Saturday 9 May 2020

Singapore Launching Standalone 5G in January 2021

The Singapore regulator IMDA (Infocomm Media Development Authority) recently announced Singtel Mobile Singapore Pte Ltd (Singtel) and the Joint-Venture Consortium (JVCo) formed by StarHub Mobile Pte Ltd (StarHub) and M1 Limited (M1) as the winners of its 5G Call for Proposal (CFP).

Singtel and JVCo will be allocated 100MHz of 3.5GHz spectrum each to deploy nationwide 5G networks. Other mobile operators can access these network services through a wholesale arrangement. IMDA had earlier stated that each lot of spectrum will cost at least 55 million Singapore dollars (roughly US$ 40 million).

Additionally, IMDA will allocate 800MHz of mmWave spectrum each to SingTel, StarHub and M1 to deploy localised high-capacity 5G hotspots. With this, M1, StarHub, Singtel, TPG Telecom and mobile virtual network operators would be able to offer retail 5G services to end users. The frequency was not disclosed but over the last couple of years there have been trials taking place between 26 and 28 GHz.

The winners will roll out 5G Standalone (SA) networks from January 2021, keeping pace with first-mover cities in other countries. The winners will be required to provide coverage for at least half of Singapore by end-2022, scaling up to nationwide coverage by end 2025.

The winners will deploy SA networks that can deliver full-fledged 5G capabilities, such as network slicing, ultra-reliable and low latency communications, and massive machine type communications. The two nationwide 5G networks will also be supplemented by localised mmWave deployments that provide high capacity 5G hotspots. Businesses and consumers will benefit from faster network speeds among other exciting applications.

In their press release, M1 said:

M1 has been leading in Singapore’s enterprise segment to trial 5G use cases through a range of partnerships. A collaboration with PSA Corporation and IMDA demonstrated the potential use of 5G in a Smart Port for Automated Guided Vehicles (AGV) and remote control of container handling equipment to support maritime operations. M1 has also partnered with Keppel Offshore & Marine (Keppel O&M) to establish reliable ship-to-shore communication for autonomous vessels, and support mission-critical Internet-of-Things (IoT) maritime applications. Other collaborations include M1 partnering with Nanyang Technological University (NTU) to help develop the first 5G cellular vehicle-to-everything (C-V2X) communication, as well as with Singapore University of Technology and Design (SUTD) for remote operations of robots using 5G.

Leading up to the 5G network licence award, M1 has also been able to demonstrate 5G technological advancements in the consumer space. At this year’s Chingay Parade, M1 leveraged its 5G SA technology to livestream an aerial footage of the longest dragon dance, one of the key highlights of the parade through the lens of a camera drone. M1 also collaborated with Haidilao’s new flagship restaurant to turn it into a smart restaurant with enhanced customer experience.

The 5G network licence award cements M1’s strength in network development and deployment capabilities. M1 was also the first operator in Singapore to offer nationwide 4G service, ultra high-speed fixed broadband, fixed voice and other services on the Next Generation Nationwide Broadband Network (NGNBN).

In their press release StarHub said:

As a leading wireless service provider for Singaporean consumers, enterprises and government clients, StarHub will encourage many application developers and 3rd parties to leverage the new, low latency, more secure, faster transmission 5G technology and develop new applications and use cases. StarHub believes 5G will play a pivotal and transformative role in supporting the digital needs of the society, accelerating Singapore’s digital economy and delivery of many essential services as well as creating new job opportunities. 

With its existing wireless network capabilities and expertise, and as the fastest 4G network according to the most recent IMDA IMconnected Report, StarHub will complement its existing wireless capabilities with new 5G technology. StarHub’s 5G services will be deployed via standalone architecture using the 3.5GHz spectrum, as well as non-standalone architecture using the 800 MHz of mmWave spectrum. This dual approach will fast track the rollout of services, so that both retail and enterprise customers can experience the benefits and innovative applications that 5G can enable with its high-speed, low-latency and secure campus networking capabilities.

Today, StarHub is broadcasting ‘live’ 5G signals from its headquarters and it is also the first in Singapore to introduce 5G cellular-on-wheels vehicle to showcase the benefits of 5G island-wide. StarHub has been conducting trials and proof-of-concepts with its 5G ecosystem of technology, business, institutes of higher learning and public agency partners, to co-create innovative, highly relevant and sustainable 5G use cases across the six national strategic clusters.

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