"Go to a cash machine / to get a ticket home / message on the screen / says don't make plans, you're broke" sang Staines indie gonks Hard-Fi in their hit song Cash Machine back in 2005. Oddly prophetic, seeing as you'll soon be able to access Wi-Fi via cash points, thanks to a deal between BT Openzone and Cashbox.
Cashbox runs a network of stand-alone automated teller machines across the country. You know the ones: you spot the CASH sign, wander into a newsagent, spend a moment wrestling with your better judgement, then get your readies and pay £1.50 for the privilege.
It may even be one of the ones where you swipe your card out before you type in what you want, which endlessly confuses Crave as it makes us think we're in France or something. They tend to lurk in the corner of the pub waiting for the event horizon (the moment when the first round turns into the second -- if you don't get out then, the rest of the evening collapses into a black hole and escape is impossible).
Anyway, these cash points -- Cashpoint, one word, is a registered trademark of Lloyds TSB, semantics fans -- already use broadband connections to zap transaction data back and forth. Ten cash machines will take part in a trial of the scheme before a potential rollout to more than 2,000 other ATMs. Pub-based cash points may be useful to anyone wanting to sit down with a laptop and a lager and lime, but those located in shops will be more suited to boosting BT's coverage to mobile customers.
The obvious concern is security, with public surfing alongside cash details. ATMs are vulnerable enough already without providing another angle of attack.
BT Openzone plans start at £5 per month for 500 minutes, tied into a 12-month contract. For £12.50 you can also access T-Mobile hotspots, but seeing as that's an 18-month contract we'll probably just stick with 3G.