StarHub unveils speedier broadband service

Singapore's second largest ISP rolls out ultra-high speed broadband service targeted at local residential users.

SINGAPORE--The island-state's second largest Internet service provider (ISP) has rolled out the first ultra-high speed broadband service for local residential users.

According to the Singapore-based telco, the launch marks the world's first nation-wide commercial deployment that promises up to 100Mbps (mega bits per second) Internet access speeds to home users via the DOCSIS (data over cable service interface specification) 3.0 technology.

First announced in March this year, the upgrade from the existing DOCSIS 1.1 cable network to the DOCSIS 3.0 technology platform will allow residential subscribers of StarHub's MaxOnline (MOL) broadband service to access speeds of up to 100Mbps from today.

To experience the full capacity of the increased broadband speed, customers will need to upgrade to a DOCSIS 3.0 cable modem such as the Motorola SB6100, as well as subscribe to the MOL Ultimate plan for S$121.80 (US$80) per month. The 100Mbps-equipped modem is priced at S$525 (US$ 342) and immediately available from StarHub shops.

Subscribers of other MOL plans using the DOCSIS 3.0 cable modem including MOL Express (formerly called MOL 6000), MOL FlexiSurf Express (formerly FlexiSurf 6000) and MOL Premium (formerly MOL 12000), can expect increased Internet access speeds of up to 100Mbps only for partner sites in StarHub's Velocity content services program.

Broadband access speed to non-Velocity sites will run at up to 6Mbps for both MOL Express and MOL FlexiSurf Express, as well as 12Mbps for MOL Premium.

Even without the equipment upgrade, existing subscribers of all MOL plans can also expect a speed boost of up to 32Mbps for partner sites on the current DOCSIS 1.1 cable modem, while data access speed to non-partner sites is up to 6Mbps for both MOL Express and MOL FlexiSurf Express, 12Mbps for MOL Premium and up to 32Mbps for MOL Ultimate, the company said.

Velocity is StarHub's content-collaboration program that lets companies provide online content and services and host their applications in Singapore, including Web sites such as eCitizens--the country's e-government Web portal--and entertainment services such as AsiaSoft's Maple Story Southeast Asia.

According to Thomas Ee, senior vice president for IP (Internet Protocol) services at StarHub, content will drive the future growth of broadband.

"The equation will not be complete without content, like everything else, and content is an integral part of where we think broadband will continue to grow," said Ee at a media briefing yesterday.

He noted that content providers such as the big portals in the United States, are starting to move to Asia not only to tap into the region's broadband growth but also to bring content closer to customers.

For instance, Yahoo--a key content provider in the Velocity initiative--currently hosts all its Southeast Asian content through StarHub's network, Ee said.

He noted that few content providers these days would move into a site hosted by a telco. As a result, programs such as Velocity need to be hosted in "carrier-neutral" sites--such as Internet data centers Equinix and Webvisions--where content providers would feel comfortable hosting their content and have access to multiple network operators.