IDA: All three telcos achieved islandwide 4G coverage ahead of schedule, Singtel leading

Singtel is in the lead in covering most of the island with 4G signals, followed by M1 and StarHub, according to the first official study on 4G coverage by the industry regulator. -- PHOTO: REUTERS
Singtel is in the lead in covering most of the island with 4G signals, followed by M1 and StarHub, according to the first official study on 4G coverage by the industry regulator. -- PHOTO: REUTERS

SINGAPORE - Singtel is in the lead in covering most of the island with 4G signals, followed by M1 and StarHub, according to the first official study on 4G coverage by the industry regulator.

The Infocomm Development Authority (IDA) study done in the fourth quarter of last year shows that Singtel hit nationwide outdoor coverage of 99.41 per cent, while M1 reached 99.04 per cent and StarHub, 98.95 per cent.

The results show that all three telcos are 18 months ahead of the June 2016 deadline for islandwide coverage set by IDA. While there is no benchmark set for islandwide 4G coverage yet, the standards will likely take reference from current 3G coverage requirements, which stipulate at least 99 per cent islandwide for outdoor coverage.

IDA surveyed the most-visited outdoor areas including all major roads, all public housing estate town centres, recreational areas and above-ground train tracks. Its test phone equipment must show at least one bar of signal from each telco before an area is considered to be "covered".

Said Mr Leong Keng Thai, IDA deputy chief executive and director-general of telecoms and post: "Singapore has a high mobile penetration rate, and the 4G subscription rates are increasing every month. Consumers enjoy these higher speed connections, and expect these services to be widely and readily available throughout the country. These published results will help consumers make informed choices as they sign up or renew their mobile service plans."

Coverage for underground train stations and transport tunnels are expected to be complete by June 2018.

But based on IDA's study, all three telcos are still in various stages of their 4G rollout. For instance, the North East Line run by MRT operator SBS Transit is the first line to have all three telcos achieving at least 98 per cent 4G coverage.