Hell, it is about time!

By when? By End July 2011

CONSUMERS will be able to enjoy significantly higher Internet surfing speeds on their smartphones and other mobile devices within MRT tunnels by July this year.

Singapore’s three telcos, said the Minister for Information, Communications and the Arts Lui Tuck Yew in Parliament on Thursday, must complete the installation of the necessary equipment to support the higher speed 3G or third-generation networks in all MRT tunnels by then. Previously, telecommunications sector regulator Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore (IDA) had only said that the telcos had been ‘working towards’ the date.

He also disclosed, for the first time, that the IDA had earlier fined some operators for falling behind schedule in some tunnels, although he did not say which telco was fined or the penalty amount.

Modern 3G-enabled mobile devices like the Apple iPhone 4 and the Samsung Galaxy Tab can access the Internet at speeds of up to 7Mbps.

Unfortunately, some of Singapore’s MRT tunnels, including the North-South and East-West lines, are still running on the 2G mobile network, an older mobile system was primarily built to support voice and SMS traffic. This limits even those 3G-equipped devices to slower 2G Internet access speeds of about 100kbps.

The telcos had previously said that they were working hard to roll out the necessary 3G equipment, but are hobbled by time constraints since their crews can only work after the trains stop running.