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The Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) announced Singtel Mobile Singapore Pte Ltd (Singtel) and the Joint-Venture Consortium (JVCo1 ) formed by StarHub Mobile Pte Ltd (StarHub) and M1 Limited (M1) as the winners of its 5G Call for Proposal (CFP).

Singtel and JVCo will be allocated radio frequency spectrum 2 to deploy nationwide 5G networks. Other mobile operators can access these network services through a wholesale arrangement. Additionally, IMDA will allocate mmWave spectrum to mobile network operators to deploy localised high-capacity 5G hotspots. With this, M1, StarHub, Singtel, TPG Telecom and mobile virtual network operators would be able to offer retail 5G services to end users.

Mr S Iswaran, Minister for Communications and Information, said: “Singapore is forging ahead with our vision to have a world-class, secure and resilient 5G infrastructure that will be the backbone of our digital economy. By 2025, Singapore will have two nationwide networks with full-fledged 5G capabilities that will spur innovation and create exciting opportunities. Amid today’s COVID-19 challenges, the investments in Singapore’s 5G infrastructure underscore long-term business confidence in our economy and will ready us for the eventual recovery to build a thriving digital future for our people, businesses and industries.”

The winners will roll out 5G Standalone (SA) networks from January 2021, keeping pace with first-mover cities in other countries. The winners will be required to provide coverage for at least half of Singapore by end-2022, scaling up to nationwide coverage by end 2025.

Both winners will be given Provisional Awards, pending their completion of regulatory processes, such as selection of spectrum lots and confirmation of technical and legal matters. IMDA will issue 5G licences to the respective winners once they have completed these processes. Winners can start their 5G network deployments thereafter.

Mr Tan Kiat How, Chief Executive, IMDA, said, “The on-going COVID-19 situation underscores the criticality of a robust digital infrastructure and the importance of timely investments to meet our national connectivity needs. The 5G award is a major milestone. We received three compelling proposals that met and in some cases, exceeded our requirements. The winners were selected based on a comprehensive assessment of how their proposals would deliver the best outcomes for businesses and consumers in Singapore. Beyond a connectivity infrastructure, we believe that 5G networks will spur innovation, create exciting business and job opportunities, and position Singapore as a leading digital economy.”

The winners will deploy SA networks that can deliver full-fledged 5G capabilities, such as network slicing, ultra-reliable and low latency communications, and massive machine type communications. The two nationwide 5G networks will also be supplemented by localised mmWave deployments that provide high capacity 5G hotspots. Businesses and consumers will benefit from faster network speeds among other exciting applications.

IMDA has put in place comprehensive security and resilience requirements for the 5G network operators. For example, in partnership with network operators, IMDA will establish a 5G Security Testbed Programme for technology exploration and to better protect us against 5G network cyber threats and vulnerability. While mobile operators’ choice of vendors is a commercial decision, they are subject to the commitments made in the 5G CFP and must satisfy IMDA’s resilience and cybersecurity requirements.

The 5G infrastructure will support a vibrant innovation ecosystem to drive business transformation and deliver new mobile experiences for everyone. IMDA and the National Research Foundation had earlier set aside $40 million to support 5G trials in strategic sectors such as maritime, aviation, smart estates, consumer applications, Industry 4.0 and Government applications. The trials are progressing well and IMDA will share more details later. Consumers can also look forward to faster speeds and exciting applications such as AR/VR learning and cloud gaming.

Consumers and businesses can expect competitive prices, innovative and good quality services. To promote retail competition, the winners will be required to provide 5G wholesale services to other mobile operators, adding vibrancy to the competitive mobile landscape.

IMDA will partner the industry to nurture a pool of ICT manpower to take up new job roles in the 5G ecosystem such as network engineering and application development. IMDA’s Skills Framework for ICT professionals has been updated with the competencies needed for 5G job roles. IMDA is in the process of identifying 5G training and courses for interested applicants. More details of these manpower efforts will be released in due course.