Singtel vs Starhub Broadband (Mid-2011)

I wrote a blog post on Singtel vs Starhub Broadband, exactly three years ago.  Interestingly, this is the most read and commented post until today.  I do get comments and questions now and then in the last three years on the this.  Apparently, it is a very topical topic still in Singapore.  It is time to write a new post on what I have seen in the last three years and what I will recommend.

Up until three years ago, I was with Starhub for over 7 years.  I had a mixed experience with Starhub Internet service, it can be very fast and it can be very slow too. Unfortunately, we can’t count our luck to have our internet service provider performance to be on acceptable level when we need it.  As I refuse to accept such performance level, I took SingNet ADSL 10 Mbps for 3 years contract.

In 2009, Starhub was really slow, I can’t watch a single YouTube clip without frequent buffering. It is really unusable in that sense.  In contrast with SingNet, YouTube performed very well and satisfactorily.  I found that Starhub has the “raw” speed which can be great and appreciated at times. A connection to local server e.g. to download Linux ISO Images, could hit almost maximum connection rate.  It is also rated at higher speed that SingNet’s.   On normal web browsing, SingNet peformed reliably and I had never have any issues with it.  I would switch between the two as I felt which one gave me better performance.

In 2010, Starhub improved significantly.  YouTube was accessible and their proxy seems to be really working well.  For downloads of windows updates or application updates, StarHub provided me with excellent speed and higher than what SingNet can ever do.  These are cached content i.e. someone has downloaded it before and it is stored in StarHub Proxy server. The next person who downloaded the same file will get great download speed as the file is already within StarHub Network.  Unfortunately for Singnet, I had proxy issues. Their transparent proxy (which is transparent, meaning that user can’t avoid it as it is a path between our computer and the destination server) has problems occasionally. Some websites such as dyxumm.com weren’t accessible. Switched to StarHub, everything worked well.

In 2011, Starhub continues to provide a great download speed for cached content, while Singnet is performing slower than previous year.  When I update my iTunes apps, I can get up to 3.5 MB/seconds or 28 Mbit/s which is really great. Singnet at its full speed (10 Mbps) can only offers up to 1.2 MB/s. With this, I always use Starhub when updating my iTunes apps.

Something great happens in 2011 – Internet through Fibre.  It offers up to 200 Mb/s for local servers and enhanced upload speed to level that we never seen before i.e. up to 15 Mb/s for international traffic.  My contract expired this year and I had to make a decision – Stay with Cable & ADSL or move to fibre optics.  I’m sure many will have this questions too. I decided to stay with ADSL but upgraded to 15 Mbps.  For SingNet, a user can always upgrade to Fibre anytime but once you’re in Fibre plan, he/she will be locked in for two years.  Another major consideration is that I’m a Mac user. I need to use Airport Extreme Base Station as my primary router, the fibre plan forces user to use provider’s RG (Residential Gateway) which is either 2Wire from SingNet or Huawei for others. I found 2Wire router for ADSL (did not test fibre one) can’t handle high connection load and it is limited in how user can configure the settings. For Huawei RG, I read many complaints from users in HWZ forum.

I will stay with ADSL for the reason that I refuse to use provided RG.  Now, there is a known solution to make it works with user’s own router. It is not easy and will require a managed-switch.  I prefer to keep things simple and less devices to troubleshoot when things go awry.  SingTel is also still very rigid i.e. doesn’t allow one to keep ADSL service without a contract, so I can’t have both ADSL and Fibre running at the same time and choose one later on.

As Fibre costs more than old plans, I would suggest to stay with Cable and ADSL if you’re using Mac or need to use your own router. Otherwise, choose a plan that suits you well. Just remember that the high speed is only local traffic, the international traffic is capped at the same level as current cable & ADSL plan. Starhub MaxOnline Premium offers 16 Mbps International traffic, while SingTel ADSL offers up to 15 Mbps International traffic. The highest fibre plan offers 20-25 Mbps International traffic, but if we compare similar price plans, it offers the same 15 Mbps or less International traffic.  I don’t see the appeal moving to fibre at the moment.

Have a question? Ask a way and I’ll answer them in comment section.

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4 Responses to “Singtel vs Starhub Broadband (Mid-2011)”

  1. Kenneth Says:

    Hi Leonard,

    Please allow me to share my recent experiences. I am on Singnet’s 10 Mbps plan.

    I have a total of 1 PC cabled to Singnet’s 2 Wire modem and 7 gadgets using wifi. I live in a 2 bedroom apartment. The 7 gadgets are a laptop, a PS3, a xBox360, an iPad, a mac mini, and an iPod Touch, and my son’s samsung mobile.

    Recently my wife discovered watching Korean and Taiwan drama online which requires downloading their online players. Since this discovery and after a period of time, I notice that I keep getting dropped connections. After several visits from Singnet, it was determined that the cause of my dropped connections is due to my wife’s online drama watching. So I was advised to reset my modem’s firewall when necessary, ie when dropped connections become too frequent.

    So, recently I started to consider getting Starhub’s broadband to supplement the internet usage in my home, particularly my son’s obsession with downloading stuff from the internet into his iPod using the mac mini.

    What are your thoughts on another broadband subscription? My reasoning is for my wife to continue to enjoy her dramas, while the rest of the family hooks up to Starhub. The continued dropped connections can be frustrating sometimes.

    Cheers,
    Kenneth

  2. Daniel Jong (@DanielJong1) Says:

    how do we get the fibre broadband service? is it like the ADSL Modem? actually i don’t quite understand the broadband thingy..btw i am currently using singtel no-3mbps. i am planning to upgrade to 6mbps. would it be enough to watch youtube videos and play online games smoothly?

  3. Don Tan Says:

    Hi Leonard,

    I’m interested to know more about configuring the RG provided by Singtel with a network of Apple devices. I have 2 time capsules and 1 airport extreme on the network, I’m not sure how to make this work well. I currently suffer from signal dropping occasionally and have to restart all the devices. I’ve made several calls to Singtel to ask for assistance but they obviously do not provide such services.

    Do look forward to your reply.
    Don

  4. kmhui Says:

    Thanks for writing the article. Very practical, informative.
    I have been with Starhub maxonline for move than 10 already, Instead of upgrading, I gradually opted for downgrading, currently at the ‘lowest’ speed ever at a price of $20+. Beginning of this year 2011, have been experiencing frequent connection drop, takes a long time to connect.

    My spouse now frequently uses skype and conferencing for work, and the connection is terrible. The most important consideration for now is to enable skype and conferencing to work seamlessly. Should I consider fibre?

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