TPG launches disruptive mobile service in Singapore but lags on mobile experience

Ian Fogg, VP Analysis

Mobile competition is heating up in Singapore because of new entrant TPG aiming to compete with established leaders M1, Singtel and Starhub, which we analyzed in our recent Singapore report

What is striking is the disruptive way TPG is offering mobile services. Currently, TPG provides consumers free unlimited mobile data for 12 months, including unlimited calls to mobile numbers in Singapore, and a range of other benefits. The plan is available SIM-free which means potential users must already have a 4G smartphone. There are some notable limitations: TPG does not yet support international roaming, nor can TPG users call or text non-Singapore numbers. While TPG limits speeds if a user exceeds 2GB data usage in a day, that still means a user could theoretically use up to a vast 60GB in a month for free without experiencing any speed limitations.

Just as the three existing operators aim to differentiate between each other on their mobile network experience, one of the best ways for all three to defend against an aggressive arrival like TPG is to ensure they offer their users a superior mobile experience.

It’s clear on average TPG’s users’ experience significantly slower download and upload speeds  than M1, Starhub and Singtel. The upload speeds TPG users experienced of 5.1 Mbps were under half the speeds experienced by the existing operators.  Similarly, TPG users had download speeds of 26.1 Mbps compared with between 42.5 Mbps for Singtel, 39.5Mbps for StarHub and 36.1 Mbps for M1 users.

Opensignal understands that it’s not possible to extrapolate from a measurement of download speed to an accurate understanding of the mobile video experience because operators routinely manage video data traffic differently to file downloads. Instead, Opensignal measures the video experience with a specific test.

While our users on TPG’s network experience much slower speeds than users on Singapore’s other networks, their video experience is extremely similar to the users of the other service providers. If Singtel, M1 and StarHub wish to differentiate on video experience, then they need to raise their game to widen the gap with TPG.

Where TPG’s users have the biggest difference in experience is in the time they spend without a mobile signal. TPG’s users experience “no signal” 4.5% of the time compared with just 1% for Singtel’s users. While this may not seem like much, when you consider that most people spend large parts of their time at home or at work where they likely have a good signal, these small differences will be considerably more significant when users are moving around Singapore, through its streets, shopping malls and especially on Singapore’s metro where users are accustomed to good mobile service.

For now, the two areas where Singtel, M1 and StarHub can most successfully differentiate from TPG are on speed and on time with a working mobile signal. But the small difference in mobile video experience shows that no operator in Singapore can afford to be complacent. All must focus on delivering a strong mobile network experience for their users if they are to minimize customer churn in the face of a competitor offering a free or low cost service.