TODAY Online - Free Wi-Fi at all MRT, LRT stations by 2020

Singapore will match cities such as New York, Seoul in this regard


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Following in the footsteps of major cities such as New York and Seoul, commuters here will be able to access free Wi-Fi services at all MRT and LRT stations as well as bus interchanges and terminals by 2020.

This was announced by the Land Transport Authority (LTA) today (Oct 12), as it rolled out the final phase of the Wi-Fi pilot that had been progressively introduced at selected MRT stations. Five more stations now offer free Wi-Fi — Buangkok, Kovan, Little India, Paya Lebar and Potong Pasir — bringing the total to 33 MRT stations.

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The service, which provides download speeds of up to 2 Mbps, has seen 700,000 logins daily at the MRT stations that are part of the pilot, which was launched at three stations in August last year.

The trial for the 33 stations cost about S$7.9 million, while the tender for expansion of Wi-Fi connectivity to other parts of the public transport network has not been issued.

Adding that LTA is “very encouraged” by the growing usage of wifi service seen at the trial train stations, Group Director for Innovation and InfoComm Technology Rosina Howe-Teo said: “LTA can also use the data to generate useful insights on crowd behaviour and improve the delivery of our public transport services.”

A LTA spokesperson said the number of Wi-Fi connections detected at the train stations can provide information on crowd density and commuter movements on MRT platforms, helping the authority in its designs of MRT stations, such as the number of chairs and ushers needed to improve commuting experience.

Transport analysts agreed that providing wireless connectivity will enhance the commuting experience here but noted the need to have sufficient bandwidth to accommodate the anticipated high Wi-Fi usage.

National University of Singapore transport researcher Lee Der Horng noted that the move to roll out wireless service is in line with the LTA’s MyTransport.SG mobile application providing real-time bus and train-platform crowd updates.

“Commuters will be better connected with traffic related updates when they are on the move,” noted Professor Lee. “I hope the free Wi-Fi service will also inspire commuters to take public transport…as the telcos’ 4G data plans are a bit more expensive and there is limited data flow.”

Likewise, transport expert Park Byung Joon, an adjunct associate professor at SIM University, cautioned that the LTA must expect heavy usage of the free Wi-Fi service by commuters and ensure that there is adequate bandwidth to ensure a smooth usage experience. “Nothing is more annoying than the Wi-Fi getting cut off because the bandwidth is not enough,” said Dr Park.

As providing large bandwidth can be costly, he noted that one way to manage the situation could be to offer limited usage on a monthly basis for each commuter.

TODAY understands the maximum 2 Mbps download speeds used during the trial period was found to be sufficient for commuters, and this bandwidth will used for the extension of Wi-Fi services.

Source: TODAY Online


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