Monday, April 30, 2007

Big Art Project

30 April 2007 | Channel 4 | 19h55
Big Art Project | Watch This Space: St Helens |
At a site being prepared for Channel 4's Big Art Project, former St Helens miners re-visit the land where their colliery used to be.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Is Wi-Fi bad for your health?

Patrick Goss: Editor - Tech & Gadgets
Is Wi-Fi bad for your health

The argument about Wi-Fi causing health problems is rumbling on, with the news that part of London has been fitted with a new network re-igniting discussions about the prudence of installation whilst long-term repercussions have yet to be ascertained.

There has been no firm scientific proof that Wi-Fi is detrimental to health, although many people claim to have an unusually high sensitivity to the technology – which uses microwaves to link devices such as consoles, laptops, phones and computers into a network.

Wi-Fi networks are proliferating across the UK, with many coffee shops, universities and homes now able to take advantage of a technology that allows connectivity without a cumbersome wire trailing from the device to a phone or broadband socket.

The fears about the technology are similar to those being expressed about mobile phones – although in radiation terms the amount received from a wireless network is a significant amount less than from a single mobile – simply because they are designed to operate over much smaller areas.

The Independent on Sunday suggest that 1.6 million Wi-Fi units have been sold in the past 18 months, with Internet Service Providers such as BT, Sky and AOL all including wireless in their options.

The increased numbers of wireless devices mean that people are becoming less and less tolerant of being without a connection and cities such as Norwich and now part of London now have major coverage networks.

What seems to concern many people is the lack of a major study into the effects of the Wi-Fi networks.

The Professional Association of Teachers has written to Education secretary Alan Johnston to ask for an enquiry to be mounted, as a growing number of pressure groups lobby for action.

The Health Protection Agency issued a report insisting that long-term research is necessary, although their findings are more specifically about mobile phones rather than Wi-Fi.

"We believe that the level of publicly-funded research into the effects of microwave emissions falls short of an adequate programme into an area where public health implications should be regularly reviewed," read the report.

"We recommend that the Government ensures a higher priority is given to a research programme into the health impacts of mobile phones. The public health aspects of new technologies should be incorporated into the Foresight Programme."

In the meantime, the installation of wireless networks shows no sign of abating – but it seems likely that the government will be prepared to bend to the pressure a launch a full scale health probe into the perceived long term dangers of the technology.

What is Wi-Fi?

• Wi-Fi stands for Wireless Fidelity and is, at essence, a set of standards for transmitting data from computers etc over a network without wires.

• This transmission is fast enough to allow transfer at a broadband-like rate

• If you are within a certain distance of a WI-Fi transmitter and have the necessary receiver in the device you wish to access it with, then it should be possible. This zone of connectivity is known as a hotspot.

• Many laptops and several phones and portable media players now come with built in Wi-Fi connectivity – as well as next generation consoles like the PlayStation 3

• Home computers and laptops can often be upgraded fairly cheaply to be linked into a Wi-Fi network with a plug in card or gadget.

• Wimax is a next generation version of Wi-Fi. It can integrate into current Wi-Fi technologies but has a much broader range and can send larger amounts of data per second.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Motorola Wins Queen’s Award for Enterprise in Innovation

Motorola, Inc. today announced that pioneering work carried out by its point-to-point wireless solutions group has been recognised with a Queen’s Award for Enterprise.

The award recognises outstanding achievement by companies in the UK and is given solely on merit. Motorola won the award for its innovative wireless broadband solutions.

“We are delighted to win such a prestigious award and to be recognised for the innovative work we have done in wireless broadband,” said Phil Bolt, general manager of the point-to-point wireless solutions group at Motorola Networks and Enterprise. “The award is recognition of Motorola’s expertise in wireless broadband communications and is further evidence of our leadership in seamless mobility.”

The technologies developed by the group, based in Ashburton, in the UK, provide governments, businesses, and service providers, with exceptionally high data rates and high levels of availability when using wireless broadband connectivity in situations that were previously impossible, such as across stretches of water.

Motorola's unique patented technology enables many companies to benefit from its high-performance broadband solutions. For example, the Central Scotland Fire and Rescue Services selected the solution to reliably connect its headquarters to local fire stations to ensure critical communications between the stations are assured.

The award is aptly timed, coinciding with the 40th anniversary of Motorola in the UK. Sir David Brown, chairman of Motorola Ltd., described the award as “a tremendous achievement” and went on to say “this is the eighth Queen’s Award that Motorola has won in its first 40 years in the UK and the first in the innovation category. We look forward to developing many more such innovations in the next 40 years!” - Motorola.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Two cautioned over wi-fi 'theft'

Last Updated: Tuesday, 17 April 2007, 16:22 GMT 17:22 UK

Two cautioned over wi-fi 'theft'

Two people have been cautioned for using people's wi-fi broadband internet connections without permission.

Neighbours in Redditch, Worcestershire, contacted police on Saturday after seeing a man inside a car using a laptop while parked outside a house.

He was arrested and cautioned. A woman was arrested in similar circumstances in the town earlier this month.

BBC Midlands Today correspondent Dr David Gregory said the cases are among the first of their kind.

He added that if people were using someone else's network to enter illegal porn sites, for example, it would be very difficult to trace them.

The man arrested at the weekend was cautioned for dishonestly obtaining electronic communications services with intent to avoid payment.

He attracted attention from neighbours in the early morning, as he had put up cardboard around his car windows but the light from his computer could be seen through the back window.

West Mercia Police said people with wi-fi should follow security advice given by their internet provider.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Ofcom publishes its Annual Plan for 2007/8


Ofcom publishes its Annual Plan for 2007/8

Ofcom today published its Annual Plan for 2007/8 which sets out Ofcom’s policy framework for the next three years and lists specific priorities for 2007/8.

The three-year policy framework and the priorities for 2007/8 were broadly supported by stakeholders during the consultation phase, which included public events around the UK attended by more than 350 people.

Policy framework for the next three years

Ofcom’s policy work for 2007/8, 2008/9 and 2009/10 will be focused on seven areas:

  1. driving forward a market-based approach to spectrum;
  2. promoting competition and innovation in converging markets;
  3. delivering public outcomes as platforms and services converge;
  4. improving industry compliance and empowering citizens and consumers;
  5. moving towards more consistent legal and economic frameworks;
  6. reducing regulation and minimising administrative burdens; and
  7. maximising Ofcom’s impact on international policy developments.

Ofcom, Digital Progress Report

Over half of UK adults have broadband at home

Source: OFCOM
Published Tuesday, 3 April, 2007 - 06:59

Ofcom has published its Digital Progress Report on the broadband market. The report looks at levels of take-up, usage and the types of services available in the broadband market.

In the seven years since its mass market introduction, broadband has become one of the fastest growing communications technologies. The report shows that over 50% of UK adults now have broadband at home - up from 39% a year ago and a seven-fold increase over the last four years. More than 13 million UK homes and small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are now connected to broadband, compared with 9.9 million a year earlier and 330,000 in 2001.

Many new internet users are choosing to go straight to broadband rather than first taking dial-up. According to Ofcom’s research, 23% of people with no internet at home said they were likely to connect in the next year with 76% of those saying they would opt for broadband.

The report also shows that broadband prices are continuing to fall. Speeds of up to 2 Mbit/s were available for £15 a month in 2006, down from £50 in 2003. In 2006 a number of communications providers started offering a broadband service at no extra cost to consumers who took other services in a bundle.

Bundling is an important factor for consumers when choosing an internet service provider (ISP). At the end of 2006, over 40% of all adults with broadband at home took broadband alongside other communications services from the same provider. When asked what the most important factor influencing ISP choice was, the same proportion of broadband users cited the possibility of bundling with other services (27%) as did price (27%).

Other key findings were:

  • Broadband speeds continue to rise. The estimated average headline connection speed was 3.8 Mbit/s at the end of 2006, up from 1.6 Mbit/s at the end of 2005.
  • Despite these increases in speed almost half (48%) of residential consumers were unaware of their headline connection speed in February 2007.
  • At the end of 2006, one in ten UK adults said they were making calls over the internet, double the proportion that said they did this at the end of 2005. Of these, 14% said they did it daily and a further 30% did so several times per week.
  • Around half of broadband users have accessed online audio or video content at least once; 29% listen to or download online audio and 26% watch video clips online on a weekly basis.
  • Local Loop Unbundling (LLU) continues to grow. In February 2007 there were 1.7m residential and SME unbundled broadband lines, accounting for over 10% of all connections compared to 2% a year earlier.
  • Ofcom’s research showed that 21% of all UK adults owned a Wi-Fi enabled laptop in February 2007 and over one third of those had used public Wi-Fi hotspots to access the internet. In September 2006 there were around 12,000 public hotspots in the UK, a 32% increase on the previous year.
  • One in three UK adults said they owned an internet-enabled mobile phone in February 2007 and half of those had used their mobile to go online.
  • In 2006 residential and SME connections generated £1.84bn in revenue for broadband providers – a fifteen-fold increase in six years.

Ofcom Chief Executive Ed Richards said: “With over half of UK adults now using broadband at home, we have reached a very significant milestone in the development of broadband Britain. Consumers are responding positively to the competition and innovation that the UK market now offers."

The full report is available at: