Automatically connecting to the Wireless@SG hotspots


Thanks to a caustic comment some years ago to Lee Kuan Yew by some visitors to Singapore, we have a nation-wide free wifi network called “Wireless@SG”. It has been a constant pain to use and after much ridicule, someone, somewhere has decided to do the Right Thing (TM).

So, what was the problem? Well, when you come across a Wireless@SG hotspot, you have to log in via a browser before you can continue. Yes, you have to provide a username and password (yes, “someone” wants to track you). Move away from that hotspot to another Wireless@SG node, you have to log in again. No mobility. Wireless is about mobility. The people at IDA claim that they are constrained by “security requirements” from the Ministry of Home Affairs. On the other hand, the MHA folks I spoke with say otherwise. So, who dropped the ball? Whatever it is, we have wasted a tonne of tax-payer monies to run the Wireless@SG system for the last few years. There has not been a single report of the service levels of Wireless@SG and how IDA is accounting for the monies spent. I have no issue with providing a quality service using tax dollars. But to provide something that is annoying to use and having no public accountability is plain wrong.

Wireless@SG is still there and there appears to be some people using it. Most of them are NOT mobile – they tend to be seated at some fast food restaurant or coffee place etc.

Now, fast forward to 2010, it looks like the IDA has finally gotten around to make the Wireless@SG truly mobile. Why it took years, I cannot answer. Perhaps some boardroom battles had to be fought, who knows! Someone want to snitch? Post it anonymously if you must.

OK, so we now have proper mobility. Let’s look at the site that discusses this.

First, it suggests that you go to http://www.infocomm123.sg/wireless_at_sg/ssa#connect and gives you two options to connect – one via a piece of software (closed source) to connect your devices. Interestingly, they only list:

Supported Operating Systems
	- iPhone
	- Windows Mobile 6.1 and above
	- Windows XP/Vista/7
	- Mac OS 10.5 and above

as the supported OSes. No Fedora? Why?

Nevermind that. Let’s look at the 2nd option – the manual way of doing this.

Supported Operating Systems
	- iPhone
	- Windows Mobile 6.1 and above
	- Symbian S60 Windows XP/Vista/7
	- Mac OS 10.4 and above 
	- Blackberry OS 
	- Android 1.6 and above

again, no Fedora? They have Android so, how difficult is it to enable Fedora on it?

OK, let’s explore further. I had an account with iCellWireless and choosing thier column entry on Android, I get to see Android configuration document.

The information is trivial. This is all you need to do:

	- Network SSID: Wireless@SGx
	- Security: WPA Enterprise
	- EAP Type: PEAP
	- Sub Type: PEAPv0/MSCHAPv2

and then put in your Wireless@SG username@domain and password. I could not remember my iCell id (I have not used it for a long time) so I created a new one – sgatwireless@icellwireless.net. They needed me to provide my cellphone number to SMS the password. Why do they not provide a web site to retrieve the password?

Now from the info above, you can set this up on a Fedora machine (would be the same for Red Hat Enterprise Linux, Ubuntu, SuSE etc) as well as any other modern operating system.

Now that we have solved the single sign on problem with Wireless@SG, I want statistics on usage, support problems, etc etc etc.

16 thoughts on “Automatically connecting to the Wireless@SG hotspots

  1. Harish,
    One thing you left out: the Wireless@SGx server’s certificate is signed by “Go Daddy Class 2 Certificate Authority” (look through the PDF for manually connecting for Windows).
    So, for extra security, you can validate the server’s cert against that CA.
    Regards,
    Kam Yung

  2. Good to see another open source fan in sg.. I hate the fact that I can’t use sgx on my android for auto login.. everytime I’m using web based login.. do u know how..?

    1. I have it all set up on my Android phone. Follow the instructions above and that should be sufficient. My Android phones are both the HTC Dream and the Nexus One. The Nexus One is running 2.2 while the HTC is still at 1.6.

  3. Just managed to get my setup. Both Fedora & Android mobile.

    Well, not every location work. In some places, fedora and android devices will get connected to Wireless@SGx automatically, and the other places not.

  4. That’s getting really annoying!
    Some weeks ago I searched some time on the internet to connect my ubuntu machine (ubuntu 11.10) and my android phone to SGx and finally got it working. (can not remember on which website I found the correct information…) At least partly… in some locations I still could not connect, like J.Benedict said. And also sometimes I was successfully connected but could not access any site. Anyway it was OK…
    Now, I haven’t connected for one week and I try again and neither my phone nor the pc can connect. Login by website works…
    So I started to search again, found your page again and changed the username from this format: USERNAME|SOME-KIND-OF-KEY@singtel
    to
    USERNAME@singtel and my phone can connect. Ubuntu cannot…
    Both devices are in the same location and using the same settings. Just while typing these lines my PC could connect after some failure attempts… very very strange. Even though it’s cool that free WiFi is provided. And I’m glad to see that there are also some linux users in SG!

    1. Thanks for the note. There are thousands of Linux users in Singapore using the wireless@sg stuff (even if they don’t realize that they are using Linux – which is perfectly fine as well).

      The challenge we have is that there is ZERO accountability about the QOS and other usage parameters of the wireless@sg service and the fact that there is no convenient way to feedback makes it enormously frustrating.

      In any case, just follow the instructions on this page and you will be fine.

      Harish

  5. I am not a newbie to computing & internet. I conclude that this wireless@sg thing is so poorly implemented that I do not wish to waste anymore time.
    It requires some very strict set of conditions for a proper configuration to be successful.

    Not surprise that usage data is a secret.

    Thanks for the post to help. This wireless@sg is still a piece of x.

    1. Indeed the total non-transparency of IDA on how these providers are doing is really disappointing. Everytime my Android finds a wireless@sgx SSID, it tries to connect. Sometimes it works, other times it doesn’t. I have yet to find a way to determine my usage of this service. Someone is making scamming us all.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s