M1 details plans for 5G in Singapore
While it covers a land area of a little more than 275 square miles, the island nation of Singapore is an economic powerhouse with a GDP per capita that puts it in the top 10 globally. The country has a thriving electronics, precision machinery and chemical manufacturing sector, the busiest container shipping port in the world and a rapidly developing services sector, including finance, insurance, ICT and tourism. Technologically advanced Singapore, which is among the most fiber-heavy on earth and has a mobile penetration rate of more than 150%, is prepping to launch 5G services in 2020 with an eye on super-charging its already hyper-connected society.
Singapore’s national plan for 5G
In May the country’s Infocomm Media Development Authority detailed its vision for consumer and enterprise 5G use cases and detailed the process for awarding spectrum licenses in the 3.5 GHz, 26 GHz and 28 GHz frequency bands to support the launch of “at least” two nationwide networks in 2020. The two millimeter wave bands are ready for use whereas incubment satellite communications in the 3.5 GHz band need to be cleared. An interesting kicker is in a footnote to IMDA’s announcement of public consultation in a qualifier for “MNOs” — “To achieve the full benefits of 5G, standalone 5G networks that do not ride on existing 4G networks will be required.”
The regulator calls out 5G applications including augmented and virtual reality, live streaming 4K/8K video, and enterprise tools that “improve productivity and efficiency in a wide range of sectors including manufacturing, transport, media and healthcare.” IMDA’s 5G policy objects are four-fold:
- “Maximize benefits of 5G technology for enterprises and consumers;
- “Facilitate efficient allocation of scarce resources such as spectrum;
- “Ensure that 5G networks are designed to be trusted and resilient;
- “And support the growth of a vibrant telecommunication sector.”
IMDA has put the impetus on the country’s three mobile network operators, Singtel, Starub and M1, to submit proposals addressing how they will deploy nationwide 5G if awarded spectrum access; proposals will be considered based on financial ability to meet deployment goals, adherence to network KPIs and “the provision of wholesale services to other mobile operators.”
When the second public consultation on 5G closed in July, all three mobile operators made submission and there was a bevy of commentary provided by global telecom stakeholders like Mavenir, Qualcomm, Ericsson, Federated Wireless and Nokia. For a full list of the feedback, click here to access the individual IMDA filings.
Partnering with Singapore’s National Research Foundation, IMDA has earmarked about $30 million toward trials and use case development, establishing testbeds and R&D into fields like cybersecurity. The government body also called out “maritime operations, urban mobility, smart estates, Industry 4.0, consumer applications and governments applications.”
As it moves to award spectrum for 5G launches, the government requires 50% coverage within 24 months from when 3.5 GHz licenses are made available and millimeter wave has to be put to use within a year of becoming available.
5G in Singapore: M1’s approach
Speaking at the recent 5G Asia event hosted in Singapore, M1 CTO Denis Seek said the operator is working “to making 5G a reality in Singapore soon. For the purpose of piloting and for gaining in-house technical competency, we plan to test both NSA and SA.” But, he said the deployment framework calls for going directly to SA, which also opens up revenue sources dependent on network slicing. That type of use case is “only feasible for SA architecture,” he said.
In its response to IMDA’s call for proposals said near-term 5G-enabled use cases would focus on “automation of processes,” using the enhanced mobile broadband and ultra reliable low latency communications capabilities of 5G. The operator called out use cases like “high quality video surveillance, remote operation of vehicles, machineries, and ground robotics to improve productivity and safety, which can potentially be deployed in various vertical industries (e.g. manufacturing and industrial plants, maritime ports / shipyards, drone applications, security etc).”
In its response, M1 also pointed out that other nations have already deployed commercial 5G albeit using an NSA architecture. In regards to the national plan to go straight to SA, the move “will help Singapore leapforg to be a global front runner in 5G infrastructure, applications and services.
In 2018 M1 engaged in 5G trial activity with both Nokia and Huawei. With Nokia, M1 tested small cells in support of 5G use cases for specific vertical industries. The two companies previously deployed a nationwide NB-IoT network to offer solutions for energy management in buildings, environmental monitoring, asset tracking and fleet management.
Building on the NB-IoT network collaboration, M1 and Nokia have worked on a number of smart city applications based on internet of things sensor data. Focus applications include smart energy metering, smart street lighting, fleet management and logistics and waste management. In addition to NB-IoT, M1’s platform also support other low-power, wide-area connectivity protocols.
Working with Huawei, M1 tested 360-degree VR broadcast using the 28 GHz band. The two companies have planned a number of initiatives over the next 18 months to validate the latest 5G specifications as soon as the standards are finalized and commercial equipment is available for live deployment.
The operator also partnered with Singapore University of Technology and Design to study how 5G can support remote robotic control with tactile feedback mechanisms. M1 is tasked with setting up an indoor 5G small cell network that SUTD researchers and students can use to trial remote sensing, remote operations and other applications like VR/AR and 360-degree video streaming. “The aim of the testbed is to translate innovative research into practical solutions for government and enterprises, as well as cultivate a talent pipeline to drive Singapore’s Smart Nation goals.
On the smart port front, M1 is engaged with various stakeholders to study 5G as an enabler of smart port applications like remote control of port equipment and enhancing operations of automated guided vehicles. CTO Seek said the trial “offers us an exciting opportunity to work on 5G network infrastructure development in a real-life environment for future application across various industry verticals.”
The post 5G in Singapore: With enterprise focus, going straight to standalone appeared first on RCR Wireless News.