Singapore’s IDA Announces New 4G Standards on QoS

Connectivity is a key piece in shaping Singapore as a Smart Nation. Today, more than 75% of households are subscribed on the Nationwide Broadband Network in Singapore.

Complementing the wired network is the proliferation of Wireless@SG hotspots across Singapore and the use of the 3G and 4G network for the delivery of mobile data services.

Speaking at the opening of CommunicAsia 2016, Gabriel Lim, CE-designate, Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) and Co-Managing Director, Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore (IDA) noted that in preparing for the future, Singapore will be looking into new areas – both from the regulatory and industry development perspectives – to strengthen Singapore’s connectivity landscape, enhance users’ experience, and protect consumers’ interests.

Increasingly, 4G enabled phones have become more common, with more than half of the total mobile users turning to 4G networks for faster connectivity to meet their usage needs1. With the increasing adoption of 4G as the main form of communications, it is timely to implement standards to better protect consumers’ interests.

In view of this, IDA today announced the new 4G Quality of Service (QoS) standards for compliance to ensure mobile phone users experience an acceptable level of service quality in Singapore. These standards are imposed on the Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) who are providing 4G services. The 4G QoS standards issued by IDA relate to the pervasiveness of mobile coverage in Singapore, which includes outdoor areas, tunnels and within building premises. For instance, IDA requires MNOs to cover 95% of outdoor areas from 1 July 2016, and will increase it to at least 99% from 1 July 2017. IDA will also impose similar standards on the fourth new MNO, if any, who will be provided with more lead-time to roll out its network to meet the standards. The new standards are similar to the 3G QoS standards that were enhanced in 2012, and IDA will concurrently impose both sets of QoS standards on the MNOs.

IDA also gathers feedback on mobile users’ quality of experience when using mobile broadband. The MyConnection SG app allows consumers to provide feedback on their user experience, with IDA using the feedback to engage the MNOs to enhance service delivery for all mobile users. Available on Android and iOS platforms, IDA encourages consumers to download the app, and complement IDA’s regulatory standards to ensure a high level of mobile service availability and usability in Singapore.

Lim said, “As a country with no natural resources, we have thrived by staying relevant to the world and constantly reinventing ourselves to ride on new ways of transformation and opportunities. In this new economy, an important advancement lies in the convergence of ICM, and we are well placed to take advantage of this. The new IMDA will be catalysing the growth of the ICM sector, and focus on areas pertaining to ‘Create’, ‘Connectivity’, and ‘Capabilities’. IMDA will sustain the spirit of creating, a critical attribute as Singapore continues to grow. We will look to build upon Singapore’s strong connectivity foundation through more industry collaborations. Finally, to foster a strong SG-core, IMDA will also focus on enhancing the capabilities of ICM workforce throughout their professional lifespan.”

The next phase of infrastructure building includes technology development and innovation in wireless networks, starting with the Heterogeneous Networks (HetNet) Trials.

The vision of HetNet is to bring about the best experience in fast and seamless connectivity, regardless of the type of wireless network available. Since the launch in April 2016, the Trials are showing good results, as well as learning points to consider in future deployments.

Out of 1,100 members of the public who responded to our on-site survey, 86% were satisfied with the improvements in network performance based on the HetNet deployments. Speed tests conducted at the Jurong East MRT station showed a significant 65.67% improvements in average download speeds and 21.21% improvements in upload speeds.

The coverage and speed improvements came from technology deployments such as small cells and intelligent subscriber routings. Such pilots provide important learning points for operators to note for future deployments.