Singapore considers year of free wireless broadband

Singapore may require wireless broadband service providers to offerfree Internet access for one year, according to a document issuedby the country’s Infocomm Development Authority (IDA).

The IDA last week invited service providers to submit proposals foroffering wireless broadband in Singapore. The operating modelspecified by IDA requires operators to offer a basic service withaccess speeds of at least 512K bps (bits per second). The operatorswill be required to offer this basic service for “the lowestpossible cost,” which may include one year of free access, IDAsaid.

Service providers are also required to offer a premium service thatwill require users to pay more for access, IDA said, withoutspecifying what that service should offer.

Commercial wireless broadband services are expected to be rolledout later this year, according to IDA.

Broadband Internet access is seen by government officials as astrategic priority for Singapore’s future economic development. Thecountry was among the first in Asia to embrace the Internet duringthe 1990s, but since then other countries in the region, such asSouth Korea and Japan, have built faster, more advancednetworks.

To ensure that Singapore can be competitive in the years ahead, thegovernment last month unveiled plans to construct a high-speedfixed-line broadband network and blanket the island city-state withwireless broadband access. IDA’s call for collaboration issued lastweek is one of the first steps towards rolling out the wirelessbroadband part of this plan.

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