Automatic switching of wireless networks mooted

Automatic switching of wireless networks mooted

SINGAPORE - Switching automatically to another Wi-Fi or mobile network if one telco goes down or is too slow may become a reality here.

This idea of a nationwide heterogeneous network (HetNet) was mooted in Parliament on Monday as one way Singapore could take advantage of the growing IT and media sector convergence.

HetNet will ensure scarce wireless spectrum is maximised to meet rising mobile data demands, said Communications and Information Minister Yaacob Ibrahim, in response to MP Zaqy Mohamad's (Chua Chu Kang GRC) queries on how the new 10-year Infocomm Media Masterplan will take Singapore through 2025.

Singapore could be among the first countries to adopt HetNet, after Holland, which rolled out a system after a 2012 outage of operator Vodafone's mobile services affected about a quarter of its five million users for days.

A 14-member committee headed by Mr Koh Boon Hwee, chairman of private equity fund Credence, is behind a masterplan which will be released later this month for public consultation.

The new "Smart Nation" masterplan will expand on the previous Intelligent Nation 2015 plan - conceived in 2005 - that focused on boosting adoption of IT.

Dr Yaacob said it also includes plans to make home-based health care available more widely through the use of sensors.

"Sensors can help stable chronic disease patients self-monitor their conditions in the comfort of their own homes, and receive health-care services only when necessary," he noted. For example, floor mats embedded with sensors can help patients regularly monitor their weight.

Dr Yaacob said computational thinking is also one of the key ideas proposed in the masterplan. In Britain, for instance, computing will be included in the national curriculum from September for children aged five and above.

Specifically, coding will be introduced in schools here via enrichment programmes, competitions and infocommunications clubs to teach fundamental programming concepts as part of a national Code@SG movement.

The ministry is also looking into revamping infocomm clubs in schools and increasing students' interests in computational learning by playing computer games.

But these ideas are still in the early stages. "Considerable work remains, as the masterplanning process will only conclude next year," said Dr Yaacob.

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