As Singaporean public Wi-Fi companies look to set up roaming agreements across Asia, one of Australia’s leading Wi-Fi operators has moved into the city-state with a project to build the country’s largest public wireless access network.
SkyNetGlobal has signed an agreement with the McDonald’s fast food chain to offer wireless access through McDonald’s 140 restaurants, with another 60 hotspots to be set up in business and industrial parks not yet covered by Wi-Fi.
“It’s a really exciting deal and big in the sense that it represents up to 140 locations in a single deal,” said SkyNetGlobal chief executive officer, Jonathan Soon.
“McDonald’s is a very good brand and hotspots are all about location. People don’t want to have to search to find a hotspot and everybody knows where the nearest McDonald’s is — they’ve got the best locations in town.”
SkyNetGlobal will offer voice and video services — including gaming — through Wi-Fi phones as well as high-speed Internet access aimed at consumers with personal digital assistants (PDAs).
Singapore is an attractive location for Wi-Fi operators because of its dense population of tech-savvy citizens and a high take-up of PDAs and mobile phones. SkyNetGlobal hopes to grab a 50 per cent market share for public wireless Internet access.
The market is already covered by several operators including the full-service telecommunications providers Singapore Telecommunications and StarHub.
Smaller players have decided regional roaming alliances represent their best chance of prospering.
Malaysian company, Palette Multimedia, which runs the Yellowspots Wi-Fi service in Singapore, has a roaming agreement with an Australian company, Air Portal, and hopes to add agreements in Thailand, Indonesia, China and Taiwan.
StarHub and three smaller operators — Bluengine, PC Connect and Nautilus — recently announced that subscribers can roam to each others hotspots without additional charges.
Singapore’s Wi-Fi market will grow at 40 per cent per year to be worth $US42.1 million by 2008, SkyNetGlobal said, citing research from Frost & Sullivan.