A new wireless network that aims to let consumers surf at high speeds without fear of disruptions will be tested.
HetNet, or heterogeneous network, will be trialled by the Government in the Jurong Lake District in the second half of this year and involve all three telcos - Singtel, StarHub and M1 - plus potential telco entrant MyRepublic.
The trial will take place in common areas such as lifts, Jurong East MRT station and bus interchange, and pedestrian walkways.
If successful, it could, for example, allow users to continue conference calls on their cellphones as they enter a lift, without fear of the connection dropping. The test is the first step towards the larger goal of enabling users to hop across 3G, 4G or Wi-Fi networks, regardless of who operates them, during disruptions or when surfing is slow on one network.
HetNet is part of a long-term goal to ensure that the wireless spectrum is maximised to meet rising mobile data demands.
"We want to see how we can be better prepared to have everyone connected everywhere all the time," said Mr Khoong Hock Yun, assistant chief executive officer of the Infocomm Development Authority (IDA).
The trial will evaluate the latest technology to ease network congestion.
Users cannot hop across different telcos' networks yet due to the absence of a "robust commercial framework" for pricing, said Mr Khoong. IDA is counting on the industry to sort this out.
If it works, HetNet may provide connection to applications like remote health-monitoring equipment or driverless vehicles.
A network of 1,000 sensors, including street surveillance cameras and computer chips for monitoring the safety of the elderly in their homes, is already being rolled out to pave the way for these applications.
A tender to operate the data centres that host critical government information supplied by these sensors has been awarded to Singtel.
Broadband provider MyRepublic said that it will invest $5 million in the HetNet system, which will also allow it to provide mobile services on trial.
Consistel, the other telco aspirant, is missing in the HetNet action. Its chairman Masoud Bassiri said: "We are ready to install HetNet equipment at Sports Hub, which we have wired up."
Both MyRepublic and Consistel have submitted a bid to the IDA for the fourth telco licence, but the authority has yet to announce a decision.
This article was first published on April 23, 2015.
Get a copy of The Straits Times or go to straitstimes.com for more stories.