Singtel announces NB-IoT and Cat-M1 network rollout

Singtel will be rolling out a Cat-M1 IoT network across Singapore by the end of September.

Singtel has announced that it will be rolling out a Cat-M1 Internet of Things (IoT) network across Singapore by the end of next month, with the telecommunications company also looking to launch a narrowband IoT (NB-IoT) network in future.

The Cat-M1 network will allow for IoT devices with battery lives of up to 10 years and a broader range of coverage than traditional mobile broadband, and will allow businesses to make voice-over-LTE (VoLTE) calls across the network using smaller devices such as wearables.

According to Singtel, it will also "harness its cybersecurity expertise" in ensuring that any businesses connecting to its IoT network will be secure, with CEO of Singtel Group Enterprise Bill Chang saying the network will aid Singapore's smart nation initiative through digital transformation.

Singtel has invited businesses and technology partners to utilise its IoT Innovation Lab, launched in partnership with Ericsson, to develop and trial IoT solutions.

"The launch of our network provides an ideal platform for the proliferation of IoT devices and applications," Chang said.

"We welcome businesses to be part of the growing IoT ecosystem by leveraging on our robust infrastructure and network."

Earlier this month, Singtel also said that it is hoping to showcase its Massive Multiple-Input Multiple-Output (Massive MIMO) network technology on August 9 -- Singaporean National Day -- after working with Ericsson, Huawei, and ZTE on the solution.

Singtel said it will use base stations with 64 antennas that can channel signals to individual devices, rather than a wide-area broadcast, as well as using the 2.5GHz spectrum band.

Singtel had spent SG$563.7 million during Singapore's spectrum auction in April to acquire 3x 5MHz in the 2.5GHz band, 4x 10MHz in the 700MHz band, and 2x 10MHz in the 900MHz band.

Ericsson and Singtel in January also launched 450Mbps speeds across the latter's entire 4G network in Singapore for customers with compatible smartphones, with the companies announcing attaining speeds of up to 1Gbps in a trial.

In July, Singtel then began its LTE-A rollout on Orchard Road, which it said would be extended to Raffles Place and Clarke Quay before the end of August. According to the telco, it was able to attain speeds of 800Mbps via triple aggregation, 4x4 MIMO, and 256 Quadrature Amplitude Modulation (QAM) using Ericsson technology.

Ericsson and Singtel have additionally been working on a "blueprint" for 5G deployment across Singapore since January 2015, and completed a live trial of License Assisted Access (LAA) 4G in July last year.

In February last year, Singtel and Ericsson also announced their collaboration on enabling Singtel's 4G network for IoT, including a trial of NB-IoT technology during 2016. In March, they then unveiled an IoT ecosystem dubbed the Assured+ Consumer Connected Device Solution for operators, networks, and devices.

Ericsson has also been working with Telstra on Cat-M1, with the network switched on across the Australian incumbent's 4GX network last week in an effort to boost IoT uptake.

"We see this as an investment in the IoT ecosystem in Australia that will support new startups across a range of sectors, including agriculture, transportation, healthcare, and mining," Telstra COO Robyn Denholm said.

"Cat-M1 operates over our expansive 4GX coverage, and we will shortly deploy range extension capability which will take the Cat M1 coverage footprint for compatible Cat-M1 devices to around 3 million square kilometres."

Updated at 9am AEST, August 8, 2017: Singtel's NB-IoT network will not be completed by September.

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