4G networks must cover at least 95% of all outdoor areas from July: IDA

People using their mobile phones onboard a train.
People using their mobile phones onboard a train. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - With more than four million users - or half of all mobile subscribers - on 4G services, the Government is finally requiring telcos to meet service standards currently imposed only on 3G services.

With this, Singapore has joined Baltic nation Latvia to be among the first in the world to implement such requirements.

From next month (July), telcos' 4G networks must cover at least 95 per cent of all outdoor areas. This requirement will be tightened to 99 per cent from July 2017.

Networks are considered to have "covered" an area if a phone shows at least one bar of signal strength - enough for making phone calls and sending text messages.

Telcos' 4G networks must also cover 85 per cent of all floors including Basement One from January 2019. Tunnel coverage must be at least 99 per cent from July 2018.

"In this world, connectivity is almost a basic right," said Mr Gabriel Lim, chief executive designate at the newly formed Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA).

"Based on preliminary sensing, our telcos have already achieved this standard... They also have a one year timeline to achieve the stretched target of 99 per cent outdoor coverage," he added.

He was delivering the opening address at the region's largest communications trade event CommunicAsia at Marina Bay Sands on Wednesday (June 1). The show ends on Friday.

Singapore's potential fourth telco must also start meeting 4G service standards from October 2018.

The 4G service standards have taken reference from 3G ones, which were progressively tightened from 2012 to 2013. For instance, telco networks must cover at least 99 per cent of outdoor areas, and 85 per cent of all floors including basement one in buildings.

An operator which fails to meet the various 3G and 4G standards may be fined up to $50,000 every month for each breach.