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BT fears wireless security PR crisis

The telco fears that media reports about wireless security dangers could drive customers away
Written by Dan Ilett, Contributor

BT is worried that negative press surrounding the security of wireless technology could damage the Wi-Fi industry.

In a keynote speech at the Wireless LAN Event in London on Wednesday, BT's chief executive for wireless broadband, Chris Clark, said that media reports highlighting the dangers of wireless may deter people from using the technology.

"We can be optimistic that journalists want to talk about the security issues around wireless — it shows it is becoming mainstream," said Clark. "That said, if we are not fairly clever, we will have an issue on our hands. There is security if we take the right steps, but this PR could get very negative for us".

Despite growing awareness of the issue, some consumer wireless devices are still being sold with security options such as encryption switched off by default. This can make it extremely easy for hackers to access a wireless network.

However, Clark said the wireless industry was still in its infancy and there was still a great deal of work to be done to improve consumer's experience of using the technology. "I don't think it's safe to say we're a mature industry, we've still got some way to go."

Although there are already 8,500 publicly available hot spots in the UK, Clark said that more people need to use wireless at home to drive demand for Wi-Fi in public places. He added that wireless VoIP, which can dramatically cut phone call costs for wireless users, may still be a risky bet for investors.

"Without a doubt, wireless VoIP capability in a phone will drive further growth in this industry, but I wouldn't build my business plan on it in the next 12-18 months," said Clark.

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