Starting January 1, the people of Singapore will get 2 years of free wireless connectivity at speeds up to 512 kbps almost everywhere in the country. The service comes from the Infocomm Development Authority (IDA), IDA is Singapore's government agency for integrated planning, policy forming, regulation, and development of information technology and telecommunication.
IDA's Wireless@SG program to provide ubiquitous wireless broadband to Singaporeans will be developed and run by three local wireless operators. This week, IDA accepted the proposals from iCELL Network Pte. Ltd., QMAX Communications and Singapore Telecommunications Ltd. to serve on the government's 2-year Call-For-Collaboration (CFC) effort. The goal is to kick-start Singapore's deployment of a widely available wireless broadband network by September of 2007. The network will complement and extend broadband access currently available in the homes, offices and schools, to most public places. The three operators will invest a total of about SGD $100 million (approx. U.S. $63 million), with the Singapore government prepared to pay SGD $30 million (approx. U.S. $19 million) to help defray the cost of the technology deployment.
Wi-Fi Hot Spots: from 900 to 5,000
Singaporeans, already one of the world's most tech-savvy populations, have ready access to voice connectivity through mobile phones, but data connectivity for PDAs and laptop computers is available only in Wi-Fi hot spots run by individual service providers. The CFC changes this.
With the two-year Wireless@SG program, the number of public hot spots will grow from 900 now to about 5,000. The three operators will increase the number of Wireless@SG hot zones in high-traffic, public areas such as the Central Business District, downtown shopping belts like Orchard Road and HDB Town Centres.
The service gives free, unlimited use to everyone Singapore, including tourists and business travelers. Sign-up details will be announced in December 2006, but users will not be required to be current subscribers to the services to have free use. Higher bandwidth services will be available for a fee.
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