Peter Cochrane's Blog: Why do we still secure wi-fi networks?

Hotels need to open up - security risks are so minimal provide a hotel guest, the admin cost is about 100 per cent of the value of the service. And I won't go into the discussions I have had with hotel managers about trying to charge me £15 per day to access something which is worth zip.

But here's the good news: the last eight hotels I've stayed in across Canada, the EU, UK and US have given up the ghost. All have offered free wi-fi with no password required, plus speedy bi-directional bandwidth. Some people are obviously getting it - at long last.

I can hear the lawyers and security experts now: 'This is dangerous. It leaves the organisation open to abuse from the file sharers, criminals, terrorists etc'.

Well, I reckon it's time to get real and start thinking of the actual risk: the massive inconvenience for mobile workers and organisations, and the resulting operational costs, and productivity and efficiency losses. And all this for a miniscule risk that has been disproportionally magnified and sensationalised by experts and media alike.

Right across the planet I am finding common sense is kicking in, with individuals, communities and organisations starting to recognise the value of open networking and freedom of access.

Hopefully this will transcend wi-fi and filter down to the 2.5G and 3G micro and picocells in the home and office as well. Then we will have seamless connectivity on the move - which by the way was the original vision when this all started 20 years ago. It just got misdirected for a while by the naysayers and misguided.

By Peter Cochrane

Peter Cochrane is an engineer, scientist, entrepreneur, futurist and consultant. He is the former CTO and head of research at BT, with a career in telecoms and IT spanning more than 40 years.