Local authorities rush to provide free WiFi to attract tourists

Published:  16:38 Wednesday - January 30, 2013

Local authorities rush to provide free WiFi to attract tourists

Hoi An, Hue and then other cities all have provided free WiFi in their localities in an effort to promote tourism and create most favorable conditions for people. However, how to arrange money to maintain public WiFi remains a question.

The “WiFi race”

On March 28, 2012, the free WiFi system in Hoi An City in the central region was officially put into operation.

The system, which has the investment capital of VND25 billion, comprises of 350 transreceiver points, allows to have wave reached out to every corner of the Hoi An ancient town, with which visitors and local people can access Internet free of charge at the speed of 256 Kbps.

With the event, Hoi An officially became the first city in Vietnam and Asia which provides free WiFi in a large scale.

Following Hoi An, Ha Long City, where the natural wonder Ha Long Bay is, also decided to provide free WiFi. In April 2012, the WiFi system in the city made debut, while the Quang Ninh provincial authorities plan to cover WiFi wave in all the communes, towns and cities in the province.

In June 2012, the Thua Thien-Hue province authorities approved the plan to invest at least VND20 billion to provide WiFi wave in the whole city of Hue. The sum of money was invested by VDC3 which would earn money from the associated added value services.

Most recently, in early November 2012, the Da Nang Information and Communication Department started the implementation of the project on building a public wireless Internet system. The project, which is implemented in two stages, is believed to be completed by March 2013. 

After the system gets completed, WiFi would be available at 29 departments, agencies, district and commune people’s committees, central areas in the city, schools and tourist sites.

This is really a huge project with the total investment capital of $1 million. It is expected that after the first phase, the capacity of the system would be big enough for 20,000 users.

How to “feed” the public WiFi?

An official of the Quang Nam provincial Information and Communication Department said at a conference recently gathered by the Information and Communication Industry, that the problem of the province now is to earn money to maintain the public WiFi network.

Therefore, the department has asked the ministry to prop up 50 percent of the total monthly expenses to maintain the network.

In reply, Minister Nguyen Bac Son said the ministry does not have the ability and the function of paying fees for local networks.

Son stressed that it is unfeasible to provide free WiFi to attract tourists, because Vietnam is still poor. In other words, the local department needs to discuss with enterprises the solutions to maintain WiFi networks themselves.

Vu The Binh, General Director of Netnam said it would be a big waste if providing free WiFi just as a tool for people to access Internet. It would be better to provide public services on the basis of the e-government as well. If so, people can go to public WiFi access points to learn more information or make registrations with the localities.

A senior executive of FPT Telcom frankly said that it would be unfeasible to feed the WiFi network with the state budget. It would be better to join forces with enterprises to maintain the network, provided that the enterprises can receive some preferences (such as land use right allocation or investment incentives) and benefits (allowing enterprises to sell prepaid scratch cards.

Buu Dien

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