You have probably heard about some of the branding efforts that the Olympic Games are implementing to give exposure to their sponsors. But did you know that the Olympic Games also watch their WI-Fi signals to make sure that no one is using an unauthorized hotspot?
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) will stop at nothing to protect their sponsors. These sponsors pay big money to have their products included in the Olympic Games. Only certain approved vendors are allowed to sell their services at the Games. That includes limiting internet use to approved vendors.
The “official” service provider for the Olympic Games is BT. BT has set up about 1500 Wi-Fi hotspots at all of the Olympic sites. They charge about $9.00 for 90 minutes of service, and they want no one else using any other providers.
To prevent people from using any other services, the London Olympics organizing committee has banned the use of any devices which can act as a portable Wi-Fi hotspot. Any hubs, devices or personal wireless access points are not allowed on any Olympic sites.
These devices include smartphones that have wireless access to the internet. Many people use their phones to tether their laptops to the internet, but this is strictly prohibited at any Olympic site.
The organizers who run the Olympics have deployed a small army of people whose sole responsibility is to find unauthorized access points. These workers are armed with red detector guns that are used to find areas where there might be unauthorized access.
Uniformed Olympics officers patrol all the sites where events take place to make sure that no one is breaking any of their rules. New laws that were passed before the Olympic Games allow these officers to enter shops and businesses to enforce their rules. They are able to give people fines of up to $35,000.
The Olympic brand is one of the most lucrative brands in the world. The brand is estimated to be valued at around $45 billion. Being such a big brand means that they can ask for exorbitant prices from their sponsors. The sponsors will gladly pay because of all the publicity that they get.
People understand that sponsors need to be protected to some extent, but having officials tell you that you can not use your smartphone has made some people angry. People believe that this time the Olympic officials have gone too far and that Olympic officials are impeding on their choice to choose an internet carrier.
People are not making money by using their own wireless hotspots. They pay for that service, and they believe they should be able to use it, especially because they are not making any money from it. They are upset that they are being told what providers they have to use and what price they have to pay. As a result, the Wi-Fi police are leaving people with a bad taste in their mouth.
Peter Wendt is a writer from Texas. He pole vaulted in high school, and while he was watching the Olympics, was surprised to hear that he couldn’t use this business hotspot service.