Singapore gets three bids for 5G licences

All four mobile operators in the Asian market have submitted their bids for 5G licences, with two making a joint submission. The successful bidders are expected to be awarded the spectrum by mid-2020.
Written by Eileen Yu, Senior Contributing Editor

All four mobile operators in Singapore have submitted their bids for 5G licences in the country, with two making a joint submission. If chosen, the operators are slated to be awarded spectrum by mid-2020. 

Industry regulator Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) said Monday it received three bids at the close of the 5G Call for Proposal on February 17, with Singtel Mobile and TPG Telecom submitting one bid each. M1 and StarHub submitted a joint bid for a licence, following their announcement last month that they had inked an agreement to do so. 

In a statement on its impending rollout, TPG said it had roped in ST Engineering and the latter's joint-venture company with SP Group, called SPTel, to develop 5G use cases for several key verticals, namely, airports, maritime, smart estates, and the public sector. 

The partnership would see ST Engineer's electronics unit provide the underlining platform as well as applications to facilitate these use cases, while SPTel would tap its software-defined network capabilities, including the provision of Multi-Access Edge Computing nodes, to support the delivery of such 5G applications.

According to IMDA, bids will be assessed based on a set of criteria that includes network security design and resilience, network performance and rollout, and spectrum offer price. The base price of one 100MHz lot has been set at SG$55 million. 

Singapore is expected to have two full-fledged standalone 5G networks covering more than half the island by end-2022, with deployments to begin this year. Full islandwide coverage is expected by 2025 and operators of the two nationwide networks will have to provide wholesale services to other operators, including mobile virtual network operators such as Circles.Life

When awarded, the two mobile network operators would have to deploy the 3.5GHz spectrum band as standalone 5G networks, supporting capabilities such as network slicing and ultra-reliable low latency communications. These would be essential for the development of new applications such as smart factories, massive Internet of Things (IoT) devices, and autonomous vehicles. 

Last October, IMDA said two additional licences would also be made available if there was interest from the industry. These licences would enable telcos to run localised 5G services on existing 4G networks. In addition to these licences, the government agency added that it also would release two 800MHz lots of mmWave spectrum to the remaining mobile operators, which would then have the option to deploy the spectrum to offer localised 5G services running on their existing 4G networks. Unlike the full-fledged standalone 5G networks, these smaller networks would offer primarily higher broadband speeds.

IMDA had said it would support three use cases, including two enterprise initiatives, to help drive the development of the local 5G ecosystem. Amongst these is a 5G trial site at Singapore Science Park to develop and test cellular vehicle-to-everything (C-V2X) technologies, serving as a testbed for smart mobility services in a commercial space. 


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