Author Topic: Where's Our WiFi: August 2010  (Read 28605 times)

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Offline Geoff Reid

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Where's Our WiFi: August 2010
« on: August 02, 2010, 10:59:48 AM »

Also Blogged Here: http://www.geoffreid.com/?p=573



The tax paying residents of Swindon continue to ask where the promised Digital City/Swindon Borough Council operated WiFi network is, and after Cllr Garry Perkins - Deputy leader of the council and Director of Digital City (UK) Ltd - bizarrely refused to answer questions on the subject at a recent council meeting, it once again falls to members of the public to inform other members of the public what is happening to their 'investment'.

Some of you may have noticed Roger Ogle published a WIFi related story in the August edition of the Link Magazine.  Apart from stating that the Audit Commission had 'ratified' the WiFi decisions taken by the Borough Council - It didn't 'ratify' anything, it merely stated that it found no evidence of an illegal act taking place - it was quite an informative piece because it went some way to answering the questions that Cllr Perkins found too difficult and which also saw Rikki Hunt blaming 'delays in getting council funds' for the scheme now being many months behind schedule.

I can tell readers, with a higher degree of honesty than you'll get from official channels, that the 'delay' Mr Hunt suffered in getting his hands on the publicly funded loan to his company  should have been no longer than 14 days.  This 'delay' may have been caused by members of the public asking legitimate and searching questions about the scheme. Questions which should have been asked by the council itself well before the £450,000 public loan was ever agreed.  Unfortunately for Mr Hunt, and probably the public purse, the public and the council council were both prevented from asking any questions prior to the loan being agreed and contract signed because Cllr's Bluh and Edwards 'did the deal' secretly, thereby deliberately preventing the entire council from properly scrutinising the arrangement before it had begun.  As it turned out Cllr Bluh still managed to circumvent much of the subsequent public scrutiny process in his rush to release the remainder of the loan to Digital City (UK) Ltd, and managed to do so before many questions had been satisfactorily and fully answered.   Just another day at the office for the democratic Councillor Bluh.

So where's our WiFi now?

Industry sources tell me that nothing has yet been installed in Swindon Town centre and that Highworth still remains unfinished despite Mr Hunt telling the Link magazine that technical problems there had been overcome.  I suspect that the project in Highworth remains stalled because there is a shortage of lamposts in appropriate positions although this hasn't prevented Mr Hunt from trying out some interesting applications, (probably telemedicine, CCTV and the energy monitoring he mentioned a while back), on the residents of a well known sheltered housing scheme in Highworth.  Are we witnessing the birth of  'Digital Wardens' in Swindon I wonder?

A little gentle sniffing around further afield reveals that Mr Hunt has been approaching other bodies for funding, notably the soon-to-be-axed RDA, (Regional Development Agency), and submitting multiple bids to the Governments Technology Strategy Board, and not forgetting his approaches to several  local authorities, some of which might just be daft enough to lend out money based on an unfinished pilot project which still has a mere handful of paying customers (under 20)  after 7 months of operation.  Bluh was stupid enough to buy into it, and I expect he's been hawking around his Local Government Association pals whenever he can.....

There are still about 600 people using the free-service in Highworth although Mr Hunt is greatly cheered by approximately 25 users pre-registering for the 'upgrade' to the £9.99 subscription service.  I hope this number accelerates rapidly upwards because I'd like nothing better than to see Digital City (UK) Ltd being able to pay the public loan of £450,000 back, in full, as promised, by December 2011.  I have to say that, based on DC's performance so far, I'm not at all confident.

About 2,700 people elsewhere in the borough have expressed an interest in having, or have actually applied for, the WiFi free-service as, when or if it becomes available to them.

Although Digital City still claim that their intention is still to cover the entire Borough with its 'mesh', I am not taking this statement at face-value because I understand some businesses on trading estates have already been told that their locations will be looked at individually on a 'business case' basis.  Presumably industrial estates will largely remain hard-wired with their existing providers unless they happen to next to a Council owned public building or school on which Digital City can easily, and cheaply, install their equipment.

I wouldn't get too excited about this if I were the proprietor of a small to medium sized business because, I am afraid, Mr Hunt has already passed you by in his rush to schmooze the local authority in Bathgate, (West Lothian), where he is scheduled to begin conducting  a 'WiFi feasibility study' on the 3rd of August 2010.  Readers may wish to keep an eye on the local paper in Bathgate, the West Lothian Courier, to read the almost inevitable Digital City press-release as soon as it appears.

Speaking of the press, contacts in the local media tell me that Mr Hunt appears to be gearing up for a frenzy of activity in Mid August.  I expect this will centre around news that new 'interest' in the scheme has been shown, by which I also mean 'new funding has been obtained'.   Swindon Borough Council remains tight-lipped although I'm told there's a lot of nervous buttock-clenching still going on around the WiFi'asco.

Further updates as and when.....



Offline Outoftowner

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Re: Where's Our WiFi: August 2010
« Reply #1 on: August 02, 2010, 02:04:12 PM »
I have asked my cousins in Bathgate to pre-empt any approach by Digital City, et al, by getting their council to ask the proposed providers of Wi-fi to tell them of any successful schemes that they have up and running.
What's it all about?

Offline Geoff Reid

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Re: Where's Our WiFi: August 2010 - update
« Reply #2 on: August 10, 2010, 12:02:16 PM »

Also Blogged here: http://www.geoffreid.com/?p=617




"Digital City dream will soon take off" John (Rikki) Hunt tells SwindonLink Magazine


John Hunt, (also commonly known as  'Rikki' Hunt),  managing director of Digital City (UK) Ltd, recently promised  Swindon Borough Councillors a 'wide media session' after many of them began openly speculating about the lack of visible progress made by the joint public/private partnership between the Borough Council and Mr Hunts 'One Man Band' operation.

Borough Councillors are still lagging behind the general public in airing their concerns. Much of the town noticed several months ago, (in April 2010 to be precise), that nothing about this project had gone according to to small section of the 'plan' that we've been allowed to see.  Councillors, I am told, are expected to believe what the leader of the Council tells them until such time as his words become unbelievable in the face of empiric evidence.

Most of 'the plan' remains hidden from the interested eyes of the public and the publicly elected councillors to this day.  This is worrying because £450,000 of public money was secretly lent to Mr Hunts company by just two councillors, without the prior knowledge or consent of the other 57 councillors.

Councillors recently received a 'teaser' email from Mr Hunt which contained little they didn't already know but was accompanied by a stern message warning them against copying, showing, using or discussing its contents but Councillors were promised they would receive more news as part of Mr Hunts 'wide media session' on the 13th of August.

How irritating it must have been for our councillors when, leafing through the latest copy of the SwindonLink magazine, they came across a huge article about Mr Hunt and the WiFiasco which had been published and distributed almost a whole month before his promised 'media session'.  Some Councillors are still wondering whether Mr Hunt had, quite easily it seems, tricked them into keeping their grumbles and concerns under wraps.

Anyway, we've only 3 more days to wait until John 'Rikki' Hunt starts his promised 'wide media session', but you'll forgive me if I don't get too excited, based on the recent history of the WiFiasco progressing on a timetable set by Mr Hunt himself.  I imagine the media session will also begin several months later than 'planned'.

John Hunt says that his "Digital City Dream Will Soon Take Off!"....

....well, call me cynical but I happen to know where there is an entire squadron of Digital Piggies that are fully fuelled and also ready to fly.

Offline DarkAuror

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Re: Where's Our WiFi: August 2010
« Reply #3 on: August 10, 2010, 12:56:53 PM »
Hi, Long time lurker, first time poster.

Thought you might be interested in this.

Link to BCS

Offline Bogomil

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Re: Where's Our WiFi: August 2010
« Reply #4 on: August 10, 2010, 02:02:23 PM »
Hi, Long time lurker, first time poster.

Thought you might be interested in this.

Link to BCS

Very interesting if not somewhat frightening if you look at the “Unexpected Problems” that DC has been facing. You’d have thought all these would have been thought through at the project planning stage  and should have been questioned asked by the Bluh & Edwards before they agreed to give lend them our money.

Offline Tobes

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Re: Where's Our WiFi: August 2010
« Reply #5 on: August 10, 2010, 03:02:33 PM »
Quote
Very interesting if not somewhat frightening if you look at the “Unexpected Problems” that DC has been facing. You’d have thought all these would have been thought through at the project planning stage  and should have been questioned asked by the Bluh & Edwards before they agreed to give lend them our money.

 :clap: :clap: :clap: :clap: :clap: :clap: :clap: :clap: :clap: :clap: :clap: :clap: :clap: :clap: :clap: :clap: :clap: :clap:
I do not agree with what you have to say, but I'll defend to the death your right to say it - [attributed to] Voltaire... 'Entia non sunt multiplicanda praeter necessita' - William of Occam.... 'You have a right to feel offended, but just cos you are offended doesn't mean you are right'

Offline Chris Watts

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Re: Where's Our WiFi: August 2010
« Reply #6 on: August 10, 2010, 05:26:07 PM »
Hi, Long time lurker, first time poster.

Thought you might be interested in this.

Link to BCS

Very interesting if not somewhat frightening if you look at the “Unexpected Problems” that DC has been facing. You’d have thought all these would have been thought through at the project planning stage  and should have been questioned asked by the Bluh & Edwards before they agreed to give lend them our money.


That is what happens when you work within an incestuous, secret, cosy little group. No sanity checking. The business plan sanity check was retrospective and, to a man outside the inner sanctum, was judged insane.

Just a reminder (as well as targeting completion of the WiFi installation in April 2010) this was a correspondent that I had from Hitesh Patel's office in Jan 2010:

"We believe that Digital City are being realistic about target sales to households, business, public sector organizations and business visitors, their model is based on:
Selling to 7 % 0f households in year one.
Having between 5000 and 7000 free users, and we expect that a proportion of these will want to upgrade to a paid service.
Selling a 1000 business packages"


To clarify, that is upwards of 5600 paying household by the end of year 1 which would have been by November 2010.

On a positive side, at least Mr Hunt is not trying to blame local opposition for the abject failure to date.


« Last Edit: August 10, 2010, 07:37:05 PM by Chris Watts »
Small Print: Member of the Labour Party. GMB Accompanying Rep. IT consultant on sabatical.  Postings may contain political bias. If you have an adverse reaction please desist from reading. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.

Offline Outoftowner

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Re: Where's Our WiFi: August 2010
« Reply #7 on: August 10, 2010, 06:53:55 PM »
In the BCS Link Mr Hunt admits that it is news to him that some lamposts do not have a continuous power supply. (Perhaps they do not have individual light sensors or time clocks but are switched on at night in groups. Not too difficult to imagine I suppose, if you have the wit to notice that all the lights in one street sometimes come on and go off together!) Also the mind numbing observation that radio waves will not penetrate metal film. ("O" level physics stuff that! Sheet metal and metal films are used to block out electromagnetic fields from sensitive equipment)

Would you buy a service from someone who lacks the basic knowledge of how it works?
What's it all about?

Offline Chris Watts

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Re: Where's Our WiFi: August 2010
« Reply #8 on: August 10, 2010, 07:29:00 PM »
Apparently, another problem with coverage was caused by hills. The clue is in the name. Highworth.
Small Print: Member of the Labour Party. GMB Accompanying Rep. IT consultant on sabatical.  Postings may contain political bias. If you have an adverse reaction please desist from reading. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.

Offline Jarvis

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Re: Where's Our WiFi: August 2010
« Reply #9 on: August 10, 2010, 08:40:50 PM »

Interesting comment left on Mr Reid's blog:

Quote from: Lt Col A.E Shattering-Buttocks
"Hunt has submitted multiple applications to several quango’s for further investment into what looks like a pyramid scheme.

He has to maintain an air of confidence if he is to convince potential lenders/investors that his scheme might work.

Which, based on the evidence of the last 9 months, looks dubious at best."

Why can I never leave comments on it but A.E Shattering-Buttocks can?  Is it 'cos I is black?


Offline Tea Boy

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Re: Where's Our WiFi: August 2010
« Reply #10 on: August 10, 2010, 09:53:06 PM »
Apparently, another problem with coverage was caused by hills. The clue is in the name. Highworth.

Things are looking up for our Rikki then, the rest of town should be a doddle what with........

Toothill
Penhill
Eascott hill
Gorsehill
Taw hill
Kingshill
Victoria hill

not to mention vast swathes of Swindon already covered by super fast cable broadband and nearly every town centre pub and eatery full wi-fi'ed to the hilt.

Still doesn't matter does it, he's got our £450,000....... and £20,000 per month in consultancy fees      kerching!!
Gardening tips: Always remember its brown side down, green side up.  If its knocking now it'll only go bang later

Offline Geoff Reid

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Re: Where's Our WiFi: August 2010
« Reply #11 on: August 11, 2010, 12:33:23 AM »

Why can I never leave comments on it but A.E Shattering-Buttocks can?  Is it 'cos I is black?

No. It's because I know you to be a Cheese-Eating Surrender Monkey  :)

Offline Geoff Reid

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Re: Where's Our WiFi: August 2010
« Reply #12 on: August 11, 2010, 08:08:33 AM »
Hi, Long time lurker, first time poster.

Thought you might be interested in this.

Link to BCS


Thank you for that most interesting link DA  :) 

It's a great article, but not for the reasons Digital City would hope.

Chuckled at the readers comments:

Quote
Sceptic wrote on 10th Aug 2010

Lots of ordinary Swindon residents appear deeply sceptical about the viability of this offering - opinions that they're perfectly entitled to hold, given that around £450k of their tax money (so far) has been used to help fund this experiment.

After months and months of hyperbole, the vast majority of Swindon's residents still have yet to see even the merest glimmering of a WiFi service - and yet Mr Hunt appears to be off to the next potential investor before he's begun delivering his promises on his own home turf.

Readers wanting more information might do well to visit the non commercial Talkswindon chat forum which has plenty more background on the tendering process and questions about the roll out and delivery.


and

Quote
Paolo Nutini wrote on 10th Aug 2010

Did someone say Monorail!

reminds me of a certain Simpsons epidode


and

Quote
Geoff Reid wrote on 11th Aug 2010

I suggest the author(s) of this article check their facts more carefully before republishing Digital City press releases.

The following statement is directly at odds with what Mr Hunt recently told 59 Swindon Borough Councillors:

"Highworth now has 90 per cent coverage, with 2,500 homes using the service. This represents a 28 per cent penetration of the market, where Digital City were only expecting around 8 per cent."

Odd then, that Mr Hunt recently admitted to councillors that:

"We have over 600 unique users each month in Highworth"

600 users into 2,500 homes simply does not work Mr Hunt.....but accurate maths has never been a hallmark of this project.

In my opinion this article and the figures it contains look like the latest example in a growing list of 'media presentations' which are intended to make this failing project look more attractive to potential investors and lenders than it really is.

i notice there is no mention in this article that Digital City has applied to the Technology and Strategy Board and Regional Development Agency for funding. Now why is that?

I understand that, after 9 months of commercial operation, Digital City (UK) Ltd still has less than 25 paying customers in the entire borough of Swindon.

Shouldn't these points make any sensible bod question whether this is, was, or will ever be a sound investment?

Nothing about the Swindon Wifi project is 'as it seems'. There are many good resons why it is referred to locally as the Wifi'asco

I'd love to know how many genuine industry experts have read this article and laughed wryly when they realise that Mr Hunt is more Eddie the Eagle than Alan Sugar.

Offline Outoftowner

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Re: Where's Our WiFi: August 2010
« Reply #13 on: August 11, 2010, 10:39:14 AM »
The "business plan" does look very pyramid-like. Digtal City need funding from another sucker to try to provide Swindon with something Wi-Fi (ish).

I don't want to pre-empt the expected media frenzy on the 13th but now that Rikki is starting to discover basic physics, maybe he is going to show a new, world shattering, discovery to a few selected members of SBC in order to establish another scheme?

[13th August 2010. Rikki enters the council chamber, which is packed with Sadver jounalists, carrying an old pram wheel: "Your eminences I have invented  a new astounding thing and I am calling it,  The Wheel. With this Wheel we can found a new (Riech) Empire that will last a thousand years."

Emperor Rodders thinks quickly and bungs our chum some money to be going on with while he works out the royalties on all the wheels that can be sold and how the money (minus 10%) will relieve the suffering of the poor of Swindon.]

What's it all about?

Offline itspavagain

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Re: Where's Our WiFi: August 2010
« Reply #14 on: August 11, 2010, 10:52:35 AM »
In the article it states:

"At the moment Digital City have been offering only the free service..."

Which is at odds with DCs claim of having "less than 25 paying customers".

Although I guess that none is less than 25.

Offline Geoff Reid

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Re: Where's Our WiFi: August 2010
« Reply #15 on: August 11, 2010, 10:54:50 AM »
 
I'm also interested in how easily Mr Hunt gagged councillors with one short email containing some accurate 'wifacts', and then - knowing that our councillors can't comment on the facts he 'disclosed' to them in the email, he then goes on to give a completely different and misleading set of facts to every magazine and paper that will reprint his promotional material.

Is he clever enough to come up with that by himself, or was he instructed in Spanish Practices by Rod Bluh & Chums, who, incidentally, are now refusing to answer any wifi relating questions by referring questioners directly back to Digital City (UK) Ltd.

Quiet neat really.

The Rodigarchy & it's co-conspirators are employing a digital toolkit to disable the quill Pen democracy when it suits them, while simultaneously using quill pen democracy to block digital democracy when it doesn't.

I don't think any of them are clever enough to keep it up tbh.  :)

Offline Bogomil

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Re: Where's Our WiFi: August 2010
« Reply #16 on: August 11, 2010, 11:12:51 AM »
looks like TS'er will have to attend the next meeting of Cabinet on the 8th Sept or Full Council on the 23rd Sept.
Suggest you go Video camera in hand and well equipped with plenty of pubic questions.

You never know, TS posts, particularly the revelations and inconsistencies of information in the BCS article, might prompt some of our gagged councillors to also ask some questions (but don’t hold your breath)

Offline Chav

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Re: Where's Our WiFi: August 2010
« Reply #17 on: August 11, 2010, 01:26:24 PM »
looks like TS'er will have to attend the next meeting of Cabinet on the 8th Sept or Full Council on the 23rd Sept.
Suggest you go Video camera in hand and well equipped with plenty of pubic questions.

You never know, TS posts, particularly the revelations and inconsistencies of information in the BCS article, might prompt some of our gagged councillors to also ask some questions (but don’t hold your breath)

I heard that our local councillor Andy Harrison - who is very vocal,  was taken outside by the borough solicitor at a council meeting and politely asked to zip the lip  :-X

So if Councillors do want to ask questions about anything - who determines how long they get and how much they say ????
Are there time limits ?
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Offline Geoff Reid

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Re: Where's Our WiFi: August 2010
« Reply #18 on: August 11, 2010, 01:58:28 PM »
 
I see Swindoncentric has noticed that the Chartered Institute for IT also thinks Digital City (UK) Ltd has no paying customers whatsoever.

Offline itspavagain

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Re: Where's Our WiFi: August 2010
« Reply #19 on: August 11, 2010, 02:13:09 PM »
Monorail, monorail, monorail.

Mono, doh!