New mobile network operator, TPG, launched a new service at the start of 2019 in an unusual way. They have initially offered unlimited mobile data for 12 months, including unlimited mobile calls within Singapore and a range of other benefits. While marketed as a trial, the extensive services offered still raised the competitive pressure on existing players Singtel, M1 and StarHub.
Those launching new networks always face a dilemma: allow their initial users to have the best mobile network experience possible on the empty network; or limit the initial experience so that as more users join the network, the experience does not drop markedly as the load on the network increases.
We first compared TPG with Singapore’s other operators that own infrastructure in July. Given the big changes that often happen with new network launches as teething issues are fixed but also as more users join the network and their data usage increases, this time we took a look at the evolution of the experience of TPG’s users.
On download speed, our users have seen a reduction in the speeds they experience, falling from 26.1 Mbps to 23.4 Mbps over the course of six months. This is not unusual with new networks. Given TPG’s free offer, initial users may experiment with the service to begin with; and then, as they become more confident, use it more extensively, increasing data usage and the load on TPG’s network which will depress user speeds unless an operator adds new capacity.
But strikingly, while Download Speed Experience has fallen, the Video Experience of our users has remained consistent. These different trends highlight that it’s not possible to extrapolate reliably from measuring file downloads to the likely video streaming experience of users. Uniquely, Opensignal’s Video Experience is based on tests of mobile video streams to users in the real-world and so the video traffic is affected by any video-specific policies or settings that an operator chooses to use.
The upload speeds experienced by our users indicate some of the volatility that can happen during a network roll out. At the start of the six month period, our users saw the upload speeds they use to share photos or other content drop slightly. But towards the end of the period, the speeds recovered and the upload speeds were statistically the same at the end and at the start of the period.
As TPG continues to move towards a full commercial launch, Opensignal will assess how the real-world mobile network experience of users changes. In a dynamic market like Singapore’s mobile services, the differing trends we have seen with TPG users’ network experience over just a few months highlight the value of analyzing a wide range of measures of network experience as well as the importance of tracking changes over time rather than relying on a one-off snapshot.