RealTime IT News

SingTel To Have 150 Wireless Hotspots By Year End

Not to be outdone by its rival, StarHub, which has recently launched a Wireless Broadband Hub covering an area of 180,000 square meters (a size equivalent to 28 international soccer fields) at the Suntec City building (StarHub Launches Singapore's Largest Wireless 'Hotzone'), Singapore Telecommunications (SingTel) has launched its own version of wireless hotspots which have almost the entire Singapore covered.

This means that more than 300,000 SingNet users and more than a million SingTel Mobile's postpaid customers are now able to access the Internet wirelessly at speeds of up to 512 kilo bits per second (Kbps) in more than 100 outdoor surf zones in Singapore.

Each of these zones will be marked with a SingTel 'Wireless Surf Zone' sign and can be found in the central business district as well as suburd areas, Starbucks cafes, Burger King outlets, Shangri-La Hotel, country clubs and various community clubs among others. If unsure, SingTel Mobile customers can easily locate the nearest wireless surf zone by simply keying in *624 on their phones.

There is no monthly subscription fee to the service. SingNet dial-up and broadband customers and SingTel Mobile postpaid customers need only to pay for what they use and are charged US$0.11 per minute. They can access the service by using their existing SingNet user IDs or SingTel Mobile General Packet Radio Service (GPRS) ID (i.e. mobile phone number) and passwords respectively. But they would need a wireless enabled notebook computer, or a handheld device, that complies with Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) 802.11b standard.

According to the company's vice president (Consumer Products), Hui Weng Cheong, SingTel plans to have at least 150 wireless surf zones by the end of the year. "We will also offer wireless local area network (WLAN) infrastructure to other operators and Internet Service Providers on a wholesale basis," Hui added.

Getting More Broadband Users Onboard
The offerings do not stop with the wireless zones that cost the group more than US$560,000 in investments. SingNet Broadband (which has more than 50 percent of the domestic broadband market share with more than 92,000 broadband ADSL lines) has also launched 'Home Wireless Surf' which enables households a wireless broadband Internet connectivity anywhere within the home.

As part of its plan to promote the use of pervasive and broadband services, the service comes with no additional subscription fee and usage charges are based on the customer's existing SingNet Broadband price plan. All they need is an Ethernet modem, an access point and a WLAN card which cost about US$280.

In addition, users can opt for the new Multi-Surf - a service that allows up to three users (one main plus two Multi-Surf accounts) in the home for concurrent Internet access using the same ADSL connection without compromising broadband speeds. Each additional account costs about US$20 per month.

Wireless Services In The Pipeline
SingTel has also lined up a host of new value-added wireless Internet services for its customers in the months ahead in a bid to up its mobile and data services profits (which currently forms 48 percent of the groups revenue). These include:

* Prepaid wireless surf service where customers can purchase a selected amount of Internet surf time and are given a temporary Internet account and password for use at any wireless surf zone.

* Wireless surf for inbound roamers where roamers can request for a temporary wireless surf account.

* Wireless broadband roaming arrangements with GRIC and iPASS for both inbound roamers and SingTel customers traveling overseas.

* Park & Surf service which enables motorists and their passengers to download information from car parks.

* Wireless printing service that enables users to send documents to selected shops for printing. They can collect the printed documents later and have the bill charged to their SingNet or SingTel Mobile account.