Singapore could be equipped with 5G networks as early as next year, according to Minister for Communications and Information S Iswaran.
Speaking at the Infocomm Media Development Authority’s (IMDA) SG: Digital Industry Day yesterday (17th October), Mr Iswaran said that the authority plans to issue four licenses — two for full-fledged 5G networks, and two smaller ones that will provide limited coverage.
This comes after a two-month public consultation earlier this year, which involved Singapore’s four telcos — Singtel, Starhub, M1 and TPG Telcom.
IMDA’s original plan was to only issue two licenses, but that has since changed to include all parties and foster innovation.
“Singapore’s 5G ecosystem will be the backbone of our digital economy,” Mr Iswaran said. “IMDA expects the greater competition to benefit consumers and businesses and bring about greater choice, more competitive prices and service innovation.”
Due to limited 5G airwaves, the two smaller networks will leverage on Millimetre Airwaves, another type of airwaves that are more abundant. These will be used in small ports and factories, to remotely operate cranes and vehicles round the clock, and be Singapore’s most immediate use of 5G technology.
5G airwaves, on the other hand, will only be available in 2021.
In the meantime, IMDA has called for interested parties to submit detailed proposals by January next year, which will be assessed on the telcos’ financial capability, network security, and the capability of providing 5G coverage for at least half of Singapore by 2022.
5G networks are said to be 20x faster than their 4G counterparts, but it looks like our phones achieving those speeds are at least a year away (5G-enabled phones are still a rarity in Singapore anyway).
The good news is that the 5G wheels are turning at the very least, and initiatives like Cloud gaming suggest that it’ll start to slowly make its way into our lives from here on out.
Feature Image Credit: Facebook@S Iswaran