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Singtel partners with Samsung on smart homes

Singtel is partnering with Samsung and NCS to deliver smart solutions across the home, with the telco also planning to develop solutions for the health and automotive sectors.

Singapore's largest telecommunications provider Singtel has announced that it is partnering with several manufacturers to launch products and solutions in the smart living sphere, including for home automation, health monitoring, and connected cars.

The solutions that Singtel is hoping to provide for home automation include the control of security cameras, appliances, and locking systems, while the telco's smart health initiatives aim to monitor patients and elderly people by tracking their health data through blood pressure monitors, thermometers, weighing scales, glucometers, and pulse oximeters.

Singtel is also angling to move into connected cars in order to deliver maintenance information, real-time traffic data, and vehicle diagnostics to users.

The telco said it will leverage its extensive network assets in order to provide connectivity for the Internet of Things (IoT) in Singapore's effort to implement smart city solutions.

"As Singapore becomes a smart nation, we hope to help Singaporeans live better by empowering them to live more comfortably and safely with our smart living solutions," said Yuen Kuan Moon, CEO of Singtel's Consumer Singapore group.

"We want to play a key role in smart, connected living and homes of the future through an intelligent, open platform with a rich ecosystem of partners. We are in a unique position to do so with our extensive network infrastructure capabilities in info-communications, cybersecurity, and analytics across the group. The possibilities are limitless."

Singtel has so far entered into a partnership with Samsung and Singtel subsidiary NCS, having signed a memorandum of understanding to collaborate with the companies on designing, building, and launching smart home solutions.

"This is an exciting journey in bringing to fruition Singapore's vision of being a smart nation by enabling IoT in our homes," said Yong Sung Jeon, president and CEO of Samsung Electronics for Southeast Asia.

"Our partnership with Singtel and NCS is synergistic, dynamic and most importantly built on a shared vision. Together, we will grow an open IoT ecosystem in Singapore."

The three companies will begin field trials, and plan to roll out solutions starting early 2016.

Singapore has been making moves towards becoming a smart nation, with Minister for Trade and Industry S Iswaran saying in November that innovation in IT will continue to generate value for the global economy.

"Every country must assess the future of its economy against the backdrop of these global technological trends," Iswaran said at Huawei Innovation Day.

The technologies used within smart cities would also help Asian economies deal with the challenges of an expanding urban population, the minister said.

Singtel had previously partnered with Samsung to produce a tri-band 4G+ mobile device that would allow access to all three spectrum bands, enabling mobile speeds to max out at 337Mbps.

Singtel announced in July that it would be the first telco in Southeast Asia to offer a tri-band 4G network using LTE-900, with the upgrade promising to provide customers who own compatible mobile devices with improved 4G coverage, most notably underground and in indoor areas.

"Demand for data is growing exponentially, and we are always looking for ways to improve the mobile experience for our customers. Our goal is to deliver the most reliable and seamless connectivity," Singtel's VP of mobile marketing Diana Chen said at the time.

"We have invested heavily over the past year to improve the quality and extent of coverage, particularly indoor coverage. We have also enhanced zones that have been in need of a signal boost."

The 4G+ network is being progressively rolled out. It started at Parkway Parade, followed by an additional eight shopping malls and new residential estates such as Sengkang and Punggol in October 2015. The extensive network upgrades, due for completion in March 2016, will cross 400 areas across the city, with the company adding that coverage was going to be available in the underground train system by November 2015.

Singtel in addition revealed a partnership with McDonald's to outfit 123 fast-food restaurants with a Wi-Fi service by mid-2016. Unlimited access to the network was free for Singtel customers until November 2015, where usage thereafter was capped at 2GB per customer per month.

In November, Singtel announced a 5.3 percent year-on-year rise in net profit for the half year ended September 30, to SG$1.97 billion. In constant currency terms, this signalled an 8.7 percent rise. Revenue had dropped 0.8 percent, to SG$8.39 billion, thanks to a weak Australian dollar -- though this was an increase of 6.7 percent in constant currency terms. The company operates in Australia through the Optus brand.

According to Singtel Group CEO Chua Sock Koong, the company is continuing to strengthen its position across its markets in Singapore and Australia.

"Mobile data growth continues to be a key focus," she said in a statement.

"Our investments in 3G and 4G network infrastructure and spectrum, alongside increasing smartphone penetration, are delivering improved experiences for customers. While currency weakness has affected our reported numbers, our underlying performance is resilient."

Singtel is also slated to built a 570,000 square foot, SG$400 million ($282.63 million) Tier 3-Plus datacentre in the southwest area of Jurong by the third quarter of 2016.

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