SINGAPOREANS may be hungry for freebies but when it comes to surfing on the go, a new survey shows most consumers are willing to go with a paid subscription instead of relying on a complimentary substitute.
According to a recent poll by French research firm Toluna, 70 per cent of local mobile broadband users intend to keep their subscriptions despite having a free alternative in Wireless@SG.
First launched in 2006, this government-backed Wi-Fi network received a speed upgrade last year at the same time when authorities decided to extend the complimentary service to March 2013. Wireless@SG gives computer and smartphone users the ability to tap on free wireless hotspots scattered throughout the island to surf and check their emails.
However, the Toluna survey, which was commissioned by mobile data solutions firm Acision, showed that nearly 61 per cent of respondents experienced so- called quality-of-service issues such as slow access speeds with Wireless@SG.
In addition, only a mere 6 per cent of the 1,000 local respondents polled said they would be willing to pay for the service if operators started charging for it in 2013.
On the other hand, more and more Singaporeans have been parting with their cash for mobile broadband subscriptions.
Instead of having to look for Wi-Fi hotspots, these paid services allow Singaporeans to access the Internet on their cell phones and laptops through the cellular network.
This trend helped lift Singapore's household broadband penetration rate to 180.7 per cent in September, eclipsing the country's mobile adoption rate, which stood at 141.4 per cent in the same month.
However, as with Wireless@SG, speed was the main grouse of mobile broadband subscribers.
68 per cent of those polled said they encountered slow access speeds. Other minor complaints included network coverage and difficulty in getting connected.
To alleviate these issues, 43 per cent of consumers said they were prepared to pay a premium for a better user experience.
Half of the respondents also said they were willing to subscribe for additional services such as overseas roaming and operator notifications to accompany their mobile broadband plans, the survey revealed.