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Singapore eyes 5G rollout in 2020, unveils roadmap

Singapore on Oct. 17 unveiled plans to begin deployment of 5G services in 2020, with the next-generation wireless service expected to cover at least half of the city-state by end-2022.

The Infocomm Media Development Authority, Singapore's telecom regulator, will facilitate the rollout of two nationwide stand-alone 5G networks. It called on the country's mobile network operators — M1 Ltd., Singtel, StarHub Ltd. and TPG Telecom Ltd. — to submit bids for one of two 3.5 GHz spectrum packages that will be used for stand-alone networks, or those that are built from scratch.

The IMDA will assign two blocks of 800 MHz spectrum to the two remaining mobile operators that were not selected to deploy stand-alone networks. These operators will deploy 5G services by upgrading their existing 4G networks.

The mobile operators have until Jan. 21, 2020, to submit their bids, with the spectrum to be awarded by mid-2020.

Stand-alone networks can deliver full 5G capabilities and support the development of new applications for smart factories, the internet of things and self-driving vehicles. Such networks offer better mobile broadband access with peak data rates of up to 20 Gbps. In contrast, non-stand-alone 5G networks rely on existing 4G infrastructure and can only offer higher data speeds, according to the IMDA.

Prior to the rollout, the IMDA will support two 5G enterprise use cases and one consumer use case. A group that includes TPG Telecom is working on the use of 5G and cellular vehicle-to-everything technologies in developing intelligent mobility solutions, while another group that involves M1 will research and test new 5G vehicle communications services. A third group that includes Singtel will test 5G for cloud gaming in an urban setting.

Singtel, StarHub and M1 are conducting 5G trials on the 3.5 GHz band. The IMDA agreed to waive spectrum fees for bands used in 5G trials until December.