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SG To Invest in 5G Standalone Networks; Nationwide Coverage Expected by 2025

Singaporeans will soon enjoy the benefits of being connected to the 5G network anywhere in Singapore.

Credit: Shutterstock

Josephine Teo, Singapore's Minister for Communications and Information, recently announced that the Singaporean government would be investing in 5G standalone networks to build "a safe and trusted foundation" for the country's digital future.

The resulting foundation from the standalone networks will be used to build a future with augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR), autonomous vehicles, drones, and other innovations that can only be made possible with an extensive 5G standalone network.

In her keynote address at the Global System for Mobile Communications Association (GSMA) Mobile 360 Asia Pacific Conference, Minister Teo said that the government chose to invest in 5G standalone networks instead of upgrading the country's existing 4G non-standalone infrastructure. The government made this decision to maximise the standalone networks' ability to harness technology for innovation and societal good.

Minister Josephine Teo as she appears on her keynote address for the GSMA Mobile 360 Pacific Conference. Credit: Ministry of Communications and Information

"... we have taken the path to invest in 5G standalone networks because we believe that it will empower [Singaporeans] and businesses with vastly more capabilities to innovate and digitally transform," Minister Teo added.

Minister Teo said that the Singaporean government's close partnership with the global telecom industry and with GSMA, an international organisation that delivers innovations foundational to positive business environments and societal change, would be a critical key to unlocking the potential of new communications technologies.

Singaporeans should expect that half of the country will be 5G enabled by 2022, with national coverage coming by 2025. The government will also support the research of future communications and connectivity technologies that will become 6G in the future.

The Minister also revealed that the government's approach towards digitalisation would be inclusive to all businesses. As such, it has set up open testbeds offering 5G commercial services and a Maritime Drone Estate for AR and VR use cases and testing ship-to-shore urban air mobility vehicles, respectively.

The government also created a US$22 million fund for companies to innovate and develop 5G commercial use cases at the open testbeds and is currently promoting the development of smart cities solutions like using autonomous robots for security, cleaning and facilities management through its Smart Urban Co-innovation Lab.

An aerial shot of Sentosa Island. Credit: Chensiyuan | Wikimedia Commons

In addition to these efforts, the Singaporean government transformed Sentosa, an innovative resort island, into a 5G testbed that will host the government's first set of 5G trials. These trials include deploying unmanned robots to conduct real-time construction quality control checks, which, if scaled up through 5G, will improve productivity and staff safety in the construction sector.

However, Minister Teo acknowledges that digitalisation can be beneficial and detrimental to the country due to the proliferation of scams, cybercrimes and online misinformation. To combat this, she said that the government would move from being aware of these dangers to acting against them, which will involve the government, the industry and the country's citizens, per GSMA's advice.

The Minister said that to build Singaporeans' trust in digitalisation, trust-building efforts like those being implemented in telcos must go beyond Singapore's borders to preserve trust and confidence in the digital space, along with developing "new governance principles, frameworks and standards".

To do so, Minister Teo said that the Singaporean government would work with like-minded countries to create common standards for trusted digital transactions and supply digital utilities to enable seamless, secure and trusted digital transactions.


Written by John Paul Joaquin

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