Singtel beats M1 and Starhub for 4G availability and download speed, but it still lags in some categories: Study

While Singapore performed well globally in mobile broadband download and upload speeds, it still lagged behind its East Asian peers in 4G availability.
The Straits Times

An independently-conducted performance report of Singapore’s three biggest telcos is in, with two of them leading the charge in different aspects of consumer mobile experience, mobile analytics company Opensignal said on Tuesday (June 11).

According to the company’s latest Mobile Network Experience Report for Singapore – released on Tuesday (June 11) – Singtel beat out M1 and StarHub in the areas of 4G availability and download speed experience from February to May 2019.

And while M1 claimed top spot for upload speed and latency, the telco tied with Singtel for video streaming performance, OpenSignal said.

Here’s how each telco fared in the five categories measured:

4G availability

The Singapore study, which involved over 141 million measurements across more than 82,000 devices, revealed that over the past year, all three operators have been “edging closer” to what the company calls the “90 per cent 4G availability milestone”.

Opensignal said that in its latest test period, Singtel had secured the top spot with 91.2 per cent 4G availability, meaning that users were able to successfully tap into an LTE connection of the telco’s network in more than nine attempts out of 10.

M1 and StarHub trailed slightly behind with 4G availability scores of 89.4 per cent and 89.2 per cent respectively, just shy of the milestone.

Opensignal

Opensignal noted that the most significant growth was observed from StarHub, which raised its score by more than 6 percentage points since May last year.

“The fact that we see any growth in this metric at all shows that even with highly advanced 4G infrastructure – and a pending shift to 5G technology – Singapore’s operators are still invested in improving the mobile broadband experience,” it said.

Video streaming experience

With respect to video streaming experience, the three telcos all achieved a “very good” rating with scores within the 65 to 75 range out of a total of 100 points.

The rating indicates that users across Singapore’s networks experienced short loading times and few interruptions during playback as they streamed videos to their devices, said Opensignal.

Opensignal

Further breaking down the metric by connection type uncovered that Singtel and M1 had both achieved “excellent” scores – within the 75 to 100 range – for 4G video streaming performance. The three operators, however, only garnered a “fair” rating (40 to 55) for 3G video experience.

Download speed experience

All the operators had attained download speed scores faster than 35 Mbps, but Singtel snatched first place from rival StarHub with an average overall download speed of 42.5 Mbps.

StarHub had clinched the top spot in November 2018 but has since dropped its score by more than two per cent while Singtel’s score crept up by over 4 Mbps, Opensignal said.

Opensignal

The company added that Singtel was the only operator to provide users with 4G download speeds exceeding 50 Mbps, “which was one of the keys to its download speed experience victory”.

Nonetheless, 4G download speeds across the three operators were observed to be “exceptionally fast”, with connections all above 40 Mbps, it said.

Upload speed experience

For upload speed performance, M1 was ahead of Singtel and StarHub as it was able to provide users with overall upstream connection speeds of 13.4 Mbps.

According to Opensignal, mobile broadband networks these days tend to favour download over upload speeds, which makes upload speed experience scores above 10 Mbps a rarity. All three telcos were able to achieve a score of over 12 Mbps in this metric.

Opensignal

“Singapore will only benefit from such powerful upstream connections as consumers shift their mobile data usage toward social sharing, online gaming and video communications services that require fast upload speeds,” the company said.

Network responsiveness

When it comes to network latency – a measure of how long it takes a data request to traverse the network and return – M1 performed the best among its peers, with the lowest (best) latency experience score of 27.9ms.

Singtel followed close behind with a latency score of 28.6ms while StarHub showed the most stark difference as the telco scored a latency of 34.6ms, which Opensignal said still rates among the most responsive in the world.

Opensignal

Latency, said the company, has become an increasingly important metric in Singapore considering the growing adoption of services such as real-time multiplayer gaming, voice over IP and video chat that require low latency connections.

Read also: Singapore’s 4G networks have the lowest latency in the world, and the best video experience in APAC: Study

Singapore lagging behind in 4G availability

On the whole, Opensignal said that Singapore remains among the world’s elite in nearly every metric, being a leader in network responsiveness while still performing well in mobile broadband download and upload speeds.

One area which the country has yet to be truly exceptional in is 4G availability, the company noted.

Although Singapore’s 4G availability scores are consistently high, the nation still lags behind some of its East Asian peers including South Korea, Taiwan and Japan. Globally, it ranks 14th out of 87 countries and territories studied.

But that may soon change as Opensignal said that Singapore’s 4G availability scores have been “creeping over” 90 per cent and “looks set to join the global elite in this category as well”.

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