StarHub, Veniam create connected vehicle mesh network in Singapore

StarHub and Veniam are teaming up to turn thousands of vehicles in Singapore into mobile Wi-Fi hotspots, while collecting data for the government.

Singaporean telecommunications company StarHub has signed a collaboration agreement with Veniam, a California-headquartered startup that builds Wi-Fi mesh networks using moving vehicles, to expand wireless coverage in Singapore.

Under the agreement, Veniam will turn thousands of vehicles in Singapore into mobile Wi-Fi hotspots using StarHub's 4G and fibre infrastructure. The companies will also collect user data and share it with the government, which will use it to derive insights and drive decisions.

The partnership builds on a project that Veniam and StarHub worked on together earlier this year, when they delivered Singapore's first mesh network of connected vehicles. Veniam's mobile Wi-Fi service has operated in Singapore since June on the Comfort Delgro shuttle buses that circulate within the National University of Singapore.

The collaboration agreement will see Veniam deploying its technology at city-scale -- connecting buses, taxis, and autonomous vehicles. It will also collect terabytes of data, which the companies say will contribute to Singapore's Smart Nation initiative launched in 2014 to boost the nation's technology sector.

Since the rollout of the Smart Nation Platform in 2014, the Singaporean government has been capturing and collecting data via sensors placed around Singapore. The data, which is anonymised upon collection, is used to identify and deploy responsive and "anticipatory" services for Singapore citizens.

"The convergence of transportation systems with advanced communications and data analytics is revolutionising public transit and urban mobility worldwide," said João Barros, CEO of Veniam. "We feel very privileged to partner with StarHub in bringing the benefits of this revolution to millions of people in Singapore."

Veniam's technology, which consists of a small device called the Net Rider, and software that optimises the flow of data from one node to the other and from there to internet infrastructure, has also been deployed in New York and Porto, Portugal.

Veniam, which was first incubated by the University of Porto's Science and Technology Park, has raised $26.9 million to date from a consortium of investors including True Ventures, Union Square Ventures, and Cane Investments, as well as the corporate investment arms of Verizon, Cisco, Yamaha Motors, and Liberty Global.

Microsoft is another company looking at ways to expand internet availability. On Monday, Microsoft and D-Link announced that they're teaming up to deliver speedier Wi-Fi, called Super Wi-Fi, to rural communities around the world using white spaces technology.

Google's Project Loon is also taking a novel approach by releasing balloons that act as extenders for broadband penetration. In February, Google started testing its air-balloon beamed internet service in Sri Lanka, after striking a deal for spectrum with the government.

Sky and Space Global earlier this year announced plans to provide mobile coverage for remote regions globally by launching 200 nano-satellites into space off the back of Virgin Galactic's LauncherOne vehicle.

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