Singapore Telecommunications Limited (SingTel) today announced the launch of its month-long 3G customer trial. It has selected 150 consumers and corporate customers to take part in the trial, which will last from 24 September to 24 October 2004.
SingTel had earlier invited mobile customers to submit their interest in taking part in the 3G trial. The trial users were selected based on their current voice and data usage which provided a good indication that they will be able to experience the full effects of 3G in their normal daily usage of mobile services.
Those taking part in the trial will be provided with a 3G handset and have their existing mobile phone numbers ported and tied to a 3G SIM card. They will also be given free usage of 3G services such as local video calls and video streaming for the duration of the trial.
Mr Lim Chuan Poh, SingTel's Executive Vice President (Consumer Business) and CEO of SingTel Mobile, said: "The trial is one step in the whole process of launching 3G services. The feedback from our trial customers will help in improving our 3G service offering ahead of commercial launch. It will also enable us to determine and re-affirm key marketing strategies that we intend to adopt in order to meet the needs of our customers better."
Starting from the southern tip and Central Business District, SingTel's 3G network rollout has progressed well and is now able to cover the bulk of populated areas in Singapore. By the end of the year, the network rollout will reach the northern and north-eastern part of the island to fulfill SingTel's nationwide coverage obligations.
During the trial, customers will experience seamless 2G/3G handover when they move to places without 3G coverage. The handover experience forms an important part of the trial.
Mr Lim noted: "SingTel will be among the first operators in the world to offer seamless 2G/3G handover. This is important as customers in Singapore travel overseas frequently and some places may only have 2G coverage. We have vigorously tested several 3G handsets in order to ensure that these are capable of performing this handover seamlessly overseas. The results have been very satisfactory."
The trial will be part of a series of phases that SingTel is adopting for the launch of 3G services.
Mr Lim said: "We need to understand that all new technologies take time to mature and stabilise. Our expectations of 3G must therefore be set right. We see 3G as an evolution and not a revolution. We also recognise that 3G will not be an immediate revenue generator but we are prepared to invest in it for the long term."
Part of SingTel's investment will be in encouraging the use of video calls, which is one of the unique features of 3G. As a full service provider, SingTel is uniquely positioned to deliver a 'video trilogy' in terms of video communications across all platforms - mobile, fixed line and Internet. Customers are thus able to enjoy video calls whether they are at work, at home or on the move.
Mr Lim explained: "Our strategy with 3G is not to launch it as a standalone technology or service. 3G represents a new enablement that allows us to integrate the entire living environment into a video world. So whether our customers are at home with a fixed line video phone, in the office using their PC or on the move with their 3G mobile phones, they will be able to enjoy audio-visual communications with their family, friends, and loved ones. It is no longer just a voice, a text or picture message."
Mr Lim added: "While 3G will initially attract the tech-savvy and high-end users, we would like more customers to see 3G as a family-friendly service. We hope through video, we will bring communications closer for the people and rekindle some of the intimacy which has been lost through text-based communications technology in recent years."