Singapore awards two licenses to construct standalone 5G networks


Singtel and a joint venture between StarHub Mobile and M1 were awarded licenses to build two nationwide standalone (SA) 5G networks in Singapore, , local telecommunications regulator IMDA said.

The winners were each allocated 100 megahertz of spectrum in the 3.5 GHz band.

IMDA noted that other mobile operators will be able to access these network services through a wholesale arrangement. Additionally, IMDA will allocate millimeter-wave spectrum to mobile network operators to deploy localized, 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 in Singapore.

According to IMDA, the StarHub-M1 consortium would need to deploy and own key parts of the 5G network that would then be leased to M1 and StarHub, each of which would continue to operate separately and offer retail services to their subscribers.

TPG Telecom had submitted a bid to obtain one of these two 5G licenses but failed to secure this key spectrum.

The two winners will deploy SA 5G networks beginning in January 2021 and will be required to provide coverage for at least half of Singapore by the end of 2022, scaling up to nationwide coverage by the end of 2025.

These 5G 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 regulator also said that both winners will be given provisional awards, pending their completion of regulatory processes, such as selection of spectrum lots and confirmation of technical and legal matters. IMDA will issue 5G licences to the respective winners once they have completed these processes.

Tan Kiat How, Chief Executive, IMDA, said, “The ongoing COVID-19 situation underscores the criticality of a robust digital infrastructure and the importance of timely investments to meet our national connectivity needs. We received three compelling proposals that met and in some cases, exceeded our requirements. The winners were selected based on a comprehensive assessment of how their proposals would deliver the best outcomes for businesses and consumers in Singapore.”

The two nationwide 5G networks will also be supplemented by localized mmWave deployments that provide high capacity 5G hotspots, IMDA said.

The regulator also said that the three local operators will also be given 800MHz of mmWave spectrum each to deliver localized 5G services.

StarHub said in a statement that its joint bid and partnership with M1 would enable both companies to “optimize infrastructure and spectrum costs”.

The carrier said it would deploy its 5G services via a standalone architecture using the 3.5GHz spectrum as well as non-standalone architecture using the 800 MHz of mmWave spectrum. This would “fast track” the rollout of services, StarHub added.

“With 5G, customers will not only enjoy faster network speeds and new digital services such as Augmented Reality for entertainment, education and healthcare, but the industry will also have the opportunity to deliver the promised Internet of Things (IoT) allowing interconnection of many devices and appliances for a smarter society. 5G is not about a new wireless technology; it’s about a smarter, more innovative and interconnected society as a result of combining 5G, devices, applications, data analytics and artificial intelligence,” said Peter Kaliaropoulos, CEO at StarHub.


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