Wed, Feb 02, 2005 - Page 11 News List

Taipei inaugurates first stage of wireless project


The Taipei City Government announced yesterday that it has completed the first stage of the "M-City" (mobile city) project, which allows residents to access the Internet in and around 30 mass rapid transit (MRT) stations through wireless connections.

"Taipei will be the world's first and largest mobile city, where users can access the Internet wherever they go, when the project is completed next year," Mayor Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) said at the launching ceremony.

In addition to a 6,000m2 area in the Xinyi district where the government tested the system, Wireless Internet access is now available in 12 stations on the Bannan Line, 13 stations on the Danshui Line, five stations on the Muzha Line and areas within 150m of theses stations. The areas involved cover an estimated 20 percent of the city's population.

By June, the service will be extended to the rest of the MRT stations, as well as parts of Zhongshan, Wanhua, Datong, Daan and Zhongzheng districts, and cover about 50 percent of the city.

By early next year, 90 percent of the population will be covered.

The service will be free until the end of April, said Kuo Chun-nan (郭俊男), chief executive officer of Q-ware Systems & Services Corp (安源資訊), the project's contractor. After that, the company plans to charge users NT$399 per month for unlimited access, but the rates first have to be approved by the Taipei City Government, Kuo said.

That rate would be cheaper than those charged by McDonald's and cafes, which charge users about NT$1 per minute, Kuo said.

Although the connection offer has only attracted about 10,000 subscribers so far, Kuo believes the subscription base will reach 200,000 by the end of the year.

The service will be especially welcomed by city residents, Kuo said, given the prevalence of the third-generation telecommunication network and smart phones. He said it also will create great business opportunities for Internet-content providers.

He said Q-ware Systems also provides other paid value-added services, including online TV viewing, online learning, ring tone downloading, short message sending and others, which allow subscribers to kill time while waiting for MRT trains. Online gaming may be the next service available, Kuo said.

In the long term, the company plans to integrate its wireless Internet connections in Taipei with those of other cities, allowing subscribers to use a single account to access the Internet in other cities.

Kaohsiung inaugurated wireless Internet connections in some areas at the end of last year while Taichung has plans to bring wireless access to its residents as well.

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