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Latest Wireless@SG bugbears

Posted on: May 15, 2017

If you work remotely as often as I do, public networks like Wireless@SG are a basic utility.

I recently discovered some changes that the authorities, the IMDA, are making to this service.

The first is that by the end of 2017, the old login method of username and password will no longer exist.

This method was useful for anyone toting a laptop, but phone SIM-linked logins on phones are more convenient.

The IMDA has created apps on major mobile and desktop operating systems that authenticate devices so users have a phone-like login experience.

In theory, at least. Something that looks good and works well on paper does not always follow the plan in real life. I have three main bugbears with the revised Wireless@SG login system:

  1. The seamless experience is not guaranteed.
  2. There is no automated login method for Chromebooks.
  3. The automated connections for laptops is to SG, not the more secure SGx.

The new app should give me seamless connection on my laptop like I already experience on my phone. However, I have to resort to different login methods on different floors of the same library I frequent.

One the third floor, my phone and laptop connect to the network on their own. One the first floor, I have to connect my laptop manually, i.e., choose the network, type in personal information, and wait for SMS authentication.

So why not stick to the third floor? Seating is not always available there and the thermostat on that floor seems stuck at the tundra setting.

I like travelling with my Chromebook because it is lighter than my MacBook Pro. However, the IMDA does not offer an app or automated method for Chromebooks.

There used to be a manual or alternative setup for Chromebooks based on one’s username and password. I wrote about this method here, but this will not work soon.

I have also discovered that while my phone connects to the more secure SGx variant of the network, my laptop connects by default to the less secure SG one. I resort to using a VPN service as a result.

You might point out that Wireless@SG is free and that I should be grateful because it is a fairly extensive network. I am grateful, but I point out that the service is one way we see our tax dollars at work. Or not work as it could in this case.

Update 1 (17 May 2017): I have added my iPad to the auto-join fray and my experiences are mixed. It connects to Wireless@SGx as it should in some places, but not in others. Libraries seem to be the most problematic auto-join hotspots.

Update 2 (17 May 2017): My MacBook Pro does not auto-join despite adding a Wireless@SG profile to my system. It still prompts for my phone number, verification code, and one-time password by SMS.

Update 3 (26 May 2017): I have noticed that some Wireless@SG hotspots seem to reject VPN connections. I just noticed how Google Drive on my toolbar is greyed out and reports “unable to connect” when I am on Wireless@SG. This does not happen when I am using my home network.

1 Response to "Latest Wireless@SG bugbears"

[…] Dr Ashley Tan: Latest Wireless@SG bugbears – e27: Singapore universities NUS and NTU hit by “carefully planned” cyber attacks […]


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