Since late December 2013, the people in the northern sea city of Hai Phong can use free wi-fi in three areas of the city – the central area, the city’s convention center and the Cat Ba tourist site. The local authorities agreed to spend VND5.4 billion on the project.

Prior to that, free wi-fi had been available in many other localities as well. Hoi An City in Quang Nam province pioneer in the field when it began serving free wi-fi at the speed of 256Kbps in 2012.

On August 2013, Da Nang City inaugurated the ICT infrastructure system with the investment capital of over $13 million, which includes the wi-fi system with 320 base transreceiver stations, capable to serve 20,000 accesses at the same time (20 minutes for each access, no limitation on the number of accesses) with the 300 MB bandwidth.

Hue City has also provided free wi-fi at 6-8 points where travelers visit regularly and the points that provide public services.

In late December, the wi-fi system with 24 access points was inaugurated in the tourist city of Da Lat.

HCM City has installed wi-fi on buses as a part of the program on encouraging the city dwellers to take the public means of transport.

Network quality remains questionable

A lot of users in Hoi An City complained that it is very difficult to access free wi-fi, even if they try to access the Internet from Tran Phu Street – the center of Hoi An. Meanwhile, the theoretical speed promised is 256 Kbps

In Ha Long City, people can only access free of charge to the provincial official information portals. If they want to access other websites, they would have to pay a fee through scratch cards.

Similarly, in Hue City, people can only use free wi-fi for public services and can access the provincial information portal. After a six month of trial run, VNPT began collecting fees through scratch cards.

Meanwhile, Da Nang’s people complain that 20 minutes is a bit too little for anyone who wants to seek information on the Internet. In the other cities in the world, the service providers only set limitations on the transmission speed, ensuring the speed just high enough for surfing on websites, checking maps, seeking weather information and checking mails. Meanwhile, no time limit is set up.

Dr. Nguyen Tuan Hoa, in his article published on Nguoi lao dong newspaper, noted that except the data center, administration information center or the Da Nang City information portal, which provide updated information, other networks don’t have good contents.

Hoa pointed out that this is the weak point of the wi-fi city model. People access the Internet mostly to seek information, and they would be disappointed if the information is not good and updated enough.

He has noted that Da Nang’s wi-fi network, which connects the urban network to provide the e-government services, has the high security level. Meanwhile, the others don’t have such a high security level. Therefore, public wi-fi users should be warned about the security risks.

VietNamNet Bridge - January 7, 2014