AS EARLY as four years ago in South Korea, Singapore permanent resident Michael Park could download a 1GB file in a matter of minutes on his hotel's broadband network.
But in Singapore, this would have taken a few hours - even with the fastest broadband connection available.
Mr Park, a finance executive working in Singapore, said: 'My Korean colleagues complain about how slow the broadband is here. In Korea, download speeds hit at least three figures. There, you can stream movies on the Internet with no lag time.'
In a report by news agency Agence France-Presse last week, a global broadband-analysis site ranked Singapore's download speed 24th-fastest in the world.
With average speeds of 7.32Mbps, Singapore's speed is almost three times slower than that of South Korea, which is ranked first with 21.17Mbps.
It fared even worse with upload speeds, coming in 51st with its average of 0.75Mbps. That means the average user here would take more than two hours to upload a high-definition video online, compared to about 15 minutes for an average user in Japan, which had the second-fastest upload speed.
Speeds in Singapore are not as fast as in Hong Kong, Japan or South Korea, because the Republic is just starting to roll out the the ultra-fast fibre-optic broadband network that is widely accessible in those countries, said industry analyst Adeel Najam.
In those countries, download speeds of up to 1GB are possible. In Singapore, retail service providers, such as StarHub, SingTel and M1, currently cite maximums of 10Mbps for upload speeds and 100Mbps for download speeds.
Broadband users rarely hit maximum speeds, say experts.That is because speeds also depend on the broadband equipment used, network traffic, destination server and the number of people simultaneously using the Internet in a household.
Speeds here are set to improve with a new broadband network. By next year, some 60 per cent of all homes and offices are expected to be wired with fibre-optic cables that can support speeds of 1Gbps and more.
Its operating company, StarHub subsidiary Nucleus Connect, will sell bandwidth speeds of 100Mbps to 1Gbps to service providers. Last week, the island's free wireless-broadband network, Wireless@SG, also had its speed doubled from 512kbps to 1Mbps. -- MYPAPER