WiFi move gets wary welcome

  • TECH
  • Friday, 06 Jan 2012

PETALING JAYA: Restaurant operators agree to Kuala Lumpur City Hall’s (DBKL) new ruling of ensuring that eateries in the city are WiFi-ready but they would prefer if that ruling was not forced onto them.

Many see the move as being beneficial for their business as patrons become more tech savvy and demand to stay connected all the time but there are concerns especially around the costs of setting up the service.

Equipping restaurants with WiFi is a natural progression and it shows that restaurant operators are moving along with the times, said chief executive officer of Syed group of restaurants, Datuk Jamarulkhan Haji Kadir.

He said the Syed group of restaurants, with outlets in Kuala Lumpur, Petaling Jaya and Shah Alam, has been WiFi-ready for about seven years.

However, Jamarulkhan, who is also the head of the Malaysian Indian Muslim Chamber of Commerce said eateries in the capital shouldn’t be forced to offer WiFi services in their premises as some operations may not be doing financially well.

“Some eateries may look big but the operators may not be doing well financially and can do without the stress of providing a service they cannot afford to offer,” he said.

Jamarulkhan said such premises should be offered an incentive to comply with the directive.

“Perhaps DBKL can waive or offer a discount on a fee such as the signage fees in exchange for them to offer WiFi services in their premises,” he said.

Noorul Hassan Saulhameed, president of the Muslim restaurant owners association agrees with Jamarulkhan adding that DBKL should conduct a meeting with restaurant owners in the capital city and explain to them the benefits of providing WiFi services in their premises.

“Some restaurant owners may not see the benefit so authorities should make an effort to talk to them and explain the benefits,” he said.

Noorul Hassan also said restaurateurs worry that the WiFi service may interrupt the turnover of customers at their premises especially during the lunch hour when they are at their busiest.

“We are restaurateurs and our main concern is the food business. Some of the our members fear that if WiFi were offered at their premises, many patrons would take their time at the table, affecting other patrons that are waiting for a table,” he said.

Consumer take

Consumers are generally happy that more eateries will be offering WiFi services in their premises because they can save on their mobile Internet data plans but there are also worried that by offering the service, restraurants may also increase their prices.

Angelin Yeoh, a 23-year-old management trainee calls the idea exciting but is worried that she would have a hard time getting a table at a restaurant because people stay too long.

“I think instead of offering a new service, restaurant owners should focus on improving their menu and service,” she said.

There are also those who think that the mandatory WiFi ruling may be redundant as many tech savvy consumers will be on the mobile Internet anyway whether it be through their mobile Internet connection or WiFi hotspots.

IT administrator, Ervinna Tseu, 32, said some premises will probably resist the ruling because of the kind of patrons it attracts.

“I don’t think the more traditional coffeeshops will be happy because some of their clients may not be as very tech savvy and may not be using the service,” she said.

Last year, Kuala Lumpur Mayor Datuk Seri Ahmad Fuad Ismail announced that all restaurants in the city would have to provide WiFi services as part of their business licence for 2012.

The mandatory pre-requisite affects operators of eateries measuring 120 sq metres and larger and extends to cafes, pubs and club lounges. According to news reports, operators can decide whether or not to charge for the service.

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