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IMDA Singapore extends automatic login to non-SIM devices for free Wi-Fi service; network to be expanded to 20

IMDA Singapore extends automatic login to non-SIM devices for free Wi-Fi service; network to be expanded to 20,000 hotspots by 2020

Minister for Communications and Information, Dr. Yaacob Ibrahim trying out the enhanced Wireless@SG app at Tech Saturday (Upsized!)

At Tech Saturday (Upsized!), the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) of Singapore announced enhancements to Wireless@SG, a free Wi-Fi network available at thousands of hotspots across the island.

Automatic login, which eliminates the need for usernames and passwords, has been extended to non-SIM devices, such as tablets and laptops. Users will have to download the updated Wireless@SG app onto the device and go through a one-time setup process, requiring their NRIC/ FIN (National Registration Identity Card/ Foreign Identification Number; compulsory for all persons who are lawfully resident in Singapore) and mobile numbers. The setup is completed by entering the One-time password (OTP) sent via SMS to the mobile device. Even if the app is uninstalled, the configured device will continue to connect automatically to the Wireless@SGx network.

Compared to Wireless@SG, Wireless@SGx is more secure, as it uses industry-based authentication and security standards, IEEE 802.1x and Wi-Fi alliance. Data sent over the network is encrypted.

The process has also been streamlined for users who prefer to login through the browser. They will only need to enter their mobile numbers, either local or foreign, to receive an OTP and complete the login process.

Users with existing Wireless@SG account can still login using usernames and passwords. However, the usernames and passwords will be phased by the end of 2017.

Previously, automatic login was available only for mobile devices with SIM cards, using the EAP- SIM (Extensible Authentication Protocol-Subscriber Identity Module) authentication framework. This login method which allows users to be verified through their SIM cards, enables them to enjoy a seamless connection whenever they are close to a hotspot, without the hassle of entering their username and password every time. According to the press release, about 90% of Wirelss@SG users are already using automatic login with their mobile devices. IMDA expects the enhancements to benefit at least 180,000 users who have been using tablets and laptops to connect to Wireless@SG. 

Wireless@SG was launched back in 2006, with 900 hotspots offering a maximum speed of 512kbps. Currently, there are around 10,000 hotspots located in public spaces, including train stations, libraries, community centres, shopping malls, restaurants, offering Internet access at 5Mbps.

IMDA plans to double the network to 20,000 hotspots by 2020 and reach more locations, such as hospitals, hawker centres and government service centres. Broadband service provider, MyRepublic has become the fifth operator offering the free Wi-Fi service, joining M1, SingTel, Starhub and Y5ZONE.

IMDA Chief Executive Tan Kiat How said, “A digital economy needs pervasive connectivity that is fast, reliable and secure, and Wireless@SG is one of the projects that will help IMDA realise this vision. We are pleased to welcome a fifth operator on board, and we expect this will help us to deploy more hotspots more quickly in our effort to expand the Wireless@SG network.”

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