WiMax Hitches a Ride on 1000 Taxis in Taipei

People in the Taiwanese capital of Taipei will on Tuesday be able to surf the Internet, watch Web TV, play online games and more in 1000 taxis that have been equipped with Mobile WiMax wireless broadband service.

Vmax Telecom, a WiMax network operator in Taipei, has put mobile Internet devices (MIDs) inside 1000 cabs from the M-Taxi company to offer free Mobile WiMax wireless services.

The use of WiMax-enabled devices in taxis is meant to popularize WiMax as well as give people something to do if they're stuck in traffic or need information such as the latest movie times, said Teddy Huang, chairman of Vmax, at a news conference in Taipei. The value-added service will also hopefully bring more customers to the taxi company, M-Taxi, he said.

The MIDs are small, flat devices with 7-inch touchscreens made by Tecom Inc. that work with a stylus. They are attached to the back of the front passenger seat inside the taxis. The devices have embedded WiMax and GPS (Global Positioning System) chips and use Microsoft's Windows CE 5.0 operating system. They are loaded with video and audio codecs and are meant to entertain people as they ride taxis across Taipei. The devices are 216 millimeters long by 132mm wide and 24.5mm thick.

Vmax launched WiMax services in Taipei in early February, according to its Web site. The company has 100 stores where people can sign up for WiMax wireless broadband services for a monthly charge. Vmax has funding from Intel's venture capital arm.

M-Taxi is one of the largest taxi companies in Taipei, recognizable by the large red sign atop their yellow taxis that has a large, white letter 'M'. The company has a special phone number people can call on their mobile phones and request the WiMax taxis, 55178. Customers will not be charged any additional fee for using the WiMax devices.

Vmax calls the WiMax-in-taxi service the Mobile Internet Cafe.

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