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Wi-Fi masterplan delayed by reshuffle

The departure of Stephen Timms has temporarily unplugged the government's plan for wireless networking in public places
Written by Graeme Wearden, Contributor
The unveiling of a government strategy to install wireless hot spots in public areas across Britain has been put on ice until at least October.

The initiative to wirelessly enable public places and buildings access was due to be launched at the British Library on Tuesday. But organisers were forced to pull the event on Monday -- citing the government reshuffle earlier this month.

Stephen Timms had been lined up to launch the strategy and to 'discuss the e-government vision', but he has just lost his portfolio as minister for energy, e-commerce and the postal services in favour of becoming financial secretary to the Treasury.

His replacement as e-commence minister, Mike O'Brien, is earmarked to take Timms' place at the launch. A previous engagement in the O'Brien diary is being blamed for the postponement by those close to the event.

The event included the launch of 'wireless access for all' at the British Library. It is understood that the library's Wi-Fi network is already up and running, so users shouldn't be unduly inconvenienced by this delay to the official 'switch-on'.

But with the wireless industry growing rapidly, and technologies such as WiMax driving the agenda, it's unfortunate that the UK tech industry must wait until at least next month to hear the government's vision in this area.

Timms is generally perceived to have performed well as e-commerce minister despite having the energy brief added to his workload last year. He was a keen supporter of public access Wi-Fi in libraries.

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