Open wifi at IFC in Hong Kong

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There are plenty of paid hotspots and roaming options when visiting Hong Kong but during my recent trip I found open access points in short supply. While I would prefer to pend my time elsewhere, one place I did have luck was at the ifc mall, accessible via the Hong Kong Station on the MTR. After visiting a simple log-in screen you are allowed 45 minutes free access which should give you ample time to check email, update your facebook status, and upload some photos. I sat outside the Starbucks on podium level 1 but the Pacific Coffee company on the other side might be fine as well.
45 minutes free wifi at the ifc mall. Photo Studio H.


Stay connected while you travel

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Atlarge.com is an online service/social network for travelers that’s focused on how to stay connected (ala wifi) and charged at airports around the world.
It’s almost impossible for a single organization to keep track of all the changes in connectivity world wide so human editors to the rescue. Now no more surprises when you land in Bangkok and realize that the cost of wifi is at 5x that of in the city.
Search for Airport Internet Access and Wifi Connections in Airports Around the World. Repost from Dec. 2006.


Best US and International Airport WiFi

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In my travels around the Asian region I have found, despite reports to the contrary, free access to be all but non-existant. It wasn’t always this way but it seems so many terminals try to squeeze revenue from all but the most established services. There are some highlights, including the Virgin Atlantic lounge in Hong Kong, Singapore Airlines lounge in Seoul, and EVA’s lounge in Taipei, but these are services for frequent traveller or business class passengers only. Luckily TravelPost and Jaunted have a number of access point lists to help us during the times we don’t have the luxury of using such facilities.
TravelPost.com’s guide to airport wireless Internet access for major international airports. Though not all are free, it’s a decent rundown of what is available.

From large European hubs like London Heathrow and Paris Charles de Gaulle to exotic global destinations like Dubai International and Quito – Mariscal Sucre Airport, we provide the most complete listing of wireless access options, airport wifi providers, coverage areas and pricing.

Jaunted writes about the best available wifi in US airports:

… we find that an airport with reliable, free WiFi gets us planning our trip around such signal-strong airports.
But there’s hope. Some large US airports are leading the way, while the real innovation is going on at the country’s small airfields. Maybe it’s due to less red tape, or maybe they just want to get noticed, but regional and less-used airports usually have the best WiFi.

They have an up-to-date US Airport WiFi Map as well.
Also the definitive guide to US airport wireless connections and free airport wifi and the somewhat related Free WiFi in Bangkok.
Picture is of the plastic flowers in the Virgin Atlantic lounge in Hong Kong.


Hospital Wifi

I have been conspicuously absent from here and other ventures of late. A couple weeks ago my son came down with a high fever which after a couple of days resulted in febrile convulsions. An overnight visit to the MacKay Hospital (Hsinchu) ER seemed to stabilize him but some of his blood work showed evidence of a bacterial infection. That meant another night in the ER and a fews days in a special observation ward. Luckily it turned out to be not at all that serious but it was certainly one of the worst weeks I have ever had. Since then things have been slowly returning to normal and luckily for the most part my clients have been understanding of the delays.
If you have ever been in a similar situation you probably realize that you need to understand the problem and make a decision on a doctors recommendation as quickly as possible. I’m not one for automatically trusting any ‘expert’ without gaining some background knowledge with the purpose of at the very least being able to ask pointed questions. That’s where having access to the web can be a godsend. And that’s where this hospital completely broke down. In a country with close to the highest broadband penetration in the world, MacKay Hospital in Hsinchu locks down all it’s wireless networks to those who are in single rooms only – which are not always available (we were in a double).
In situations like this access to information is not a luxury but a right. I would hope that hospitals everywhere would realize just how important and just how effective this can be in terms of overall patient care.


True Urban Park in Bangkok

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I finally managed to visit True Urban Park a digital-lifestyle-brand-experience shop located on the 3rd floor in the upscale shopping orgy called Siam Paragon. It’s an impressive mix of cosy intimate comfort, big brash billboard displays, analog and digital convergence, and hip young staff. It’s like someone asked what is hip, through it all together, and instead of disaster created something cool. Favourite part? Definitely being able to ditch my small screen display for the comfort of funky chairs, wireless keyboards, large screen lcd’s, high speed internet, powered by some flavour of Apple. It’s replete with cool books, dj, expensive coffee, cameras and accessories, and ipod charging stations. Don’t miss the small flower shop in front.

The idea of the Urban Park is to be a trendy brand beacon and lifestyle platform for marketing activities, for example starring as set for MTV shows. It is about meeting the consumer and inspiring him, offering him a “third-place” to spend his leisure time. (source)

It’s location and constant mtv style big screen marketing activity may dissuade serious use but as a place to impress and shop it certainly succeeds.
More photos in the flickr set.


Wireless in Bangkok

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Unlike many I don’t always find a change in location exactly conducive to increased productivity. That’s the what I am finding as I work from Bangkok this week. The city is big, hot, and it seems to take ages to get from point A to point B. The people are, as they seem to always have been, some of the most hospitable anywhere. The touts excepted.
One of the most dramatic changes I have seen in Bangkok over the past year is the build up of wireless access points. Broadband penetration and speeds still lag far behind other parts in Asia but wireless cafés are everywhere now. And really, unless you are addicted to downloading torrents, the speeds are quite acceptable.
It’s quite interesting to walk around and see lots of young people with their new Macbooks working at various cafés through-out the city. This is old hat elsewhere and perhaps can only be appreciated if you have tried to get online here years ago. I think this will soon make Bangkok a wonderful choice for working remotely for at least part of the year. I can’t think of many locations more inspiring.
A number of companies including true are offering paid access through out the city almost guaranteeing you the ability to stay connected no matter where you are in Bangkok. One point of criticism is the cost. Coming here on business 150baht for 60 minutes may seem quite reasonable but surely for long stay or locals this a bit prohibitive. It’s certainly out of line with the costs of other activities here and not a cost I would want to keep incurring.
Luckily there are some great free access points. I noted a list from a venerable Bangkok website back in May and though it’s a short list I have found it quite useful. Plazes (click detailed list) is a good service to consider as well.
In the past Bangkok’s large size, traffic congestion, and lack of wireless infrastructure, make working on location challenging for those working on the road. Broadband has been here for years but it was slow and restricted to wired access points. With the proliferation of wireless access points you can choose your location from where to work allowing you save more time to enjoy the city and perhaps a good massage.


Free WiFi in Bangkok

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It’s pretty hard these days to not stay in touch when you are traveling. Even the most remote places in Asia will have some kind of Internet café where you can send off an email or write an entry in your journal. Taking your own laptop and expecting city wide connectivity is another matter all together. Most upscale hotels will have some kind of broadband but who the heck wants to experience Asia from the sterility of a Hilton? Get out to a café and meet people.
When I was spending allot of time in Bangkok I relied on the Siam Center’s wifi outside the Apple Center and a open wifi hotspot close to the Starbucks near Soi Nana. Stickman, a long time expat in Thailand, has created a list of wifi hotspots that will help you keep connected when visiting the sin city. There are many more complete sources but I always like to rely on those “on the ground” vs. some anonymous database. More to come later.
Free Wi-Fi hot spots In Thailand

Bangkok Hotels


Linksys WTR54GS Wireless-G Travel Router

Here’s another travel wireless router for us wireless starved travelers. The WTR54GS Wireless-G Travel Router with SpeedBooster (to improve throughput) has a single 10/100 Ethernet port, internal antenna, built-in power supply with retractable two-prong power adapter and travel case. Users can simply plug the router directly into the wall with the built- in retractable two-prong power adapter, and establish either a wired or wireless connection. At about $100US, it’s definitely more expensive than a typical WiFi router but it’s still cheaper than Apple’s. Linksys product page.


Asus WL-530g Wireless Router

I’ve been using an Apple AirPort Extreme to extend my wireless network and to give myself wireless access while I am on the road. It’s fine but there are certainly smaller and cheaper alternatives available. The ASUS WL-530g is an extremely compact 54mb wireless router which comes equipped with four 10/100Base-T Ethernet ports. It’s size makes it a great travel companion and it’s price might make extending your network all the more possible. Prices range from $65-80.00US. Asus product page.