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Taipei Becoming First Wireless Cyber City

Taipei is well on its way to installing what some experts have called the world's largest Wi-Fi grid with more that 10,000 access points that will blanket the city's 272 square kilometers (105 square miles). Already, about 28 square kilometers are covered with hotspots, according to Taipei Mayor Ying-jeou Ma, that have attracted 35,000 users in its test phase. And by early next year, almost the entire city will be covered.

"Accessing the Net will be as easy as using cell phones," explained Mayor Ma. "There will be no need for network cables and people will be able to be online anywhere, anytime."

Speaking at a press conference organized by Intel Corp. to unveil its Digital Communities initiative, Ma explained that the wireless plans were the next important step in Taipei's transformation to a cyber city. And indeed, a great deal has already been accomplished since Ma was first elected mayor in 1998 with an agenda to maintaining Taiwan's global competitiveness by transforming it into an "Internet city" for the 21st century. As such, he might be regarded as the first cyber mayor elected largely for his Internet-based platform.

"When I campaigned for Taipei mayor, I promised Taipei citizens that I would build Taipei into a world-class capital if I were elected," Ma explained at the 2001 Global Internet Summit three years after he was first elected. "To deliver on that promise, I have to build Taipei into a cyber city first, because it is part of the promise and the best way to enhance Taipei's competitiveness in the 21st century."

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