My First Day with Wireless@SG

You probably wish to ask what does the above picture got to do with Wireless@SG, yes? You will see the connection later on.

As an early adopter of this free seamless wireless broadband access initiated by IDA code name Wireless@SG, I have decided to test drive this wonderful service today. Picked up the phone and called up SingTel mainly to inquire how to activate the service that I have signed up a month ago. In retrospect, the customer service representative was not that helpful. The only thing I learned was how to retrieve my GPRS password for logging on purpose. I doubt if anyone can surf the net via a 3G Wi-fi mobile phone if you are not technologically inclined.

Just before lunch, I looked through a list of coverage areas and my first destination was of course the OUB Hello! Shop (owned by SingTel) right next door. I stood there for 5 minutes trying to figure out how to configure the connection using my Nokia N80. And then I stood there for another 5 minutes getting the “no reply from gateway” error time and time again. That was strange. Was it me or was the service down?
Next on my coverage list was Starbucks so I headed straight to Raffle City. Standing within the perimeter of Starbucks feeling like a spy, I made my second attempt to connect to Wireless@SG. After 5 minutes (yes, I have a stop watch), the log on form appeared. There was some log on options and intuitively I chose STM/Data3 (don’t ask me how I arrived at the decision or what that STM means), punched in my user ID and password, and voila!, my mobile phone started to load the SingTel Wireless@SG homepage. By the time I managed to open Google.com, 12 minutes has passed. I looked behind me and one of the customers who seated near to where I was when I started to surf has already finished his cup of coffee.

Happy with my little achievement, I headed into City Link Mall and according to the coverage list, I should be able to connect to Wireless@SG at all levels. So I turned on the hot spot searcher feeling like a scientist searching for the source of radioactivity or a solder with a land mine detector, I saw Wireless@SG appearing and disappearing and finding it hard to surf the net seamlessly at all.

All of a sudden, my phone has detected a strong signal. Feeling delighted I looked up and saw a Hello! Shop. That must be it, I said to myself, and I matched directly into this shop owned by SingTel. To my disappointment, the signal disappeared. Perplexed as I was, I retraced my steps and as I walked pass O’Briens, it suddenly struck me that all the O’Briens outlets are inside the coverage list. Ordered a meal at O’Briens and I started to surf the net.

According to SingTel, Wireless@SG has a (blazing) speed of 512kpbs. This is exactly the same speed I have at home. My personal website – content rich by the way – can be loaded by my phone within one minute at home. At O’Briens, even the signal was pretty strong (way better any other spots), it took forever to load any page with graphics. In the end, in between my sandwich time, I have managed to read a story about NASA building a moon base at one of the poles from Yahoo! News (very mobile phone friendly with no graphics, but wait, I do want the graphics!). And I have also managed to download a comic strip off CNN.com – a symbolic achievement of the day.

Now, that is the only connection between the picture and the subject of this article. It’s lame, I know.

Click here for the corresponding blog entry.