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M1, Singtel and StarHub to close 2G networks from 1 April 2017

Zafirah Salim | June 16, 2015
IDA has required the MNOs to ensure that existing 2G subscribers, both consumers and business users, will transit smoothly to the 3G networks.

The Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore (IDA) has approved the request of local mobile network operators (MNOs) -- M1, Singtel Mobile and StarHub Mobile -- to close their 2G networks with effect from 1 April 2017.

Following this approval, IDA said that it has requested the MNOs to ensure that existing 2G subscribers, both consumers and business users, will transit smoothly to the 3G networks, adding that it will closely monitor the migration process.

To facilitate this transition, the MNOs have agreed for their 2G subscribers to continue with their existing mobile plans for free after they have migrated to the more advanced 3G networks, if they choose not to subscribe to new service plans. In addition, the MNOs will also offer low-cost 3G mobile phone packages. 

As such, the subscribers should check if their mobile phones are able to support 3G networks and if they need to change their SIM card to a 3G-enabled one. If they are using 2G-only mobile phones, they will need to change their phones before 1 April 2017. 

Migrating to 3G and 4G technologies

First introduced in 1994 in Singapore, the 2G networks support voice telephone calls, SMS and basic Internet services. 2G pre- and post-paid subscriptions have been declining steadily, from over 2 million subscribers in June 2011 to about 250,000 subscribers today, or about 3% of the mobile subscriptions in Singapore.   

According to IDA, the retirement of the 2G networks will allow for more efficient use of the scarce radio frequency spectrum to provide the more advanced 3G and 4G services, which offer more service features at higher broadband speeds.

Currently, all the three MNOs have achieved 99% nationwide coverage for 3G services as well as significant nationwide coverage of more than 98% at outdoor street level for 4G services. 

IDA said that it will stop accepting the registration of 2G-only mobile communication equipment from 15 September 2015. It also noted that mobile operators in countries like Japan, Korea, Australia and the US have already either closed or announced plans to close their 2G networks.


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