Thursday, 31 March 2011

Penang free wifi, phase 2

You know, when the Penang government first announced the launch of the Penang Free Wifi service almost two years ago, I was a little sceptical that it would ever happen. Something for free? Come on.... But apparently, two years down the road, I'm told that there are already 750 free wifi hotspots scattered around the island and the mainland.

So that is why whenever I go into George Town, my mobile phone gets to detect a signal called "Penang Free Wifi" in many places. But I can be very forgetful. Embarrassingly forgetful. Although I had written about this service in the past, I had been wondering where it came from. The only thought that came into my mind was: "Is this a wifi service from the Penang Free School? Wah, their transmitter must be very powerful indeed!" 

I'm better informed today. No, the wifi signal did not come from my Alma Mater. Yes, the wifi signal is the Penang Free Wifi service that the state government had said that they would launch. Unfortunately, it had been all too quiet. REDtone, the company behind the service, had been adding the hotspots quietly around the island. They had been going around doing this without fanfare. But on the other hand, they should have publicised their good effort too. No point having a service like this and nobody knows about it or uses it. I, for one, have not used it because it had slipped my mind! I hope Jeff Ooi & Company had not been waiting for buggers like me to publicise the service for them.

I saw on facebook recently that Lim Guan Eng had been asking his "facebook friends" to check out the free wifi locations on the REDtone homepage. I did, and it is indeed a long list.

You may say that I should be grateful for this service and I know that I should even if I haven't used it before, but I'm not. I'm disappointed with the lopsided attention given to its implementation. I actually did a count and I'm disappointed that out of the 750 wifi hotspots, there are only 209 on the mainland compared with 541 on the island. Say, the mainland is three times the size of the island. Still treating the mainland as the state's stepchild? I hope not.

That's why what I want to tell the state government is this: I know that you are investing RM8.5 million over the next five years for the second phase of this project to double the number of hotspots but since you are going ahead to launch it anyway, please give us mainlanders more consideration now than in the past. Okay? Can? Just tell me "yes" and we can move on....

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