At its ‘Powering Up Singapore With 5G’ event, Singtel (the leading network operator in Singapore) revealed a number of 5G Standalone (SA) use cases, according to a press release. The new use cases span a variety of sectors from entertainment to mobility and bring to life the benefits of 5G by redefining live, work and play experiences with blazing fast speeds and near-instantaneous response times.
Singtel said it continues to expand its 5G network, which now covers over two-thirds of Singapore, adding sites in densely populated areas like Choa Chu Kang, Punggol, Sembawang and Tampines. In addition, it has expanded its 5G indoor coverage to more major shopping malls island-wide such as Funan, West Mall, Tampines Mall, Northpoint City and Waterway Point.
Minister for Communications and Information Mrs Josephine Teo highlighted the role of 5G, “Mobile networks and data exchanges are key building blocks for the digital infrastructure. 5G, which promises to be ultra-fast and supports near-zero latency, can change the way we live and work in profound ways, and become essential for the digital developments of the future. Building a digital future is certainly about the hardware, software, systems and standards. It is equally about the people and skills. For that, the Government will continue to invest in reskilling and upskilling our people so that they can achieve not just digital literacy but digital mastery. This way, everyone can benefit from the infrastructure.”
Yuen Kuan Moon, CEO of Singtel said: “With the maturing of 5G technology, we’re excited to unlock the benefits of a 5G-enabled reality for consumers and enterprises. Its potential to transform business models and deliver enhanced products and services on a scale like never before, will spur Singapore’s digital economy as the country moves into post-COVID recovery. As part of our strategic reset to focus on 5G, we are accelerating our roll-out and the creation of new services.”
Ookla® recently declared Singtel the ‘Fastest 5G mobile operator in Singapore’ in H1 2021 for clocking in the highest median mobile network speed.
Singtel said the arrival of 5G has proved timely against a backdrop of accelerated digital adoption as a result of safe distancing and remote working. With more people using digital channels to go about their lives, there has been a corresponding increase in demand for fast and reliable connectivity. This is reflected in a recent Singtel survey, in which majority of consumers indicated that 5G-enabled services such as augmented reality books and virtual reality entertainment events appeal to them.
The new use cases powered by Singtel’s 5G SA network include:
- 5G-powered Remote Racing: Partnering with Formula Square to deliver an immersive, lag-free experience racing remote-controlled cars powered by 5G at Southside, Sentosa;
- 4K Live Streaming: Working with S.E.A. Aquarium to bring Singapore’s first underwater 5G livestream of the S.E.A. Aquarium to UNBOXED, Singtel’s unmanned pop-up retail store, where visitors can immerse themselves in the aquatic wonders of the aquarium, viewing manta rays, sharks and shoals of fishes in vivid 4K resolution;
- Enhancing the Arts and Culture Experience: Collaborating with the National Gallery Singapore and Esplanade – Theatres on the Bay to deliver cultural and art experiences over 5G, from the Singtel Special Exhibition Gallery and the Singtel Waterfront Theatre when it opens officially next year. This will enable more people with opportunities to get up close and personal with local artists and performers amid prevailing safe distancing measures;
- Co-creating the future of hybrid work: Teaming up with Samsung and Zoom to introduce a Productivity Data Pass plan offering data-free usage of Zoom, enabling customers to connect to family and colleagues seamlessly and lag-free. This, coupled with Samsung devices such as DeX, will enable customers to set up virtual workstations easily.
Singtel has also signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Ericsson and global industry partners to collaborate on the development and deployment of advanced 5G enterprise solutions in Singapore. The agreement will allow companies to leverage Ericsson’s technology expertise and Singtel’s 5G network, test facilities and capabilities to innovate solutions and scale them up for global deployment.
Singtel launched its 5G SA network in May, via a partnership with South Korea’s Samsung. The 5G SA sites run on 3.5 GHz spectrum. Singtel had initially launched its 5G Non-Standalone (NSA) network in September of 2020, using spectrum in the 3.5 GHz frequency as well as existing 2.1 GHz spectrum.
As part of its 5G SA deployment, Singtel has already deployed over 1,000 5G sites across Singapore in strategic locations such as Orchard Road, the Central Business District, Marina Bay, Harbourfront and Sentosa, as well as major residential areas including Sengkang, Punggol, Pasir Ris, Jurong East and Woodlands.
Singtel also demonstrated at the event how 5G is empowering industries and businesses with greater productivity and operational efficiency. Key to this is multi-access edge computing (MEC), an infrastructure that maximizes 5G’s low latency, high bandwidth benefits and enables functions like real-time computing, data storage, data analytics and AI services at the edge. MEC supports massive and faster connectivity of devices, bringing to life more mission critical enterprise applications than before, such as real-time asset tracking and automated quality inspection in factories and smart city planning.
During the event, Guest of Honor Mrs Josephine Teo, Minister of Communications and Information and IMDA’s Chief Executive Mr Lew Chuen Hong were ‘teleported’ into the venue via Singtel’s 5G network, in which their high-resolution likeness were beamed from a separate location. The network’s ultra-low latency meant that Minister Teo and Mr Lew could ‘interact’ seamlessly with Mr Yuen on stage.
Singtel aims to intensify its 5G SA deployment across the island in the coming months as handset manufacturers progressively roll out 5G SA software updates for existing 5G handsets and launch more 5G SA-compatible models in Singapore later this year.
Singtel 5G SA:
The operator said it has deployed over a thousand 5G sites across Singapore in strategic locations such as Orchard Road, the Central Business District, Marina Bay, Harbourfront and Sentosa, as well as major residential areas including Sengkang, Punggol, Pasir Ris, Jurong East, Woodlands, and more.
However, it appears that service availability will be fairly limited at first. Indeed, Singtel indicated that only “selected customers” are being given “early access” to the new 5G SA network. The ONLY 5G SA device currently available is the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G smartphone, said to be running a “Singtel-exclusive beta release of Samsung’s 5G SA software.”
“We are thrilled to introduce supercharged connectivity on Singapore’s most powerful 5G network. Our customers will be among the first in the world to enjoy the benefits that 5G SA can deliver. Wherever they are, consumers can stream 4K videos seamlessly, share favorite photos and moments with friends instantaneously, and enjoy lag-free gameplay and video conferencing. 5G SA will also fuel new innovations, being a key enabler of the digital transformation across industry sectors,” said Ms. Anna Yip, CEO, Consumer Singapore, Singtel.
Customers can register their interest at www.singtel.com/5GSAearlyaccess to be one of the first customers to experience Singtel’s 5G SA network. Customers with creative entries on how 5G will transform their lives will be selected to receive a “5G Power Up” kit that comprises a 5G SA SIM card, a Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G handset and cool accessories.
Winners who receive the 5G Power Up Kit will need to perform just TWO tasks to be eligible to exchange their test phone for a brand New Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G:
- Test the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G SA-ready handset on Singtel 5G and provide feedback at singtel.com/5gfeedback
- Post a video of yourself on either Facebook or Instagram with a caption on how Singtel 5G transforms the way you live, work and play. Remember to make the post public, tag @singtel and hashtag #FirstonSingtel5GSA #galaxy5G #Galaxy5GxSingtel
Since September 2020, Singtel claims to have been operating Singapore’s fastest 5G NSA network under a market trial, offering 5G speeds of up to 1.2 Gbps. Within a year of receiving its 5G licence, Singtel has now turned on 5G SA and deployed over a thousand 5G sites across Singapore in strategic locations such as Orchard Road, the Central Business District, Marina Bay, Harbourfront and Sentosa, as well as major residential areas including Sengkang, Punggol, Pasir Ris, Jurong East, Woodlands, and more. It is the only telco in Singapore to roll out in-building 5G, covering popular malls such as VivoCity and Ngee Ann City, and will continue to expand its indoor 5G footprint in the coming months.
Singtel is focused on accelerating 5G innovation and 5G adoption in enterprises, launching Genie, the world’s first portable 5G-in-a-box platform and expanding its 5G ecosystem with 5G Multi-access Edge Compute trials in collaboration with Microsoft Azure and Amazon Web Services.
Samsung’s 5G Core Network has been developed and verified in a cloud native environment. Designed based on ‘Micro-services’, ‘Containers’ and ‘Stateless’ architectures,’ it will take full advantage of the cloud, acting as the key enabler for the rapid realization of 5G innovation. Samsung says it will boost 5G Core network function development and verification capabilities as well as enable automatic service upgrades and deployments for optimized operational efficiency.
Image courtesy of Samsung
Other 5G SA networks coming to Singapore:
Antina Pte. Ltd. (Antina), the #2 mobile operator in Singapore has selected Nokia for its 5G SA network deployment. Antina is a very new telco which was incorporated on September 3 , 2020 in Singapore. It has been operating for 256 days before that.
Nokia has already laid claim to launching the first 5G RAN and SA network for the M1-StarHub Joint Venture, although the commercial deployment of the network has not yet been announced.
Nokia will provide equipment from its comprehensive AirScale portfolio and CloudRAN solution to build the Radio Access Network (RAN) for the 5G SA infrastructure, utilizing the 3.5GHz spectrum band. Nokia will supply 5G base stations and its small cells solution for indoor coverage, as well as other radio access products. Nokia’s 5G SA technology will provide Singaporean enterprises with the opportunity to explore multiple new use cases due to the network’s higher bandwidth, higher uplink speeds and lower-latency.
M1 and StarHub plan to jointly build a 5G network but will offer services independently. In April 2020, the Singapore regulator awarded two 5G licenses to Singtel and Antina, the joint venture (JV) between the second- and third-largest telcos, StarHub and M1.
Singtel and the JV were assigned 100MHz of 3.5GHz spectrum, while Singtel, StarHub and M1 each received 800MHz of mmWave spectrum for “localized coverage.”
All three operators nevertheless decided to offer 5G NSA in the meantime, in order to give users an early taste of 5G services.
State of 5G SA Networks:
5G SA network rollouts remain scarce and underwhelming (e.g. T-Mobile US) as most operators around the world are initially focusing on the less complicated 5G NSA.
That’s really a no brainer: 5G NSA is based on 4G LTE core network (EVC), signaling and network management, while 5G SA. 5G Core Network implementation has not been standardized and there is no definitive spec that will lead to similar implementations. Hence, 5G SA/5G Core network is proprietary to each network operator and requires a UNIQUE 5G SA software update for each 5G endpoint (smartphone, tablet, laptop, IoT, robot, etc). Most 5G network operators say they will implement 5G SA in a “cloud native core network,” whatever that is?
According to a March 2021 update from the Global Mobile Suppliers Association (GSA), about 68 operators in 38 countries have been investing in public 5G SA networks in the form of trials, planned or actual deployments. This compares with over 400 operators known to be investing in 5G licenses, trials or deployments, the GSA said.
Singapore network operator Singtel has opened Singapore’s first live 5G facility in conjunction with Ericsson and Singapore Polytechnic. The 5G facility at Singapore Polytechnic’s Dover Road campus is named “5G Garage.” It is connected to Singapore’s pilot 5G network using the 3.5-GHz spectrum allocated by regulator IMDA for 5G trials. 5G Garage will serve as a training center, test bed and idea creation lab to develop Singapore’s 5G ecosystem.
The strategic objectives are:
• Build and operate a 5G facility where enterprises can develop and test 5G solutions
• Co-develop 5G solutions relevant to industries such as transportation, logistics, healthcare and manufacturing
• Develop and deliver 5G wireless technology curriculum for the SP’s School of Electrical and Electronic Engineering
• Develop 5G capabilities of our workforce
Mark Chong, Group Chief Technology Officer, Singtel, said, “Singtel is pleased to partner Ericsson and SP on our 5G Garage initiative. As Singapore advances its digital economy and becomes a Smart Nation, the benefits of 5G will first be seen in enterprises, especially in their digital transformation when they integrate technology into their processes, services and products. With 5G standards largely established (????), now is an opportune time for SMEs and enterprises to join us in shaping our 5G future.”
“As Singapore advances its digital economy and becomes a Smart Nation, the benefits of 5G will first be seen in enterprises, especially in their digital transformation when they integrate technology into their processes, services and products,” Chong added.
Martin Wiktorin, Country Manager Singapore, Brunei and the Philippines, Ericsson, states: “5G has the potential to transform industries and bring enhanced mobile broadband experience for consumers. At Ericsson, we are already collaborating globally with 42 operators, 45 institutes and 31 industry partners, to create a thriving 5G ecosystem. We are delighted to partner Singtel and Singapore Polytechnic towards the setting up of the 5G Garage, which we hope will stimulate SP students to come up with new 5G use cases.”
Enterprises will be able to use the facility to develop and test 5G solutions, and the three parties plan to co-develop 5G solutions for industries ranging from transport and logistics to healthcare to manufacturing. As part of the collaboration, around 250 final year students from the polytechnic’s Diploma in Electrical & Electronic Engineering and Diploma in Computer Engineering will integrate 5G education and training into their coursework. Students in Singtel’s Engineering Cadet Scholarship Program will be given the opportunity to take up internships in the 5G garage.
5G Garage is the latest project in Singtel and Ericsson’s 5G Centre of Excellence programme which focuses on upgrading of employees’ skills, technology demonstrations, live field trials and collaborations with educational institutions. Last November, Singtel and Ericsson made Singapore’s first 5G data call over their 5G pilot network at one-north.
“The 5G Garage will be an exciting place where SP staff and students will work alongside Singtel, Ericsson and their partners to research and experiment with 5G technology, conduct 5G use case trials, and develop innovative 5G solutions and applications for businesses and industry,” said SP’s principal and chief executive, Mr Soh Wai Wah.
Out of more than 80 final-year projects developed by around 300 SP engineering students, three were chosen with potential for 5G Garage: an autonomous surveillance system that uses drones; a self-driving vehicle that can send real-time videos of the traffic situation to the cloud for data analysis and “intelligent” decision-making; and a pipe-climbing robot that uses magnetic wheels to attach itself onto metal structures and can provide a live feed of its surroundings via a mobile app.
Mr Mark Chong, Singtel group chief technology officer, said the engineering students demonstrated their capability to develop engineering solutions and help enterprises.
“The benefits of 5G will first be seen in enterprises, especially in their digital transformation when they integrate technology into their processes, services and products. With 5G standards largely established, now is an opportune time for SMEs and enterprises to join us in shaping our 5G future,” he said.
Infocomm Media Development Authority chief executive Tan Kiat How, the guest of honour at the event, said 5G will be an integral part of Singapore’s infrastructure. He said: “Apart from improved network speed and capacity, 5G’s significantly lower latency will allow us to maximize the potential of IoT (Internet of things) and smart city applications. These include autonomous vehicles, robotics or smart lamp posts.”
Singtel and Ericsson will launch what is touted as Singapore’s first “5G” pilot network later this year. The 5G pilot network, scheduled to go live by the fourth quarter this year, will be deployed at one-north in Buona Vista, the city-state’s science, business and IT hub. Later this year, the network will support trials of drones and autonomous vehicle wireless communications – applications where very low latency is required.
Singtel and Ericsson will also work with enterprises at one-north to develop new 5G use cases and tap into the business potential of 5G.
NOTE: The press release incorrectly states: “Ericsson’s 3GPP standards compliant 5G technology….” As we have noted in many, many posts, 3GPP specifications are not standards and the 3GPP “5G” submission to ITU-R WP 5D for IMT 2020 won’t be completed till July 2019.
“5G has the potential to accelerate the digital transformation of industries, as well as empower consumers with innovative applications,” Singtel CTO Mark Chong said. “We are pleased to take another bold step in our journey to 5G with our 5G pilot network at one-north and invite enterprises to start shaping their digital future with us,” Chong added.
He told The Straights Times (see photo below):
“The location is in line with the government’s initiative to designate one-north as a test bed for autonomous vehicles and unmanned aircraft systems. For a start, we plan to conduct a drone trial on the pilot network to showcase network slicing capability.”
Aileen Chia, deputy chief executive and director-general (Telecoms & Post) at Info-Communications Media Development Authority (IMDA), described the 5G pilot network as “an encouraging step towards commercialization, with live 5G trial networks made possible with the regulatory sandbox IMDA has in place…IMDA will continue to work closely with mobile service providers such as Singtel in their journey to build communication capabilities of the future and complement Singapore’s efforts towards a vibrant digital economy.”
Last year, IMDA announced plans to let Singapore telcos test 5G services for free over two years and waived frequency fees for 5G trials until December 2019, as part of efforts to fuel 5G development in Singapore.
At the launch event on Monday, July 23rd, Singtel and Ericsson demonstrated a range of potential 5G use cases, including cutting-edge 3D augmented reality (AR) streaming over a 5G network operating in the 28-GHz millimeter wave spectrum. Participants were able to view and interact with lifelike virtual objects such as a photorealistic human anatomy and a 360-degree image of the world. The immersive experience was then streamed in real-time to a remote audience via 5G.
“5G represents a key mobile technology evolution, opening up new possibilities and applications,” said Mr Martin Wiktorin, Country Manager for Ericsson Singapore, Brunei & the Philippines. “We believe that 5G will play a key role in the digital transformation of the Singapore economy. Demonstrating the possibilities in this showcase event will be a catalyst for engagements with Singapore enterprises.”
Image courtesy of Singapore Straights Times.
The 5G pilot network is the result of a joint 5G initiative Singtel and Ericsson formed last year. In October 2017, the two companies set up a joint Certificate of Entitlement (CoE) to develop 5G technology, with an initial investment of $2 million to be deployed over three years.
Besides Singtel, Singapore’s other mobile carriers have also begun conducting their own 5G trials. M1 said last month it has partnered with Huawei to run tests in the 28-GHz mmWave spectrum, with plans to conduct the first 3.5-GHz non-standalone standards compliant field trial in Southeast Asia by the end of the year, and a 28-GHz and 3.5-GHz standalone field trial by mid-2019. StarHub is also working with Huawei on its 5G network trials.’