SURFING speeds on Singapore's free public Wi-Fi service, Wireless@SG, will be more than doubled to 5Mbps by the end of this year, as the Government sees the network as a key enabler of Singapore's smart-nation vision.
The number of Wireless@SG hot spots will also be doubled to 20,000 by 2018 to better complement telcos' 4G networks in meeting consumers' rising demand for mobile broadband.
"We must build first-class infrastructure for pervasive, seamless and high-speed connectivity to benefit citizens and businesses," said Janil Puthu-cheary, Minister of State for Communications and Information, yesterday in Parliament.
Some Members of Parliament had asked if there were plans to improve the surfing speeds of Wireless@SG, with Zaqy Mohamad (Chua Chu Kang GRC) saying: "Today's Wireless@SG speeds are slower in performance than what our 4G mobile networks provide."
Addressing this, Dr Janil said Wireless@SG's current speed is already faster than most public Wi-Fi services around the world. But because demand is increasing, there is a need to boost current speeds.
With the upgrade, Wireless@SG speeds will be faster than existing 3G speeds, he said. Singapore will also have the highest hot-spot density in the world, calculated by the number of hot spots per inhabitant. Currently, it trails only Tokyo.
"But it is not the connectivity that makes us smart; it is what we do with it," said Dr Janil. "Operators can also use Wireless@SG to offer improved services such as cashless payment and location-based analytics. All this benefits consumers, businesses and productivity."
One group of beneficiaries is the low-income users. The idea is to allow Wireless@SG to complement existing efforts to bridge the digital divide.
Coverage expansion will target busy places such as hospitals, government buildings and community centres so that more people can connect to the network without surfing slowdowns, a common bugbear.
More public places such as hawker centres, train stations and retail malls will also be added to the list of Wireless@SG zones.
About half the existing 10,000 hot spots at the current 3,000 locations are already allowing users to surf at up to 5Mbps, from 2Mbps previously.
Speeds at the remaining hot spots will be upgraded by the year end.
As at December, there were two million frequent users on the network, clocking 10 million hours a month.
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