Karachi’s Wireless ‘Hot Spots’

Having only just returned from holidays abroad, you tend to start taking the Internet for granted a bit. Then slowly, as the jet lag wears out and you become re-accustomed to the power outages, heat and general all round chaos, you start to recall that your own 54 mbps DSL connection accessed via a sleek Linksys router, places you in a quite an elite category. Unlimited Internet connectivity, with wires let alone wirelessly after all, is not a luxury everyone in Karachi has.

In such a situation then, when most of us Internet users are still dreaming of reliable (and affordable!) broadband, talking about wireless connectivity may seem far fetched. But much to my surprise, Karachi’s isn’t as isolated Internet connectivity wise as I expected it to be.

This month’s Spider Magazine came up with a useful list of all of Karachi’s WiFi “hot spots” as they’re called (pg 119), and many of us may be surprised to see just how many of them exist. From educational institutions (IBA City Campus, Bahria University and SZABIST) to shopping malls, hotels and restaurants (Park Towers, Sheraton, Marriot, Sassi Arcade, Purple Haze) to even our good old Quaid-e-Azam International Airport can boast of 802.11g and 802.11b WiFi.

Too bad my laptop battery was down both at the arrival and departure times of my recent travels, otherwise I could have tested the facility at the airport out. Only God knows how it may compare to the snail-paced free PTCL Internet facilities on offer at various departure and arrival lounges inside Quaid-e-Azam International, but at least it exists, and its existence alone is quite significant.

Other hot spots, according to Spider’s list, also exist at the Synergy offices at Uni Plaza, Stadium Road and E-XS in Block 2 P.E.C.H.S. Have any of you ever had the chance to try out any of these hot spots? How was the experience? And what is your take on the future of wireless Internet in Karachi? Do share your thoughts.

35 Comments so far

  1. mansoor (unregistered) on July 30th, 2007 @ 6:12 pm

    the one at quaid-e-azam intl requires an account with cyber.net wireless services :S

    i tried (without success) to figure out how to access the net using it, but eventually had to resort to GPRS for my connectivity needs.

    on the other hand, Warid GRPS is quite a good alternative for always on internet. A rs. 620 GPRS package (tax incl.) on warid zahi (post paid) gets u unlimited GPRS usage a month!

    not bad considering its better than the prevalent wireless connections out there, namely VPTCL and GoCDMA.


  2. Bolshevik (unregistered) on July 30th, 2007 @ 6:26 pm

    Warid postpaid rules, I tell you!


  3. zee (unregistered) on July 30th, 2007 @ 6:57 pm

    I recently SUGGESSTED a story that was never covered here regarding Broadband. The wifi at Karachi Int. Airport is accessible to everyone. It’s not too damn fast but it can serve the purpose. No, you do not need any subscription from Cyber.net.

    For our benefit, you might wana post the link to Spider Magazine’s page where the story is covered in more detail?

    As for the people who are looking for AFFORDABLE broadband, take a look at http://www.max.com.pk

    MAXCOM is the best broadband provider, one that is competing PTCL on all grounds and the one who have also given Cyber.net a run for its service. Maxcom provides you an EXCELLENT support service and their rates ain’t that bad either.

    I do not want to pay more than 2k on an i-net connection but if any of you want an unlimited 1mb connection and 512k connections with excellent support, excellent service, go with MAXCOM :)


  4. Mehreen (unregistered) on July 30th, 2007 @ 7:08 pm

    MAXCOM is very reliable and cheap so if anyone wants to get DSL, I would advise them to go for MAXCOM.

    And at Quaid-e-Azam International Airport does have wireless internet but you need to have a cybernet account and need your user name and password to access it.

    And the internet at Purple Haze and Espresso is pretty good, I’ve heard the Costa at Zamzama also has wireless but never tried it out.


  5. Farhan (unregistered) on July 30th, 2007 @ 7:09 pm

    Zainab from where you are getting 54mbps speed , girl it’s only the router speed what about the back end , on my 54mbps router I have 256kbps line so all I get is 256kbps ( 29Kb/s download speed ) at office I’m using 512kbps ( 40-50 Kb/s ) anyhow , what about Free WIFI hotspots , Marriott charges Rs 800 for 24 hrs access same with PC and Sheraton , Mercure charges Rs 2400 for 24 hrs access , Ex-S if it’s one at Bhahdurabad is long closed down . At Airport you have to have Cybernet account . Can’t say about Costa heard they have Wifi never had the chance to use , Wife never let me play with my phone in public :( she hates the poor thing [:]

    Speaking of abroad Malaysia has good wifi system at their airport and free access everywhere at Starbucks and Coffee Bean . Singapore airport also have good speed but free access in city is limited to coffee shops , China is soso you can access Wifi at Illy Coffee ( that’s the only one I tried ) hotel’s offer good internet service but few offers Wifi at Business Lounges ( 400 plus Kb/s download speed Joost was like watching HD-DVD ) . Dubai Int’l Airport wifi sucks big time no speed and difficult to connect to . Thailand Airport ( the old one) speed was good , Casablanca Int’l Airport Morocco , they also offer wifi , never used it and also at Qatar int’l speed seems good .


  6. Tee Emm (unregistered) on July 30th, 2007 @ 7:12 pm

    I wardrove from Clifton Pizza Hut to Gulshan Iqbal and discovered 75 hotspots along the way. This is like a year ago. I believe the number must have crossed the mark of 100 at least. Around 40% of them were secured office (corporate/SOHO) installation (guessing from the advertised SSIDs). The rest of 60% were spill-over signals coming from offices, shops and other such places and were marked as not carrying any wireless security. It is good to know the public access hotspots but knowing a few places and corners that have spill-over hotspots can come handy sometime for casual, non-commercial use :)


  7. Sarmad (unregistered) on July 30th, 2007 @ 7:58 pm

    dude alot of these place, take the airport for example … they aint free … :| u hav to pay for them … but restraunts like costa coffee and espresso they hav pretty gud WiFi facicilities …


  8. Zainub (unregistered) on July 30th, 2007 @ 9:10 pm

    Thanks everyone for their comments.

    Tee Emm, great work on your WiFi hot spots discovery! Should test some of those out sometime my self. 75 is quite a huge number.

    Zee, I’d have provided the link if there was one, but since Spider didn’t have a proper article on it, just a list of the hot spots, that page isn’t available on their website. You’ll have to buy a copy from the stands I suppose.

    Farhan, thank you for the tech lecture on Internet speeds, I’m always embarrassed by my ignorance in this respect…turns out I don’t even know what my real internet speed is. Sheeh, really should educate my self. I do however, relate to where your wife is coming from. Speaking as wife my self, all I’ll say is that mobiles are good only for talking to one’s spouse, rubbish for everything and any thing else that distracts husband/wife away from the other :p hehehe

    On wireless at other international airports, Heathrow doesn’t have free one, you need to be T-mobile subscriber, I tried in vain to connect but no good, Abu Dhabi doesn’t have free wifi, but they do offer free Internet on their own computers, which isn’t terribly fast or anything, but do-able. Other then that, I don’t know much, there is WiFi at San Francisco airport and at Houston airport and even at Nevark Liberty, but neither one of these is free.


  9. Haseeb A (unregistered) on July 31st, 2007 @ 12:35 am

    Another place you forget guys is T2F (the second floor). They also boast of a free wi-fi internet.


  10. Kashif (unregistered) on July 31st, 2007 @ 1:37 am

    I have heard that Bahria Univ campus at stadium road also offers WiFi.


  11. TEE BEE (unregistered) on July 31st, 2007 @ 3:25 am

    I cant wait till WiMax is rolled out, I found out that Mobilink is getting ready to roll out Wimax in Karachi….there are tons of services and applications based on WiMAX…its the next era of ubiquitous connection and its going to change the lifestyle of millions…..go WiMax!!!!!!!!!


  12. Sameer (unregistered) on July 31st, 2007 @ 4:32 am

    but singtel is also coming with warid and i think they can launch some good products as well


  13. Tamed~. (unregistered) on July 31st, 2007 @ 4:37 am

    Why on earth ppl expect WiFi to be free & that even on Airports (which are known to be expensive as compared to normal market for any given item).

    Have they ever heard about free phones on airports?


  14. Farhan (unregistered) on July 31st, 2007 @ 10:51 am

    Dubai airport has free phones for local calls , Malaysia and Singapore Aiport offers free Wifi


  15. Erum (unregistered) on July 31st, 2007 @ 11:26 am

    Singapore aiaport also has free phones for unlimited local calls. Does Khi airport have free internal access on desktop PCs/internet booths? At the sydney airport, the international terminal has free internet kiosks but for accessing internet at the domestic terminal you have to put $2 coin for 15-20 mins of usage. For Wifi at the sydney airport, you have to be a subscriber of the 2 major ISPs here.


  16. Jamal Shamsi (unregistered) on July 31st, 2007 @ 2:18 pm

    Karachi airport – It is NOT Free for all, it is for only Cybernet users, :) Tested it number of times, it is for Cybernet account holders ONLY. prove me otherwise wrong,

    - Guess what – :) Cafe Student (students’ Biryani at Shahrea Faisal Nursery Next to KFC outlet, is coming up with free wifi :) access is free, Biryani is not :D


  17. Jamal Shamsi (unregistered) on July 31st, 2007 @ 2:30 pm

    Karachi airport – It is NOT Free for all, it is for only Cybernet users, :) Tested it number of times, it is for Cybernet account holders ONLY. prove me otherwise wrong,

    - Guess what – :) Cafe Student (students’ Biryani at Shahrea Faisal Nursery Next to KFC outlet, is coming up with free wifi :) access is free, Biryani is not :D


  18. Syed Johny (unregistered) on July 31st, 2007 @ 8:00 pm

    Lolz! @ Jamal!

    @ Erum! yes Karachi airport has free access to Internet booths provided at airport!
    well I had a list of Wifi Hotspots in Karachi

    the list was of i think two year back!
    it included,

    Foodcourt Park Tower
    Timeout , Forum,
    Hamdard university
    CBM
    Zabist
    Airport
    Sheraton ad i think PC or MArriot!
    + few others !!

    Source was Spider Magazine!

    khair!

    can anybody list the current hotspots?!


  19. Farhan Khan (unregistered) on August 1st, 2007 @ 5:00 am

    In Canada. We have high speed internet in Train. Service availabe between Windor and Quebec City that include Toronot, Ottawa and Montreal.


  20. Farhan Khan (unregistered) on August 1st, 2007 @ 5:00 am

    In Canada. We have high speed internet in Train. Service availabe between Windor and Quebec City that include Toronot, Ottawa and Montreal.


  21. Farhan Khan (unregistered) on August 1st, 2007 @ 5:01 am

    In Canada. We have high speed internet in Train. Service availabe between Windor and Quebec City that include Toronot, Ottawa and Montreal.


  22. Saad (unregistered) on August 1st, 2007 @ 8:06 am

    Farhan: Singapore airport also have good speed but free access in city is limited to coffee shops

    Not exactly. As of now, almost 35% of entire land mass of Singapore is covered by a free internet wifi service (a combined effort by three ISPs) called Wireless @SG. They’re planning on covering the entire country by the end of this year.


  23. DB9 (unregistered) on August 1st, 2007 @ 10:16 am

    Ataturk Intl. Airport in Instanbul also has free internet and its pretty fast. Starbucks all over USA has WiFi but its not free. “Panera Bread” chain in America has free WiFi. Almost all hotel chains in US have free WiFi.

    Philadelphia is to become worlds first fully WiFi city, thanks to a system developed by few geek students (including an Indian dude {not a Pak, shame on us}) that daisy chains routers, like poles that will trasmit signal to a specific radius & where the signal fades, another pole will be instaled hence entire city will be have a grid net.

    USA is behind in Fiber optics (FTTH) though when compared with EU & Asia. Isloo PK in fact took the title of becoming the first in the region to get Fiber optics (befor India or even China) – So the Paks did a great job on that. Link here:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fiber_to_the_premises

    Cheers


  24. Syed Johny (unregistered) on August 1st, 2007 @ 10:44 am

    well if you r going in world firsts, then you woould be proud to know that the largest implementation of Wi-Max (next generation wireless) is in Pakistan ,done by collaboration of Al-wateen telecom (warid telecoms parent company ) and Motorola, and infact the service has been started on trial bases,

    Pakistan has even surpassed USA on implementing this technology :)


  25. Adnan Siddiqi (unregistered) on August 1st, 2007 @ 12:09 pm


    I’m always embarrassed by my ignorance in this respect…turns out I don’t even know what my real internet speed is. Sheeh, really should educate my self

    why embarrassment? You’re not a techie by profession so such things could be ignored easily. Infact you might be better than many people in the I.T field who are not even aware about router speed or never installed in their life. I am one of them :-). But then I am not part of networking field:-) Atleast you are adapting new technology at home which is far better than not accepting it.

    as far as speed of Internet is concerned, you can always use:

    http://speedtest.net/


  26. Adnan Siddiqi (unregistered) on August 1st, 2007 @ 12:19 pm

    IMO, US doesn’t implement every technology blindly. Unless they sure that there is no side affect of certain technology, they don’t implement at all. Mobile technology spread faster in EU than US and reason was health concern regarding the radiation due to mobile signals. So if US didn’t implement something it doesn’t mean they were not capable of. Currently Global Warming is being discussed more in US than any part of the world which indicates how much they are concerned about their own people.

    WiFi is not harmless either. read following news. So keep your kids away from APs.

    tinyurl.com/2fjoy9
    tinyurl.com/2xzn2p


  27. Purple_Haze (unregistered) on August 1st, 2007 @ 10:57 pm

    It is not just about side effects cause of which US is behind in certain areas it is also cause of major corporations like AT&T, Verizon, Comcast and so on who have monopoly on the market share and do not let smaller more innovative companies get in. They also want to sqeeze as much as possible out of customers before they bring something new out. For example Razor phones.

    Nations like South Korea are very advance when it comes to new techs cause the minute on thing is invented, the next minute it starts selling in Asain markets while in the US you have to go through a million regulations and corporate approvals to sell anything. I would also like to mention Dubai as it is amazing how receptive they are to new and futuristic technology. Even EU is watching whats going on in Dubai today. But I would say Pakistan must take the lead… InshaAllah…


  28. Farhat (unregistered) on August 2nd, 2007 @ 3:37 am

    Karachi airport wifi is not free, tested it number of times and it is for accesible by cybernet account holders / users,

    Dubai – UAE is way ahead, the communication rating is 2 points below the Norway, 4 points below Germany and 35 points UP ahead from Pakistan – wimax is not avlbl in Dubai as yet, ! :) however 90% of shopping malls are WIFI in UAE free access., YES you need a login & passwd which is free if u ask the security person inside the mall.


  29. Farhat (unregistered) on August 2nd, 2007 @ 3:39 am

    Karachi airport wifi is not free, tested it number of times and it is for accesible by cybernet account holders / users,

    Dubai – UAE is way ahead, the communication rating is 2 points below the Norway, 4 points below Germany and 35 points UP ahead from Pakistan – wimax is not avlbl in Dubai as yet, ! :) however 90% of shopping malls are WIFI in UAE free access., YES you need a login & passwd which is free if u ask the security person inside the mall.


  30. Keep Walking! (unregistered) on August 3rd, 2007 @ 1:16 pm

    We have WIFI in the whole Lyari area. It’s free. I enjoy my chai and biscut (biscuits) at the banks of Lyari river with WIFI every evening. Come…


  31. Zainub (unregistered) on August 3rd, 2007 @ 1:23 pm

    That is a revelation, a pleasantly surprising one at that. I should consider moving to Layari then.


  32. amin polani (unregistered) on August 3rd, 2007 @ 5:06 pm

    i live in dubai in an appartment where my neighbour, i dont know who he is,has a wifi connection and i am using it sometimes and its speed is like 1 mb the charges in UAE are 259 dhs for one month unlimited for this facility by Etisalat.


  33. Syed Johny (unregistered) on August 3rd, 2007 @ 8:55 pm

    that makes up around 4000 Rupees !

    it is expensive 1
    but the speed is ….Raaapcheeeek ! :)


  34. Faizan Ahmed (unregistered) on August 13th, 2007 @ 1:39 pm

    could anyone tell me how to get connected with WI-FI internet service? What are the charges? and which internet companies are providing this service?

    thanks
    Faizan Ahmed.


  35. Faizan Ahmed (unregistered) on August 13th, 2007 @ 2:03 pm

    Please reply me if anyone has knowledge

    faizan_ahmed112002@hotmail.com

    Thanks
    Faizan Ahmed.



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