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