SINGAPORE--Local telecommunications operator SingTel has revealed plans to launch what it says is Asia's first priority mobile broadband service for users to bypass congested wireless networks.
Known as Priority Pass, the new service will provide "faster and more reliable Internet connectivity" on-the-move for customers of the carrier's Broadband on Mobile, even if wireless networks are congested, said Yuen Kuan Moon, executive vice president of SingTel's Digital Consumer group. The service will be launched on Jun. 15.
Two mobile broadband plans, Priority 7.2 and Premium 21, will offer the Priority Pass option, Yuen said during the launch briefing here Monday. SingTel is guaranteeing customers will experience download speed ranges of 1.4Mbps to 3.7Mbps for Priority 7.2 service plans, and 1.7Mbps to 4.8Mbps for Premium 21, "80 percent of the time within a 24-hour window", he said
Yuen also noted that while the dongles, which comes bundled with the mobile broadband service, have hardware capabilities that will support up to 7.2 Mbps and 21Mbps data speeds, respectively, these are "theoretical speeds" and are "never achievable" due to various radio frequency limitations.
A third, entry-level service plan--named Classic 3.6--is offered without Priority Pass and customers will experience a typical speed range of 0.8Mbps to 2.1Mbps.
"By disclosing the actual speeds of our services upfront, we aim to help customers make better informed choices," he said, adding that this will also help quell customer dissatisfaction over the offered broadband speeds and actual speeds experienced.
Customers will pay S$40 (US$32.44) for the Priority 7.2 service plan and S$59.90 (US$48.60) for Premium 21, the executive revealed. Existing customers on these two service tiers will automatically be upgraded with Priority Pass and continue paying their existing monthly bills until their contracts expire, after which they have the option to decide whether to continue with Priority Pass at the stated pricings.
Currently, the bulk of SingTel's mobile broadband subscribers fall in the Classic 3.6 tier but Yuen hopes that providing clarity on the download speeds offered will encourage customers to sign up for the higher tier services.
Enhancing the network
Likening its Priority Pass service as "building a bridge over a four-lane highway", Yuen said SingTel has been enhancing its overall wireless infrastructure to support the new prioritization service. This involved building more base stations and upgrading 99 percent of existing ones with fiber connectivity, thus, expanding its capacity to bring more consumers onto the network, he stated.
Furthermore, the telco had implemented dual-cell capacity across 94 percent of its network and is looking to deploy a third cell frequency carrier by this year, he said, adding that its LTE rollout will "definitely" happen by end-2011.
With the additional capacity, Yuen said smartphone and other mobile users accessing SingTel's wireless broadband network will not suffer and the expansion of its network capabilities was done to ensure service quality does not drop.
He also added that as more users sign up for the Priority Pass, SingTel's continuous push to enhance its wireless infrastructure will mean that the "bridge" over the highway will not be congested, too.