1Gbps plan? New study to check out web surfing speed here

The Infocomm Development Authority has included new requirements in its latest tender to ensure that the test results are not skewed in favour of the dominant telcos or gamed by any Internet service provider.
The Infocomm Development Authority has included new requirements in its latest tender to ensure that the test results are not skewed in favour of the dominant telcos or gamed by any Internet service provider.ST FILE PHOTO

It will compare the high-speed plans to help consumers make informed choices

The authorities have upped the stakes in an official study to compare broadband speeds as 1 gigabits per second (Gbps) broadband plans are fast becoming popular with consumers here.

The Infocomm Development Authority (IDA) is looking for third-party contractors to measure the actual surfing speeds of the 1Gbps plans offered in the market today, to help consumers make more informed choices.

IDA's current study - which has been ongoing since May 2012 and commissioned to British- based firm SamKnows - is limited to plans with speeds of up to 200Mbps.

An IDA spokesman said: "With the increasing take-up of 1Gbps fibre-broadband service plans by end users in Singapore, it will be timely to include these plans in the measurement."

Currently, probes are plugged into the modems and routers of about 900 volunteers in Singapore to glean data such as Web surfing speed and lag.

In the new study, however, some 1,500 volunteers will be recruited, according to tender documents seen by The Straits Times.

Each broadband plan included in the study must also have at least 20 test probes supplying information such as Web surfing speed and lag.

The new study is slated to start in September, with its results published monthly on IDA's website, as is the case with the current study.

Analysts said that the revamped study is a reflection of the demand for higher-speed plans.

Prices for such speeds have plunged since MyRepublic announced its $49.99-a-month 1Gbps plan in January last year.

The other Internet service providers - Singtel, StarHub, M1 and ViewQwest - slashed prices by more than 50 per cent in the months that followed. Currently, M1's 1Gbps plan is the cheapest at $39.90 a month.

Since March, ViewQwest has been selling its 2Gbps plan, making Singapore the second country after Japan to offer such speeds to consumers.

Student Matthias Lim, 24, said he hopes that the test will fairly represent all the 1Gbps plans in the market today.

"I would like to know which service provider is the fastest," he said.

To ensure that test results are not skewed in favour of the dominant telcos or gamed by any ISP, IDA has included new requirements in its latest tender, which will close on June 23.

For instance, IDA requires test servers to measure broadband users' access to websites that are randomly changed every month.

"These are some of IDA's efforts to continually improve the testing methodology and the quality of our results," the IDA spokesman said.

itham@sph.com.sg