Singtel, Ericsson set up 5G development facility

Located in Singapore, the centre is jointly funded at S$2 million over three years and will aim to drive the development of 5G in the city-state through skills upgrading, product demos, and industry collaboration.

Singtel and Ericsson will jointly drive the development of 5G services in Singapore, initially investing S$2 million (US$1.47 million) over two years to establish a facility to do so.

The Centre of Excellence would be accessible to Optus, Singtel's subsidiary in Australia, as well as its other associates across the region and Africa, the Singapore telco said in a statement Wednesday.

It added that the 5G centre here would provide skillsets development, product demos, and live field trials, and collaborate with tertiary institutions to test 5G radios and potential applications.

The new facility would begin operating later this year, with Ericsson conducting 5G workshops and offering consultation, and later facilitating field tests to train at least 100 Singtel engineers with core capabilities in designing and maintaining 5G networks.

Product demos also would be available at Singtel's headquarters here to showcase potential applications, such as augmented reality and haptic feedback in surgical operations. A mobile 5G testbed also would be rolled out next year to support live field trials with the telco's key enterprise customers.

Singtel CTO Mark Chong said the telco hoped to involve customers across various verticals, including transportation, port operations, and manufacturing and establish new business models.

5G, for instance, could enable remote management of autonomous guided vehicles, allowing port operators to improve operational efficiencies. It also could facilitate the use of sensors and other technologies such as drones and augmented reality to provide predictive maintenance and improve worker safety, said Singtel.

The Singapore telco and Ericsson in 2015 began working on a blueprint for 5G rollout and identify potential deployments. The partnership led a live LTE network deployment reaching download speeds of up to 1Gbps earlier this year. Singtel also roped in Huawei and ZTE, alongside Ericsson, in August 2017 to showcase its new Massive MIMO (Multiple-Input Multiple-Output) infrastructure, touting capabilities that could boost data speeds by up to 200 percent.

The Singapore government in May said it would allow telcos to test 5G services for free over the next two years, as part of efforts to spur the industry and uncover potential use cases for the next-generation communications network. It would waive 5G frequency fees until December 2019, estimated to provide telcos savings of S$11,200 a year.