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English>>People's Daily Online Exclusives

Free Wi-Fi triggers discussion across China

By Wang Ao (People's Daily Online)    11:03, February 01, 2016

Free Wi-Fi is provided in many public areas in China. (File photo)

At the beginning of the year, cities across China began offering free Wi-Fi. Liuzhou city was the first city to launch free Wi-Fi in southwest China's Guangxi on Dec. 18, 2016. Free Wi-Fi was officially adopted in Hefei city, capital of east China's Anhui province on the last day of 2015.

Before this trend of free Wi-Fi began hotting up, the installation of free Wi-Fi had already been trialled in Beijing, Guangzhou and Shanghai over the last three or four years. It basically produced coverage via Wi-Fi Hotspots in major public areas and provided mobile internet services.

However, this service that was supposed to be a "delicious free lunch" received many complaints from the public.

Free Wi-Fi? No clear logos and guidelines.

According to an investigation by media in Guangzhou city, nearly 70 percent of netizens have never used the free Wi-Fi provided by local governments. When asking a dozen or so passengers in the ticket hall of Guangzhou railway station, more than 10 passengers told the reporter that they did not use the free Wi-Fi and a number of them did not know that there was free Wi-Fi.

Many netizens suggested that the government should post obvious signs and release clear messages to the public, providing a real convenience to the people who need free Wi-Fi.

Unstable signal makes free Wi-Fi "chicken ribs"

Many people have used free Wi-Fi in public areas. Compared to Wi-Fi provided by companies and stores, the one provided by the government should cover wider regions and meet more demands of its users. But in reality the signal strength fluctuates and sometimes even disappears, causing confusion for users.

Concerns of safety: will personal information be intercepted?

People can search for free Wi-Fi in public places, but there is always the risk of hidden traps. In March 2015, a man in Yangzhou was defrauded of a large sum of money. Without using his bank card, 69 transactions worth 59,500 yuan were made, leaving 500 yuan in his account. An investigation revealed that this loss was related to his use of unsafe free Wi-Fi in a public area.

Many residents laid out concerns of the free Wi-Fi provided by local governments, especially when they use WeChat Payments and Alipay.

"The government should pay more attention to the free Wi-Fi network and give safety guarantees to the public. Otherwise it will harm the authority and credibility of the government," said Jiang Qiping, Secretary-general of the research center of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)(Editor:Wang Ao,Bianji)

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