Tue, Dec 21, 2004 - Page 10 News List

Kaohsiung becomes a wireless city

WEB DEVELOPMENT The city launched a project that enables free wireless Internet connection in some areas. More districts will be hooked up in the coming months

By Jessie Ho  /  STAFF REPORTER , IN KAOHSIUNG

Kaohsiung residents take advantage of wireless Internet connections available along the banks of the Love River. Free connections are now being offered at a wide range of destinations around the city, including the city government building, the city council and the Fisherman's Wharf.

PHOTO: CHANG CHUNG-YI, TAIPEI TIMES

Claiming to be the nation's first "real" mobile city, Kaohsiung City yesterday inaugurated wireless Internet connections in parts of the city to provide free access in the public.

"I believe the wireless infrastructure will bring more benefits to our people and visitors," Kao-hsiung Mayor Frank Hsieh (謝長廷), said at a launching ceremony.

Hsieh tested the system while riding a boat on Kaohsiung's landmark Love River, and he said "the result is excellent ... the connection speed is faster than the broadband system I use at home."

The wireless service is currently available in or near the city government building, the City Council, the Cultural Center and Hsinkuang Wharf, said Tony Wu (吳國棟), chief operation officer of Easpnet Taiwan Inc (數位通國際網路). Easpnet became the contractor for the project after winning the bid in October.

By the end of next April, the service will be extended to downtown Lingya, Shinshing and Chienchin Districts. Kaohsiung's other eight districts will receive the service by the end of next year, giving the city 80 percent coverage, Wu said.

The mobile city project will cost the Kaohsiung City Government an estimated NT$93 million, Wu said. The service will be free for one year after the entire project is completed, or from the end of next year, he said.

The system will also be used to improve security. The wireless connection is linked to monitoring systems set in crossroads, a digital fire alert system, and a vehicle tracking system, which allows the police force and fire department to obtain information instantly.

The Taipei City government also has a similar plan to bring wireless connection to the whole city by the end of next year.

The government is currently testing the system in the area around the Taipei City Government building in Hsinyi District. By the end of this year, the service will be officially launched along 20 Mass Rapid Transportation stations.

The wireless infrastructure, however, has reportedly been less well received than expected by Taipei residents due to compatibility problems.

The Taipei City Government contracted different companies to build the wireless system in different areas. State-run Chunghwa Telecom Co (中華電信) covers the general Hsinyi District, Qware Systems Inc (安源資訊) is in charge of MRT stations, while restaurants and coffee shops have their own wireless service providers, forcing users to apply for another user account when they enter another area.

One official at Easpnet who did not want to be named said this problem will not occur with Kaohsiung's wireless network. However, he acknowledged that access there is still not completely stable due to signal interference in the area.

The company will streamline this later to make the system run more smoothly, he said.

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