Singtel launches Wi-Fi calling, ups mobile data allowances

Mobile customers of Singtel can now use Wi-Fi networks for voice calls, with the provider also announcing triple data allowances for less than SG$10 a month.

Singtel has launched voice over Wi-Fi (VoWiFi) for its post-paid mobile customers, with customers able to "seamlessly" transition their voice over LTE (VoLTE) calls when in range of a Wi-Fi network at no extra cost.

Smartphones that support Wi-Fi calling at launch include most iPhone, Samsung Galaxy, and Sony Xperia models, with customers to access the service by switching on their VoLTE and Wi-Fi call settings. Singtel will add more devices to the list within a few weeks.

"Wi-Fi calling is a network innovation which offers added convenience and an enhanced mobile experience to customers," said Singtel's Consumer Singapore CEO Yuen Kuan Moon.

"Our customers can now have mobile coverage even in difficult-to-reach places such as basements and windowless rooms, as long as there is a Wi-Fi signal. This service extends our extensive mobile network to cover a wider footprint, and complements our ongoing efforts in delivering the fastest and widest 4G service in Singapore."

Calls and messages sent over Wi-Fi will be subtracted from a customer's monthly voice and SMS allowances.

Singtel launched VoLTE two years ago, along with Singapore's two other mobile providers StarHub and M1.

Singtel has also announced its new DataX3 mobile plan add-on, which allows post-paid customers to triple their monthly mobile data for SG$9.90.

DataX3 is available on Singtel's Combo 2 plan, providing 6GB of data for SG$52.80 per month; Combo 3 plan, providing 9GB of data for SG$72.80 per month; Combo 4 plan, providing 12GB for SG$92.80; Combo 5 plan, providing 18GB for SG$112.80; and Combo 6 plan, providing 36GB for SG$249.80.

"DataX2 has been extremely well received and is very popular with our customers, leading us to create an even more attractive offer of DataX3." Yuen said.

By comparison, M1 charges SG$5.90 a month for an additional 12GB, while StarHub charges SG$6 a month for 3GB of extra data.

Singtel's highest possible data offering is 36GB for SG$249.80; M1's is 25GB for SG$233.90; and StarHub's is 15GB for SG$116.

Bringing more competition to the Singaporean mobile market could be Australian fixed-line provider TPG, which earlier this month submitted an expression of interest for prequalification for Singapore's spectrum auction, in hopes of becoming the fourth mobile operator.

The spectrum auction, being held by the Singaporean Infocomm Development Authority (IDA), will see 900MHz and 2.3GHz spectrum made available to approved new entrant bidders.

The IDA in February confirmed that it would be allowing the possibility for a fourth mobile entrant in the Singaporean market by April 2017 in order to increase competition.

A possible fourth mobile provider would be given until October 2018 to deploy nationwide outdoor coverage, the IDA had previously said, along with road tunnel and in-building coverage by October 2019 and coverage at underground MRT stations and lines by October 2021.

TPG will be made aware of whether it successfully prequalified for the auction later this year.

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