Auto network switching may be a challenge, say experts

Auto network switching may be a challenge, say experts
SingTel said on Wednesday last week that operators need to find "a balance between cost effectiveness and customer convenience" in deciding whether to invest in new Wi-Fi networks or expand existing 4G networks.

Consumers here may have a better chance of enjoying online videos with no drag under a plan to roll out an overarching network that would allow users of mobile devices to move smoothly between 3G, 4G and Wi-Fi.

Users will also be able to switch between different telco networks, which may be useful during outages such as mobile operator M1's service disruption last month.

But experts said such a network, called a heterogeneous network (HetNet), could be a challenge to implement.

On Monday last week, Minister for Communications and Information Yaacob Ibrahim said in Parliament that the Government was looking into setting up such a network to ensure scarce wireless spectrum is used optimally to meet rising mobile data demand. A masterplan, which includes HetNet, will be released later this month for public consultation.

The form a HetNet here could take is not clear - more details are expected later - but experts said existing infrastructure could be used, such as for diverting data traffic on telcos' mobile networks to Wi-Fi hot spots.

When a mobile network is down, having a robust Wi-Fi network for mobile users to switch to can be helpful, said Ms Serene Chan, a senior industry analyst for infocommunications technology practice at research firm

Frost & Sullivan Asia Pacific. "A seamless log-in (to a Wi-Fi network) would be key to an uninterrupted service for Wi-Fi," she added.

One way to offload mobile traffic to Wi-Fi could be through upgrades of Wireless@SG, a free nationwide Wi-Fi network, slated to be in place next month.

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