British schools are wasting money on wireless networks that don't work properly, claimed 3Com and specialist reseller 802UK. The two companies kicked off a fight back against anti-Wi-Fi misinformation, arguing that not only is wireless less harmful than mobile phones, but it can provide major educational benefits. "A lot of money is being spent on the wrong things," said Gary Hudson, 802UK's managing director. "When we host seminars, 80% of schools say yes, we have a wireless network, and no, it doesn't work properly. "It's because the person who put it in doesn't understand wireless -- you have to design for capacity, not coverage. Most people design for coverage, but how many people are using the network, and where are they moving?"
Better network design, including the use of what he called second-generation wireless -- thin access points, managed by a switch -- would make wireless a more effective educational tool and boost its reputation with parents, he added. Hudson slammed the way that the topic of wireless in schools has been sensationalized, in particular by the BBC's Panorama program. "The judgement has to be made by governors and teachers, but even if you turn off the school network, RF [radio frequency radiation] is still there in every street -- there may be ten to fifteen other access points still broadcasting," he said. Public ignorance can only be combatted by education, said Steve Johnson, 3Com's U.K. channel manager, though he admitted that overcoming some of the scaremongers will be difficult.