Thursday, 17 March 2011

WiFi blues at hotspots


By KOW KWAN YEE

Penang users of free wireless service complain of connection woes



PENANG’S Free Wireless (WiFi) Internet service is not working in some hotspots, according to several users.

They complained of inaccessibility and instability of the service.

A user called May expressed her disappointment in the Lowyat Internet forum, saying that she kept getting disconnected at the hotspot at Van Praagh Road although her laptop indicated excellent speed in the area.

“Is this what is called free? Please check on this and do something about it. I am totally fed up with all these problems,” she said in her post.

Another user called gogo2 said the line was not stable for the past few months. “It goes on and off numerous times. It comes right back up but get disconnected halfway. This is weird,” gogo2 said in the same forum.

Penang Gerakan Youth chief Oh Tong Keong complained that he was unable to access the free WiFi while conducting voter registration at the Chowrasta and Campbell Street markets for the past two weeks.

“The laptops detected the WiFi signal but we were unable to register and eventually had to use our own broadband,” he said yesterday.

“These areas are near Komtar which is one of the WiFi hotspots but why is the service not working?” he questioned.

Oh said his friends had also complained about inaccessibility of the WiFi service in several hotspots.

“The service is in demand as many youngsters now own mobile devices such as iPhone. The state government should overcome the problem as soon as possible,” he said.

This reporter was unable to access the free WiFi on her mobile phone at several hotspots listed in the PDC Telecommunication Services (PDC Telco) website. The hotspots are the ground floor of the Bukit Jambul Complex, Queensbay Mall’s third floor (south zone) and Prangin Mall’s ground floor.

Penang Telecommunications Task Force chairman Jeff Ooi said the reasons for wireless disconnection were user and device problems.

“Some of the users log in and register with fake email addresses before they connect to the wireless service.
“Sometimes their devices, such as smartphones, are not working due to operating system problems,” he said when asked to comment on the complaints.

Ooi said some users downloaded movies using the free service and this paralysed the network.

“To tackle this problem, we have adopted the wireless system used in several international airports where users will be logged off automatically after 15 minutes.

“Hotspots are monitored every day and our team will conduct physical inspection for any router that is not functioning,“ he said, adding that a routine check was done every two weeks.

Ooi said the 750 free WiFi locations can be checked at www.pdctelco.com.my.
He said users could call the hotline 1800-87-7790 if they have difficulty connecting to the free wireless network.