Wireless City to 'bridge the digital divide'

13:24, May 20, 2011      

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Shanghai is accelerating the development of its high-speed wireless broadband network as part of its bid to become a "smart city".

In its push to become the nation's first wireless city, the country's three telecommunications operators are working together to expand Shanghai's Wi-Fi hotspots to 20,000 in the next three years.

China Mobile Ltd Shanghai Company has pledged to accelerate the deployment of a wireless local area network (WLAN), Huang Gang, general manager of corporate customer department, told China Daily on Thursday.

"WLAN hotspots provided by China Mobile will exceed 6,000, covering 5 million square meters of city buildings, including transport hubs, shopping districts, and public services," Huang said.

In a similar move, the Shanghai subsidiary of China Telecom Ltd disclosed that it will expand its version of Wi-Fi to include more bus stations, schools and hotels, the company's general manger Zhang Weihua told the 2011 Shanghai Communication Development Annual Conference on Wednesday.

Shanghai's Wireless City program was pioneered in Jiading district in 2008, and has since been brought to all districts.

"The Wireless City (wireless metropolitan area network) solution is designed to bridge the digital divide, Internet access and revenue services for poor households to provide a low-cost wireless service," said Zhang Wei, an engineer with Alcatel Lucent Shanghai company.

Wan Junhua, head of the operation department of Huawei Technologies Co Ltd, a leading mobile device supplier, said it will revolutionize the entire framework of urban life.

Telemedicine, for instance, is a rapidly developing application of such technology, Wan noted, where medical information is transferred through interactive audiovisual media for consulting, and sometimes remote medical examinations.

A staff member from China Mobile Shanghai Company said the telemedicine program was successfully piloted last year in Shanghai's Minhang district and is expected to be rolled out citywide.

Wi-Fi coverage will also play a role in the school monitoring system that ensures the safety of students when they are unattended.

Mo Xiaoming, a manager with China Unicom Ltd Shanghai Branch, said that the monitoring system allows parents to gain spontaneous access to live pictures of their kids, and will send immediate alarms to the school's security guards once there is potential danger.

With the aid of the high-speed wireless broadband network, the annual death toll from car accidents is expected to see a 30 to 70 percent drop, said Zhang Xu, general manager of consulting department from Nokia Siemens Networks.

Wan from Huawei said China is positioned at the frontier of telecommunications on the global scale, and is heralding in the age of the smart city.

But Ji Ti, secretary-general of Shanghai Communication Industry Association, said that besides technology, such a scenario requires government support in both policy and investment.

Source:China Daily
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