From 1 January 2007 Singaporeans will be able to benefit from free wireless internet access from almost anywhere on the island, using a Wi-Fi-enabled laptop or mobile phone. The initiative, being implemented by SingTel, iCell and Qmax Communications, will initially provide free connectivity in densely populated areas such as Orchard Road and the Central Business District (CBD), before being expanded to other designated public areas by September 2007. SingTel and iCell, which beat off proposals from six other bidders, plan to offer the free, unlimited usage service for three years, while the third successful bidder, QMax, has committed to two years. The service is expected to remain ‘highly affordable’ once the free period expires in 2009-10, according to Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.
The free packages are offering internet access at downstream speeds of up to 512kbps, and will allow users to surf seamlessly throughout the country’s 5,000 hotspots, regardless of their service provider.