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Hong Kong to spend $217.6 million for providing wi-fi facilities at government premises

Under the programme, the Government will progressively provide Wi-Fi facilities at about 350 government premises for free use by the public in the coming two years. Priority sites will be set up at premises frequently visited by members of the public by mid-2008. These premises include libraries, public enquiry service centres, community halls/centres, parks and Government buildings.

The Finance Committee of the Legislative Council today ( May 25 ) approved a funding of $217.6 million for providing Wi-Fi facilities at Government premises for free use by the public.

    Welcoming the funding approval, the Deputy Government Chief Information Officer ( Operation ), Mr Stephen Mak, said the programme would bring benefits to citizens, the commercial sector, the information and communications technology ( ICT ) industry and Hong Kong as a whole.

    At present, the provision of wireless Internet services at the metropolitan level is driven by the market. Commercial service providers are providing Wi-Fi services at commercial premises such as cafe, restaurants and shopping mall.

    "To further facilitate the public to access the Internet in a wireless mode, we decide to install Wi-Fi facilities at major Government premises.

    "Through this programme and in concert with other Wi-Fi initiatives in the private sector, we envisage that ubiquitous access to the Internet would progressively be made available in all built-up areas of Hong Kong," Mr Mak said.

    Under the programme, the Government will progressively provide Wi-Fi facilities at about 350 government premises for free use by the public in the coming two years. Priority sites will be set up at premises frequently visited by members of the public by mid-2008. These premises include libraries, public enquiry service centres, community halls/centres, parks and Government buildings.

    While the Office of the Government Chief Information Officer ( OGCIO ) will centrally oversee, co-ordinate and manage the programme, the Government will adopt an outsourcing approach on the installation of Wi-Fi facilities, provision of Wi-Fi services as well as their on-going operations. 

    To address the public's concern on the information security of the Wi-Fi network, the Government will specify the security requirements in the tender document to ensure that the contracted service providers will provide the necessary hardware, software and technology with appropriate security features in delivering the required services.

    The Government will also require service providers to provide various security measures so as to ensure that user data will not be stolen by others. These measures will include encryption, intrusion prevention and detection systems and filtering software.

    Security consultants will also be engaged to perform security risk assessment on the Wi-Fi network designs, and conduct security audit after the networks have been put into full operation to ensure that the services provided meet our security requirements.

    With regard to reports on the concern over possible impact on health as caused by radio frequency signals emitted by Wi-Fi equipment, Mr Mak said that in Hong Kong, the Office of the Telecommunications Authority ( OFTA ) had adopted the International Commission of Non-Ionising Radiation Protection Guidelines to limit the exposure to non-ionising radiation.

    "As Wi-Fi belongs to the non-ionising radiation category, when implementing the Wi-Fi facilities in the Government premises, we will follow the 'Code of Practice for the Protection of Workers and Members of Public Against Non-Ionising Radiation Hazards from Radio Transmitting Equipment' from OFTA, use devices of appropriate power, and operate at a suitable distance," Mr Mak said.

    "Outsourcing the implementation and operation of the programme would bring new business opportunities to the local ICT industry. The programme is also expected to stimulate the development of wireless and mobile applications which will be conducive to the development of the ICT industry and the wider economy.

    "This new initiative will help uphold Hong Kong's status as a leading digital city."

Source: Media Newswire

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