Singtel’s SD-WAN: Future network for a century-old bookstore

  • Popular Holdings, a 100-year-old player in book retail based in Singapore, faced challenges including lack of backup network mechanisms, aging equipment, and decentralized network management.
  • Seeking to streamline operations, Popular partnered with Singtel, leveraging their SD-WAN solution for centralized network management and enhanced resilience.
  • Benefits included seamless transition to backup networks, remote router configuration, and ongoing support, positioning Popular for sustained growth and improved customer experiences.

With the increasing need for connectivity in the digital age, 100-year-old Singapore bookstore chain Popular sought robust connectivity to fuel its expansion. Partnering with Singtel, it secured a stable, secure, and centralized network, propelling growth worldwide.

Business challenges faced

The operating environment for book retail businesses has transformed significantly since Popular‘s inception in Singapore in 1936.

Transitioning from a traditional bookstore to a one-stop destination offering diverse products such as stationary and electronics, Popular faced several challenges:

• Lack of a backup network mechanism for stores in case of connectivity failure, resulting in downtime during power outages.

• Aging equipment nearing the end of its life cycle.

• Inability to centrally manage the network of routers, necessitating physical interventions of IT staff at various locations.

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Ms Ee Siew Ping, Director of Information Technology at Popular Holdings

“We aimed to streamline operational processes across multiple sites,” says Ms Ee Siew Ping, Director of Information Technology at Popular Holdings.

Singtel, being the existing network service provider, was the natural choice for a solution. “Singtel is our connectivity provider, familiar with our network infrastructure,” says Ms Ee. “We were confident that they would understand our needs.”

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What is SD-WAN?

Solution – Empowering traditional business with future-ready connectivity

Building upon Singtel’s SingNet and Megapop network services, Popular embraced Singtel’s software-defined WAN (SD-WAN) solution.

SD-WAN allows businesses to monitor and manage their network through a unified portal, offering integrated security features such as firewall and web filtering for continuous monitoring of network performance.

Businesses gain visibility into network traffic data and insights, enabling them to stay competitive.

Moreover, SD-WAN’s centralized management console facilitates seamless adaptation and deployment of technology across sites.

The solution includes an in-built SIM tray and automatic failover to the backup network in case of primary circuit failure.

The Singtel team comprehended Popular’s requirements, providing a one-month trial of SD-WAN at a Popular store and its headquarters.

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Benefits realized

Popular stores seamlessly transitioned to a backup 4G network during primary connectivity failures, minimizing disruptions.

SD-WAN enabled remote configuration of routers, simplifying network onboarding during store relocations.

Ms Ee notes, “Without SD-WAN, we would have had to physically visit branch sites for network configuration. SD-WAN streamlined the process, saving time and resources.”

Future plans

Ms Ee emphasizes the importance of consistent support in their business relationship with Singtel.

“When hardware issues arise, contacting the Singtel team ensures prompt resolution,” says Ms Ee. “Singtel’s proactive monitoring and timely rectification of issues demonstrate their robust support service.”

With a fortified network, Popular is poised to deliver a seamless and integrated customer experience in a business environment that values efficiency and security.

About Singtel

Singtel, Asia’s premier communications technology group, offers next-generation communication, 5G, and tech services, along with consumer and business infotainment. With a presence in Asia, Australia, and Africa, it serves over 760 million mobile users in 21 countries, spanning 362 cities.

Also read: China’s 5G market will add US$260 billion to GDP by 2030

Singtel provides consumers with mobile, broadband, and TV services, while businesses benefit from workforce mobility solutions, data hosting, cloud services, network infrastructure, analytics, and cybersecurity.

About the customer – Popular Holdings

Popular Holdings, comprising various entities in book publishing, distribution, retail, and e-learning, traces its roots to Chou Sing Chu’s Tanjong Pagar store distributing Chinese books and magazines.

This year, 2024, marks its 100th anniversary. Popular boasts a network of 28 retail outlets in Singapore and ventures into international markets like Malaysia, China, Canada, and the UK.

With the digital era’s demands, connectivity became crucial. Seeking a reliable partner for a robust and centrally managed network, Popular found a fitting collaboration with Singtel, ensuring sustained growth.


Cassie Gong

Cassie is a news reporter at BTW media focusing on company profiles, interviews, podcasts, networking, sustainability, and AI. She graduated from Newcastle University, UK with a Master’s degree in Translating & Interpreting and now works in London and Hangzhou. Send tips to

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