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5G

Singapore ties up 5G loose ends

The Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA), Singapore's telecoms regulator, announced what it called the "final awards" for 5G concessions on the island.

There's no change to the two provisional award winners announced in April. They are still market leader Singtel, along with a joint venture (JVCo) between the second- and third-largest telcos, Starhub and M1.

What has changed is that Singtel and JVCo have completed the "required regulatory processes." This includes selection of preferred frequency spectrum lots and vendor partners.

Singtel and JVCo are assigned 100MHz of 3.5GHz spectrum, while Singtel, StarHub and M1 each get their hands on 800MHz of "mmWave spectrum" for "localized coverage." (Curiously, IMDA does not make explicit which mmWave frequency band it's talking about.)

The two license winners have also eschewed Huawei. Singtel is reportedly throwing its 5G lot in with Ericsson, and JVCo has opted for Nokia.

Singapore seemed to claim that geopolitical pressures were not at play in 5G vendor selection. "We never explicitly excluded any vendor," asserted S. Iswaran, Singapore's Minister for Communications and Information in an interview with Bloomberg. "You have a diversity of vendors involved in different aspects of the 5G system and that is in fact a positive outcome from our perspective."


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The two license winners apparently ticked other CFP (call for proposal) boxes, including coverage. Singtel and JVCo plan to introduce a standalone 5G network starting from January 2021. The country aims to have 5G coverage for at least half of the nation by the end of 2022 and the entire island by 2025.

TPG Telecom Pte Ltd, a Singaporean off-shoot of the Australian telco business set up by industry maverick David Teoh, successfully applied for some "remaining" mmWave spectrum to roll out 5G networks (again, on a localized basis).

Singtel and JVCo have committed to make wholesale arrangements with TPG and other mobile virtual network operators to offer retail 5G services, presumably on an island-wide basis.

— Ken Wieland, contributing editor, special to Light Reading

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