Back in September 2010 everyone’s favourite bumbling Mayor of London Boris Johnson announced plans to introduce mobile phone coverage to The “Tube” Underground network and we assumed would go down well with everyone expect the mobile phone operators that would be forced to foot the bill, but a recent survey has cast a little doubt on these plans as it revealed that in fact the majority do not want WiFi on the tube or for that matter mobile phone coverage.
This is perhaps a little surprising and although it may well be overlooked what does is mean for The Tube, and is it reflective of the nation’s view as a whole?
The actual survey was conducted by MyVoucherCodes.co.uk and concluded that 55% of the 950 people that took the survey did not want WiFi to be rolled out onto The Tube despite the plans being put forward by the Mayor and TFL (Transport for London).
Although this is the first independent survey done it is not the only one on this subject, and in fact the results contradict those found by the Transport For London group who claim that in fact there was quite a lot of support for the idea. But why is there this divide in the first place? Surely increased connectivity is a good thing?
The main reason for the hesitancy to agree with the plans seems to be security with around half of those asked saying that they would not want WiFi on The Tube for fear of personal information being stolen of the unsecured wireless networks. Those of you who know how to actually use the privacy settings on your devices will probably be laughing at that suggestion (and the obvious point that if they don’t want to use it they don’t have to could be made) but I imagine many people would probably think twice about allowing a public authority such close contact with what you do on the web.
The second highest concern regarded theft, with about 30% of people who objected to the idea stating that they thought it would lead to an increased number of thefts; again surely if one was worried about theft that much you wouldn’t use it so the argument is a little odd, but it is a likely outcome if more people are using laptops etc on The Tube. Finally 14% of people thought that it would make the tube even more stressful than it already is.
It has to be said that the arguments against the introduction are weak at best and fortunately the TFL look set to ignore them altogether, pointing out that people have signal on the tube overground and the extension would offer no different a service. So the interesting point here is not whether or not it will be good to have on the tube, but why do so many people object to the increasing connectivity?
Regarding the original plan of extending The Tube network, the Telegraph revealed that in fact 3/4 of people did not want to see mobile phones used on the underground, with one commentator saying “It’s horrible enough as it is, without the sweaty oik jammed up against you being on the ‘phone, too.”.
Are we slowly becoming more disillusioned by the idea of being connected to the world all the time? Surely in London you’re never far away from a free Starbucks WiFi network anyway? Are we just fed up of listening to other people’s conversations and bumping into people who can’t look up from their phones? Let us know what you think!
Via – The Inquirer