KFC is among my family’s favourite restaurant for the food reason alone. With the upgrades of some of their bigger branches, they’re just getting better, and this is the case with KFC Kuta as well.

Located near the Simpang Siur junction, KFC Kuta lies under the same roof with its old time partner in Indonesia, Gelael Super Market (see this article); just like in Bandung in the older days. To differs it from the rest, KFC Kuta has 3 advantages:

  1. Children playing ground — which consisting of the stairs and sliders construction, and a surprising merry-go-round/carousel indoors! Both are free for eat-in customers
  2. Free fast WiFi + PC Terminals — though provides very limited power outlets (4 total) for the whole restaurant, and they’re in the  non-AC area hence not really comfortable to stays long, the connection on most of the time is good, and it’s free. DL speed could easily reaches 100 kbps (real-time) on off-peak hours. For those who are computer-less, like most of tourists, KFC Kuta also provides two PC terminal free to use
  3. Gelael — while not providing a lot of product choices, some that they do are sold in relatively low prices; even lower than Carrefour (Sunset Rd.) or Hypermart (Galeria) at times. This applies especially for their imported goods, hence it’s a good ground to replenish your family’s supply of olive oils and cheeses

The second choice (free fast WiFi) however, often serves as the main reason of our visits here, since my kid can have a good time playing on the playing ground, and I can use the fast connection to work with online resources that’s too big to handle through my mobile data connection, or is blocked from the office connection, e.g.: downloading updated map data for my GPS device, or uploading a big movie clip for contest-related website.

My wife and I then, switches tasks between accompanying our kid playing, and going online; a win-win-win match for the three of us.

Something different…

What’s different from our yesterday visit however, is that now the free WiFi is trickier to tap into. Unlike the last time we’re here, it now doesn’t uses standard protection method, which requires you to input the password through Control Panel, but an open connection with nowhere to enter the password into. It will enables you to connect, but on a state of idle without any data connection.

It does however, at times connects me to the home page (Google in this case), but it leads nowhere as the connection then will be back to idle.

What’s wrong?

Upon consulting with the staffs, who only remembers the user name and password, without further insight into how the system really works, I have no clear sight either as what’s going on. Only after asking other fellow “Fakir WiFi” (Indonesian slang for free WiFi hunter) I found out that the connection would work only after the customer enters the given user name and password through a pop-up window… which works good on laptops, but not (some) mobile phones. So yesterday all of my Gingerbread (2.3) and Froyo (2.2) Android devices can’t connect to the Internet through the provided free WiFi.

Captive Portal Hotspot

Upon looking for solutions through my XL 3G connection, I came up upon the information of this technology called “Captive Portal”, and it resembles the behaviour shown on KFC Kuta’s free WiFi; it pops up a window to enter your user name and password before enabling the data connection. Too bad this Captive Portals authentication method is not yet natively supported by Android OS.

I’ve tried to reset the connection, and uncheck the “disable pop ups” feature on my Android browser’s setting with no luck. It just didn’t manage to show up the login pop-up page.

Android do have some apps available on Android Market, like this CoovaAX WiFi Hotspot Utility that’s said to have the ability to log into Captive portals, while iPhone and Blackberry are doing better in this area, and Windows phones are sometimes unable to shows up the login screen as well.

Seeing this fact then, I think Captive portals still possess serious UX issues by its inability to support (or on the other perspective, supported by) the wide range of OS available on the market, hence creating inconsistent performance.

Is this the case with KFC Kuta’s free WiFi?

However this might not be the case as no one at KFC Kuta yesterday have any experience with troubleshooting this issue on Android phones; so it’s not confirmed yet that it is a Captive Portal they uses to protect their WiFi connection at the moment; the symptoms are consistent though.

Anyway however, what I can confirm is that at the moment KFC Kuta is not really user experience friendly for customers with Android devices 🙂 so we might have to look for alternative family hangout place in favour of carrying around my office’s bulky laptop on weekends. Any suggestions? (byms)

Cartoon image from: http://www.offthemark.com

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