SINGAPORE - Singaporeans are set to enjoy faster 5G speeds for the first time, with StarHub to launch early-stage 5G services on Tuesday (Aug 18).
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 off from completion. Instead, StarHub's trial taps existing 4G networks to offer partial benefits of 5G such as increased speeds in the interim.
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 on Monday that mobile download speeds will range from 100 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 September.
Among the areas now covered are the Central Business District as well as residential districts such as Jurong East, Tampines and Woodlands.
"Given the broad and infinite possibilities of 5G, 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, Mr Johan Buse.
StarHub's two-year Mobile+ plans cost from $65 to $155 per month, depending on how much mobile data the user wants. 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. 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 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 on Monday, and said it is working with telcos 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 Singtel's pop-up store in Our Tampines Hub.