The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) government on Thursday officially launched a Wi-Fi program to give free access to hotspots, which an official said would help sharpen the city's competitive edge.
The GovWiFi program now gives free access to wireless Internet at over 30 government buildings and will have put in place around 2,000 hotspots to cover about 350 locations by mid-2009, said Frederick Ma, secretary for commerce and economic development.
"The provision of public Wi-Fi services will continue to expand, maintaining Hong Kong's position among the leading cities in the world," Ma said at the launching ceremony.
The program will cover libraries, government offices, job centers, public inquiry centers, sports, cultural and recreation centers, community centers and parks.
Ma said the provision of public Wi-Fi services was booming, with over 1,000 hotspots installed in just the first two months of 2008.
"Our lives are now tightly coupled with information and communications technology, which also helps build our digital economy and enhance the competitiveness of Hong Kong. Wireless and mobile technology are applied in the pillar industries," he said.
One of the world's freest economies and an international financial and aviation hub, Hong Kong now leads among even the developed cities in wireless Internet access.
Ma said local mobile financial services grew about 60 percent year on year in 2007.
The information and communications technology industry should ride on the expanding user base to develop more mobile financial and banking services, he said, adding that the HKSAR government would continue to help introduce innovative services.