Four out of seven of our awards are won outright, up from the single outright win seen in our last report. StarHub is the first operator in Singapore to win the Video Experience award and not have to share the glory with a rival, while Singtel takes full possession of the Upload Speed Experience award and TPG has done the same with 4G Availability. Out of the four national operators, StarHub has the largest haul of awards, beating Singtel by one outright win. StarHub has two outright wins and three joint wins. It also commanded an impressive 8.3 Mbps lead on Download Speed Experience.
Looking beyond the awards table, progress since our last report has been limited, as Singapore’s operators have been focused on creating a resilient experience and on their early 5G roll outs. While there is a big jump in the speeds our M1 users have seen, on other operators our users have seen their experience tread water since the last report. In many markets 5G has been available since 2019, but the first 5G moves in Singapore took place in August/September 2020 with Singtel and StarHub describing their initiatives as commercial trials while M1 referred to its as a launch.
Singaporean operators struggle with challenges unseen in other markets, as the performance of Singapore’s 5G networks is hampered by spectrum harmonization issues. Nearby countries use the 3.5 GHz band for direct to home satellite TV services. This limits the amount of new mid-band 5G spectrum that the regulator IMDA has been able to license to Singapore’s operators, at least for now, because of the need to avoid interference with Singapore’s neighbours on this band. IMDA has issued two licenses for 100 MHz each in the 3.5 GHz band, by comparison South Korea’s operators have been using a total of 280 MHz of similar spectrum since spring 2019. In addition, all four of Singapore’s operators have been assigned mmWave 5G spectrum which is extremely high capacity but has limited reach.
Singtel announced early availability of its 5G standalone access (SA) network in late May, with users requiring Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G handsets and a beta release of Samsung’s Android software both of which are available via an early access program.
Singapore’s other operators are gearing up to also launch SA services. M1 and StarHub’s joint venture Antina’s SA radio access network (RAN) will be built using equipment from Nokia and the vendor is working with the two operators to upgrade their core networks so that they can support SA.
In this report, we have analyzed the mobile network experience of Singapore’s four national operators — M1, Singtel, StarHub and TPG — in the 90 day period starting February 1, 2021 and ending May 1, 2021, to see how they measure up. We have used 5G measurements in addition to those from previous generations of mobile network technology when determining the overall scores for each metric.