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Friday, September 19, 2008

Penang surfers to enjoy free wireless Internet

PENANG became the first state in the country yesterday to offer free Internet wireless broadband services on Wi-Fi, with the launch of its `Wireless@PENANG' initiative.

The two-pronged Wireless@PENANG project is made up of two components. The first is wiring up the whole state with free access using Wi-Fi technology while the second is a paid service for faster access in some areas using WiMAX technology.

Wi-Fi allows Internet access over limited distances or hotpots while WiMAX covers a much bigger area.

Penang will not spend any money for the initiative since the free Wi-Fi services will be provided by Hotgate Technology (M) Sdn Bhd.

Hotgate, a wholly-owned subsidiary of US-based Hotgate Technology Inc, is partnering with REDTone Telecommunications Sdn Bhd, to offer free Wi-Fi services to 750 hotspots over the next 15 months.

The REDTone-Hotgate consortium will invest RM10 million initially for more than 400 sites within the next six to nine months, chief executive officer Wei Chuan Beng, said.

WEI: Over time, low-cost housing areas and food centres will also be wired up while the company hopes to make money from advertising revenue

In the next four weeks, the following sites in Penang will have free Wi-Fi. They are Queensbay Mall, Jalan Macalister, Jalan Burma, Gurney Plaza and Gurney Drive, Bukit Jambul area and Bukit Jambul Complex, Universiti Sains Malaysia and its surrounding areas, Butterworth in Seberang Prai and Tanjung Bungah.

"Over time, low-cost housing areas and food centres will also be wired up," said Wei. The company plans to make money from advertising revenue.

He was speaking to reporters at a media briefing in George Town.

Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng who launched the initiative, said next week the state plans to unveil the "WiMAX @PENANG" project, catering to the serious mobile Internet users who require better speed.

Although Lim did not name the party partnering Penang for this effort, it is learnt that the company is Green Packet Bhd.

By New Straits Times (by Marina Emmanuel)

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