Olympics organisers want to enforce the ban on 3G powered Wi-Fi hotspots at the official Olympics venues. With so many 3G users packed into a small space interference can degrade official communications networks. Also BT has the contract for providing Wi-Fi at Olympic venues with pricing at £5.99 for 90 minutes. What is the main reason for the Wi-Fi police? Preventing signal interference in the venues or protecting BT profits?
On the official list of prohibited items at Olympic venues are guns, drugs, explosives and “personal/private wireless access points and 3G hubs”. Though spectators are allowed to take in their smartphones, the document warns they must not be used as wireless access points.
The men’s cycling race coverage on 28th July was disrupted, allegedly because of heavy tweeting and texting. “The electronic updates on racers' times and positions that broadcasters rely on to cover the race in real time” was hobbled by tweet happy racing fans, said CBC News. The lack of GPS data coming though to the BBC meant that a commentator resorted to using his wrist watch to estimate cyclists’ times.
Sadao Turner, an American showbiz reporter posted the picture above on Twitter with a comment; “Something you won't see on TV, this is the Olympics Wi-Fi Police. They seek unauthorized Wi-Fi signals & shut them down.” The Wi-Fi Traffic Warden is equipped with a modified and painted bright red R&S HE300 Antenna. The unit can be used “for localizing transmitting and interfering sources. The direction of signal sources is found by pointing the antenna towards the direction of maximum signal voltage.”
If you buy an Olympic event ticket the T&Cs say that pictures and videos “cannot be used for any purpose other than for private and domestic purposes”. You are not allowed to share pictures and videos on social networks and the internet. Whilst restricting commercial companies from using such content is understandable, they should use licensed images etc, restricting friends sharing sporting pictures on Facebook is a bit heavy handed.