August 28, 2006 12:24 PM PDT

Singapore: One nation under Wi-Fi

By the end of the year, it will be possible to roam almost anywhere in Singapore and get a wireless signal.

As part of its Intelligent Nation 2015 program, the island nation will be able to boast of countrywide Wi-Fi coverage in a few months, Bill Chang, executive vice president of wireless service provider SingTel, said in a recent interview.

"At the end of the year, Singapore will be one mega hot spot," he said. "They are breaking Singapore into three regions and looking at ways to maximize coverage."

The country had a pretty good head start. The official report released with the unfurling of the Intelligent Nation program pointed out that Singapore already had one public hot spot for every square kilometer at the end of last year. Communication between hot spots will be augmented by mesh networking, according to the Intelligent Nation report. Commercial WiMax--a wireless standard that allows signals to travel over longer distances than those using Wi-Fi--will begin in Singapore by the end of the year, said Chang.

The Intelligent Nation program, officially unveiled last year, seeks to make Singapore a global leader in communications technology in a decade. The country doesn't have the large domestic market, manufacturing base or low costs of places like India and China, so the idea is to focus more on industries with a large intellectual property component, similar to what South Korea and Israel are doing. The program is backed by various government subsidies and incentives.

Other initiatives in the program include digitizing public health records, bringing broadband connections into at least 90 percent of residences, recruiting multinationals to locate their call centers for Asia in the country and in general boosting Singaporean technology exports. The country hopes to add 80,000 information technology jobs through the effort. Another goal is to put computers into 100 percent of homes with school-age children.

This is all good news for SingTel, he added. The 127-year-old company (it started as a telegraph provider back in the days of British colonial rule) has emerged as one of the telecom giants of Asia. In its 2001 fiscal year, SingTel reported revenue of $3.1 billion. Approximately 81 percent of the revenue derived domestically. In fiscal 2005, revenue came to $8.3 billion and 71 percent came from overseas.

"We are Asia's largest multimarket mobile operator," Chang said. "We want to be the king of the hill in Asia rather than spread ourselves too thin."

To expand, the company cuts deals or invests in regional wireless carriers such as Indonesia's Telkomsel and India's Bharti Airtel. Through these alliances SingTel garners about 2.5 million new cellular customers a month with around 800,000 coming from neighboring Indonesia. Along with growing the cellular business, SingTel wants to expand its managed services business.

Singapore is also investing heavily in recruiting biotech companies and U.S. and European scientists to work in the country.

See more CNET content tagged:
SingTel, Singapore, Asia, recruiting, hot spot

4 comments

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Study exposure to radio waves
I would study the impact of radio waves, before making it over everyones head, like it or not. In a way, it's good that the US is so slow in matching these other countries offerings.

I don't want a Radio signal that strong over my head all the time.
Posted by rmiecznik (224 comments )
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welcome to the 21st century
You're already bombarded every day by so many radio waves that I doubt the wi-fi/wi-max discussed here will make you cook any faster.
Posted by JustYourOpinion (24 comments )
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Makes no difference
Here is a partial list of radio waves already out there (in US).

1. AM stations
2. FM stations
3. TV stations
4. TV/HD stations
5. HAM radios
6. Police/Fire radios
7. Satellite radios
8. GPS
9. Military satellites (spy and others)
10. Air navigation
11. Air communication
12. VOR (very high frequency omni radios)
13. TACAN (military air navigation)
14. Cell phone radios
15. Hobby R/C radios

.... and more!

Microwave owens, cordless phones and other equipments in your home!

Another WiFi radio is not going make much of a difference.
Posted by pdude (65 comments )
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did you say over your head
***? did you say over your head? well no need to worry. with the radio waves so high up in the sky, you wont even need your tin foil hat
Posted by davaal (74 comments )
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