The city of Kuala Lumpur orders that, started from next year, all restaurants in the city must provide Wifi service for their patrons. According to the mayor, this decree is in line with Information Technology vision for the nation’s capital.
That sounds like a great idea. Just imagine, I can walk into a kopitiam (Chinese traditional coffee shop), pull out my Motorola Xoom (a.k.a. iPad killer), and read Facebook updates. But wait a minute, kopitiams in KL have just increased the price of drinks in January, 2011. Will the operators use the Wifi order as another excuse to hike the price again? I can foresee that a cup of coffee will cost RM1.60 next year. In any case, kopitiams are not air-conditioned. When mercury rises to 33C, I doubt I want to spend more than an hour there.
Or, imagine that I am meeting my fellow bloggers for the first time in Dragon & Phoenix Chinese Restaurant. As soon as we are seated, Witch immediately snaps photos with her iPhone 5 and uploads them to Facebook; Panda Foong tweets with his Samsung Galaxy Tab; and Tekkaus tracks the latest English Premier League updates with his Blackberry Playbook. The so-called Bloggers’ meeting turns into Internet session…
There is a common problem among governments of Asia – they think they know what is best for the people and what is best for the businesses. The fact is, not all eateries in KL need Wifi service. Such service incurs additional operational cost, and ultimately it is the consumers who bear it.
CEOs of Celcom, DiGi, Maxis, P1 and YTL are probably feeling uneasy with the Wifi order too. The mobile carriers have invested billions of ringgit in infrastructure, but must now compete with mamak stalls.
If restaurant operators believe that Wifi service will help them attract customers, they will certainly provide it. The governments should keep their hands off businesses. Let the market decide!