Sunday, October 28, 2012

Broadband Woes in Singapore

Some have been asking me what is the big fuss of the internet market in Singapore namely with SingTel, M1, Starhub, MyRepublic , Open Net and ViewQuest. They all provide the same service but what is so big of a fuss here??

First off, let us start with the incumbent Singapore Telecom, SINGTEL which call their service SINGNET, MAGIX and among other names. They offer 2WIRE MIO Service , via the Copper Telephone Cable and now Fiber Internet. As with copper, it's called in many countries as ADSL which has a maximum speed of 32Mbps download and 2 Mb upload speed depending on the duplexing. Together with their IPTV Service MiO Home HD TV, the TV Service requires very high bandwidth, usually at least 10Mbps to stream at an acceptable level, not withstanding the HD Service. In recent times where they were penalised due to the MiO failure to show the Premier League matches, it's just the same technology where you download and watch movies online via YouTube or any other service. If the Duplex Feeder (MDF) can pump up good internet connection, they will supply typically 15Mbps (Mega BITS per Second) to the user and saying or claiming speeds of up to 15mbps service, but in actual fact, they are stealing the customer's bandwidth from the Internet to the TV Service. The 2Wire modem has a VPN Connection to the net for the TV, Internet and Telephony at the same time, thus also causing you not able to tunnel into your home network using dynamic IP Address / Hostname due to this reason. Many complained the modem always hang.

Their typical packages for ADSL start from $26.95 / $44.90 / $47.90 for MiO + another $36.90 for 6Mbps / 10Mbps / 15Mbps (MAX) connection (Usually you get typical speeds of about 2Mbps / 5Mbps / 7Mbps or so). Their fiber service costs $49.90 on it's own for 150Mbps connection giving you about 20Mbps international and up to 130Mbps locally  and due to RJ45 CAT5e, you will get only at best 80Mbps or so and about 44Mbps over 2-Channel WiFi.

Pacific Internet now only offer Fiber Internet to Corporate Customers and do not offer any cable (SCV) Connection or so to End Users. This is accurate at time of writing.

M1 offers Fiber Services for the pricing of $39/$49/$59/$79/$99/$399 for their 15/50/100/150/200/1000Mbps services.  M1 do offer CABLE Broadband (Over SCV Connection) for $40.90 for a 10Mbps connection. This is a shared bandwidth which I will explain below.

As for Starhub, they are the incumbent CABLE OPERATOR using DOCSIS Connection and previously known as SCV or Singapore Cable Vision. Using a Motorola Surfer Modem, they pump up speeds of up to 100Mbps on their cable tv point using speed boosts or what ever they call it now. Usual speeds will be at best 30Mbps and this is SHARED ACROSS THE WHOLE BUILDING. So if someone in the block of 400 residents is downloading heavily, then the speed will drop to as low as 1Mbps. Think of it as you paying road tax for a 5000cc car but a motorbiker of 1000cc is hogging your highway, which I find it quite disgusting.

Prices for Starhub SCV Internet (Cable Internet) are $56.20 and $80.60 for Premium 50/100Mbps and basic services of $25/$35/$45 (round off figure) of services up to speeds ranging from 3-6-16Mbps. You also have to pay for your own modem costing about $80 or more. Silly right?

Their Starhub Fiber Services cost around $68, $82, $102, $395 for 100Mbps, 150Mbps 200Mbps and Gigabit Internet. Typical International speeds are about 22% of the promised speeds. This was published by IDA recently and due to the nature of the content and classification, I can't put it up. Their assured international traffic is only 15Mbps and 100Mbps for Gigabit MaxInfinity Supreme.

This is quoted from their fine print:

^^Assured typical international speed of 15Mbps 95% of the time during peak hours. + Typical local download speed: MaxOnline Premium (30Mbps – 50Mbps), MaxOnline Ultimate (60Mbps – 95.2Mbps), MaxInfinity Ultimate (60Mbps – 96.3Mbps), MaxInfinity Elite (90Mbps – 144. 5Mbps), MaxInfinity Platinum (120Mbps – 185.2Mbps) & MaxInfinity Supreme (566Mbps – 755.5Mbps). Typical international speed: MaxOnline Premium (15.4Mbps – 17Mbps), MaxOnline Ultimate (19.3Mbps – 30Mbps), MaxInfinity Ultimate (15Mbps), MaxInfinity Elite (15Mbps), MaxInfinity Platinum (25Mbps) & MaxInfinity Supreme (42.6Mbps – 100Mbps).

What about MyRepublic? I am an authorised partner and I do check on the services once too often. Testing from their 100Mbps no frills service (100Mbps Download, 50Mbps upload), their typical speeds are about 80Mbps and this is even lower for the WiFi connection since the regulatory protocols cap it to around 41Mbps. I tested on their own office (busy office) with me downloading the whole pack of MSDN Windows 8 Enterprise file (Akamai) and NTL AS4700 Network, the network is stable and similar tests have been down across a few customers around Singapore and the promised rate is within acceptable tolerances like the router on 2nd Floor and I'm at the car park with 2-3 Bars of WiFi, getting almost similar results. Their cost? $59.90 a month or $69.90 a month for Gamer packages.Add-on of  $40 a month if you want static IP!

Lest not forget Ethernet Protocols of 8-N-1 so there is about 5-17% loss due to the overheads and bit CRC Checks.

ViewQuest is more of a Hosting company. Their sales are not aggressive as any of the competitors, and they claim to provide IPTV, and basic packages cost  $59.95 with speeds varying from 30Mbps to 97Mbps. Servers and Services are provided by Hurricane Internet via Equinix.

So what is Open Net, Nucleus Connect and NGN? Open Net is a consortium of ISP , Companies to provide the Fiber Internet Infrastructure to your home or office, and connected to the backbone of the Singapore Internet Exchange, and your service is diverted to your respective ISP namely SingTel,M1,Starhub,MyRepublic,ViewQuest. Their infrastructure ends at the white box called the OpenNet Fiber TP Point and from there, the fiber connects to a device similar to a modem provided by Nucleus Connect, a Starhub Company (WTF right??) and they act as a router and WAN Connector to your ISP just like their SCV Modem. From there, it's connected to your own router provided by yourself or ISP. Think of them as a Tunnel Provider.

So who will you choose?? If possible, Fiber but then not all homes are connected. Those just completed in 2011 and later are not part of the 95% Open Net Promise for connectivity, so in retrospect, many in Teban Gardens, majority of Punggol and Sengkang are not connected or the infrastructure not available yet.

Their excuse?? Not enough Banglas to fix it up.. no joke... they are only promising 3000 homes to be fibered up each week and 2900 to be activated / switched on per week.

So much for progress.

You decide.

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