Sunday, April 8, 2012

Guide to Free Wifi and Power Outlets in Singapore

Whether you have slow, crappy M1 internet service in Singapore or just need to get out of the house because the landlady and her family keep screaming at each other, this guide is something I'm putting together for anyone looking for information about free wifi hotspots in Singapore and the availability of power outlets at these locations.

Being a proud owner of a Macbook pro that has served me since December 2007 and now has an estimated battery life of 10-40 minutes when unplugged, I only search for spots with power outlets.  That's more important to me than the actual wifi connection since I have my obscene M1 USB dongle with me that can access M1's slow and frequently-disconnecting network from almost anywhere in Singapore.

If you have a tablet, smartphone or netbook with a long battery life, it won't be as critical for you to find a power source. So if finding wifi is your #1 priority, it shouldn't be difficult in Singapore since Wireless@SG hotspots are widely available across the island (but require logging in and can be slow at times). Click here for Wireless@SG coverage areas in Singapore.

On the other hand, many restaurants here don't offer free wifi, which should be a given these days. Recently I was at Spaghetti Goemon and 40 Hands Coffee (two places I like) but neither offered any kind of wifi. What is this... 2001??? 

The Spots
  1. The National Public Library - One of the best places for surfing--if you can find a seat.  Sometimes it's so crowded you could spend the whole day wandering aimlessly without finding anything to lay your tired butt cheeks on. Even if you do find a free chair, if you're alone you'll need a bladder of steel otherwise you'll risk losing your spot when you get up to go to the bathroom. Alternatively, you can ask your neighbor to watch your stuff for you. Because it is Singapore after all, in general this is safe and no one is going to steal your stuff (and there are lots of security cameras around in case someone actually tries it) but I still feel uncomfortable leaving behind my computer... though I pity the fool who inherits my worn-out macbook pro.
    1. "Public" Library Area (Basement) - I couldn't access the wireless@sg network or any other free wifi spot from the library basement (though you can access the library's catalog if that floats your boat). There are power outlets at the tables and some pillars, but also signs everywhere saying not to sit on the floor.  One positive aspect about the basement is that you can bring your bag there unlike on the upper floors of the library. The downside is it's noisy and crowded in the basement and there are lots of kids running around.
    2. Reference Library (Floors 7-11) - They don't allow backpacks over a certain size so you need to stuff your belongings into one of the free lockers provided.  You can access wireless@sg on the upper floors and it is generally quieter, but it's still hard to find a power outlet and place to sit... nerdy students are always around hogging all the good spots.  To get a seat, you'll need to hover over someone menacingly like a vulture waiting finish off a dying, sick animal in the barren desert.
  2. Changi Airport - Obviously the departure/arrival area (for passengers only) in the real terminals (any terminal but the Budget Terminal) has the strongest wifi and ample power outlets with comfortable places to sit. Outside in the public area, though, it's a lot tougher finding a good place to surf.  Try McDonald's or Starbucks. If you're lucky you'll find a stray unused power outlet somewhere that can keep your dying mac alive for a few more moments.  Try not to look like a student or a freeloader to avoid getting kicked out.
  3. The Office - It's the weekend or it's a public holiday; you have nothing to do and the superfast connection at the office is totally being underutilized.  The solution?  Go to the office to surf.  On your day off.  Pros: fast internet connection, quiet, nobody else around.  Cons: Doing this makes me feel sad on the inside
  4. Fastfood Joints / Coffee Shops
    1. McDonald's generally has wireless@sg but no power outlets.  They're always noisy.
    2. Starbucks - I went to the one at Ion Mall and it had only one power outlet that I could see.  I was the only one using it when I went there on a Sunday morning but I doubt you'll be able to even get close to it during the busier hours.  I hear Centrepoint Orchard's Starbucks is a great place for wifi leeching.
  5. Community Centres - I think most community centres might have either wireless@sg and/or their own wifi point.  At Sengkang the only outlet I was able to find was on the third floor next to the post office but I had to sit on the dirty floor.  
  6. Other peoples' wifi - Just wander from place to place checking the wifi for any unsecured networks.  This is usually your desperate last resort since there's no guaranty you'll find free wifi and you'll likely run out of battery and sanity first.
This list is far from complete. I will probably update this page whenever I find more places to surf in Singapore. Please comment if you know of any great spots. Until then, I'll be in the office or at the library.  Ninja vanish.

Update: the power source requirement is no longer an issue for me now that I've got a Nexus 7 tablet.

Related Links:
Top 10 Places to Study in Singapore
Best WiFi Cafes in Singapore
Guide to sleeping in Singapore's Changi Airport

3 comments:

  1. Thanks! I will try it out next weekend!

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