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Singapore Demands Higher Levels of Service from 3G Networks

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Singapore's telecoms regulator, the IDA has announced that it is raising the minimum quality of service (QoS) standards for 3G mobile services in phases with effect from April 2012.

Other consumer protection measures that will come into effect in 2012 include the barring of Premium Rate Services (PRS), limiting of data roaming charges and publication of typical broadband speeds.

The changed QoS standards for the 3G networks now requires outdoor coverage, including road and public transport tunnels to be increased to 99%, from 95% currently. Indoor coverage within buildings to at least 85% coverage.

Minimum standards have also been set for peak hour success call rates and drop call rates for mobile calls, indicators that were previously only monitored by IDA.

For example, the average monthly success rate for PSTN/mobile originated calls across all cell locations has been raised from more than 95 per cent to more than 99 per cent. For drop call rate of PSTN and mobile originated calls, the average monthly drop call rate across an entire month has been reduced from less than 5 per cent to less than 1 per cent.

Under the revised framework, operators may be subject to financial penalties of up to $50,000 for each instance of non-compliance of these new QoS standards, an increase from the previous financial penalty of $5,000.

Mr Leong Keng Thai, Deputy Chief Executive and Director-General (Telecoms & Post) of IDA explained, "Singapore has one of the world's highest mobile phone services adoption rate. Today, mobile phone services have become indispensable and consumers' expectation for good mobile coverage in Singapore has increased, especially with the increasing use of data-intensive smartphones. The revised 3G mobile QoS standards thus seek to improve consumers' mobile service experience within technical constraints of wireless technology."

In reviewing the 3G mobile QoS standards, IDA took into consideration the nature of mobile/wireless technology where there could still be areas where it will be technically difficult for mobile signals to penetrate, e.g., due to location of users or surrounding building structures. For buildings or homes with poor coverage, the operators are required to take reasonable efforts to address these issues. In some cases, operators may need to install dedicated equipment within units and/or building premises.

The enhanced 3G mobile services QoS framework will take effect in two phases to allow time for the operators to step up their resources, measure their performance under the new framework, and upgrade their networks. The new standards for nation-wide outdoor service coverage, tunnel service coverage, peak hour success call rates and drop call rates will come into effect first, from 1 April 2012. The in-building QoS standards will come into effect from 1 April 2013.

Limiting of Data Roaming Charges

From 1 February 2012, consumers will have access to a service to suspend data roaming service when the data roaming charges reach a maximum of $100 every month. Consumers will also be able to deactivate/reactivate data roaming more easily.

The aim of the Data Roaming Bill Cap service is to minimise data roaming bill shock for users from data roaming services.

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Tags: ida  3g  roaming  Singapore