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Wi-Fi service extended to some bus routes

By Zheng Xin  (China Daily)

15:28, January 30, 2013

Beijing's free Wi-Fi service was extended on Monday to cover several bus routes, but some people complained that the service is unreliable and slow.

Some buses, including buses No 99 and No 52, which run around Chang'an Avenue in the capital, recently added free Wi-Fi.

"It's very good news to me because I can kill the time during traffic jams without worrying about the network flow," said Chen Si, a 34-year-old city resident. Chen said he even downloaded a game on Bus 52 on Monday. "This is a very considerate service," he said.

The free Wi-Fi coverage is a pilot project conducted with China Mobile, Beijing Youth Daily reported, and subscribers of the cell phone network will get 20 hours of free Wi-Fi a month.

Commuters on the routes obtain Internet access after inputting their phone number. A user name and password is then sent to their phone in a text message.

A 3 yuan (50 cents) hourly fee will be charged once the subscriber has exceeded the 20 hours of free service.

The pilot project will continue through the end of June. Whether China Mobile plans to extend the project is unclear. Company representatives could not be reached by China Daily for comment on Tuesday.

Despite the free service, some commuters complained about the speed and reliability of the network.

Bai Long, a 26-year-old accountant in Beijing, tested the Internet speed on Monday with his phone and said it was only 80 kb/s.

"With Internet speed this poor, you can only browse some web pages, and viewing a video clip is out of the question," he said.

Wang Xiangyu, a 34-year-old engineer in the city who takes Bus 52 every Monday, said he is also disappointed with the service.

"I took the bus to work every Tuesday when I could not drive my private vehicle because of traffic restrictions in the capital," he said. "However, it seems I can only get access to the free Internet haphazardly. I couldn't get connected last Monday, and I don't know if it's my problem or the network's."

Other residents complained of similar problems.

"I work around Xidan, but can barely get connected to the free local area network," said Wang Yu, a bank clerk in Beijing.

Hangzhou and Shanghai provided free Wi-Fi to passengers in 2012.

Beijing has launched free Wi-Fi service in several areas, including Xidan, Wangfujing, the Olympic Center, three major train stations, Financial Street, Yansha and Zhongguancun.

As part of the wireless local area networks construction project targeting more than 60 percent of the capital in the next five years, 90,000 WLAN access points will be built, according to the Beijing Commission of Economy and Information Technology.

"I hope the pilot project will carry on as promised," Chen said.

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