Students have given the thumbs-down to a new paging and Internet service that offers up-to-date information on school places for Form Five graduates. The service, organised by Asia Paging and City Telecom HK (CTI), is the brainchild of the Education Department and is aimed at helping students snap up Form Six vacancies by renting a pager or browsing a specific Internet site. However, the sudden surge in the number of students who accessed the Web site had resulted in a longer download time. The service was nearly halted, with some schools even failing to update the site with their latest figures every 30 minutes as required by the department. The lapse had caused paging service delays on Tuesday. Fanny Chung Shuk-shan, who scored 20 points in the Hong Kong Certificate of Education Examination, said she was disappointed. Her pager displayed the same information for about two hours. 'I called up the schools instead,' she said. Science student Siu Sze, 17, adopted the old-fashioned way of ringing up schools. 'It just took me several minutes to ring up a school. With the pager, I never know when the information will be updated and I have to check up the school codes to find out the places available at a particular school.' Sze said her friends had told her about the latest situation after accessing the department's Web site. 'It's rather slow and some of the updates are not accurate. I had to call up schools to confirm the information,' she said. Both Chan Yu-liem and Kwok Che-fai, 17, said the service was a waste of time because they had to re-check the information. According to a spokesman for CTI, more than 220,000 Internet browsers used its Web site to search for school places on August 10. The interactive hotline received more than 48,000 calls. Asia Paging customer services manager Tzarina Cheung Wai- han denied that the Internet jam had delayed the paging service. She said schools had failed to provide the latest information. She said: 'When CTI receives the updates, these will be transferred to our system automatically and we will send it out to the pagers. 'Even if schools can't log on to the Internet, they can fax the figures to the Education Department for co-ordination.' Both companies said no complaints had been received so far. They will review the service with the department and make improvements if necessary. Teachers at Carmel Alison Lam Foundation School and Pak Yu Secondary School said it took them more than three hours to update the information on the Internet. Tam Ming-fai, the teacher in charge of registration at Pak Yu Secondary School, said the Internet service had added more pressure on the already overburdened teachers. Hok Yau Club student guid ance centre director Ng Tak-kay said the idea was good, but the technical glitches had to be eliminated. He said the root of the problem was the admission procedure and urged the department to adopt a central allocation system at district level to avoid students scrambling for places. Last month, the paging company recalled all its 1,500 pagers after failing a trial run to get the desired information for Form Five graduates. The pilot test proved disappointing with thousands of students complaining the pagers needed more than 15 minutes to download the information. About 2,400 students have registered for the service. Each pager can be rented for $150, with a $250 deposit. When Asia Paging was told about the numerous complaints, the company offered a more advanced model which it said could download the information within three minutes.