4G networks, rural broadband and Jimmy Wales: IT Pro's web comment round-up


No-one could ever accuse the IT Pro community of being backward in coming forward, especially when it comes to airing their views on the week's biggest stories.

Many of the comments this week have had a networking slant, as IT Pro readers have cast a critical eye over Vodafone's 4G plans and the value of investing in rural broadband projects.

Readers also keenly debated the UK Government's porn blocking plans, and - perhaps surprisingly - fax machine security issues.

4G furore

The 4G rollout was a hot topic of reader conversation this week, after mobile operator Vodafone revealed its UK launch plans for the superfast network.

Several IT Pro readers expressed disappointment at the company's decision to launch the service in London, before rolling it out to other areas.

"I am sure the 4G network will be welcomed in major towns and cities, but it will do nothing to improve internet access elsewhere," complained Nigel.

I get such a poor signal that I am lucky to get 2G let alone 3G, so there is no point in upgrading until signal strength improves.

The reader response to the Vodafone announcement echoes the findings of a rather downbeat report by telecommunications regulator Ofcom, which suggests few UK consumers are interested in upgrading to 4G.

"What is the point of having 4G speeds if data is capped at 500MB," pondered IT Pro reader Najeeb Ahmed.

"If [they] open [up] the unlimited data plans for 4G. I probably would think seriously about upgrading to 4G."

With the likes of EE, Vodafone and O2 rolling out their 4G networks on a city-by-city basis, Denis revealed that patchy coverage is what's putting him off.

"I get such a poor signal that I am lucky to get 2G let alone 3G, so there is no point in upgrading until signal strength improves," grumbled Denis.

Bridging the broadband gap

Ofcom's report writing department was a on roll this week, as it also published findings from its investigation into UK internet speeds. The document revealed that broadband speeds in rural areas are failing to keep pace with those in major towns and cities, with the gap between the two set to increase for some time to come.

The news was greeted with a virtual shrug of the shoulders by the IT Pro community, with a couple of readers urging the Government to invest the funds set aside for rural broadband projects on more worthwhile causes.

"There is no reason why I or any other internet subscriber should pay a premium on our internet to subsidise rural broadband," argued provocatively named reader It's Not Top Of The List.

"If the Government has money to spare in these times they should be spending it on the NHS, child poverty, the homeless, policing, schools, and reducing the deficit."

Online porn probe

The Government's controversial plans to introduce default porn filters in UK homes were criticised by Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales this week, who described the initiative as unworkable, and said the money invested would be better spent elsewhere.

His comments won the backing of many, including Robert who flagged several areas where the plans could come unstuck.

Since you can't get two experts to agree what is art and what is pornography, I'd hate to be the programmer asked to sort this out.

"What happens in a household with adults who want to allow porn, [but there are] younger children [living there] for whom it should be blocked," he rather sensibly asked.

The brilliantly named Henry3Dogg also pointed out the difficulties that could arise when trying to determine content that should be blocked.

"Since you can't get two experts to agree what is art and what is pornography, I'd hate to be the programmer asked to sort [this] out," he said.

ICO spanks bank

The Bank of Scotland became the latest firm to fall foul of data protection legislation this week, after details about it being fined 75,000 for a series of fax machine errors emerged.

According to a statement released by the Information Commissioner's Office, more than 20 documents containing sensitive customer details were faxed in error to an unidentified third party, and a further 10 were mistakenly sent to a member of the public.

The mistakes have reportedly been blamed on the fact the recipients had similar fax numbers to the banking department they were intended for.

The case prompted IT Pro fan Matt to speak out about other errors he claims financial institutions regularly make with customers' personal data.

"We own a lucrative three character email domain that is similar to a financial institution and routinely receive emails containing personal details, National Insurance numbers, CCJ information, property valuations etc. Each time we report this back to the sender, but maybe I should pass them to the ICO from now on," he said.

"Banks and financial advisers are by far the worst at pre-checking addresses are correct before sending personal information but it worries me more that they are even using this as a medium [a fax machine] for transporting such confidential data," he added.

Caroline Donnelly is the news and analysis editor of IT Pro and its sister site Cloud Pro, and covers general news, as well as the storage, security, public sector, cloud and Microsoft beats. Caroline has been a member of the IT Pro/Cloud Pro team since March 2012, and has previously worked as a reporter at several B2B publications, including UK channel magazine CRN, and as features writer for local weekly newspaper, The Slough and Windsor Observer. She studied Medical Biochemistry at the University of Leicester and completed a Postgraduate Diploma in Magazine Journalism at PMA Training in 2006.