Delusions of importance

In a puff for himself in the Adver, Mr Hunt makes grand claims for the historical importance of the wi-fi project he’s running at our expense.

It’s as ground breaking and significant today as the introduction of the Penny Post or the motor car or the aeroplane were to our fore-fathers…. Daniel Gooch identified Swindon as the ideal location for the Brunel’s Great Western Railway works. The decision turned a small market town into a transport, communications and economic power house. A century later, Swindon was still at the forefront of national innovation and social inclusion. Aneurin Bevan MP, determined to create a National Health Service offering every member of society cradle-to-grave healthcare, visited Swindon to see how Gooch’s GWR Medical Fund, paid for by employees’ contributions, worked in practice…. A complete health service, and all we had to do was to expand it to embrace the whole country.

Of course, Mr Hunt cannot know whether this new service will be as trailblazing as those he compares it with; only history will tell. What we do know is that some of Mr Hunt’s claims are, at the least, exaggerated.

Yes, this is new, and it’s brave. But that’s the beauty and the strength of it.

A quick internet search for ‘free city wide wifi’ shows it’s far from new and the only bravery is in the risk being taken with almost £½M of Swindon taxpayers’ money.

[S]mall and medium enterprises, who instead of having to maintain their own networks will be able to rely on Signal

An internet service provider that plans a break of service in the middle of the working day is not one I’d wish to rely on.

Down the line, costs of sending and receiving texts and emails when abroad will plummet with Signal.

For a company that already seems to be short of cash, that’s a very long way down the line, unless Mr Hunt thinks his competitors are going to give his company cheap access to their networks. From the evidence of the internet deals being offered in Swindon by the companies of Messrs Branson and Murdoch, their main aim at the moment seems to be to price Mr Hunt out of business.

It will even allow more efficient energy distribution throughout the national grid.

That assumes that National Grid would want to sign up for an account: as a company that have themselves been an internet service provider with past experience in wireless communications, that seems unlikely.

I understand there are those that doubt the benefits that wi-fi can bring to our whole town, and the wisdom of the council’s partnership with Digital City. But I am also sure there were those who doubted Gooch and Bevan at the time.

No Mr Hunt, that shows you don’t understand the concerns at all. Those are concerns about the secrecy surrounding this decision and whether due process was followed.

If Mr Hunt wishes to be compared to Messrs Gooch and Bevan, he first needs to prove that he can match their achievements. From the evidence available at the moment, £150,000 of Swindon taxpayers’ money has bought just 5 paying customers when the target at this stage was 125. As a record of achievement, that’s hardly a stunning start.