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Ahead of Olympics, London plows forward with Underground Wi-Fi

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Despite security concerns about hackers and terrorists, London is moving forward with its plan to equip 120 "Tube" stations with wireless broadband Internet.

London Underground, the British capital's transit authority, is moving forward with its plan to equip 120 "Tube" stations with wireless broadband Internet despite security concerns.

The BBC reports that the move still has the backing of mayor Boris Johnson, who sees connectivity as an integral part of the city's upcoming 2012 Olympic Games. The city first announced its plan in January after a successful trial at Charing Cross station.

But security experts argue that the new network will be ripe for attacks by terrorists and hackers -- after all, it enables communication as easily for them as it does for the straphanger, making remotely detonated bomb attacks possible from underground.

And that's not to mention the usual concerns of snooping black-hat hackers who seek to steal sensitive information from the public networks.

The debate rages on, and it's not clear there will ever be a satisfactory solution for both parties: access to mobile and data networks is both in high demand and already common for public transit systems across the globe; meanwhile, the threats remain, whether a hotspot in the Tube or at Tesco.

But then there are the realities of public transit in general: with delays, overcrowding and the usual complaints of transit hotspots -- slow, spotty or no connectivity -- on hand, Wi-Fi may be the very last thing on commuters' minds.

Photo: Nick Sarebi/Flickr

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Andrew Nusca

Editor Emeritus

Andrew Nusca is editor of SmartPlanet and an associate editor for ZDNet. Previously, he worked at Money, Men's Vogue and Popular Mechanics magazines. He holds degrees from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism and New York University. He is based in New York but resides in Philadelphia. Follow him on Twitter. Disclosure