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Singapore’s M1 scores a ‘first’ in Southeast Asia LTE roll out

Veronica C. Silva | June 28, 2011
More deployments seen in the region soon – analyst

Singapore's M1 scored a "first" recently with the commercial launch of the next generation mobile service in Southeast Asia.

The telco operator said long-term evolution (LTE) service is now commercially available, first in the country's financial district, including Marina Bay, Suntec, Shenton Way and other areas nearby.

M1 said the launch of its next generation mobile network is the "first" LTE network in Southeast Asia.

LTE is also called the fourth-generation (4G) mobile broadband technology, following 3G.

"Following the successful commercial launch of our next generation fixed broadband services, we bring yet another first - the next generation of mobile services. With M1's LTE network, our customers will now be the first to experience ultra-high speed mobile services and applications," said Karen Kooi, chief executive officer, M1.

Its dual band LTE network, operating on both the 1.8 GHz and 2.6 GHz frequency bands, will have an initial "theoretical" downlink speed of 75 Mbps and uplink speed of 37.5 Mbps.

The launch will initially involve enterprise customers who can avail of the service via USB modems on existing mobile broadband plans at $59.40 (with GST) or US$47.78 per month. An expanded range of LTE devices, including tablets and smartphones, is expected to be available later this year, M1 said.

Southeast Asia rollout

The next-generation broadband's availability in Singapore closely follows the commercial launch of LTE in another Southeast Asian country. Just last April, Smart Communications, the Philippines' top mobile operator, launched LTE in tourist island Boracay. This month, the service is available in the capital Metro Manila.

Independent industry analyst Ovum said M1 may rightfully claim to be the first to commercially launch LTE in the region as Smart Communications' commercial launch was confined to a small area in the Philippines.

"The Smart Communications launch was a trial confined to Boracay Island, and the timetable for national rollout hasn't been confirmed, so we don't regard this as a commercial launch," said David Kennedy, research director and principal analyst, Ovum. "In contrast, M1 has launched a commercial network covering the entire Singapore central business district, and is committed to a national network by the first quarter of 2012. So we think M1's claim is reasonable."

M1 said that by 2012, the "theoretical" downlink and uplink speeds will be upgraded to 150 Mbps and 75 Mbps respectively.

In a press statement last April, Smart's chief wireless adviser Orlando B. Vea said: "The PLDT [Philippine Long Distance and Telephone Company] Group [of which Smart is a part of] is committed to extending broadband coverage to 95 per cent of the Philippine population in the next three years. LTE will help us accomplish that goal faster and more effectively."


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