S'pore may auction 4G spectrum in 2012

Singapore government plans to auction 4G wireless spectrum rights as early as next year, while allowing operators to use existing frequencies to deploy Long Term Evolution.
Written by Vivian Yeo, Contributor

The Singapore government intends to auction off 4G wireless spectrum rights as early as next year, paving the way for a faster rollout of Long Term Evolution (LTE) in the country.

According to local reports, ICT regulator the Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore (IDA) announced Monday it would avail six lots of spectrum for service providers to implement high-speed mobile data services. 4G is said to offer speeds at five to 10 times faster than the existing 3G technology.

Currently, SingTel, StarHub, M1, QMax and PacketOne have the rights to use the 2.3/2.5 GHz spectrum, which the service providers successfully bid for in 2005. These rights will expire in 2015, after which the spectrum will be dedicated exclusively for the deployment of 4G services, said the IDA.

In the meantime, operators can seek approval from the government to deploy LTE with their existing spectrum rights in the 900/1800 MHz and 2.3/2.5 GHz bands.

Operators quoted in the reports did not specify when LTE services will be made commercially available. SingTel, StarHub and M1 have conducted or have ongoing LTE trials.

SingTel noted that the availability of 4G-compatible devices such as dongles and handsets is a key factor influencing the rollout of LTE services. An Ovum analyst ZDNet Asia spoke to last year predicted that 4G handsets will only be available in the mass market in 2012.

A Gartner report in October 2010 estimated that the 4G standard will only be a mainstream reality in five to 10 years.

The IDA in October last year awarded the country's remaining unused 3G spectrum lots to three local carriers--SingTel, M1 and StarHub--for S$20 million (US$15.6 million) each.

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