T-Mobile customers to access Singapore’s Wi-Fi network via new foreign roaming test

T-Mobile customers in Singapore will be able to access that country’s public Wi-Fi network via a SIM-login test conducted by the Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore (IDA).

“Trialing the SIM-login method for foreign visitors is something new to us, and we hope to gather new insights, fine tune technical challenges, and enhance the Wireless@SG programme further,” said Khoong Hock Yun, IDA’s assistant chief executive, in a release from the group.

Wireless@SG is the name of Singapore’s countrywide Wi-Fi network, which is supported by the country’s three mobile network operators: M1, SingTel and StarHub. According to the Straits Times, the number of Wireless@SG hotspots will be doubled to 20,000 by 2018, and by the end of this year they will support speeds up to 5 Mbps for the region’s roughly 5 million residents.

Wireless@SG currently offers roaming to local users, as well as free accounts to visitors, but the IDA’s test with T-Mobile will allow that carrier’s customers to perform a “one-time setup on their SIM devices and connect automatically to Wireless@SG.” The test will cover around 290 hotspots at select test areas.

Importantly, though, IDA said its Wi-Fi roaming test will be conducted in conjunction with the Wireless Broadband Alliance’s (WBA) City Wi-Fi Roaming Project. That project, announced initially in June, supported automatic roaming among 1,000 free public Wi-Fi hotspots in San Jose, San Francisco and New York.

“Visitors simply need to download a configuration file and perform a one-time setup for auto-connection to the participating cities’ hotspots,” IDA said in a release of the WBA’s City Wi-Fi Roaming Project.

Although the scope of this latest test of Wi-Fi roaming technology likely will affect only a handful of actual users (those T-Mobile customers who travel to Singapore, set up their SIM properly and then make use one of the hotspots involved in the test) it nonetheless reflects continued interest in the potential of public Wi-Fi networks. That potential likely will grow as cities, cable companies and others invest in building out public Wi-Fi networks across the United States and the rest of the world.

Further, T-Mobile isn’t the only U.S. wireless network operator to show interest in Wi-Fi roaming and offloading. Sprint last year inked a major agreement with Wi-Fi network provider Boingo to offload its cellular network traffic to Boingo’s Wi-Fi network in a number of U.S. airports. And Boingo recently inked an agreement with a second major U.S. wireless network operator – likely AT&T – for a similar Wi-Fi offloading agreement.

T-Mobile itself quietly conducted a test last year of Passpoint Wi-Fi roaming technology with cable operator Bright House Networks (Bright House was recently acquired by Charter Communications).

For more:
- see this IDA release

- see this ZDNet article

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