WCIT delegates to get free Wi-Fi

Visitors at World Congress on IT in Malaysia next week will enjoy free wireless Internet access service, provided by one of country's WiMax licensee Packet One Networks.

KUALA LUMPUR--Local and foreign business executives attending the World Congress on Information Technology (WCIT) 2008 in Malaysia's capital city will be able to log on to free wireless access, courtesy of WiMax service provider Packet One Networks (P1).

The WCIT is expected to see a gathering of some 2,700 delegates and 25,000 business visitors converging at the Kuala Lumpur City Center (KLCC) Convention Center from May 18 to 22.

P1 CEO Michael Lai said over 200 Wi-Fi zones have been installed in the vicinity of the KLCC and surrounding hotels in the Golden Triangle, the city's main tourist belt located adjacent to KLCC.

"The WCIT will be a landmark event for us and we aim to ensure delegates will be able to use our services without interruption," Lai told ZDNet Asia Friday, in an e-mail interview. "We are delighted to be able to showcase our services at the WCIT, and our entire organization is geared toward a successful implementation at the event."

Dubbed the KL Wireless Metropolitan Project or Wireless@KL, the Wi-Fi service is part of a long-term initiative undertaken in conjunction with Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL) and industry regulator, the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC).

The Wi-Fi service will offer users speeds of up to 512Kbps (kilobits per second), with a maximum download/upload data usage of 500MB (megabytes) per month at most public areas, including both indoor and outdoor locations. The service, connected via P1's WiMax backhaul, will be available for free in the first two years of operation.

Consumers who wish to use the free service will have to register. A detailed coverage map is available on the Wireless@KL site.

In spite of offering the service for free, Lai said P1 has made every effort to ensure there is enough bandwidth capacity at each location to cater to the needs of users.

"We are rolling out [Wireless@KL] in phases. It won't happen overnight but we will provide as much coverage as quickly we can as we want to ensure that there is quality in the network," he said, adding that P1 will monitor the situation and make improvements along the way.

Prepping for wireless broadband
On a related development, Lai said P1 is in the "midst of rolling out its WiMax service". The service provider is engaging in various trials to "ensure service stability and quality in various areas within the country", he said.

Areas, which currently support WiMax service, are located in Puchong, (Subang) Tai Pan and Subang Jaya, he added.

"We are definitely on schedule to launch our [WiMax] services by June when all the elements are in place for a successful roll-out," Lai said, adding that P1 customer premise equipment (CPEs) will be made available soon after the launch.

Besides providing WiMax connectivity, Lai said P1 has plans to bundle voice, mobile and online entertainment content with its service offerings in the near future.

The MCMC in March 2007 awarded WiMax licenses to four operators, three of which--to date--have yet to announce any commercial availability of their WiMax services.

Edwin Yapp is a freelance IT writer based in Malaysia.