On July 1st 2011, Taipei City’s government opened up the Taipei Free Public WIFI Access network to the general public. The aim of the network is to provide Taipei residents with free wireless internet at select MRT stations, city libraries, administrative centers and branches of Taipei City Hospital throughout the city.
Capped at 512kbps (oldschool cable/adsl limit), the connection is designed to provide basic web access (social media, news, general web sites) but don’t expect it to pump out YouTube or TV show streaming anytime soon.
To access the Taipei free public WIFI network an account is needed but the good news is that process is relatively simple and painless.
If you have a mobile phone
For those who own a mobile phone in Taipei, or Taiwan for that matter, an account login and password can be sent directly to your mobile phone.
Simply head over to the free wifi network’s signup page and punch in your mobile number and captcha authentication string.
After doing this you’ll be forwarded to another page requesting that you enter an authentication code. 10 seconds or so after submitting your mobile phone on the previous screen, you’ll get an SMS to your phone with the following message;
Welcome to TP-Free Public Wi-Fi Service, your activation code is XXXX.
What you’ll want to do now is take that activation code and enter it into your web browser page.
Following this you’ll have to create a new account and password which is bound to an email address you provide.
After submitting this you can then login to the network (look for the ‘TPE-FREE’ network) and sign in like you would any other wireless network using your mobile number as the login and the password you specified as the password.
Note that you can apparently sign up from the network itself as when you connect to the free network you are automatically redirected to the Taipei Free Public WIFI Access network homepage, from which you can create an account with your mobile phone.
I’m not entirely sure why they need your email address as to date I haven’t received anything from the government. I assume it’s some sort of legal thing (despite knowing who you are and being able to track you down via your mobile phone number).
If you don’t have a mobile phone number
If you’re stuck without a mobile phone number, in which case you should check out my guide to getting a prepaid mobile sim card in Taiwan without an ARC, you can still apply for an account to the Taipei Free Public WIFI Access network by using your passport.
Unfortunately there’s no way to do this online though so you need to present to the Taipei International Airport down in SongShan (accessible via the MRT on the brown line).
Or you can front up to a ‘visitor information centre’ in Taipei (a list of locations and opening hours can be found here).
After signing up with your passport, you can then use a laptop or whatever it is you’re going to connect with in much the same manner as you would any other wireless network.
I’d assume that, like the mobile phone registration you’d either be using your passport number or some other code the government gives you as a login, along with a password you specify.
Access wise the network seems to be pretty good. As far as the MRT goes be aware though that the network isn’t available at all stations. It’s also a bit unstable when travelling on the MRT trains themselves and here you can expect frequent dropouts.
I assume as your device has to disconnect and reconnect to the network at various stations coupled with dead zones inbetween the stations themselves (I don’t think the actual trains themselves are hooked up to the network).
Other than that, wireless internet access in Taipei (and Taiwan’s other cities for that matter) should have happened years ago so it’s great to finally see it kick off.
This should help pass the time while you wait for the next MRT train or a late friend… although no doubt it will also contribute to even more people getting sucked into their smart phones at MRT stations.
Ah well, can’t win em all.