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SingTel upgrading 3G network at malls amid complaints

Singapore telco releases timetable for network upgrades at malls, following spate of complaints over coverage including Facebook post which went viral last month.
Written by Ryan Huang, Contributor

Southeast Asia's largest telco SingTel has listed a timetable to upgrade its network coverage at 20 malls across Singapore. This follows a recent spate of complaints, including a frustrated subscriber's Facebook post which went viral.

"We have received many comments about coverage in shopping malls. So, as a start, we would like to update you on the upgrades at the top 20 shopping malls as identified by you," said the company on its website. It added updates on other residential, commercial buildings and public sites will follow soon.

In the list, SingTel pointed out upgrades at two malls, Plaza Singapura and Causeway Point, were completed last month and the rest will be ready by early 2013.
Tay Soo Meng, managing director of networks at SingTel, said it was important to be transparent with customers and pointed out the telco was the first to provide such information.

"Although we would like to complete all upgrades in the shortest possible time, the schedule of deployment and equipment location sites are often not within our control. We require permission from building owners and the authorities to install our mobile equipment, and sometimes, our requests to install new infrastructure are rejected," Tay said.

SingTel 3G
SingTel's network coverage upgrading timetable for 20 malls across Singapore (source: SingTel website)

The telco had been the subject of complaints, following reportedly patchy coverage across the island.

In the viral Facebook post last month, SingTel subscriber John Lee said: "Dear SingTel, my friends are complaining about your network. How could you set up a 4G network where your 3G suck big time and you want to lower our data plan but still charge us the same price and yet we still get many drop call and slow network. You guys are taking our money but not giving us the service so here I'm complaining right at your face and wait for your feedback."

Lee was refering to the telco's expansion of its 4G service nationwide and its plans to lower the data allowance for mobile plans.

SingTel responded to the post and explained users "sometimes experience weak reception in locations, such as basement car parks and lifts, where signals are blocked by walls and structures".

In May this year, SingTel was fined S$400,000 (US$313,063) for a 3G outage that occurred in September 2011. Subscribers were left with weak or no network connectivity--some for as long as two days--making it difficult to make voice calls or send SMS (short message service) messages.

Regulations will get tighter in April 2013, when telcos have to ensure more than 85 percent coverage in buildings, as part of the Quality of Service Standards for 3G Mobile Services raised by the Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore (IDA) in January this year.

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