Two more cellular providers in Hong Kong claimed to have completely covered subways.

Two more cellular providers in Hong Kong claimed to have completely covered subways.

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Two more cellular providers, namely smartone and one2free (CSL), have proclaimed that they have fully covered the MTR railways with their “fastest” 4G LTE network. The battle over 4G network was actually triggered by the launch of iPhone 5. Before the actual launch of iPhone 5 barely people talked about upgrading to 4G. Apple on their iPhone 5 announcement event listed smartone as the 4G provider of iPhone 5. It was correct, smartone uses 1800 GHz which met the technical requirement of iPhone 5 while the others don’t. Apparently, other providers who were also able to sell iPhone 5s were upset about it.

Smartone then also declared that they have successfully installed 4G network in one of Hong Kong’s busiest subway station – admiralty. 3HK then followed and claimed they have 4G all over already. Today, both Facebook page of smartone and one2free held that they have fully covered the railways.

Why was it so important for providers to compete in MTR for better coverage? The answer is simple, Hong Kong people mostly commute with subways. People here in Hong Kong normally commute 45 minutes a day. Therefore, the amount of data they use underground was considerable.

People always complain about the poor coverage not only happens to data network but simple cellular phone calls. A fast moving carrier like the MTR certainly is a challenge to the cellular signal. From one station to another, it requires a responsive network server and transmitter to maintain a good and continuous signal. It is not surprising that your calls are dropped easily between stations of could load a simple web page after a few minutes.

How much could such “full coverage” do? Normally 4G could boast a 20Mbps connection, when you are underground, you get only half of it. The network latency is not stable.

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Therefore, what’s said by the provider couldn’t mean much to the facts. The stability underground is not compatible with the connection strength on the ground.

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