StarHub boosts 4G mobile broadband speeds

High-speed network will allow users to hit theoretical maximum speed of 1Gbps with compatible phones

Customers on telco StarHub's unlimited-weekend post-paid plan will now be able to enjoy faster 4G mobile broadband speeds of up to 1Gbps, a jump from 400Mbps, in selected areas such as town centres.

At 1Gbps (one gigabit per second), a consumer can download a 15GB Blu-ray movie in about two minutes. The previous top speed of 400Mbps (400 megabits per second) would mean such a movie would take more than twice as long to download.

StarHub yesterday launched its high-speed network, which can allow users to hit theoretical maximum speed of 1Gbps.

But typical speeds consumers will get are lower at between 60Mbps and 380Mbps. This is compared to the typical download speeds of between 30Mbps and 201Mbps for the previous 400Mbps peak download speed.

Customers will also need compatible phone models - such as the Huawei Mate 10 Pro, Huawei P20 and P20 Pro, Samsung Galaxy S9 and S9+, and Sony Xperia XZ2 - to be able to enjoy the new mobile broadband download speeds.

Other telcos are also in the 1Gbps race. Singtel said in February that it will be progressively rolling out 1Gbps mobile speeds for users in high-traffic locations such as Orchard Road, Raffles Place, Tanjong Pagar and Clarke Quay. Handsets supporting the higher speed on its network are expected to be available from the second half of this year.

Customers will also need compatible phone models - such as the Huawei Mate 10 Pro, Huawei P20 and P20 Pro, Samsung Galaxy S9 and S9+, and Sony Xperia XZ2 - to be able to enjoy the new mobile broadband download speeds.

  • Better user experience with faster downloads

  • What can you do with a theoretical Internet download speed of 1Gbps (1 gigabit per second) for a mobile device?

    Going by similar findings for a 1Gbps fibre broadband connection, a number of things in the blink of an eye.

    According to Internet service provider MyRepublic, with 1Gbps, a consumer can download a 3MB MP3 music file in less than a second.

    A 350MB television episode can be downloaded in three seconds, while a 720p high-definition television show that is 950MB large can be downloaded in eight seconds.

    A 15GB Blu-ray movie can be downloaded in two minutes with a 1Gbps connection.

    However, a speed of 1Gbps on mobile networks here is a theoretical maximum. Typical speeds will be lower.

    In telco StarHub's case, this is between 60Mbps and 380Mbps if a user is not moving about.

    Another telco, M1, said that actual download speeds for a connection with a peak theoretical speed of 1Gbps can vary vastly based on several factors.

    M1 said the type of device matters because a user needs to have the latest high-end mobile devices that can support a top download speed of 1Gbps. Such devices usually have features such as advanced antenna and very high radio modulation.

    Another factor is how near a user is to a base station antenna - the nearer the user is, the closer the actual download speed to the theoretical download speed.

    The mobile broadband traffic load of a base station matters too. Fewer users would result in faster actual download speeds.

    Users should also note that upload speeds often differ from download speeds. And, with the rising popularity of file-sharing sites, upload speeds are usually just as important in providing a good user experience.

M1 said in a report in January last year that with its heterogeneous mobile network - that lets users hop between 4G and Wi-Fi networks - users will be able to theoretically enjoy up to 1Gbps speeds. The telco has already launched the network.

But an M1 spokesman emphasised yesterday that the telco's focus is "on user experience rather than just theoretical peak speeds".

StarHub said that at 1Gbps, customers will be able to experience improvements in mobile service quality and enjoy mobile Internet speeds of up to twice as fast as before, even as data traffic surges.

The telco's 1Gbps network was first deployed at TheFloat@Marina Bay in August last year to service attendees of the National Day Parade.

Yesterday's launch has the network cover more high-traffic areas, including the Central Business District, shopping districts such as Orchard Road and Clarke Quay, as well as town centres within the heartland in Bedok, Bishan, Chinatown, Clementi and Tampines.

StarHub is expected to expand coverage to other high-traffic locations later, based on network traffic insights.

The move comes as part of an effort by the telco to modernise its network, as key industry players move towards even faster 5G mobile networks, which are expected to be rolled out in 2020.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 07, 2018, with the headline 'StarHub boosts 4G mobile broadband speeds'. Print Edition | Subscribe