fi on 02 tariffs actively use it despite the majority of devices being wi-fi enabled,” said O2’s business development director Tim Sefton

That means the growth Wi-Fi operators have seen in the last twelve months (over double the usage on our network) is only just the start of it.  Wi-Fi may have been concepted as a business in 2003 however it seems that this year we’ve finally (as an industry) taken the training wheels off and crafted some great business models for the future.


Wi-Fi in Cinema’s

I must admit it wasen’t my idea and I too rolled my eyes when it was first pitched to me.  I thought to myself, here we go another crazy idea of where Wi-Fi will work but the more I think about it the more it is beginning to make a lot of sense.

I’m not talking about Wi-Fi in the actual cinema screen here (although blokes watching rom-com’s would probably thank me for it).  I’m talking about the foyer, the place where all the ‘hanging around’ happen’s.

You could use it for

  • Checking IMDB or similar review sites
  • Booking tickets for collection to avoid the que
  • Buy snacks to be delivered to your seat through the Cinema’s own App
  • Update Facebook/Twitter/Getglue/4sq/Gowalla etc whilst waiting on your friends
  • Check out restaurant reviews for somewhere to go after the film.

All on your mobile of course, I don’t expect people to stand around with a laptop or anything.  That’s the thing, places like cinemas don’t have Wi-Fi for a reason and that reason is because mainstream devices have only switched onto Wi-Fi in the last 18-24 months and whereas before us Wi-Fi companies looked for locations with seats and tables, charging points etc, now we are just happy if there is people hanging around, even if only for a couple of minutes to pull down mail, check in on 4sq or whatever.

So, I’m going to give it a go.  If you own a cinema near Dublin, get in touch.  I’d be happy to cover the full roll out costs just to trail it.

Wi-Fi is going underground

Last week, BT Openzone and TFL annouced a deal to provide Wi-Fi to the underground network in London, starting with Charing Cross Tube station as a trial.

The initial coverage area will be the ticket hall area and Northern and Bakerloo line platforms at the Charing Cross station and the idea is that commuters will be able to get real time updates on trains and travel info in areas considered to be Mobile Network dead spots.

Kulveer Ranger, the Mayor of London’s Transport Adviser, said: ‘An ever growing commuter populous has been clamouring to be able to check their emails and browse the net whilst on the go.

‘This trial at Charing Cross will allow them to do just that whilst on the Tube platform. Read the rest of this entry »

Is your Wi-Fi up to your guests expectations ? Is it legal ?

This is an article I wrote for a UK hotel trade magazine. 

As hotels in the UK gear up for the Olympics in 2012 and an overall increase in business travellers from around the world, many are facing challenges to provide a world-class internet service to their guests. Gone are the days when a dial-up internet service in the bedroom will meet the needs of a business guest.  Today’s discerning traveller expects high-speed, always-on, secure internet access throughout the hotel property. In fact, a recent survey by Trustive Europe revealed that 45% of travellers would select a hotel based on whether Wi-Fi was available – so hotels without a reliable Wi-Fi solution are potentially loosing out on over half of all business guests.

In addition to the speed of access, travellers insist on reliability.  There is nothing more frustrating for a guest than choosing a hotel that advertises Wi-Fi only to check in and discover a slow, unreliable or faulty system or worse still, that Wi-Fi exists only in the hotel lobby.  To make matters even worse, many guests report little or no technical support available when they do experience problems logging on to the internet or if they have a problem using a corporate VPN over the hotel’s Wi-Fi network. Read the rest of this entry »