Singapore to test HetNet in early 2015, promises smooth connections

December 31st, 2014 | by Alfred Siew
Singapore to test HetNet in early 2015, promises smooth connections
photo credit: jesse_armand via photopin cc

photo credit: jesse_armand via photopin cc

Singapore is pushing ahead early next year with a trial of a new network technology that promises seamless connections on the go, replacing the often patchy mobile Internet links today.

This heterogeneous network, or HetNet, will be first tested at MRT stations, enabling users to hook up to the best or fastest network available, be it a 3G, 4G or even Wi-Fi connection. Speeds can go up to 1Gbps.

The trial, unveiled yesterday on the Ministry of Communications and Information’s website, comes after five months of consultation with the public on big ideas for the infocomm and media sector in the next 10 years.

It is unclear for now which MRT stations will be involved in the trial, though the foundation for such a HetNet system may already be in the works.

In August, SingTel rolled out a mobile Internet service that let users seamlessly roam from a mobile network to a Wi-Fi network, like ones that are being set up in MRT stations in the country.

Such services have been mulled over for years now, but have become more popular of late because of how saturated mobile networks have become.

The big test for a HetNet system would be how well users connect across networks from different mobile operators. Not only will this be difficult to set up, it would require an unprecedented level of cooperation among rivals (read our earlier commentary).

The quality of networks will also have to improve. Many users are willing to use the free Wireless@SG hotspots now because they are free, but they won’t be so accommodating if they end up disconnected abruptly on a poorly set-up hotspot in future.

The benefits are clear, however. If one telco has an outage, users can continue to go online via another link.

As people increasingly depend on a live link for anything from checking up on Facebook to reporting the air quality in the city, a HetNet offers a more robust connection.

All eyes will be on the trial in the next few months.

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