Prices for wi-fi access in the UK are beginning to fall as the market stabilises, according to CNet Networks journalist Rupert Goodwins - making it an increasingly viable option for journalists on the move.

Wi-fi is the term for wireless broadband internet connection. Users need a wireless LAN card in their computer which costs upwards of £20, although many new computers have them built in.

Journalists can exploit wi-fi in a number of ways, using their laptop computers and PDAs to research and file work online from location.

Mr Goodwins is technology editor of, the UK business and technology site published by CNet Networks. He is a keen evangelist for wi-fi technology.

"Prices are far too high at the moment, but the market will settle down," he told dotJournalism.

"Many telecoms firms are offering services now because they see a new market. They have to charge high prices to make their spreadsheets work."

As well as commercial services, many groups of enthusiasts across the country have set up free areas of wi-fi access, known as hotspots. There is no reason why these free hotspots will not continue, according to Mr Goodwins, because wi-fi is relatively easy to set up.

"Wi-fi is very cheap to do. If you have a broadband connection in your office then you can set up a wi-fi area with just one £70 access point," said Mr Goodwins.

Some commercial providers have also offered free access during trials, but most now charge between 4p and 11p per minute. Users can sign up for prepaid access, or by subscription.

Wi-fi is still a new technology and there are still a few problems such as the relatively few number of hotspots in the UK. ZDNet provides a map of all commercial providers in the country and estimates the number of hotspots to be around 2,282.

Users must also make sure that their computer is secure, and face occasional compatibility problems between different software and networks.

But wi-fi can be simple, said Mr Goodwins.

"My best advice is to speak to someone that already uses wi-fi. Once you’ve seen it working it will make you much more confident," he said.

"And if you’re buying kit, make sure it’s from a place where you can discuss what you need and take it back if it doesn’t work."

The local London wi-fi network provides an extra incentive for Mr Goodwins.

"We are based in Holloway Road and there are several chaps that have site up wi-fi spots locally - just because they can.

"One of them covers the pub."

See also:,39021194,39115937-3,00.htm

Wireless Internet Service Provider Prepay Rate per minute
Ready to Surf
Free until 31 December Free
Free, but you must spend at least £2.00 in the venue N/a
Surf and Sip
£5.00 per day (Based on 6 hours' use) 1.3p
Swisscom Eurospot
£5.20 for 2 hours 4.3p
Trustive 300
£13.84 per month for 300 minutes 4.6p
BT Openzone 120
£10.00 per month for 120 minutes 8.3p
£5.50 per hour 9p
£6.00 per hour 10p
My Cloud
£6.00 per hour 10p
Square Seven - Seven 60
£6.99 per hour 11.6p

* For hotspot locations, see
* Other free, non-commercial networks are available.
* Found a cheaper hotspot? Please email

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