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by Mike Zazaian October 13, 2006 - 12:59pm, 10 Comments

Singapore Provides Nationwide Public WiFi Access

The government of Singapore will provide free, nationwide WiFi coverage to citizens by 2007, as well as doling out computers with which to access it.

According to Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong the country will increase its number of WiFi hotspots from 900 to 5,000. Using telecom operators SingTel, iCell and QMax, the service will operate at 512 kilobits per second and will be completely free to citizens for at least the next two years. Rather than the end-users footing the bill, the development authority of Singapore will pay up to 30 million Singapore dollars ($18.9 million) toward a final cost for the project of about 100 million Singapore dollars. Said Prime Minister Loong at a press conference on Tuesday:

We must create digital opportunities for all Singaporeans, and never allow a digital divide in our society. The three operators will bump up the number of Wireless@SG ‘hotzones’ in high-traffic, public areas … to make wireless broadband a ubiquitous access mode by September 2007.

In addition to the wireless hotspot initiative the government will also provide as many as 10,000 low-cost computers for destitute families. According to an article in the Straits Times, families that earn less than 200 Singapore dollars ($125 US) can purchase a computer for 285 Singapore dollars ($179 US) directly from the Singapore government. The plan will pertain primarily to families that have children in school.

[via MSNBC]