3G to WiFi offload in the pipes for Singapore

Melissa Chua
telecomasia.net
Singapore is following in the footsteps of Hong Kong and Korea by planning initiatives to enable 3G traffic to be more easily offloaded to WiFi.
 
According to the Straits Times, a capacity upgrade to the country’s free public WiFi network, Wireless@SG, is in the works; alongside a plan to enable mobile devices to switch seamlessly between the mobile and Wireless@SG networks.
 
iCELL Network, which operates more than a third of the country’s 7,500 Wireless@SG hotspots, is working to simplify the Wireless@SG login process, which currently requires users to manually enter login credentials either on a webpage or via a mobile app.
 
The planned simplified system will recognize devices via the 3G SIM card and requires users to respond to a text message from their carriers the first time their devices login to a Wireless@SG hotspot. WiFi will subsequently be favored over 3G for data access each time the mobile device comes within range of a Wireless@SG hot spot. The system will also allow devices to be seamlessly transferred to the 3G network from the Wireless@SG network should the former provide faster access speed.
iCELL is aiming to start rolling out the new login system by Q1 next year.
 
iCELL Network is also upgrading its infrastructure by replacing its backhaul cables with fibre optic cables, a move that is expecting to improve network speeds to 100mbps from 10mbps. Over-the-air connection speeds will however remain at 1mbps.
SingTel and M1, the country’s two other operators of Wireless@SG, told the Straits Times they are exploring similar offload techniques.
 
South Korea’s three carriers earlier this year agreed to collaborate in building carrier-agnostic WiFi networks to ease 3G network strain.

WiFi offload is also one of several options Japan’s carriers have deployed to ease network congestion.

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