Home & Office

Wireless in Singapore...NOT!

I was in Singapore recently for an overnight stay. While waiting for my meeting to start, I hung around at the airport.
Written by Edwin Yapp, Contributor

I was in Singapore recently for an overnight stay. While waiting for my meeting to start, I hung around at the airport.

I had hoped to do some work using the Wi-Fi service at the airport. Surely, Changi--a world-class airport--would have free Wi-Fi (or so I thought).

I asked the info desk where I could access free Wi-Fi and they asked me to go to McDonald's. After ordering my food, I asked the unfriendly waitress whether the Wi-Fi needed a password. "We don't have Wi-Fi," she replied.

"What?" I asked. "We don't have Wi-Fi," she repeated. "But the info desk said you did," I replied. "No," she replied.

Another customer, probably embarrassed at how incredibly unfriendly the waitress was to me, told me that the whole airport had Wi-Fi but you had to register to get it.

So, I sat down, ate my food and tried to register. I followed the steps, which required me to send an SMS to a SingTel number. I got a username and password, which didn't work.

I called the helpline shown at the welcome page for Wireless@SG.

The operator said, "Sorry, we can't help you. You have to call SingTel."

I tried calling, but couldn't get through. I then asked around if there was a Starbucks and when I found one, the first thing I asked was: "Do you have Wi-Fi?"

"Yes, we do," said the friendly waitress, who should give the McDonald's waitress some customer service lessons.

"Fantastic," I said and turned on my laptop. To my horror, it was Wireless@SG again!

So, I tried the SMS thing again and tried the username and password that they sent back. Again, no luck.

I then tried registering through another service provider. The process did not require SMS-ing and could be done online. "Finally, I can get online," I thought. But I thought wrong.

My username and password would be sent to my e-mail address. Question: How do I access my e-mail if I'm not connected in the first place? Answer: I can't.

In desperation, I called the helpline again. The operator said he would send someone over to help me in 10 minutes. Half an hour later, I decided to give up and took a cab to the city.

All in all, I had wasted well over an hour trying to get onto the Internet at Changing. At KLIA, you get online free of charge and with no registration required. This is one area Changi can learn from KLIA.

Editorial standards