Singtel unveils 5G network 'in a box' to run on-site customer trials

Pitched as a "portable 5G platform", the Singapore telco says its new Genie offering fits into a suitcase-sized container and provides a 5G environment in which enterprise customers can deploy and test their apps.

Singtel has unveiled a new product that it says will provide a 5G network environment anywhere, with an available power source, ion which enterprise customers can deploy and test their apps. Tucked inside a suitcase-sized container, the "portable 5G platform" will eliminate the need for these organisations to access an actual 5G network to do so. 

It would allow organisations to experience 5G capabilities and test use cases on-site, in their own premises, Singtel said in a statement Monday. It also could be tapped to facilitate events that required temporary 5G networks, such as hackathons, the telco said. 

Genie comprised a 5G network control kit as well as a standing mount with 5G radio antenna. It could be installed within an hour and powered by a standard electrical outlet. It would need access to a window to establish its location via GPS, according to Singtel. 

The box also was equipped with a 4G modem, so custom configurations could be pushed through the telco's core 5G standalone network and deployed to Genie according to the customer's specs and requirements. Once this was implemented in the initial setup, all data during the test then would be processed within the box itself. This meant that any device connecting to the apps on Genie could do so without any data leakage or security risk. In other words, tests would operate like they would in a private local network. 

Blocking China can lead to fragmented 5G market

With China-US trade relations still tense, efforts to cut out Chinese vendors such as Huawei from 5G implementations may create separate ecosystems and consumers could lose out on benefits from the wide adoption of global standards, as demonstrated with 4G.

Read More

A Singtel spokesperson told ZDNet the box was built using Ericsson's networking equipment and would provide the full experience and operational traits of a working 5G network. The Singapore telco is working with Ericsson to deploy its local 5G network

When asked, the spokesperson said the carrier had prepared "a few boxes" that were ready for use and planned to build more based on interest from the ground. It added that Genie could be assembled "quickly" with the help of Ericsson. 

He added that the box was available for free to Singtel customers, which would be given access for up to two weeks. 

The box also was built to work with the telco's 5G Multi-access Edge Compute (MEC) network, so enterprise customers could trial ultra-low latency applications indoors. These could include Industry 4.0 applications such as autonomous robots used in a smart factory, augmented reality, and drones.

"Without the need for prior installation of equipment or infrastructure, Genie creates an independent 5G network at any location where it is deployed and is suitable for enterprises that want to conduct trials but don't yet have a 5G network," Singtel said. 

The telco's vice president of 5G enterprise and cloud, Dennis Wong, said most organisations still were unfamiliar with how their operations could benefit from 5G technology. With access to such capabilities on their premises, Genie could enable businesses to quickly validate their applications with their partners or verify the performance of their use cases, without any installation cost, Wong said.

"The platform is particularly useful for large enterprises that need to test 5G before they decide to invest in their own dedicated network," he noted. "Seeing what 5G can do in their own premises will help more enterprises adopt 5G and speed up their digital transformation."

RELATED COVERAGE