Busy first day for revamped Wireless@SG

The improved Wireless@SG hosted 60,000 mobile users on its first day, with the help of a new log-in feature that identifies users by their SIM cards. -- ST PHOTO: KENNY CHEE
The improved Wireless@SG hosted 60,000 mobile users on its first day, with the help of a new log-in feature that identifies users by their SIM cards. -- ST PHOTO: KENNY CHEE

More using national network which now has simpler log-in process

Singapore's freshly revamped wireless network got off to a good start yesterday, attracting more users than it had last year.

The improved Wireless@SG hosted 60,000 mobile users on its first day, with the help of a new log-in feature that identifies users by their SIM cards.

In comparison, the free public network had only up to 10,000 daily users on average in the last three months of 2013. There are eight million mobile phone lines here.

"We are heartened by the excellent response to the revamped network that enables users to connect seamlessly to Singapore's biggest free public Wi-Fi network," said a spokesman for the Infocomm Development Authority.

Mr Clement Teo, Singapore telco analyst for US-based market research firm Forrester, said Wireless@SG is playing "a more complementary role now" to the mobile networks, with its simpler process of logging in.

Phone users need only access their phone settings and select Wireless@SGx as the network to carry out a one-time registration. The network can detect the phone using data stored in the SIM card in seconds. Once set up, users will automatically log on to Wireless@SG when their phones' Wi-Fi function is turned on.

Users used to have to create and key in user names and passwords and this could take minutes.

A Seamless and Secure Access app launched in 2010 has helped users remember their passwords and automatically log them in when connections are dropped, so they need not re-enter their information. But users have to repeat the steps when they change their phones and have to reinstall apps.

The improved national Wi-Fi network is likely to get even more traffic, attracting users who wish to offload their 3G and 4G surfing onto the free network to avoid busting their mobile data caps.

Since September 2012, local telcos have tied their subsidised phones to new contracts with data bundles capped at lower levels, from 100MB. Previously, most mobile plans had a data cap of 12GB or allowed unlimited data access.

Engineer John Wong, 36, upgraded his plan from 3GB to 7GB and is paying $100 in phone bills a month. "To avoid paying more I will log on to Wireless@SG as much as possible," he said.

"The only problem is where can I find the hot spots?"

Civil servant Koh Wei Ming, 30, whose 4G mobile plan has a 3GB data cap, said: "For Wireless@SG to be useful, it has to expand its coverage to places where people normally hang out."

The national network has 5,000 hot spots in public areas including hospitals and libraries. This is from a peak of 7,500 a few years ago, but there are plans to increase hot spots to 10,000 next year. As manager Jeffrey Lee, 35, said: "I used to be able to connect to Wireless@SG from the void decks of some Housing Board blocks near Junction 8 in Bishan, but I can no longer do that now."

itham@sph.com.sg

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