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Shanghai netizens to have free wifi on streets

By Wang Zhenghua  (China Daily)

08:52, July 30, 2012

Shanghai's financial center has moved one step closer to its goal of building an "intelligent city" by offering free wifi services at 30 public venues.

Shanghai residents can now log onto "i-shanghai" to access free wireless at railway stations, ports, hospitals, exhibition centers and a number of popular scenic spots such as Xintiandi and Yuyuan Garden.

Users are able to enjoy two-hours of free Internet access every day.

The service is part of a program to turn Shanghai into an "intelligent city", and has been launched by the municipal government together with the country's three major telecom operators, China Mobile, China Unicom and China Telecom.

According to the plan, Shanghai will expand the WLAN services to 300 major public places across the city by the end of this year, covering public transportation hubs, parks, green belts, scenic spots, culture venues, waiting areas of hospitals, rest areas of commercial zones as well as the service areas of administration buildings.

The number of areas with free wifi will grow to 450 by the end of 2013, the municipal government said.

A report released by the China Internet Network Information Center on July 19 showed the number of Chinese people accessing the Internet via mobile devices had increased to a high of 388 million by the end of June. The total number of Chinese Web users stood at 538 million in the first half.

In Shanghai, the number of cell phone users surpassed 30 million by the end of June, with 5.6 million of them using 3G services.

There are 13,500 WLAN access points across the city, and Shanghai Municipal Commission of Economy and Information said all the Internet-related indexes are leading the country.

Yet on Sunday, many residents approached by China Daily said they were either not aware of the free wifi services, or found the service unreliable and occasionally difficult to access.

"I happened to find the signal, tried to log on and succeeded," said Mei Xiaohao, who works near the city's Xintiandi, an affluent entertainment area in Shanghai. "The speed is satisfying."

But China Daily reporters found that not all parts of Xintiandi was covered by i-shanghai, and the signal could be very weak or even disappear outside the center of the area.

At the Shanghai Urban Planning Exhibition Center, there was no clear logo to inform the public of the free wifi, but the signal was much faster and more stable compared with Xintiandi, even enabling users to watch online videos.Warning:Products to be careful of
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