Singtel’s 5G network goes live, free trial for 20,000 users with 5G phones

Singapore’s largest telco, Singtel, has commenced its 5G Now Market Trial for customers to get an early experience of 5G. The telco is offering free 5G access to 20,000 customers that have compatible 5G phones. The trial will be offered for 3 months and early adopters will also receive 10GB extra data for free.

Singtel’s 5G network is running on a 5G non-standalone (NSA) architecture using both 2.1GHz and 3.5GHz spectrum. In theory, customers that are connected to their 3.5GHz spectrum will be able to hit more than 1Gbps. However, it states that typical download speeds range between 200Mbps to 1Gbps while upload speeds are between 35Mbps to 90Mbps.

Apart from speed, 5G promises to offer better response with lower latency rates. The network also provides higher capacity to support more devices without sacrificing on performance.

At the moment, the Singtel 5G network is accessible with 4 devices – Huawei P40 Pro 5G, Huawei P40 Pro+ 5G, Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra 5G and the Vivo X50 Pro 5G. Customers will be required to upgrade their phone’s firmware to the latest version.

According to the FAQ, the first 10,000 slots to access their 5G network is open to existing Singtel Combo and XO customers with a compatible phone. The next 10,000 customers will be assigned to those that sign up or recontract to the Singtel Combo and XO mobile plans and buy one of above mentioned devices.

For subsequent customers that sign up for the same plan and devices, are still able to sign up for the 5G Now Market Trial for SGD 10/month (about RM30.40) which also comes with 10GB of data. The 10GB data can be used on both 4G and 5G networks.

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At the moment, their 5G network covers Orchard, City Hall, Shenton Way, Bukit Merah, Telok Blangah, Harbourfront, Clarke Quay, Chinatown, Outram, Tanjong Pagar, Dhoby Ghaut, Bugis, Somerset, Red hill, Bencoolen, Stadium, Marina Bay and Downtown Core. By March 2021, it aims to cover Kallang, Balestier, Keppel District, Geylang, Boon Keng, Macpherson and Little India. You can check out Singtel’s 5G page for more info.

StarHub first to offer 5G

Its rival StarHub had switched on its 5G service earlier on 17th August. Customers on StarHub’s Mobile+ and Biz+ plans are able to enjoy early access to their 5G network ahead of its commercial launch. According to StarHub, their network can provide theoretical speed of more than 1Gbps but customers can expect a typical stationary speed between 100-660Mbps.

StarHub’s live 5G network utilises the 2100MHz spectrum on NSA and they target to enable its service on the 3.5GHz spectrum by mid-2021. According to the telco, their 5G network currently cover 53% of Singapore’s populated areas and they aim to reach 70% by September 2020. According to the footnote, their 5G coverage covers mainly outdoor areas only.

Singapore targets 50% 5G coverage by end 2022

Singapore targets to cover 50% of the island with 5G coverage by end of 2022 and full coverage by end of 2025. In terms of spectrum, both Singtel and the StarHub-M1 joint venture are assigned 100MHz blocks of 3.5GHz frequency. All 3 bidders, namely Singtel, StarHub-M1 and TPG, are also assigned 800MHz spectrum for 26GHz and 28GHz mmWave spectrum.

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In terms of vendors, Singtel has partnered with Ericsson while StarHub and M1 jointly appointed Nokia for its 5G infrastructure. Singapore’s 4th telco TPG Telecom has appointed Huawei as its infrastructure partner.

What happened to Malaysia’s 5G plans?

Earlier this year, Malaysia was expected to be among the first in the region to roll out 5G in Q3 2020. Unfortunately, it looks like mass deployment has been delayed for at least a year after the change in administration. At the moment, the government has yet to decide on the 5G spectrum allocation.

Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin has recently announced the JENDELA plan to boost 4G coverage in preparation for 5G deployment. The government has also announced a target to shutdown 3G networks in Malaysia by the end of 2021.


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Alexander Wong