VIETNAM: Free Wi-Fi, but a Wired Outcome

YVONNE EPPS WRITES – Today, life and the Internet are synonymous, so free Wi-Fi is to be expected, but what’s the benefit if citizens aren’t the intended users?

Residents and tourists in Hue City, Vietnam’s former Royal Capital, are scheduled to receive free Wi-Fi in major public areas such as transit stations and airports. But with public areas getting access first, the city itself and surrounding villages will have to wait until later this year.

This development is wonderful for modernization and media growth, but monetary concerns have been raised. AsiaOne reports that the Ministry of Information and Communications will pay for half of the costs while local businesses will pay the rest. The ministry argues that they’re not able to pay the entire bill due to the country’s poverty. Conversely, Netnam, the leading Internet provider, does not view the service as a good investment, since it will mostly be used for just surfing the web.

Tourism is the focus, however. VietnamNet asked readers if they believed free Wi-Fi would attract more tourists, arguing that poor service may work against it as a selling point. The site suggests the Wi-Fi that it could be frustratingly slow and prove dangerous due to the risk of hackers.

Despite the complications, the plan for free Wi-Fi will tend towards a more biased cause. Tourists are the true target and it’s their needs that are being emphasized. As for citizens, their online experience, for now, will be wired and limited.

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