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StarHub 5G speed tests round #2: How does it hold up against its own 4G?

By PY Ho & Liu Hongzuo - 25 Oct 2020

Testing: East/North-east of Singapore, Conclusion

East and North-east of Singapore

For the eastern front, we only revisited the area outside E!Hub at Downtown East. We did not return to Blk 75 Marine Drive as it was a low-traffic residential area, where residents are likely to rely on their Wi-Fi instead.

Instead, we added the Punggol East hotspot since it's populated with food & beverages establishments and sporting facilities.

We also felt that Changi Airport, as the international gateway of Singapore, should be one of the places where many people will make their first contact with our country upon landing. Having a strong 5G network here seemed like a logical assumption since Changi Airport hosts many cutting-edge technologies and solutions.


Changi Airport Terminal 3

The driveway seems boring, hence here's T3 departure hall as representative

StarHub LTE Test 1StarHub LTE Test 2

StarHub 5G Test 1StarHub 5G Test 2

While we did latch on to the 5G network successfully, Speedtest app however reflected it as LTE, and the speeds obtained tell us that the 5G here is not yet at its prime (as of 30th August 2020, 10PM).


Outside E!Hub at Downtown East

Opposite E!Hub

StarHub LTE Test 1StarHub LTE Test 2


StarHub 5G Test 1StarHub 5G Test 2

Here we continue to get decent 5G speeds, though the LTE network performed almost as well. Oddly though, the ping times obtained at this test spot is notably bad for a 5G network and the 4G network easily bested it.


Punggol East, outside Riveria prawning shop

Punggol East, outside Riveria Prawn Fishing

StarHub LTE Test 1StarHub LTE Test 2

Starhub 5g Test 1Starhub 5g Test 2

The 5G speeds here are at its infancy, on par with its LTE counterpart. We experienced decent 5G coverage, having covered the whole stretch from the PAR Golf Range to the Punggol East Container Park.


Closing Remarks

Seeing how LTE itself has advanced beyond its early days, low LTE speeds are more likely to come from specific mobile plans, bad network days or an extreme peak hour crunch among others and are unlikely to be representative of any telco. For instance, LTE Cat 11 has a max speed of 600Mbps, but we've not seen that in any of our tests despite having one of the most advanced smartphones around.

We've also tested our personal mobile devices on a variety of data plans and learnt that, as long as the phone has its advertised compatibility with advanced LTE bands, it can see speeds similar to the ones offered on StarHub's early 5G network. 

While obvious, network speeds are subjected to location as well - not just your plan and device. It's the main reason why we had to try the networks out at different parts of Singapore and again, it could be subjected to a host of reasons beyond your choice of telco.

Areas with excellent 5G trial speeds also happen to have good LTE speeds, which again could be a result of good mobile data fengshui.

Specifically for StarHub, 5G saw notable improvements for some locations from our last test run. The proliferation of 5G access on StarHub's end likely boiled down to the readiness of base stations, which is why the network 'improved' in seemingly random intervals and areas.

While it was far easier to get 5G signals on the same test device now, certain areas, such as MBS, still required a force-restart of our phone to latch onto a higher-quality network. It was also evident that 5G NSA is indeed based off 4G infrastructure given some of the similar speeds, something which StarHub noted was a key part to expanding 5G access for wide availability.

As seen in our test results, the West side of Singapore is known for many excellent things, but mobile data connectivity isn't one of them.

Finally, it's also worth noting it's barely two weeks since StarHub started provisioning 5G trial for consumer use. We still strongly believe that these numbers are barely representative of the monstrous speeds 5G can get. After all, Singtel recently launched its 5G trial with much fanfare around how it saw 1Gbps+ speeds. In fact, 1Gbps+ throughput is still considered on the lower end spectrum of what 5G can offer, so there really is a lot more that we can expect in the years to come.

Stay tuned to our future 5G testing coverage as more telcos start activating the service to life on our little island!

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