Rise of 5G in Singapore: Hype or Reality?

Assessing consumer conversation around a hot trend in APAC telecoms

The Asia-Pacific telecoms industry has gone from strength to strength in recent years. A slew of new technology has brought much hype to the industry. Predicting new trends in technology may seem a rather random endeavour; in fact, some regional commentators have even likened it to ‘playing roulette’.

But that no longer has to be the case. Armed with access to billions of online consumer conversations, APAC telecoms brands now have the ability to make solid, evidence-based evaluations of the industry, along with informed predictions of upcoming trends. Some examples of important topics for 2018 include the widespread adoption of 4G in the APAC region, amid a great deal of hype about the advent of 5G. Meanwhile, large players such as StarHub are helping to bring Singapore’s 5G goals to fruition, with the recent introduction of the island’s first 1Gbps mobile network.  

We used social listening to discover what APAC consumers are saying about 5G. We focused our data collection on Singapore, one of the APAC region’s most active telecoms markets. The tiny city-state is an excellent case study for this, as government data shows it had a mobile penetration rate of nearly 150% (as of June 2016), along with a wired broadband penetration rate of 98.4% and a wireless penetration rate of nearly 193%. Singapore’s commitment to becoming a ‘Smart Nation’ is likely a key driver of its advanced levels of digital technology adoption.

For the dataset, we gathered all social media posts from Twitter, Facebook, Reddit, Instagram, QQ, and Tumblr, plus conversation on blogs and forums. Data ranged from Jan 1, 2018 to August 2, 2018. We analysed data from the first half of 2018, to discover any consumer feedback or opinions that may indicate possible new directions for the 5G trend to evolve over the remainder of this year.

Discovering specialist audiences

First of all, we conducted a content source analysis to see exactly where most of the discussion was happening. We found an almost equal split between discussions on Twitter (43%) and on forums (52%). Other content sources produced negligible contributions to the overall conversation volume, accounting for less than 1% of the volume (except for 3% from Tumblr).

This finding is supported by a deeper dive into the content source analysis which shows that a single Singapore technology forum (Singapore Hardware Zone) is responsible for 43% of the overall forum conversation. The high volume of conversation happening on forums suggests that telecoms and 5G are topics of interest to a more specialist niche of the Singaporean audience, as opposed to just the general public. This can be a useful indicator for telecoms brands when deciding where best to focus marketing efforts, as well as indicating potential levels of expertise and interest among this audience.

From smart cities to national security

Another important area to focus on is examining the related topics within the conversation around telecoms and 5G. When analysing these in the below chart, we can see a variety of interesting associations that could be potentially noteworthy for telecoms brands.

For example, the keywords ‘5G technology’ are also linked to topics such as ‘smart city’, ‘Internet of Things (IoT)’, ‘mobility’ and ‘AI’. What’s more, the keywords ‘5G network’ are linked to the topic of ‘national security’. Understanding audience associations between the core topic and other related topics can reveal new and previously overlooked angles for telecoms brands to explore.

Exploring consumer priorities

Analysing topic clusters around 5G gives us an indicator of what’s most important among consumer discussions in this space. As might be expected, connectivity is one of the more significant topics, as shown by mentions of wireless, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, and GSMA.

In addition, major telecoms and mobile phone brands appear in the conversation including Huawei, Samsung and Ericsson, indicating some of the key players in this space. And finally, in line with Singapore’s national vision of becoming a smart city, we can see that 5G plays a key role in achieving this vision, a prominence which is reflected within the online discussion.


Social media listening data provides us with a range of useful insights into the telecoms and 5G trends in Singapore. In particular, we’ve seen that the topic of 5G tends to attract a more specialised audience, as shown by a high volume of conversation data coming from dedicated forums.

Want to learn more about how companies are leveraging consumer insights in the APAC region to make better business decisions and improve strategy? Listen to our APAC TechDay Webinar Series featuring StarHub Singapore, One Small Step Collective, and many others!

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