Singapore will have 20,000 wireless hotspots by 2016, up from over 5,000 today. The number of hotspots will first be gradually increased to 10,000 by next year.

SINGAPORE: Infocomm authorities plan to quadruple the number of wireless hotspots across Singapore from over 5,000 today to 20,000 by 2016.

This will be done gradually — hotspots will first be doubled to 10,000 next year.

From April 1 this year, a new automatic log-in feature will kick in at all existing hotspots.

The Subscriber Identity Module (SIM) card in mobile devices will enable users to tap free Wireless@SG connections across Singapore without having to enter a password.

Users will just need to configure their devices once, and the next time they walk within range of a hotspot, connecting to the Internet should be seamless.

Instructions can be referenced from the Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore’s website, and the enhancement applies to devices on the Android, BlackBerry and Apple’s iOS platforms.

Funding for the setup of hotspots has largely been borne by the government in the past.

This has since shifted to a co-funding model, where not just authorities, but operators for instance, shoulder the cost of introducing hotspots.

Communications and Information Minister Dr Yaacob Ibrahim said: “More venue owners are also working with Wireless@SG operators to provide free basic Wifi to their customers at their premises. They’ve also begun to adopt enterprise services such as cashless payment and online advertising.”

Operators need to show that they can achieve close to zero downtime for wireless connections if they want funding from the government to continue.

This will indeed be the case, when around 15,000 more hotspots are introduced across Singapore by 2016.

Nurul Asyura, a retail associate, said: “It’s good, we can connect (to) the wireless (network and) we can easily use (it) whenever we want.”

Leslie Lee Roberts, an accountant, said: “If the surfing of net is very smooth then of course I will use that.”

On average, between 200,000 and 300,000 people tap Wireless@SG monthly.

Since the service’s launch in 2006, its use has increased six-fold, and currently stands at nearly 32 hours per user per month.

Wireless@SG has two million subscribers.

New hotspots will emerge in public places, potentially within tourist attractions like Sentosa, for example, and even possibly along shopping belt Orchard Road’s sidewalks.

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