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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Tuesday, May 7, 2002

Cybercafes can feed your Web needs

By Burt Lum

While attending the Pacific Island Telecommunications Association (www.pita.org.fj) annual meeting in Fiji, Stuart Asahina (PTC.org honcho) and I were commenting how fast the Internet connection was from the Outrigger Fiji. Keep in mind the Outrigger is a good 50 miles from Suva, along the rural Coral Coast. We figured that Telecom Fiji, a major sponsor along with FinTel, must have put in a special dedicated line to supply the Internet workstations with bandwidth.

We concluded that because nowhere else in Fiji was Internet access fast. In fact, for the most part, it was excruciatingly slow. The government-owned telecom companies have made it so expensive that only the financially inclined can afford dedicated access. DSL and private-line circuit access is rare. Even companies such as AOL don't provide dial-up port access there.

So before my wonderfully high-speed connection at the Outrigger, I was in Suva looking for a decent dial-up Internet cafe. My first choice was the hotel business center.

With their always-on dial-up, Web access to my e-mail account was adequate. But on the second day, the computer broke, so I sought an alternative. If you aren't particular about speed, there are several Internet cafes to choose from in Suva.

Along the main street of Victoria Parade, I found at least three close by. The first was a Starbucks-esque coffee shop called Republic of Cappuccino. Good coffee, pastries and a mix of residents and foreigners made the best atmosphere for a relaxing online session.

Down the street was a hole-in-the-wall food stand with Internet access in the back room. You had to go down a dark narrow hallway, not quite the experience I was looking for.

Next door was the somewhat sterile Alpha Computer Center.

If you are ready to hit the road, here a good cybercafe resource is www.cybercafes.com. They have listings around the world and have six for Fiji.

But no matter how good the coffee is, I still prefer my broadband connection from home. ;-)

Burt Lum is a click away at burt@brouhaha.net.