ChinaNet bestows free Wi-Fi upon lucky Android few
Shanghai phone booths get souped up
ChinaNet, the ISP brand of China Telecom, has launched a public Wi-Fi service in 500 of its Shanghai telephone booths, and while most users will have to pay Android handsets get in for free.
The service launched on 15 March, and covers the Yu Garden, Huaihai Road and the People's Square. ChinaNet helpfully describes the Wi-Fi service in the People's Daily as "18 times faster" than the existing 3G coverage, but it's the decision to provide free connectivity to Android devices using the ChinaNet dialler that has attracted most attention.
"The service should be offered free for all smartphone users regardless of their mobile OS," points out Asian Tech Blog Penn Olson, not unreasonably arguing that all mobile phones should be considered equal.
There has been much talk of tariffs based on the device being connected - laptop users could pay more than those with a tablet, while smartphone users pay less still on the grounds they consume less bandwidth, and so on. But as the categories of device blur together that gets difficult, and it's arguable how effective such a policy would be.
We've asked ChinaNet what's motivated them to give Android users a free ride, and we'll let you know when we hear back. ®
I'm more interested in the discriminating process ...
is it just a matter of signing up in person and presenting the Android set or is it automatic when someone logs on?
as WiFi has been an anathema with the authoritarian Chinese government because of it's openness and, ergo, it's relative lack of accountability. For example, every InterNet connected hotel room has it's individual web activity logged, no watching girlie movies without BeiJing knowing about it.
ChinaNet, the ISP brand of China Telecom, may have a new way of identifying users and their equipment which would be very interesting
Most Chinese cities are like WiFi frontier country with very few signals compared to VietNam where no one, except in the countryside, needs broadband as the spectrum is filled with WiFi, Wimax and LTE signals most of the WiFi being free as well as unlimited downloads.
The 3.1mbps speed indicates they are using EVDO (Rev A), as Verizon Wireless, Sprint, US Cellular etc. use in the US. (To compare to UMTS, EVDO uses 1.25mhz channels versus UMTS's 5mhz, so in 5mhz EVDO can push through an aggregate 12.4mbps.) EVDO Rev B supporting chips are out now, it "could" support 4.9mbps per channel (19.6mbps in 5mhz). At least here in the US, though, VZW is rolling out LTE ASAP, and so far I haven't heard of any carrier planning to roll out Rev B.
I heard of a plan here to install some access points in pay phones. But by the time it got off the ground, the payphones were gone. Even my dad finally had to get a cellphone, after he got somewhere on a trip, went to call a cab, and found there were no payphones in the entire airport.
So, what happens if you tether your laptop through your Android phone?
(which I think is possible, even for WiFi connections)
Will you be paying Android prices (i.e. Free), or laptop prices (i.e. Expensive).
Surely Android users are just as capable of using as much data as laptop users?
Sounds good to me though, as I have an Android.
However, I don't live anywhere near Shanghai.