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Knives, Guns, Explosives and MiFi units banned from London 2012 Olympics

I had a note in from the team at Tep Wireless who — like me — are a little bit surprised to find that WiFi and 3G hub devices are banned from any Olympic events and venues. Here’s the actual PDF highlighting all the banned elements.

This is rather silly, I think.

Because if you’re going to ban these devices, you really should be banning smartphones too — almost any modern smartphone can act as a 3G WiFi hub (or “MiFi”).

The accompanying text on the Olympics PDF explains that:

Personal/private wireless access points and 3G hubs (smart devices such as Android phones, iPhone and tablets are permitted inside venues, but must not be used as wireless access points to connect multiple devices)

Precisely how are you going to enforce this? Goodwill?

Let’s hear from Tomas Mendoza, top man at Tep. They obviously have a direct interest here as they’re one of the go-to firms for smartphone and MiFi unit rentals across Europe (with Australia, Hong Kong, China, India and the States coming soon):

“We’re just two days away from the start of the first ever Olympic Games in the modern, digital era but unfortunately the organisers clearly don’t appreciate the advantages technology is offering – and what the public expect as a result.”

Tomas supports my point too:

“Fans are allowed to bring their iPhones, iPads and Android phones and tablets into Olympic venues – but strangely, they’re not allowed to use wireless access points to connect multiple devices.”

He goes on to point out that this sort of thing isn’t ideal:

“These are the people who’ve had to go to the considerable trouble – and expense – of buying tickets, booking flights and finding affordable accommodation in one of the world’s most expensive cities. Their next priority is to have reliable and affordable mobile Internet connectivity for all their devices so they can share their once in a lifetime experience with family and friends.”

Agreed.

I think quite a few folk would normally aim to bring their MiFi units with them. I wouldn’t be surprised if a small number of US geeks arrived on-site with their own MiFis anyway.

It’s perfectly understandable if you’re going to provide ubiquitous guaranteed WiFi connectivity in every venue. I’m not sure that’s the case though. If you can go to huge The O2 stadium complex in the DOcklands and use a MiFi unit, I don’t see why you shouldn’t be able to do this at an Olympic venue.

Thoughts?

(For the avoidance of doubt, you should leave your bayonet, flick knife, sharpened comb, modified belt buckle and extendable baton at home too)

By Ewan

Ewan is Founder and Editor of Mobile Industry Review. He writes about a wide variety of industry issues and is usually active on Twitter most days. You can read more about him or reach him with these details.

7 replies on “Knives, Guns, Explosives and MiFi units banned from London 2012 Olympics”

I’m not so sure – the rules don’t generally prohibit bringing non-sponsored products into the venues for personal use. Whilst there have been a few cases of people being told they can’t that’s generally someone in the chain mis-understanding rules that apply to advertising.

We won’t know until LOCOG respond to the queries, but for me there are a few more likely reasons:

– LOCOG fear they may be used maliciously to damage BT’s reputation or advertise other services.
– It’s an effort to ease strain on mobile networks that are expected to be pretty stretched with 300k people in the Olympic park at peak.
– It’s an effort to protect systems which use WiFi from interference. Critical systems are wired but the news agencies and journalists will be using WiFi in the venues to get pictures from remote cameras and to check data.

Generally I’m a fan of the games, but even I have to admit that LOCOG / IOC do have a ‘ban first, ask questions later’ approach to new challenges like this, which is a shame because – as many have pointed out – they’d be hard-pushed to proactively enforce it.

I suspect the intention was to allow them to act against disruptive usage once identified, but those nuances are difficult to prescribe in rules.

If you think thats bad, then how about this clause thats included in the ‘prohibited’ list for the football stadiums (I guess its also applicable to the Olympic Stadium?)

Equipment which is capable of recording or transmitting any audio, visual or audio-visual material or any information or data. Mobile telephones are permitted provided they are used for personal and private use only provided that no audio, visual or audio-visual material captured by a mobile telephone may be published or otherwise made available to any third parties including via social networking site

So I can take photos, but I am not allowed to upload them to Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and share them… LOCOG have gone mad! Just like the MiFi banning how are they going to police this?

I’d guess it was a capacity thing & they’re worried that hundreds of wifi access points would interfere with the wifi network installed for the press/officials/timing etc.
If that was the case it would be more transparent to actually say so since any bad guy that wants to can cause plenty of interference from outside the stadium with a big enough jammer.

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