Osaka Paves the Way for Free City Wi-Fi


Judy Lau
Staff Writer

Japan has a reputation as being a sleek and technologically advanced society. However, when it comes to Wi-Fi, the nation had previously been lacking in terms of hotspots. However, Osaka, Japan, has recently announced the launch of Osaka Free Wi-Fi program, which brings free network connectivity to locations throughout the city for visitors and natives.

A survey of visitors in Japan indicated that the most difficult obstacle they faced was the lack of free Internet access in any part of the city. As a result, Osaka has created a program to mitigate the issue. Users provide a valid email address to log in, which gives them 30 minutes of free Wi-Fi and has no limit on how many times you can log in. The system is compatible with Apple, Android, and Windows devices, according to Japan Today. In some locations, however, there is a “lite” version of this service, which allows a person to have 15 minutes of free Wi-Fi up to an hour per day.

Those participating in this program include the Nankai, Kintestu, and Keihan railways; tourist attractions; and many hotels, shops, and restaurants that the average tourist visits, according to Rocket News. Although not every place in the city is currently participating in the Wi-Fi program, the city assumes that if the initiative proves to be effective and popular, the number of locations it applies to will increase.

Travelers are sure to be thrilled to hear this, especially since the ease of Internet access can make or break a trip for some. Internet has become an important part of many people’s lives, so the program is expected to bring in more tourists and provide them with a more enjoyable experience. According to Japan Update, natives to the city can also access the Wi-Fi as well, but the program mainly aims to attract more visitors by “offering what today’s society considers an essential public service.”

Osaka is taking a step toward the future with this project. Many tourist attractions, such as New York’s Times Square, offer free Wi-Fi as well. However, not all places provide these Internet services, and phone companies do not support Wi-Fi everywhere. Because of this, many people often have to pay on-site or go to certain locations that do give free Wi-Fi, thus limiting the places they visit to a certain few.

Currently, people can use a hotspot database, which gives users a huge list of over 100 million Wi-Fi hotspots around the world, including those in unexpected rural areas. The database has also expanded to phone apps, so visitors and natives can always find Internet. Osaka may have been the first city to take a step toward free Wi-Fi citywide, but with the many hot spots, popularity, and excessive use of the Internet in today’s generation, more cities can be expected to follow Osaka’s model.

Many tourists and citizens struggle to find hotspots and Internet that can be accessible whenever they need it. With apps that help search for hidden networks and locations advertising free Wi-Fi becoming a great asset, we can see that Osaka seems to be taking the right steps, moving forward technologically and bringing a new trend for cities and tourist attractions worldwide to follow.