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Sky+HD2TB-wi-fi.jpgSky have announced that both of their Sky+HD box models on offer to customers in the UK will now come with built-in Wi-Fi connectivity as standard. Whether you're signing up for the entry-level Sky+HD box or the capacious 2TB model, you'll no longer have to snake a wire around to the back of the box in order to access on-demand content.

"Record levels of On Demand viewing show that Sky customers love the flexibility the service offers," said Luke Bradley-Jones, Sky's Brand Director of TV Products.

"When people connect their Sky+HD box to broadband they get instant access to the UK's biggest Catch Up TV service and an extensive On Demand library of TV Box Sets and exclusive movies - and we're seeing a growing demand.

"We want even more people to enjoy these benefits, so we're making it easier to get connected by launching our best ever Sky+HD box with built-in Wi-Fi and offering existing customers a free On Demand connector."

Owners of older Sky+ boxes who are also looking to get in on the Wi-Fi streaming action can head over to sky.com/connector, where the company are offering an On Demand wireless plug-in add-on for free.

london-underground-sign-640.jpgAre you a blog reading, Twitter obsessed, Instagram snapping O2 customer whose daily commute sends you through the hellish tunnels of the London Underground? Then today's your lucky day; you'll now be able to access Wi-Fi on the tube!

Inking a deal with Virgin Media similar to that already offered to Vodafone and EE customers, O2 subscribers will now be able to access Virgin's underground web infrastructure at no extra cost as of June. Details on how to sign up will be sent to all customers in due course.

It's becoming a very healthy network underground, with Virgin Media adding a further 12 stations to the service this week, including Bank, Earls Court and Baker street, bringing the total number of connected stations up to 120.

With Virgin, Vodafone, EE (taking in T-Mobile and Orange too) and now O2 all covered by the underground network gratis, that leaves just Three users out in the cold. They still have to pay additional fees in order to access the service.

PlaybarAngle_Large.jpgSonos has introduced a device that turns its existing kit into a wireless surround system. Called the PLAYBAR, this wireless audio system can stream music from any source.

Either it can lie flat on the TV stand or rotate for low profile wall-mounting above or below the TV. Because it does not require a subwoofer or speaker wire, the Soundbar easily fits into any room and setup. Sonos claims the built-in sensors help the PLAYBAR automatically adjust EQ and channel orientation.

Inside are nine individually amplified speakers: six mid-woofers for bass and three tweeters for high-frequency detail.

Sonos2.jpgDesigned for easy setup and use, PLAYBAR connects to the TV with a single optical cable, playing everything that is connected to it, including cable boxes, Blu-ray players and game consoles.

It understands common audio formats output by TVs including Dolby Digital. Customers can control the volume or mute with a regular TV remote or with one of the free Sonos Controller apps for iPhone, iPad, Android, Mac or PC.

Says John MacFarlane, CEO, Sonos Inc: "Sonos has transformed the way people listen to music throughout the home and now we're bringing our wireless HiFi approach to home theatre."

"PLAYBAR will change everything about the sound experience in your living room, bringing together amazing HiFi sound for your TV and wireless access to the world's music in a radically simple way."

PLAYBAR will retail for £599 and will be available for purchase at Sonos.com, and other UK retail partners.

For more info visit www.sonos.com/playbar.

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london-underground-sign-640.jpgReading this post while waiting for the Tube on London's Underground, connected to Virgin Media's Wi-Fi network? Enjoy it while you can; from Tuesday, the free-for-all service goes premium.

Virgin Media will end the free service next week for all but those who are either Virgin Media broadband or mobile subscribers, EE (T-Mobile and Orange), or Vodafone customers. If you're currently subscribed to one of those services or tied to one of those networks, you should have received an email describing how you can continue to access free Wi-Fi on the Underground.

If you use a different broadband provider, or are on a mobile network not listed above, you're going to have to pay. You can nab a day pass for £2, a week pass for a fiver or go the whole hog and sign up for a £15 monthly pass. A one-time log-in, tied to the device of your choice will let you continue to access the service after signing up.

Launched in time for the 2012 London Olympics, Virgin Media have kitted out 92 London Underground stations with a Wi-Fi connection, with plans to expand that number to 120 of the 270 stations that make up the Underground system by the end of 2013.

macbook-pro-retina-2.jpgApple rolled out the most comprehensive update to their line of Mac and MacBook computers in recent memory in 2012, overhauling the MacBook Pro by adding a Retina display, putting the iMac on a diet and reworking the innards of the MacBook Air and regular MacBook Pro. So what next for the range in 2013?

Rather than a massive design overhaul (2012's models will look the business for a good few years we'd say), The Next Web believes that the superfast Wi-Fi 802.11ac standard will take top billing.

By updating the the Broadcom wireless chipset found within Macs, it could supercharge Wi-Fi download speeds for those with fibre optic connections, and generally improve reliability of the signal thanks to its ability to handle 1.3Gbps throughput through its three antennas.

ASUS already put similar technology in their ROG G75VW gaming notebook last year, but if Apple were to roll it out across their Mac and MacBook range they'd be the first company to embrace the standard wholeheartedly.

The problem for the time being is that Broadcom are still working on producing the chipsets on a large scale. With the Spring/Summer Mac refresh now looming, they'll have to get to work pretty quickly if they're to deliver superfast Wi-Fi in time.

Samba.jpgA new, free, 3G mobile broadband service called Samba has launched today.

"There's no such thing as a free anything these days!" I hear you cry.

And you'd be almost right. Samba give you access to free mobile data provided you first watch a few minutes worth of adverts. In exchange for two and a half minutes of ad-viewing per day, you'll get enough data to cover the average web surfer's monthly broadband consumption of 517MB data per month. Samba are making use of Three's 3G mast network, which covers 93% of the UK.

Sure, you have to pay £5 for the SIM to kick things off (and £25 if you need a dongle too), but for that you'll be able to hook up a laptop, tablet or smartphone to the web without having to endure ongoing, costly, monthly fees. I could happily sit through an advert in exchange for fair bit of free data usage. Heck, we're already served ads all over the web anyway, like at the beginning of YouTube videos. Might as well get something back in return, right?

"Samba is the perfect solution for people who need internet data on the go and don't want to be locked into contracts with monthly charges and additional costs for excess data usage," said Ben Atherton, CEO and founder of Samba.

"With Samba you earn the credit watching ads at a time that is convenient for you and then have access when you need it. It also marks an end to that hunt for a coffee shop, pub, hotel or library to get online - with Samba you can be online anytime, anywhere.

"We want Samba to be a quality product that our customers will enjoy using. We have the best connection and internet speed possible and carry premium ads from brands such as Agent Provocateur, Sims, Volvo, Clinique, Nissan, Paramount Pictures, Xbox Kinect, Pot Noodle and Dell."

Cunning readers might also have spotted how simple it would be to "game" a service like this; with the adverts popping up in a tab before connection (much like a hotel Wi-Fi service), you could easily leave the adverts running in the background while another tab is open. With each viewed advert earning a few MBs of browsing data, with no cap on that stacked allowance, you could in theory leave the adverts running overnight and wake up with more than enough data to plough through some intensive browsing.

Whether or not advertisers realise this too and then pull out, causing the business model to crumble, remains to be seen.

For more info, click here.

london-underground-sign-640.jpgVirgin Media have now rolled out Wi-Fi to 41 London Underground stations, with 100,000 people getting online down in the tube stations within the first month of the service going live.

One million tweets, Facebook posts, emails and web pages were accessed between June 25 and July 1 alone using the new service.

"Londoners and visitors are loving our new Wi-Fi service and we're on track to connect Tube journeys right across London ahead of the Games," said Kevin Baughan, director of metro wireless at Virgin Media.

"With millions of smartphones, gadgets and devices taken onto the Tube each day, the demand for data continues to grow and we're rolling-out a future-proofed service that makes superfast wireless connections the standard.

"In partnership with TfL, we've achieved a huge amount and have launched a service London can be proud of."

Though Virgin Media plan on having 120 stations online by the end of August, that will also mark the end of the service's run as a free one. After that, you'll have to pay to send your subterranean tweets.

Alongside the Google Nexus 7 tablet, Google have unveiled the Google Nexus Q, a new wireless media streaming gadget compatible with Android devices using version Gingerbread and above. The system will let you stream Google Play Music, Google Play Movies and TV and YouTube to speakers around your home, and has Apple's AirPlay and Sonos audio systems squarely in its sights.

Users can even have the touch-sensitive spheres make use of the Google Play Music app to create playlists from their music in the cloud then send them to the new device. Using the same processor as the Galaxy Nexus, Google promise the Nexus Q will boast an "audiophile" grade amplifier.

"The Nexus Q has built-in Wi-Fi and a built-in ethernet controller and lets you connect it to compatible speakers, AV system or HD TV," says Google.

Multiple Nexus Q devices can be dotted around a home to give the same multi-room experience as a Sonos system, while more than one person at a time can control playback with a compatible device. Google deem this a social tool, though we see that feature causing more arguments than anything else!

On sale in the US for $299, there are no plans yet for a UK release.

bt-wi-fi-thumb.jpgBT's Openzone and BT Fon services have been re-branded and grouped together under the new BT Wi-Fi umbrella.

With the name change rolling out gradually, BT hopes that a more unified approach for their Wi-Fi hotspots will make it easier for BT customers to spot and use the 4 million hotspots dotted around the nation.

"As tablets and smartphones have become increasingly popular, connecting to theinternet through wi-fi has become more relevant," said BT Wi-Fi CEO Andy Baker.

"We are proud to offer our customers free access to one of the biggest wi-fi networks in the world and wanted to make it easier for our customers to find a hotspot and get online, it made sense for us to bring our estate under one unified brand."

Like its predecessors, BT Wi-Fi is free when you sign up for any BT broadband package. Non BT customers can still use the service, for a fee.

REVIEW: Three Web Cube 3G Wi-Fi hotspot

2 Comments

3webcube-thumb.jpgreview-line.JPGName: Three Web Cube

Type: 3G Wi-Fi hotspot

Price: £69.99 on a 1-month 10GB allowance £15 per-month rolling contract, or free on a 24-month 15GB allowance £15.99 per month contract direct from Three

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If you cant commit to a fixed-line broadband connection, but also cant live without internet access, Three's latest Wi-Fi hot-spot generating 3G Web Cube could be just what you're looking for. But does it perform well enough to tempt fixed-line users away from their contracts too? Read on to find out!

review-line.JPGThree's Web Cube will be most attractive to those that can't commit to lengthy broadband contracts because of their ongoing costs, or those that move house too regularly to bother with the hassle of setting up a fixed-line broadband connection. Plugging in to a wall socket and connecting to the internet over a 3G connection, it's simple to install and easy enough to move from place to place if you find yourself moving about a lot. However, while you don't have to be tied down to a lengthy contract if you choose a rolling monthly deal, you are always tied to a power outlet; unlike other Wi-Fi hotspot generators, Three's Web Cube requires constant power from a plug socket, meaning its portability is hamstrung.

That's likely partially down to its design. A little bigger than a Rubik's Cube, it's rounded, cubed shape houses all the connectivity wizardry behind a frosted sheet of clear plastic, alongside some nifty blue LEDS. When on, the whole cube glows an icy blue, meaning it'd double up as a soft night light too. On the top of the cube are also four signal-strength indicator lights, letting you check the quality of your connection at a glance. It's quite a nice looking device, but the design is marred slightly by heavy Three network branding all over what would otherwise be a stylish, minimalist bit of kit.

Connecting to the Web Cube is easy, as there's already a SIM card pre-installed in it. You can easily access the SIM-card slot if you need to too. Plug the Web Cube into the wall and it straight away creates a Wi-Fi hotspot from a 3G connection. The Web Cube within seconds should then be identified by Wi-Fi enabled devices like tablets, laptops and smartphones, and it's simply a matter of popping in the WPA2 eight character password (handily written on the bottom of the Cube) into your device of choice to connect. This Wi-Fi password can be changed using a web interface found at http://3.home, where you can also switch off the main LED lights in the cube (but not the signal indicating ones) as well as access a rudimentary SMS sending and receiving application.

Three claim theoretical download speeds of 21.6Mbps and a top upload speed of up to 5.76Mbps. These are very much theoretical claims, despite the speedy HSPA+ connectivity in use here. While the actual average download and upload speeds we reached were around the 6Mbps and 2Mbps marks respectively (respectable speeds in the 3G hotspot market, might we add), don't come into this expecting fixed-line style speeds.

Signal strength on the whole was good. We maintained a connection through a brick wall 20-odd feet away from the Web Cube, and you could likely add another 10 or so feet to that if you were using the Web Cube in a spacious open plan area.

However, connectivity can be hampered in other ways. Should you be living in a Three network blackspot, the Web Cube isn't going to be any more than a fancy lamp on your desk, so make sure to check the quality of Three's 3G coverage in your area before splashing the cash. Also, despite the fact that up to five devices can connect simultaneously to the Web Cube, that's not to say they should. Web connectivity is incredibly stable when a single device is attached to the cube, but if more than two devices connect at once, and all are engaged in bandwidth intensive tasks like video streaming or online gaming, expect to see plenty of buffering icons, notable lag, and a steep drop in download speeds. Admittedly, you get the same bottleneck effect with a fixed-line connection, but with the speeds here significantly slower, you're going to notice the issue a whole lot more.

It's also worth noting the data allowances. At either 10GB a month or 15GB a month depending on the price tier, it's not a device suitable for heavy downloaders or those that stream massive amounts of data.

The elephant in the room of course is Three's own Huawei E686 MiFi, another wireless hotspot-generating 3G tool. Though slightly more expensive than the Web Cube, it has significant advantages in its pebble-sized form factor and portability, having the ability to be charged up and used on the go as you please, as well as all the other functionality of the Web Cube. It even comes with a dock if you plan on keeping it more or less stationary. With that already available, you have to wonder who will opt for its boxy brother.

review-line.JPGVerdict

How useful the Three Web Cube will be to you is very much dependant on how adverse you are to fixed-line broadband. If you're regularly moving from place to place and don't want to have to pay broadband installation costs for what will be a short stay, or cant commit to a lengthy contract, you'll find the Web Cube very useful. However, if you're using it in a household full of heavy web users you'll notice a significant performance drop meaning it's not best suited to families, while general speeds are slower than fixed-line connections. It's a niche tool, and only when in the right hands will it really prove its worth. Having said that, if Three were to build one of these cubes with 4G LTE connectivity when the speeds become available in the UK, it'd be a very tempting prospect indeed...

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3/5
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london-underground-sign-640.jpgYesterday we saw the first ever tweet to be sent from Virgin Media's newly installed London Underground Wi-Fi system, and now we have a list of the initial 80 stations that are lined-up to see the service go live this summer.

As well as world famous stations like Oxford Circus and Leicester Square, smaller stations such as Bethnal Green and Mile End will benefit from the scheme.

"The first stations include some of our busiest and most well-known destinations and we're on-track for a successful launch this summer - all delivered at no additional cost to fare payers or tax payers," said Gareth Powell of London Underground.

However, the service doesn't extend to the trains themselves, so you'll have to get your status updates away before your ride arrives.

Virgin Media reckons 120 stations will be packing Wi-FI connectivity once the project is completed, but here's the initial list of 80 stations where you can expect to get online whilst underground this summer:

Aldgate East
Angel
Archway
Arsenal
Barbican
Bayswater
Bermondsey
Bethnal Green
Blackhorse Road
Borough
Brixton
Caledonian Road
Camden Town
Canada Water
Canary Wharf
Canning Town
Chancery Lane
Charing Cross
Clapham North
Covent Garden
Edgware Road (Circle)
Elephant & Castle
Embankment
Euston
Euston Square
Finsbury Park
Goodge Street
Green Park
Hammersmith (District/Picc)
Heathrow T1-3
Heathrow T4
High Street Kensington
Highbury & Islington
Holborn
Holland Park
Hyde Park Corner
Kentish Town Kings Cross/St Pancras
Lambeth North
Lancaster Gate
Leicester Square
Liverpool Street
London Bridge
Manor House
Mansion House
Marble Arch
Marylebone
Mile End
North Greenwich
Old Street
Oval
Oxford Circus
Paddington (Main)
Piccadilly Circus
Pimlico
Queensway
Regents Park
Seven Sisters
Southfields
Southwark
St James Park
St Johns Wood
St Paul's
Stepney Green
Stockwell
Stratford
Swiss Cottage
Temple
Tottenham Hale
Tower Hill
Tufnell Park
Vauxhall
Victoria
Walthamstow Central
Warren Street
Warwick Avenue
Waterloo
Wembley Central
Wembley Park
West Ham
Wimbledon Park
Westminster

london-underground-sign-640.jpgLondon's commuters took one important step closer to getting underground Wi-Fi access today, with Virgin Media's new London Underground Wi-Fi service delivering the first tweet from the iconic tube system.

BBC journalist Rory Cellan-Jones had the privilege of sending the first landmark tweet, saying, "Historic first tweet from deep under London using @TFLofficial @virginmedia new tube wifi service - testing, testing."

Today's news seems to suggest that Virgin Media are on track to deliver their network in time for the 2012 Olympic games.

Earlier in the year London Mayor Boris Johnson pledged that 80 stations in the capital would be online in time for the summer of sport:

"Millions of passengers will now be able to connect to their work, friends or access the latest news and travel information while on the move.

"This is a fabulous new and free resource which will be in place from this summer when London is being showcased on a global stage and playing host to millions."

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O2 have announced plans to turn the UK capital London into Europe's largest free Wi-Fi zone, just in time for the 2012 Olympics.

Hitting the areas of Chelsea, Kensington and Westminster first, O2 will be using existing street items to minimise disruption and clutter, as well as keeping the cost for tax payers at absolutely nothing.

Derek McManus, COO of O2 said: "This ground-breaking deal - the first of its kind in the UK - will see us deliver high quality connectivity across London in time for London 2012. Our longer-term aim is to expand our footprint of O2 Wi-Fi, which is open to everyone, and also intelligently enhance our services at street level, where people need the network the most.

"Our £500m annual network investment programme is focussed on integrating new layers of technology into the existing network to enable a seamless and sustained customer experience. We are driven entirely by our customers' needs and believe that services should be delivered in the best possible way, across multiple networks and supported by different technologies."

Free to both O2 customers and those not signed up to the network, the roll out will begin this month.

REVIEW: Three MiFi HSPA+ (Huawei E586)

5 Comments

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Name: Three MiFi HSPA+ (Huawei E586)

Type: Portable personal Wi-Fi hotspot

Specs: Click here for full specs

Price: £84.99 with 3GB of data/ Free on 18 month tariff at £10.87 per month with 1GB data allowance/ Free on 24 month tariff at £18.99 a month with 15GB data allowance


review-line.JPGThree's latest MiFi personal Wi-Fi hotspot certainly is a looker, and with newly-added HSPA+ connectivity, makes some bold claims when it comes to mobile broadband speeds. Can it deliver superfast downloads when out on the road, or will a standard dongle offer similar results? Read on to find out.
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If you're even remotely interested in consumer technology (if you aren't, God only know swhat you're doing on this site) chances are that you don't leave the house without several web-enabled devices. From smartphones to games consoles, e-readers to tablets to laptops, if it's got a battery in it, chances are it can connect to the web these days. However, when it comes to mobile broadband, keeping each of these devices connected can be expensive.

Here's where Three's MiFi range comes in. Small, pebble-shaped devices weighing just 90 grams, they're portable, pocketable, battery-powered Wi-Fi hotspots that connect to Three's mobile network and let multiple devices connect to the internet at once, wherever you may be.

On the upside, you're likely to save plenty of dough using a MiFi as you only have to shell out for one tariff every month. In the past, the downside however has been that connection speeds can get a little shoddy when split across multiple devices.

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Three's latest MiFi, the E586, more-or-less sidesteps the issue of speed by being the first device to offer a HSPA+ connection. In theory, this gives you download speeds as fast as 21.6Mbps and upload speeds of 5.76Mbps. This, in theory, makes it far more attractive than a regular dongle's 7.2Mbps max download speed.

Great in theory, but how about in practice? Nowhere near as fast, but not too shabby either. In areas of strong signal we regularly topped speeds of 8Mbps, which just wouldn't be possible on a standard dongle, averaging out at 5 or 6Mbps elsewhere. This extra speed boost made connecting multiple devices for simultaneous usage far less of a pain too, making this MiFi kit a real work tool for teams needing reliable web access when out of the office.

Those looking to use the MiFi in a professional capacity will be pleased to hear the many security features built in here too. Though you can easily just pop in the supplied SIM-card and battery, switch on and connect your devices using the SSID/password card, those looking for extra protection can visit http://3.home in their browsers and tweak settings like WPA2-PSK and AES TKIP WPA encryption. You can also use this page to send and receive messages using the MiFi, though the practical application of this feature is limited.

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Three still suffer from intermittent coverage blackspots (like, annoyingly, the area of our Central London office specifically where I sit it would seem) but it was very impressive just how often it picked up a HSPA+ connection when out around town. Of course London is likely to have better coverage than more rural spots, so double-check with a coverage tracking site to before a purchase, but even with a standard 3G mobile broadband connection the dongle performed well.

As we alluded to earlier, the new MiFi looks pretty snazzy too. Available in black or white, a small but clear OLED screen shows info on signal strength, connection type, connected devices (as many as five at a time), connection status, messages, battery level, total data usage and roaming state. Charging over USB (or using a supplied cradle) the USB connection can also be used to access the microSD slot on the side of the MiFi (card not included) potentially turning the unit into a portable 32GB drive too. Overall, battery life is excellent too, managing 5.5 hours of heavy usage and as much as 100 hours on standby from a single charge.

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Verdict:

Without the HSPA+ capabilities, Three's latest MiFi hotspot would still be a stylish mobile broadband unit capable of reliable, on-the-go connectivity. With HSPA+, and with the flexible tariff system Three have in place, it becomes a genuinely viable alternative to a fixed broadband connection for light internet users. Three still suffer from the odd blackspot, but if you're lucky enough to be within range of a HSPA+ connection here, it's a genuinely excellent bit of kit.

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4/5
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Following on from our quick-specs rundown of Epson's wireless 3D EH-TW9000W projector (which you can read here) we've now got a preview video of the model to go with it.

It's quite the looker we think, with it's curved white chassis bringing 2001: A Space Odyssey design chic to the projector space. In terms of industrial design it's intelligent too, thanks to front-facing venitlation systems that make mounting the projector in a shelving unit far less likely to cause overheating.

We've now got official confirmation of pricing for the Epson EH-TW9000W model too, makred up at £2962 when they hit UK stores in November.

rural-Broadband2.jpgCity slickers, with your mocha-latte-frappuccinos, Oyster cards and bendy buses; take note! If you're reading this using a broadband connection, whilst happily downloading the latest Mad Men season from iTunes and refining "the definitive" Spotify playlist, spare a thought for the many UK residents in rural areas who still don't have access to high-speed web connections.

We can send a man to the moon, but we can't get a broadband connection to the village of Gringley-on-the-Hill. Thankfully, the Three network have answered the call for broadband salvation, working alongside the Countryside Alliance to form the Rural Broadband Working Group, a new inititave to offer free internet coverage to the rural areas lacking decent broadband connectivity.

Gringley-on-the-Hill (with a 750 person population) will be the first village to benefit from the new deal, with Three donating 30 mobile broadband dongles and MiFi devices as well as 4 million MBs of free data.

Hugo Dunkley, Gringley-on-the-Hill's Parish Council chairman, Hugo Dunkley, said: "We had written to the House of Lords, our local MP, the Department for Business Innovation and Skills and even a large fixed-line provider about the lack of comprehensive broadband in the community, but with no success. There was broadband in a small corner of the village but everywhere else speeds were frustratingly slow.

"Mobile broadband has addressed this problem and the dongles are allowing the people and businesses of the village to use the Internet to its full potential for the first time."

Three to the rescue then. David Dyson, CEO at Three commented, "Thousands of communities still cannot access fixed line broadband services, but they do have access to a mobile broadband network, and that's where this new initiative comes in.

"We have built a network designed for the Internet and are passionate about using this to help more and more people experience the everyday benefits this can bring."

BT Wi-Fi hotspots coming to 300 UK pubs

6 Comments

Old-Drunk.jpgFancy a pint and a YouTube meme trawling session at the same time? Now you can thanks to a new partnership between BT and Heineken. They're bringing free BT Wi-Fi hotspots to over 100 London pubs and 200 more across the UK by the end of 2012.

Bringing BT's hotspot numbers in the UK up to three million, it's a completely free service for anyone of the 5 million BT Broadband customers across the land.

The move also brings exclusive editorial content, written by the team behind the "i" newspaper, to the hotspots, known as Heineken Hubs.

Rick Lawrence, Marketing Manager at Heineken UK said: "The partnership with BT reinforces the brand's reputation as a leading player in the development of technology. The Wi-Fi initiative will provide excellent exposure for Heineken among its key target audience and build greater affinity between the brand and its consumers."

Chris Bruce, CEO, BT Openzone, concurred: "Using Wi-Fi to deliver free and exclusive content, Heineken is engaging and exciting pub goers and will undoubtedly increase business. It's an exciting time to be involved in hospitality marketing."

Just don't forget to clear your history if you start looking up questionable pages when you're half-cut.

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Huawei's range of Mi-Fi personal Wi-Fi hotspots gets a new addition today in the shape of the superfast 8586 model.

Launching on the Three network, it'll be the first UK mobile Wi-Fi unit to offer HSPA+ connectivity, giving as much as a 40% speed increase over previous models. This will have the potential to get even more zippy once the network begins rolling out its 21.1 Mbps data connection upgrade.

Other new addition include an included charging cradle, while an OLED screen will display connection speed, connectivity status and data consumption info. The range's famed one-touch activation also makes a welcome return.

The Huawei 8586 Mi-Fi with HSPA+ will launch in September, with Three's 21.1 mbps network upgrade rolling out to 80% of the UK before the year is out.

wifi-hack.jpgMicrosoft are to begin a trial for a new type of Wi-Fi specification this week that could potentially act as an alternative to LTE and current public Wi-Fi connections.

Using "white space" in the frequency spectrum that had initially been reserved for the digital TV programmers that has ended up unused, Microsoft will tap into the 470MHz to 790MHz range to see if they can give mobile broadband a boost.

Taking place in Cambridge, a major factor of the tests will be to find out whether using spectrum space so close to that of digital TV signals ahs an adverse effect on broadcasts.

"Spectrum is a finite natural resource. We can't make more and we must use it efficiently and wisely," Microsoft's Dan Reed told the Financial Times.

"The TV white spaces offer tremendous potential to extend the benefits of wireless connectivity to many more people, in more locations, through the creation of super Wi-Fi networks."

If the trial is a success, it is thought the networks will likely serve rural areas rather than major urban centres.

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Name: AirTies 4420-TV

Type: Wireless networking/ media streaming kit

Specifications: Click here for full specs

Price: £89.99 from Amazon

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A powerline alternative, the AirTies 4420-TV is perfect those with Internet connected TVs experiencing Wi-Fi woes.

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Though everything from Freeview boxes to televisions now house online, networked components, very few offer Wi-Fi connections, and those that do regularly suffer from weak signal connections. As a result, trying to stream online video content from catch-up TV services or networked media can be a real stutter-filled chore. While you could feasibly run an extra long Ethernet cable from your router to the web-connected device in question, with so many items requiring consistent web connectivity your house would quickly begin to look like a spider's web of wiring.

The AirTies 4420-TV, built with internet connected TVs specifically in mind, offers a solution. Comprised of two discrete black boxes, two short, separate Ethernet cables are connected to the rear of both, with one then attached to your internet router and the other to the port on your television. A simple press of each unit's Airtouch buttons sees both boxes paired, and you're quickly boosting the connectivity capabilities of your TV over the 802.11n standard.

Thanks to the ability to use the AirTies within the less congested 5GHz spectrum, we found far less interference affected our web TV streaming playback. Just like the recently reviewed BT Home Hub 3 router, the AirTies too also dynamically searches the Wi-Fi spectrum for sources of interference, and changes channel according to what will give you the most consistent connection.

However using the 5GHz band does bring with it its own problems. The 2.4GHz spectrum may be crowded with other Wi-Fi devices, but it also has better range due to the lower frequency's ability to pass through solid objects easier. Use the 5GHz setting and you wouldn't want too many walls between the two AirTies boxes. Thankfully, both 2.4GHz and 5GHz options can easily be switched between, meaning you can decide what works best for your set-up.

Each AirTies box also features a USB 2.0 port. Plug a USB hard drive in and you have the potential to use the AirTies boxes as networked media hubs. With UPnP/DLNA support, you can easily share music, video and photo files across the network.

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Verdict:

Affordable and a breeze to set up, the AirTies kit will keep your living room free of unsightly wires, while also ensuring your iPlayer playback is stutter free. It'd be great to have a little more help when it comes to tweaking some of the more advanced settings, but its hard to argue with the ability to create consistently accessible networked storage at the this price. review-line.JPG

4/5

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