Town Goes Cell-Phone Free Then Announces Wi-Fi For All

This image was lost some time after publication.
This image was lost some time after publication.

At first, the story looks fairly predictable: The peaceful Canadian town of New Denver (pop. 600) has asked Telus, the region's wireless carrier, not to build a proposed cell tower. The reason isn't fear of what's new and different; the town would like to promote itself as a destination for people who want to get away from the hustle and bustle of the cellular life. The twist comes when the town says it is planning to erect a highspeed Wi-Fi network. Hmmm, clearly, the New Denver town elders aren't Giz readers...

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Talking to Reuters, Bill Roberts of the Slocan Valley Economic Development Commission says:

"The fact that we're without cellphone service means that we're able to enjoy life without the incessant sound of ringtones, immediately followed by someone's shouted conversation."

But not to be perceived as "anti-technology," Roberts brought up the citywide Wi-Fi network.

I hate to be the guy that points out the dumb mistakes of people like this (or do I?) but isn't the reason the airline business won't integrate Wi-Fi in planes because it makes it easy to make calls? For the time being, Wi-Fi calling may be limited to VoIP users and a handful of hybrid technologies, but soon the lines will be very blurry indeed.

I can just imagine a few years from now, as tourists coming in droves with Skype phones T-Mobile Wi-Fi phones, and iPhones that by then will have a VoIP option for sure, not to mention every self-respecting smartphone in the world. This guy, Roberts, gets up on his podium to announce that, due to the incessant sound of ringtones and shouted conversations, they will be ripping out the Wi-Fi network as well.

Good luck, Mr. Roberts. That ringing you hear is called progress. Meantime, I'll try not to shout into my phone like a jackass. [Reuters]

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DISCUSSION

Thing is, the neighbouring town is begging for the cell tower to be located there, so they could at least get good cellphone service. Ironically, the footprint of said tower will include New Denver as well.

(They see the lack of cellphone service as being a major issue to tourism - because the only way to get help would be via a landline...).

As for aircraft, well, the problem becomes consumer equipment isn't well shielded. Despite Mythbusters, there are known devices (cellphones, laptops, PDAs, CD players, DVD players, etc) that do cause issues with avionics. (Some even cause GPS satellite lock to fail, amazingly enough, but it's the ones that cause a subtle shift in the navigational equipment that are the biggest ones - a few degrees turns into tons of miles very easily).

And you wouldn't want to VoIP using airline wifi anyhow - unless you like to put up with huge latencies (for the international carriers using satellite links), or dropped packets (due to limited connectivity speeds).