Singtel’s Innovative HetNet trial sets stage for island-wide VoWiFi rollout

Singtel is all set to roll out Singapore’s first commercial Voice-over-WiFi service this August on the back of positive results from its Heterogeneous Network (HetNet) trial conducted over the past one year at the Jurong Lake District (JLD).

A collaboration with the Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore, the trial has been a proving ground for Singtel’s next-generation network innovations such as VoWiFi and the Internet of Things (IoT).

The trial found that Singtel mobile users could continue to make voice calls and text over WiFi in areas that are technically challenging for mobile signals, as their smartphones transitioned seamlessly between mobile and WiFi networks, without the need of an installed app.

This will allow Singtel mobile users to make uninterrupted voice calls and text over WiFi in locations such as basements and buildings above 20 storeys high – services even more users can enjoy when Voice-over-WiFi is deployed nationwide in two months.

On the IoT front, the trial demonstrated the readiness of Singtel’s HetNet to support IoT in providing, for example, reliable, 24/7 connection to a real-time air quality sensing device tracking PSI and CO2 levels – only one of its kind in Southeast Asia.

Yuen Kuan Moon, Chief Executive Officer, Consumer Singapore at Singtel, said, “In the near future, with millions of connected devices fuelling data demand, ensuring a consistent experience for multiple mobile customers across different locations is paramount. With pervasive connectivity and higher data capacity set to become the norm, it was important for us to conduct a HetNet trial to gain further insights. Given our positive trial results, we are ready to support the Internet of Things with our networks and provide Singtel mobile users with high-quality voice calls and SMS island-wide.”

Over the last three years, Singtel has committed over half a billion in mobile capital expenditure in Singapore to ensure the best mobile experience for its customers. This has helped Singtel top the IDA’s 4G Service Monitoring exercise for six quarters in a row, with 99.89% coverage performance this quarter. The commitment also supported Singtel’s nationwide rollout of LTE900 last year to achieve tri-band connectivity by boosting its in-building coverage and ability to provide more consistent fast speeds. In addition, the investment has supported Singtel’s HetNet deployment which integrated mobile “macro cells” with “small cells” and WiFi within the Singtel network.

Gabriel Lim, co-Managing Director of IDA said, “We are encouraged by the positive results from the HetNet technology trials. 90% of the trial users enjoyed a better mobile experience, with faster download and upload speeds. They also enjoyed better connectivity, smooth transitions between wireless and cellular networks, and more enjoyable mobile surfing experiences at crowded areas such as train stations. We will use the lessons from the trial to work with our industry partners to further enhance the experience of Singapore mobile users.”

The JLD trial was conducted at crowded spaces such as malls, MRT stations, HDB neighbourhoods and onboard a bus. It is the latest in Singtel’s Hetnet initiatives undertaken over two years ago to enhance network capacity. Singtel has deployed its HetNet at crowded areas such as the Marina Bay Sands foodcourt, Nex, VivoCity and Changi Exhibition Centre.

The new VoWiFI service will be available at any accessible WiFi hotspot including homes, Singtel Premium WiFi and Wireless@SG locations.