London bans 3G, Wi-Fi hotspots from Olympic venues

...along with the usual suspects, such as firearms and drugs. While kittens should probably stay at home, you had better disable your smartphone's hotspot feature before entering an Olympics venue.
Written by Zack Whittaker, Contributor

Firearms, drugs and kittens: banned.

For visitors to London's Olympic Games, these are just a number of things prohibited from the Games' venues.

But also on a list of banned items from sporting venues are devices that can be used to connect other gadgets to the Web -- such as Wi-Fi, Mi-Fi and 3G hotspots -- which cannot be taken in with you. If you're caught with one, you could lose it and never see it again. 

From the document itself, Olympic organizers warn that "there are no storage facilities available and if you surrender an item, you won’t be able to get it back." 

Also included in the list are:

  • Walkie-talkies, phone jammers and radio scanners;
  • Personal/private wireless access points and 3G hubs (smart devices such as Android phones, iPhone and tablets are permitted inside venues, but must not be used as wireless access points to connect multiple devices).

It's not clear exactly why these items have been banned from the Games -- animals aside, except service animals to help those with disabilities -- but it could be down to one of two things: security, or profit. 

British Telecom (BT) remains the "official communications services partner." (McDonalds, by the way, is the Olympics' "official restaurant." How that works is anybody's guess.) As GigaOm reports, BT has 1,500 Wi-Fi hotspots all over the Olympic venues, but users have to pay to access the Web through BT's infrastructure, except those already on BT's home broadband.

While your smartphone should be safe, ensure any hotspot capability is switched off. How the organizers will enforce the ban is anybody's guess, however. It's likely, just as with its social media rules, London officials are covering all bases by aiming to disrupt any third-party provider from muscling in on BT's territory, rather than focusing on individual attendees. 

Spend a penny, earn a pound, as it seems. Just leave your kitten at home. 

Image credit: London 2012.

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