I dropped by SingTel's demonstration of their Long Term Evolution (LTE) technology showcase earlier today and while it was certainly impressive demonstration of what a 4G network can do, I do still have some reservations over 4G. Having had first hand experience with WiMax in Taipei and now LTE, I have to say that both technologies work as they should, delivering data speedily over the air.
However, much of what I've experienced of the speeds so far seems on par with current technologies, but the rationale behind upgrading is simple - better capacity later on means less bandwidth issues. Much like how AT&T in the USA gets bashed for its network issues, we kiasu Singaporeans should be lucky this hasn't quite happened on such a large scale.
That said, it's not like the network is perfect either. I've personally encountered way too many network dropouts when I'm trying to access the Internet from my iPhone to be anything but happy with the situation. While our city areas are mostly WiFi-ed, the speeds of the free service can be lackluster at times.
Hopefully, SingTel, with its planned 42mpbs network will be able to ease the congestion somewhat. SingTel has ambitious plans for its LTE, and its not limited to just delivering data, but a whole bunch of other services including watching HD videos, accessing augmented reality applications and 3D maps on your mobile phone.
While the phones that can do this don't actually exist just yet, I don't think it will be long before manufacturers start hoping on the new technology bandwagon with devices capable of such features.
Now, take note that SingTel hasn't actually announced any dates on when LTE will roll out, nor have they confirmed an official partner to work with on said LTE network. The only date we know is that it will take at least a year or two from now to make their network LTE-ready, and SingTel has said the it will depend on available frequency spectrum.
This does make their LTE technology showcase just that, a showcase. While I found it impressive enough, I'll probably be holding my breath for the next year or two until LTE becomes a reality.
Note that the other two telcos have also announced their LTE plans, M1 seems to have concrete plans and have begun trials for LTE in February. They have also stated that they intend to modernize their 2G network by early 2011 for transition to LTE, so it may be that M1 will have Singapore's first LTE network come next year.
Aloysius Low / Former Tech Writer
Tech writer, gadget nerd, cat owner and social media junkie, Aloysius loves exploring the wacky side of tech, while tackling his notebook reviews.