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Singapore bus passengers get wireless

Commuters on the country's public transport bus service can now surf their way to work
Written by Konrad Foo, Contributor

Singapore's SBS Transit has introduced wireless internet connectivity for commuters using the country's public transport system.

The public bus service provider said since July, a bus on its 175 service has been equipped with the wireless internet connection.

Neo Eng Hoe, vice-president of corporate information technology at ComfortDelGro, said the wireless network is supported by mobile broadband connectivity powered by a USB modem. ComfortDelGro is the parent company of SBS Transit.

An access point (AP) is installed in the bus, together with routers that allow internet coverage for both single- and double-deck buses, Neo told ZDNet UK's sister site, ZDNet Asia, in an interview.

Utilising a 3.5G high-speed downlink packet access (HSDPA) protocol, the network is stable enough to continuously support the wireless connection along the journey. Network access is available to anyone on the bus with a Wi-Fi-enabled device, as the system is programmed to broadcast the service set identifier (SSID) to them. Commuters do not need an authentication key to connect to the network, according to Neo.

SBS did all the programming and developed all other processes in-house, while installation of the equipment was undertaken by a contractor.

Neo highlighted two key challenges to implementing the wireless network. First, as the driver starts up the engine, there might be a power surge, so the team had to consider interruption in the power supply. To 'protect' the equipment, the power supply to them is regulated, he said.

Second was the need to 'cushion' the equipment, as there might be shocks and impacts along the journey. Therefore, no hard disks are used in this project so as to prevent damage from shocks.

The team also built the wireless network in a way that does not interfere with the other network on which the ez-link card readers operate on the busses. Ez-link is a contactless smartcard used for the payment of public transport fares in Singapore.

There is potential for wireless connectivity on the company's other buses too, according to Neo, but SBS is still exploring this option.

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