Letter of the day

Forum: Desperately seeking Wi-Fi for work when outside the home

People using their laptops at a cafe.
People using their laptops at a cafe.PHOTO: ST FILE

While I applaud the Government for its initiatives to promote digitalisation and for formulating safe measures amid the Covid-19 pandemic, it appears there is still a gap when it comes to the availability of facilities to support those initiatives.

I would like to share a recent experience to illustrate this.

In the past week, my home underwent renovation as part of the Home Improvement Programme (HIP).

While I appreciate that a rest-and-work area was set up nearby for us to use as we were not allowed to stay in our units amid the renovation works, I am baffled that the area did not have an Internet connection.

As most people are still encouraged to work from home because of the pandemic, the lack of Internet connectivity at such work stations is not helpful.

I went to the HIP office to inquire and was told that the application to Singtel for Wi-Fi services was not approved. The reason for this was not mentioned.

Then I went around the neighbourhood to look for a place that provides free Internet access. Fortunately, there are a few places, such as hawker centres, which provide free Wi-Fi under the Wireless@SG scheme. There were, however, no power outlets to be found.

When I went next to the library, I found that all the work desks were occupied. When I finally found an empty space at a table where there was someone else seated, I was told by the security staff that I was not allowed to sit there.

This was despite the fact that I had made sure the person and I were at least 1m apart and I had my mask on the entire time.

The next day, I went to the community centre. I asked if there was a workspace I could use, with a power outlet that I could connect my laptop to. I was directed to a desk with the only usable power outlet; the rest of the power outlets were locked.

On the third day, I made my way to the same desk at the same community centre. But I was told that I could not use that power outlet in case it caused a power trip. I did not understand how my work laptop could cause a power trip.

I then asked politely if there was any other space in the community centre with a usable power outlet, but was told that there was none.

It is disappointing that while we are moving towards being a Smart Nation, I encountered those inconveniences which could easily have been worked around.

I urge the relevant parties to look into these issues and hopefully improve these facilities soon.

Kevin Tong

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 14, 2021, with the headline 'Desperately seeking Wi-Fi for work when outside the home'. Subscribe