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Boundless town

This year, the ancient town of Hoi An has become the first city in Vietnam and also in Southeast Asia that is entirely covered with free wireless Internet service.

Hoi An is a must-come destination in central Vietnam. The town is not large and it is not the oldest or most special in Asia and the world but it enchants many visitors. Why?

The atmosphere in Hoi An is the atmosphere of festivities, all the year round. Small streets, small roads, small shops, people strolling, quiet space …, all contribute to creating a special Hoi An. Even the daily life of local residents is worthy to see. Hoi An is a town of professional tourism.

After the Lunar New Year, tourists flocked to the ancient town. Some complaints appeared on the Internet, mentioning troubles that they had to suffer from the scramble of tourist agents, from traders who charged high prices on tourists, etc.

The small, quiet town was in turmoil. Local people got indignant because their common prestige was affected. The authorities immediately took tough measures to reject tourist agents and bad phenomena. The city’s response was highly appreciated. Hoi An turned a small “incident” into a chance to advertise itself.

In March 2011, the earthquake-tsunami disaster in Japan shook the world. The earth seemed to be boundless. The humankind was closer to look to and assist Japanese people together.

Hoi An’s first response was organizing a lantern releasing ceremony on the Hoai River to commemorate Japanese victims, which drew the participation of people of different nationalities.

The quick, meaningful and touching action was broadcasted on world famous TV channels like CNN, BBC, CCTV, NHK, etc. as a humane message to call for the world’s sharing and assistance to Japanese victims. Through which, Hoi An self advertised it as a beautiful and compassionate place.

Wireless Hoi An

Early this year, Hoi An once again drew public attention when it became the first city in Vietnam and in Southeast Asia to offer free wireless iInternet in the whole city.

Le Manh Hung, director of the Vietnam Data Center 3 (VDC3), by the end of 2012, equipment would be installed completely in Hoi An and Cu Lao Cham Islet. At present, 50 out of the total 350 free wireless iInternet spots have been installed in central Hoi An.

With the free service, tourists can surf web and check mail everywhere in the ancient town. If they want to use high speed Internet to listen to music and watch movies, they have to use iInternet cards supplied by the Vietnam Post and Telecommunications Group (VNPT).

After the first phase, VDC 3 will implement the second phase of the project to bring wireless iInternet to the remaining area in Hoi An and the surrounding area.

The iInternet came to Hoi An very early. In 1997-1998, Hoi An people used iInternet as a tool of commercial connection. This is the first location in the country that licensed iInternet cafes to serve tourists. Dozens of tailor’s shops, lantern shops, souvenir shops etc. sold their products online, earning tens of thousands of USD a month.

Photographer Thai Tuan Kiet, a member of the Hoi An Photographers’ Club, said that doing business and tourism is tradition of Hoi An people. All families that are involved in trade and tourism use the iInternet. The Hoi An Photographers’ Club also uses the iInternet as an effective tool to sell photos.

Le Ngoc Hao, business manager of the YaLy Cloth Shop at 47 Nguyen Thai Hoc Street, Hoi An, said that three branches of YaLy in Hoi An have nearly 500 employees. These shops serve thousands of customers each day, mainly foreigners. These customers know about Hoi An’s quick-service tailor’s shops through the iInternet.

Hoi An’s Party Secretary Nguyen Su said that the local authorities began using the iInternet in 1997 and also the local residents. Doing business has become “an instinct” of Hoi An people. The iInternet is the means of effective business and communications of the locals.

In its 400-year history, Hoi An has always been an open town, which knows how to advertise itself to the world and how to learn modern science and technology from the world.

Socially, thanks to the iInternet, both the local government and local people have sufficient information and have opportunity to adjust themselves or explain “misunderstanding” about the town. This is a proof for Hoi An’s integration in the modern time.

Huynh Van Son, a trader on Tran Phu street, is proud of his wireless iInternet city. “Hoi An has been successful in implementing important policies: it is the city without open-air power grid, no outdoor television antennas, no motorbike in ancient streets, no sensitive services, etc. Hoi An is also the city of free wireless iInternet,” he sai.

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