Nokia's free Wi-Fi; connecting people in London, with Spectrum Interactive

By Richi Jennings (@richi ). Nokia (HEL:NOK1V) is trialling free Wi-Fi in central London. The company hopes to expand the trial to a full service of 1,000 hotspots. Tämä on erinomainen suunnitelma! On the...


By (@richi ).

Nokia (HEL:NOK1V) is trialling free Wi-Fi in central London. The company hopes to expand the trial to a full service of 1,000 hotspots. Tämä on erinomainen suunnitelma!

  • On the one hand, let's hear it for the Finnish phonesters: freeloaders rejoice!
  • On The Other Hand, won't somebody think of the horrific security implications?

Plus, today's skateboarding duck: Lovelace and Babbage vs. the Vampire Poets...

Aunty Beeb speaketh unto nation:
Nokia has set up 26 hotspots...largely concentrated around West End shopping areas. Victoria, Marylebone and Westminster will also get [them]. ... [P]eople [do] not need to register or sign in to use [it].
The hotspots will be located on phone boxes owned and operated by...Spectrum Interactive. ... [S]peeds will be limited to a maximum of 1 megabit per user to ensure others can get at the service.
The fragmented nature of existing services has led the Greater London Authority to encourage boroughs to set up free wi-fi along the busiest streets. more.png

Charlie Sorrel adds:
[It's] a trial service. ... [If] it works, then the Finnish company will turn it into a full (and still free) service. ... It’ll be just like joining the Wi-Fi network that your neighbor foolishly left open. ... [If] the trial is successful, Nokia plans to add 1,000 hotspots around London.
[I]t’s most likely to be useful to tourists who want to avoid expensive roaming charges. more.png

But Khidr Suleman notes one security wrinkle:
Users need to turn on the WiFi option on their device [and] search for the 'Free Nokia Wi-Fi' SSID. ... Simon Alberga, executive chairman of Spectrum Interactive...admitted that there are no measures in place to prevent hackers from setting up a false Nokia WiFi hotspot.  more.png

And Richi Jennings despairs: [Who he? -Ed.]
Forget false hotspots, any open Wi-Fi network is a security nightmare. Did Firesheep teach us nothing?

Unless users are only using encrypted connections, their authentication cookies are vulnerable to cloning. Firesheep's been around for a year, and cookie-hijacking's been around for much longer.  more.png

Mof Gimmers notes a silver lining:
And no, you won’t need to register or sign in to use the WiFi, so it is already vastly superior to the teeth grindingly irritating BT Openzone.
The rest of the country, of course, can go whistle.  more.png

Meanwhile, Dean Nicholas cuts the theory and walks the walk:
We went out and had a quick play with this at lunchtime. Ambling along Tottenham Court Road, we took out an iPhone and...the Free Nokia Wifi appeared straight away, although it took about a minute for the device to connect. A couple of simple registration screens later, and we were on.
[T]he speed appeared decent enough, certainly on par with the better areas of 3G coverage in London. We navigated to the iPlayer to test out streaming video, but it didn’t work.  more.png

Today's Skateboarding Duck...

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Richi Jennings Richi Jennings is an independent analyst/consultant, specializing in blogging, email, and security. His writing has previously won American Society of Business Publication Editors and Jesse H. Neal awards. A cross-functional IT geek since 1985, you can also read Richi's full profile and disclosure of his industry affiliations.

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