Local telcos win rights to build two nationwide 5G networks, Latest Singapore News - The New Paper

Local telcos win rights to build two nationwide 5G networks

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Singtel and joint venture between StarHub and M1 submit winning bids

More than half of Singapore will have 5G mobile network coverage by end-2022, offering surfing speeds more than 20 times what the current 4G networks offer.

This comes after Singtel and a joint venture between StarHub and M1 won the rights to build the two nationwide networks yesterday.

They will have to scale up to provide nationwide coverage by 2025, boosting the prospects for game-changers like driverless car navigation.

Meanwhile, Singapore's four telcos - Singtel, StarHub, M1 and TPG - will also be allowed to operate smaller 5G networks that provide spot coverage using airwaves that are in abundance.

Nationwide coverage is limited to only two networks because of the scarcity of certain 5G airwaves for islandwide reach. Also, the far-reaching 3.5GHz airwaves that make it possible become available from only next year.

Sector regulator the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) made its decision after considering detailed business proposals from the four telcos. Singtel and newcomer TPG submitted solo bids, while StarHub teamed up with M1 in a joint bid.


Communications and Information Minister S. Iswaran said during a virtual press briefing that 5G networks are an important investment in Singapore's digital infrastructure.

"It has become very apparent how important digital infrastructure is, and the kind of resilience and flexibility it affords us, especially in situations like what we are in right now," he said, referring to the Covid-19 outbreak.

TPG was the only telco not to get a slice of the nationwide network.

Asked whether TPG's use of Chinese vendor Huawei's telecoms equipment for their networks was a factor in IMDA's decision, Mr Iswaran said: "You will find that the vendors you are referring to are also being used by (the other telcos). It's not exclusively used by TPG.

"And as we have emphasised from the start, our focus has not been about particular vendors, (but) on overall network resilience and security, and ensuring vendor diversity."

Singtel group chief executive officer Chua Sock Koong said: "In view of Covid-19's impact on the economy, we see this as a significant investment in the future - one that will create sustainable economic and social value as industries and business models transform, unlocking new careers and skills in the process."

StarHub and M1 said their collaboration would allow both companies to optimise infrastructure and spectrum costs.

"The joint bid with StarHub will allow us to share strategic resources in the upcoming journey to develop Singapore's 5G network, which will bring a new level of hyper connectivity to consumers," said M1 CEO Manjot Singh Mann.

Operating both a nationwide and smaller 5G network will hasten the rollout of 5G services to consumers and businesses, StarHub said.