Hangzhou, the capital city of China’s eastern Zhejiang province, announced this week that it would launch a new Wifi scheme providing FREE wireless Internet access to all citizens in some public hotspots.

There’ll be over 2,000 Wi-Fi hotspots covering public spaces like tourist spots, squares, transportation hubs and public sectors available. Citizens only need to search for a Wifi access point named i-hangzhou and then connect to it. The Wifi covers an area around 220 square km. Try it for yourself next time you are around.

Signposts indicating “free Wi-Fi available here” will be set up around every hotspot.

Only smartphones are allowed to connect in the initial stage with wider support for tablets to be extended later on. PC users, on the other hand, have to wait till the second half of next year.

The service provider, a Hangzhou-based digital media group WASU revealed that the Access Point they offered allows 15 users to connect at the same time with private-2M-bandwidth-limit. I was hoping they could accommodate more devices at one time, otherwise the service would be of no real use to Hangzhou citizens.

This scheme started in 2007, and is still under development to provide more hotspots, the ultimate goal is to build up a smarter wireless network for the whole city.

Actually many cities in China are trying to get the citizens connected, for instance Shanghai and Beijing all have their own government-supported Wifi spots, though most of the time inaccessible.

Charlie Sheng

动点科技驻湾区记者. Charlie is an entrepreneur based in San Francisco and Hong Kong who calls herself the undefeated caffeine champion. You can reach her at charlie.sheng (at) technode.com

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