S'pore's Lau Pa Sat food market goes high tech

Customers at Lau Pa Sat Festival Market in Singapore will now be able to savor their local hawker delights and surf the Internet at the same time.

SINGAPORE--Customers at Lau Pa Sat Festival Market will now be able to savor their local hawker delights and surf the Internet at the same time, without a danger of getting their chopsticks tangled in wires.

This has been made possible by a partnership between the Kopitiam Group of Companies, the manager of the market, US-based network technology company Linksys Group, local ISP Pacific Internet and wireless solutions provider Axtreme Nexus.

According to Axtreme Nexus executive director Alfred Au Yong, customers must subscribe to its wireless broadband access service in order to access the Net from their tables, via laptops, pocket PCs and PDAs. The company charges S$25 a month for unlimited broadband access under its roaming partner agreement with Bluengine Holdings, a broadband solutions provider.

He added that users who sign up between now and the end of August will be entitled to three months' free access to the service. To access the service, users will also need to buy a wireless LAN card for S$199 (US$110).

In a statement today, Linksys said the wireless service will use IEEE 802.11B wireless technology.

Aw Yong said that the Internet connectivity runs on 11Mbps, or up to 50 to 100 times faster than a 56kbps dial-up modem.

He noted that the connection distance for the service is 100 meters within the Lau Pa Sat vicinity. He added that there are no plans to extend the range beyond the market area.

Aw Yong said that apart from Lau Pa Sat, users of its service can also access wireless broadband at 29 "hotspots" across the island, such as cybercafes, coffee joints food outlets, commercial buildings and shopping malls. These include the Olio Dome cafes at Suntec City, Bras Basah and Bishan Community Club.

The total investment for this project is S$31,600 (US$17,388), including Internet connectivity access and equipment. He did not give further details.

On whether there are plans to offer its wireless Internet access to other food courts in Singapore, Aw Yong was cautious. "It is too preliminary to say at this point, because there are only a few foodcourts here with the size of Lau Pa Sat."

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