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What it takes to win Best Telco Service Provider, 14 years in a row: A Tech Awards Special

By Team HardwareZone - 19 Apr 2023

What it takes to win Best Telco Service Provider, 14 years in a row: A Tech Awards Special

Streaming the latest shows for your consumption, or streaming yourself live to your audience, having a good network ensures you have a positive experience. (Image source: Pexels)

For 14 years, since 2010Singtel has been voted as the Best Telco Service Provider in HardwareZone’s annual Tech Awards Readers’ Choice segmentVoted by thousands of our readers through an annual poll, the Tech Awards is Singapore's definitive indicator of consumer preferences for tech brands and services.

As part of our round-up of the awards, we decided to take a look at how they’ve been able to keep our readers satisfied by staying ahead of the curve in both mobile and broadband. After all, consumer dissatisfaction in one area can bubble over into other segments.


Delivering 5G consistently

Singtel was the first telco in Singapore to deploy small-cell radio dot technology for indoor coverage. But what probably matters most to consumers is that they were the first to hit 95% nationwide coverage, including more than 1,300 outdoor locations that include major residential areas and major hubs like Orchard Road, the Central Business District, Marina Bay, Harbourfront and Sentosa, over 400 in-building deployments, and underground rail networks

As part of a showcase of its 5G capabilities, Singtel even conducted a livestream of an indie rock concert from local band, Sobs, from inside an underground MRT cabin.

MRT rock concerts aside, what that means for consumers is an "exceptional digital experience," said Diana Chen, Managing Director, Customer Value of Singtel. "Consumers can upload and download content, watch live video streams, or play games in high definition while on the move."

Beyond 5G connectivity within Singapore, there’s the partnership with 18 other regional telcos to bring 5G roaming access for its customers while abroad.

But delivering 5G is about more than just the ability to stream content on the go – it’s also about enabling business partners and educational institutions, and allowing them to trial how 5G can help them. For example, Singtel recently launched a 5G-enabled smart retail showcase to allow developers to display how their solutions can improve retail workflows and provide a better customer experience through the use of 5G, Apple devices, and associated technology like Augmented Reality and Avatars by leveraging the 5G network and multi-edge computing solutions.

While it is possible to implement these experiences without 5G, it may not hold out well when this is deployed for use by consumers and businesses when far more patrons are trying to use these high bandwidth experiences outside of closed-room demo areas.

The key premise for 5G is that it has the ability to connect to many more devices, network slicing to efficiently employ multiple channels and broad spectrums to best fit the performance profile of the request at hand and deliver all this with far lower latencies. The end result is that 5G can fulfil a far better experience thanks to improved bandwidth and smoother delivery of these forward-looking experiences.


The importance of performance

According to a report from Statista, despite a large number of wireless networks available in Singapore, mobile data use remained on the rise. This further reflects the need for consistently high performance.

To that extent, it’s also important to note that Singtel was the first to deploy a 5G standalone (5G SA) network islandwide, which means faster and more responsive speeds than a 5G non-standalone (NSA) network, thanks to using newer 5G equipment that’s made for 5G specs, not relying on 4G network backbone, and taking advantage of the speedy 3.5GHz spectrum.

To get a better sense of performance capabilities beyond our networking testing, we tapped into independent network intelligence and connectivity insights provider,  Ookla, which publishes network Speed Test results.

In their annual Speed Test Awards for Singapore’s 5G Mobile Network, Singtel has topped the charts. Coming out ahead of the competition across all facets with an Ookla Speed Score of 327.47, we noted the median download speed recorded was 394.58Mbps, and the median upload speed was 35.78Mbps. In fact, Singtel has won this accolade three times consecutively.

On our independent network tests, we also found the connectivity to be a strong suit for Singtel:-

The ease of latching onto the Singtel 5G network had a strong impact in facilitating the swift collection of multiple test results.

Some of our readers too, had positive experiences according to feedback from their findings:-

Importantly for customers, in terms of service reliability, Infocomm Media Development Authority’s (IMDA's) latest report on customer handling placed Singtel with the lowest complaint rate for its mobile services amongst network operators.


Bringing a safer Internet space to users

But excellent access is only good when it’s also safe.

Together with tech partner McAfee, the telco offers security to keep customers’ devices safe with add-ons like McAfee Mobile Security and McAfee Triple Protect Mobile Security. For those seeking greater peace of mind, Singtel recently launched  Protect Stack to keep up to three mobile devices safe from accidental damage, theft or malfunctions.

It also recently debuted Broadband Protect, which protects any device that connects to your home network. 

This means that any mobile phone, laptop, or smart home device such as door locks, televisions, cameras, and more, will be protected from malicious websites or services when connected to a subscriber’s home network, using technologies like artificial intelligence and machine learning. Users will be alerted to potentially malicious sites and can choose to unblock them on their My Singtel app if it is a link they trust.

Subscribers won’t even have to bother installing multiple security patches for each device on the same home network because Broadband Protect will take care of this hassle for them.


Taking broadband to the next hop - 10Gbps

In 2003, according to the Infocomm Development Authority (the predecessor of the Infocomm Media Development Authority), only two in five or 1.24 million Singaporeans were broadband users. But this still represented a 30 per cent increase from just 950,000 users in 2001.

By 2020, according to Statista's report, around 88.5 per cent of the Singapore population was using the internet. Come 2026, this figure is projected to grow to more than 94 per cent. The use of the Internet in Singapore has become an inseparable part of the daily lives of Singaporeans. And with this, there has been a corresponding jump in the consumption of digital content in multiple formats over multiple devices. 

AR, VR, MR and XR experiences are set to rise with easy access to gear facilitating these. The Metaverse might not seem like much now, but several businesses are actively exploring building new virtual worlds. When the right set of experiences and virtual transactions click into place, you will need ever more bandwidth than current mainstream 1Gbps and 2Gbps fibre plans for your home. 

Chen added that with more users working from home or creating and uploading new digital content from YouTube tutorials to Instagram live streaming and TikTok dances in recent years, the demand for faster upload and download speeds have risen. 

"In fact, we’ve seen a 50% increase in overall upload traffic," said Chen. "That’s why our next-generation fibre broadband network ensures high-speed connectivity and greater bandwidth to support households with multiple devices and users who want to make video calls, transfer high-volume and large files, or livestream videos seamlessly.”

These stats and findings are key reasons for launching its fastest 10Gbps fibre broadband service (10G-XGS-PON), which offers upload and download speeds of about 8.2Gbps. To put it in context, this means you can upload a one-hour full high-definition clip (also known as 1080p resolution) in about one second when conditions are favourable, while a one-hour 4K clip may be uploaded in 21 seconds using a 10Gbps connection. This service comes with a suitable modem and home router solution, so one doesn’t have to worry about having the right set of gear to get a 10Gbps broadband connection started.

Clearly, 10Gbps broadband might not be a requirement for everyone today, but it is a plan that's made to address the next set of bandwidth requirements and challenges for the household of tomorrow.

And that takes a telco that is rooted in the present but also with a view of what is to come. It’s the reason why our readers have continued to vote Best Telco Service Provider in Singtel’s favour – a point that’s not lost on the telco.

As Anna Yip, Chief Executive Officer, Consumer Singapore, Singtel put it:

"Thank you, HardwareZone readers. We are deeply humbled by your continued support and trust in recognising us as Singapore’s Best Telco Service Provider, for 14 years in a row. We recognise the responsibility that comes with this, and every single Singtel team member is passionately committed to bringing their A-game every day, to deliver the quality service you deserve. You are our driving force and we look forward to bringing you the best service experience every day, for many more years to come."

For more reporting from the HardwareZone + HWM Tech Awards 2023, don't forget to check out the our full set of Readers' Choice results here:-

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