SINGAPORE - An easier and faster way to log into Wireless@SG, Singapore's free national Wi-Fi network, will be introduced next Tuesday.
This change is part of the Government's goal to create an overarching network for mobile gadget users to move smoothly among 3G, 4G and Wi-Fi networks, said the telecoms regulator, the Infocomm Development Authority (IDA).
The free Wi-Fi will also be more widely available as the Government will double the number of hot spots to 10,000 by next year, and 20,000 by 2016.
The enhancements were cheered by users and analysts such as Ms Khin Sandi Lynn.
Having more hot spots and swifter log-in will "reduce network congestion during peak periods and major events as it would be hassle-free to log into the Wi-Fi network", said Ms Lynn, industry analyst for forecasting at market research firm ABI Research.
In short, sending and receiving information would be smoother with fewer slowdown periods.
The improvements were announced on Friday by Minister for Communications and Information Yaacob Ibrahim at an IDA exhibition at Esplanade Xchange.
Calling it timely, he said public Wi-Fi services, including Wireless@SG, will meet the growing demand for free Wi-Fi in the wake of the pervasive use of mobile devices.
To obtain swift access on Wireless@SG, phone users just have to do a one-time log-in, using identification data already stored on their SIM cards. This can be done in seconds.
Currently, users have to create and key in user names and passwords to sign in, and this could take minutes.
With the SIM log-in method, a user entering a Wireless@SG hot spot can also automatically connect to the network after the one-time set-up is done.
From June, tourists too can enjoy the swifter Wireless@SG log-in method. But there is a slight difference. When they use their foreign phone numbers to log into Wireless@SG, a password will be sent to them via a text message.
Currently, they have to register their foreign mobile numbers, such as at an airport counter, before they can get the password to use Wireless@SG.
New hot spots are set to include train stations and industrial parks, which will bolster the list now that includes fast-food outlets, shopping malls and Changi Airport. This widespread mobile network will further help operators to offer consumers and firms those services that require information on a consumer's location, noted Dr Yaacob.
Possible applications include letting retailers find out the demographics of customers visiting their stores, should they use the new Wireless@SG log-in.
Wireless@SG offers typical Internet access speeds of 1 to 2Mbps. Speeds for 4G mobile services can be faster. SingTel's 150Mbps 4G service has typical speeds of 7.5 to 50Mbps.
Project engineer Calvin Wai, 30, is looking forward to the new log-in.
"Often, I can't remember my Wireless@SG password or the operator I'd signed up with for the network. So I've been stuck using 3G instead," he said.
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