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China Daily Website

Getting online while on the move

Updated: 2012-10-03 11:20
By Eric Jou and Liu Qing ( China Daily)

Soon the days of using traveling as an excuse for not being connected to the Internet will be gone. With modern technology such as the smartphone more widely available and governments and companies working to implement wireless signals on various modes of transportation, it will be increasingly hard to justify not being informed.

With the spread of wireless technology throughout China, air travel, high-speed rail and mass transit systems have started to become hubs where people can surf the Web.

Getting online while on the move

A passenger connects to the free public wireless network on No 82 Bus in Shanghai through her smartphone. [Yang Shenlai / For China Daily] 

Bus stops, train stations, subway stations and airports have all been wired up for a while but soon it won't just be these hubs that offer opportunities to go online: many vehicles will too.

Earlier this year Beijing News reported that Air China, China's domestic airline, will be starting tests on its own inflight Wi-Fi Internet system that will allow passengers to connect to the Web during domestic flights.

Currently Air China only offers one domestic flight with Wi-Fi but it is only an intranet system with limited reach, not the universal Internet.

Beijing News also reported that Air China is working with telecom companies including Huawei Technologies Co Ltd to build wireless towers across their many domestic flight routes so that they can in the future provide a full inflight Internet experience.

On the ground, Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Taipei, and Hong Kong have all launched initiatives to start operating wireless Internet on their buses. Hong Kong's system of changing regular cellular signals into a Wi-Fi connection has been operation on several buses since 2007.

Taipei's foray into Wi-Fi on public transportation has been hindered by health concerns in some quarters regarding radio waves.

Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou announced plans to push out the service earlier this year but they have yet to be widely, if at all, implemented.

For certain there is a desire for Internet access "on the go". So far subway systems across the country have cellular stations that offer mobile Internet subscribers access to 2G and 3G cellular wireless.

In early September a bus driver in Zhengzhou, Henan province, set up a Wi-Fi hotspot on his bus. Moments after the news was announced, Chinese Internet users started commenting on how great it would be to have Wi-Fi during their daily commute.

Unfortunately for the bus driver and net users, the driver's foray into bringing Zhengzhou bus riders Wi-Fi was short lived. After about four hours of operation the driver was told to shut down the service by his bosses.

However, many believe such services are the future.