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Gadgets & Home Improvement

A faster, better 4G network?

M1 touts 95 per cent islandwide coverage, over SingTel's expected 80 per cent. So which one should you pick?
The Straits Times - September 12, 2012
By: Sherwin Loh
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A faster, better 4G network? -- ST ILLUSTRATION: QUEK HONG SHIN

It may not be the first to launch smartphones on a 4G network, but M1's upcoming high-speed service will be the most comprehensive when it goes live this Saturday.

M1's roll-out, which comes three months after SingTel's launch in June, is touted as being islandwide and covers 95 per cent of the island.

Comparatively, SingTel started with 50 per cent coverage when it launched and is expected to hit 80per cent only by the end of the year.

M1 says users can enjoy theoretical download speeds of up to 75Mbps, and can expect typical speeds of between 6.9Mbps and 17.4Mbps.

SingTel's 4G service can deliver speeds of between 3.4Mbps and 12Mbps.

StarHub is launching its 4G service next Wednesday and is expected to cover more than half the island by the end of the year.

Its users can expect typical speeds of between 3Mbps and 12Mbps.

Numbers aside, factors such as location and the number of users connected to the same cell tower can affect download speeds.

Not for iPad, but new iPhone?

Otherwise known as LTE or Long Term Evolution, the current 4G networks here run on the 1,800MHz and 2,600MHz frequencies. This means that a SIM card from either telco can work on compatible 4G devices sold locally.

This still leaves out the new iPad, which operates on the 700MHz and 2,100MHz band.

There are, however, unconfirmed reports that the new iPhone, which is being announced tomorrow, will offer 4G connectivity on more frequencies.

M1's set-up has 2,600MHz stations deployed along the coast, with 1,800MHz ones placed inland.

This placement has allowed it to reach indoor areas as lower frequencies are better able to penetrate walls.

M1 has priced its 4G value-added service (VAS) for smartphones at an additional $10.70 (with GST) a month.

For 4G tablet and modems, the VAS rate is an additional $12.84 each month per package.

StarHub is charging $10.70 a month for its 4G smartphone VAS but the service is free for subscribers until March 31 next year.

Data caps apply

While a note on SingTel's website says that the usual price for a 4G VAS is $10 a month, SingTel has clarified that 3G and 4G plans will be priced the same.

"SingTel caters services around our customer needs. So, we offer 4G service at the same price as 3G and do not position 4G as an additional value-added service," said Mr Johan Buse, SingTel's vice-president of consumer marketing.

M1 travellers to Hong Kong can enjoy 4G roaming as the telco has partnered with SmarTone Telecommunications there to offer unlimited 4G data at $15 a day.

Like SingTel, M1 has also revised its voice, SMS and data bundles for 3G plans and removed the bundled 12GB of data.

Instead, data caps of 2GB, 3GB, 5GB and 12GB will be offered on its four new smartphone plans.

The basic $39 ValueSurf+ plan will come with 120 outgoing minutes, 600SMS and 2GB of data.

Initial devices from M1 are the Samsung Galaxy Note LTE, Samsung Galaxy SII LTE, HTC One XL and LG Optimus True HD LTE phones, as well as the Asus Transformer Pad TF300TL and Samsung Galaxy Tab 8.9 LTE tablets.

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