Singapore has unveiled plans to extend its nationwide free Wi-Fi service to 28 Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) stations, but the announcement sparks much criticism online over the network's spotty connection.
According to the Land Transport Authority (LTA), by mid-2014, commuters can tap the country's Wireless@SG infrastructure at all North East Line platforms and 12 other MRT stations with high traffic, including City Hall, Dhoby Ghaut, Bishan, Serangoon, and Choa Chu Kang.
The LTA has called for tenders to roll out the implementation, which will include a two-year trial before it decides whether to extend the free public Wi-Fi service to other stations. The service will provide access speeds of up to 2Mbps and the first pilot is expected commence in mid-2014.
Launched in 2006, the government-funded Wireless@SG network is currently operated by Singapore's three mobile operators--M1, SingTel, and StarHub--as well as local Wi-Fi service provider, Y5Zone. Plans are underway to roll out the next phase of the infrastructure, which will include a SIM-based authentication system by April 2014 to simplify the login process.
LTA said the trial is aimed at improving wireless connectivity for MRT commuters while they wait for their trains to arrive.
The announcement, however, has been met with much criticism among the online community skeptical about the quality of network connection and slow login process.
Twitter user "@MDIBinA" wrote: "If SMRT stations were to use Wireless@SG... People get excited [for] less than 3 seconds and after that switch back to their 3G [connection]. Pathetic."
"@CyanRhapsody" also tweeted: "LOL, Wireless@SG, [by] the time you log in, your train is already at the next station."
Popular local blogger, dubbed MrBrown, also quipped on Twitter about the unreliability of the network: "Ah WirelessSometimesGot."
Local ICT regulator, Infocomm Development Authority (IDA), in 2012 said overlapping Wi-Fi hotspots might have slowed down network speed and it planned to establish guidelines to address this issue. According to IDA stats from December 2012, there were 2.26 million Wireless@SG subscribers with the average monthly usage at 31 hours per user in 2012.