This is the second part of comparing Telco’s SIM Only plan series. In the first part of the series, I compared all the SIM Only plans that are offered by all Telcos including MVNO. StarHub might have the best SIM Only plan, does it have the best network quality? In this post, I will be comparing the MNO’s 4G network quality.
In 1Q2018 IMDA 4G Measurement Survey, IMDA introduced In-Building Service Coverage. In summary, how this survey works is that IMDA staff went to 60 random buildings to do testing using mobile phones. For the test to be successful, it must achieve a minimum signal strength of at least -109dBm. Based on the screenshot provided, Singtel Mobile and M1 have the best in-building coverage at 59/60 with StarHub Mobile coming in at the third place with 56/60. However, in Q22018 results, we can see that M1 performance deteriorated by a bit where only 54/60 of the buildings surveyed achieved signal strength of -109dBm or better while Singtel and Starhub performance was consistent and even improved for Singtel.
The next test IMDA performed is the Tunnel Service Coverage where they will go to road tunnels and MRT tunnels to survey. M1 has the best Tunnel Service Coverage with StarHub coming in at the second place and Singtel at last place. M1 results have been consistent for three quarters straight and StarHub had a slight drop in coverage at KPE in Q22018. Singtel coverage is a disappointment and I would not want to explain further. Picture is worth a thousand words.
Best coverage by Tunnel:
- CTE – M1 and StarHub
- Fort Canning – M1 and StarHub
- Kallang – Paya Lebar -> M1 and Singtel/StarHub
- MCE – M1 and Singtel
- Woodsville – All three telcos
However, it is a different story when it comes to MRT Tunnel which most of us commute each day. Singtel performed the best in MRT Tunnels with an average coverage based on distance of more than 99.5% for all three quarters. M1 came in second place at more than 99.2% for all three quarters while StarHub came in last with coverage of more than 98.9% for all three quarters.
In general, all three telcos perform badly at Chang Airport Line. I think it is because not a lot of us go to Changi Airport often so they do not allocate more expenditure in this tunnel to improve the experience.
Best Coverage by line
- Changi Airport Line – Singtel
- CCL – M1 and Singtel
- DTL – Singtel
- EWL – Singtel
- NEL – Singtel and M1
- NSL – Singtel and StarHub
In conclusion, for underground connections, M1 performs better than its peers when it comes to Expressway Tunnel while Singtel performs better than its peers when it comes to MRT Tunnel. StarHub is the worst performer for MRT Tunnel only.
In terms of Quality of Service for all three telcos, Singtel came in first with the best Quality of Service for Outdoor coverage while M1 came in second and StarHub came in last. If you were to look at the Outdoor Network Coverage since Jan 2017, you will be able to spot that M1 being the smallest telco out of the three has better Outdoor Network Coverage than StarHub.
Overall, Singtel has the most consistent outdoor coverage where it is able to maintain its coverage at more than 99.9% for most of the months while StarHub and M1 have volatile outdoor coverage. This shows that Singtel has one of the most stable and reliable 4G network in Singapore where it claimed in its 2017 annual report that its 4G coverage is the widest in Singapore at 99.98%.
You can refer to their report at this link.
- Availability of 4G – Singtel > M1 > StarHub
- Latency of 4G – M1 >Singtel > StarHub
- Download Speed 4G – StarHub > Singtel > M1
- Upload Speed 4G – StarHub > M1 > Singtel
- Overall Speed 4G – StarHub > Singtel > M1
You might have seen the best SIM Only plan for different price range. StarHub might have better deal but it might not have the best network quality as compared to Singtel or M1. Therefore, it is important to look at the network quality for overall experience in using your phones. Before changing to a new telco, it is advisable to consult your friends who are using the particular telco to see how the network quality is at certain places. OpenSignal provides coverage map which you can access through their app on your phone.