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Sunday, 16 June, 2002, 07:58 GMT 08:58 UK
Green light for wireless world
Cup of coffee, BBC
Soon you could be mixing coffee and telecoms
Soon you could be using a high-speed weblink in the cafe where you pick up your morning coffee.

The UK Government has eased regulations on the running of wireless networks that should make it much easier to set up public access points that use radio to link people to the web.

Wireless computer networking technologies have been catching on in recent months as prices come down and people realise how easy they are to set up.

However, before now, anyone wanting to sell services via the wireless network frequency had to have a licence.

Radio times

Now, newly appointed e-minister Stephen Timms has removed the requirement for a licence, making it much easier for businesses, be they cafes, hotels or bars, to operate wireless services.

Traditionally, computers have been linked into networks using cables but with wireless, or wi-fi, technology the job of the cable is done by radio waves.

Many businesses and consumers have used a particular short-range wireless technology, known as 802.11b, to link together computers.

E-minister Stephen Timms
Timms has kick-started wireless services
The part of the radio spectrum this hardware uses, 2.4GHz, is also used by many remote control toys and baby alarms.

Before the regulatory change, businesses were barred from selling access to the web by letting customers connect via wireless links unless they applied for and got a wireless telegraphy licence.

This requirement has been removed, although anyone that wants to make money out of wireless services must have a licence to run telecommunications services.

The change in regulations will be effective from 31 July.

Access on the move

The move was welcomed by BT, which in April announced its intention to set up a national network of wireless connection points.

Subscribers to this service would use a handheld computer or laptop fitted with a wireless network card to get high-speed net access when near one of the connection points.

Initially, the service will only be open to corporate customers and the connection points will be set up at airports, train stations and hotels as well as bars and coffee shops.

In 2005, BT is planning to open the service up to consumers.

See also:

06 Nov 01 | Science/Nature
28 Dec 01 | Science/Nature
10 Apr 02 | Business
11 Mar 02 | dot life
18 Mar 02 | dot life
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