StarHub customers to get first taste of 5G in early-stage trial

5G networks not ready, so trial taps 4G networks to offer some 5G benefits like higher speeds

Singaporeans are set to enjoy faster 5G speeds for the first time, with StarHub launching early-stage 5G services today.

The six-month trial is open to consumers who have signed up for StarHub's three Mobile+ plans and own a 5G-enabled phone.

But consumers are not getting the full 5G experience yet, as Singapore's two planned nationwide 5G networks are still some way from completion.

Instead, StarHub's trial taps existing 4G networks to offer some benefits of 5G, such as increased speeds.

The nationwide 5G networks, which will be ready in 2025, will offer the full suite of 5G benefits, such as much lower latency, the ability to connect many more devices, and a further boost to network speeds.

StarHub said yesterday that mobile download speeds will range from 100Mbps to 660Mbps to begin with, and will increase over the coming months.

In comparison, 4G download speeds on Singtel and StarHub averaged around 58Mbps, according to mobile analytics company Opensignal's June report.

StarHub said its 5G signals currently cover 53 per cent of Singapore's populated areas and will reach 70 per cent by next month. Among the areas now covered are the Central Business District as well as residential districts such as Jurong East, Tampines and Woodlands.

"We are eager for our customers to catch an early glimpse into the (5G) upgrades that will empower hundreds of thousands of consumers, enterprises (and) government clients in Singapore," said StarHub's consumer business group chief Johan Buse.

StarHub's two-year Mobile+ plans cost from $65 to $155 a month, depending on how much mobile data the user wants.

  • 70%

  • Reach of StarHub's 5G signals by next month, from 53 per cent of Singapore's populated areas currently. Among the areas now covered are the Central Business District as well as residential districts such as Jurong East, Tampines and Woodlands.

Businesses can also get access to StarHub's 5G services by signing up for the telco's Biz+ plans which come in two-year, SIM-only one-year and SIM-only no-contract variants.

For now, the only two phone models that are 5G-enabled are the Huawei P40 Pro and P40 Pro+ 5G, but more will follow in the next three months, StarHub said.

Customers on Samsung's Galaxy S20 Ultra 5G, Note20 5G and Note20 Ultra 5G can expect to receive 5G software updates from Samsung in phases starting from the end of this month, StarHub said, while users of the Oppo X2 Pro can expect the same from end-October.

The Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) gave the green light for telcos to launch services with early 5G benefits yesterday, and said it is working with them to ensure a smooth transition to the nationwide networks when those are ready in 2025.

Singtel and a joint venture between StarHub and M1 won the rights to build the two networks earlier this year.

IMDA chief executive Lew Chuen Hong said "good progress" has been made on the journey to roll out the full-fledged 5G networks.

"We welcome and are supportive of our operators' interest to make incremental investment in the meantime... to offer their customers some early 5G benefits such as a faster mobile broadband experience," Mr Lew said.

M1 said it is working closely with the IMDA to offer customers early 5G benefits, and that its network is "launch-ready".

"We will provide more details when we officially launch the network," its spokesman said.

Meanwhile, a Singtel spokesman said the telco is gearing up for the launch of its 5G commercial services soon, and customers can experience 5G at its pop-up store in Our Tampines Hub.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 18, 2020, with the headline 'StarHub customers to get first taste of 5G in early-stage trial'. Print Edition | Subscribe