Chile brings free WiFi to 21 metro stops in 2012

Each of the hot-spots will have tables, stools and power points for up to 20 users.

With its impressive public art displays, free bicycle lockers and an extensive library program, Santiago’s metro system has always been more than just a means of transportation.

And now, the most extensive subway network in South America is adding free internet access to the list of services available to commuters.

The new WiFi zones are currently being installed at 21 of the city’s busiest stations and will be ready for use by March 31 next year.

Each of the hot-spots will be equipped with enough tables, seats and power points for 20 people.

Access to the web will be filtered through a specially designed portal, which commuters will log into using their personal ID numbers.

The internet sessions last 30 minutes, but if commuters run out of time, they will be able to re-start a session after waiting five minutes.

The first access point at Baquedano station is already in operation, and there are plans to extend the program across the subway network throughout 2012.

“[This additional service] will be a great support for young people, adults and everybody who needs to connect to the internet for free,” the president of Metro de Santiago, Raphael Bergoeing, told La Tercera.

The wireless technology for the project is being provided by local telecommunications company Claro, with sponsorship from Nestlé Chile.

“We are working on this project to give people better connectivity,” Claro representative Gerardo  Muñoz told Latin American tech blog, FayerWayer.

“It’s a public network that will be able to serve 20 connections simultaneously and the idea is that each person will have sufficient speed to meet their needs.”

It is expected that users will be able to access the internet with an average speed of about 1MBps.

The 21 stations that will host the new WiFi hot-spots are listed below:

Líne 1: Universidad de Chile (with two separate access points), Manquehue, Universidad de Santiago and Tobalaba.

Líne 2: La Cisterna, San Miguel and Vespucio Norte.

Líne 4: Quilín, Simón Bolívar, Plaza Egaña and Los Orientales.

Líne 4A: Santa Rosa and San Ramón.

Línea 5: Baquedano, Bellavista La Florida, San Pablo, Quinta Normal, Carlos Valdovinos, Santiago Bueras, Pudahuel and Gruta de Lourdes.