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Thursday September 18, 2008 MYT 8:24:34 PM

Penang launches statewide free WiFi project

GEORGE TOWN: Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng has launched “Penang Free WiFi” - the first step in making Penang the country’s first WiFi state.

The initiative, which is the first component of the state’s Wireless@Penang project, is aimed at giving Penangites free wireless broadband services.

“Today, Penang takes a bold step to make the entire state connected through wireless broadband and it’s a journey we want to complete within the next 18 to 24 months.

“This effort is 100% private sector driven with nearly no or minimal cost put in by the state government. However, there are no rights to exclusivity and all qualified and recognised industry players are welcome to interest of promoting competition,” Lim said at the launch in Komtar on Thursday.

He said the project was different from the Federal Government-initiated High Speed Broadband (HSBB) project costing RM11.3bil.

Lim said a preview of WiMAX@Penang, the state’s next step in providing for serious mobile Internet users who require faster speed, was scheduled for next week.

The Penang Free WiFi project is currently headed by content manager REDtone Telecommunications Sdn Bhd and service enabler Hotgate Technology (M) Sdn Bhd which will set up 750 wireless access points over the next one year.

He said the free WiFi service was already available on Komtar’s concourse level and 28th floor which houses the Chief Minister’s office.

“The WiFi service will be deployed on a ‘ripples strategy’ with simultaneous initial roll-outs in several core market centres on the island and mainland before they spread to cover the entire state,” Lim said.

REDtone group managing director Wei Chuan Beng said they would begin setting up access points in Queensbay Mall and the service should be available within the next four weeks.

“This will be followed by the areas located in Macalister Road, Burma Road, Gurney Plaza and Gurney Drive, Bukit Jambul Complex, Universiti Sains Malaysia, Butterworth and then Tanjung Bungah.

“The connection speed offered is at an average of 10 Mbps, depending on the specification of the notebooks, the speed can vary,” Wei said.

He said the REDtone-Hotgate consortium planned to invest at least RM10mil in the project but expected it to be self-funded from advertisements in the near future.

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