M1 – BT
M1 rings up $280m network upgrade
Telco gives five-year contract to Huawei to start deploying LTE
M1 is pointing the way to higher mobile surfing speeds by being the first operator in the Southeast Asian region to kick-start a multimillion-dollar cellular network upgrade.
Singapore’s smallest operator yesterday announced it has awarded a five-year contract worth $280 million to Chinese mobile equipment maker Huawei to start deploying its LTE (long-term evolution) infrastructure.
LTE is widely seen as the successor to the third-generation (3G) mobile networks that are in use today. Its implementation would allow operators to offer blazing cellular download speeds of up to 300Mbps (megabits per second), faster than most fixed-line broadband packages available to consumers today.
‘We are building an advanced world-class mobile network which will truly enhance the wireless Internet experience for our customers, and cater to the increasing demands of future mobile devices and applications,’ M1’s CEO Karen Kooi said in a statement.
In the past year, local operators have seen more than two-thirds of their mobile customers flock towards smartphones, thanks to the widened distribution of the coveted iPhone and the deluge of Android-powered handsets.
The trend places an added strain on their 3G networks as more users are now surfing and streaming Web videos on their mobile phones. The LTE upgrade promises to boost an operator’s mobile bandwidth exponentially and allows it to offer new multimedia services such as high-definition videoconferencing and video downloads.
While M1 is the first in the region to go for the upgrade, its local rivals Singapore Telecommunications (SingTel) and StarHub are not far behind.
SingTel on Thursday said it will start deploying its LTE network in the fourth quarter of this year, with its long-term equipment supplier Ericsson likely to be its designated partner.
Once in place, it will help power services such as a new ‘business-class’ mobile broadband offering that gives subscribers a speedier and more reliable connection for surfing on the go, SingTel’s Singapore chief Allen Lew said.
Similarly, StarHub will roll out its LTE network later this year after successfully testing the technology in 2010, its spokeswoman Cassie Fong told BT.
To accommodate the network upgrade, the Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore has already set aside two mobile frequency spectrums – the 2.3 and 2.5 GHz (gigahertz) band and the 900 and 1800 MHz (megahertz) band – for operators to boost their cellular bandwidth.