Airwave fees waived to spur 5G trials

Dr Yaacob Ibrahim (centre) at the launch of the world's first ground-aerial outdoor security robot by Otsaw Digital during the Infocomm Media Business Exchange yesterday. The autonomous robot does surveillance and sends real-time alerts to a control
Dr Yaacob Ibrahim (centre) at the launch of the world's first ground-aerial outdoor security robot by Otsaw Digital during the Infocomm Media Business Exchange yesterday. The autonomous robot does surveillance and sends real-time alerts to a control centre manned by a guard.ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI

Move part of efforts to lower regulatory barrier and boost testing of tech inventions

Developments in ultra-fast mobile surfing and Internet of Things (IoT) connectivity, such as that for controlling driverless cars, received a boost after the Government said it will waive the airwave licence fees required for testing these inventions.

The Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) will also be seeking public feedback on how existing regulations and the allocation of airwaves can be improved to bring Singapore one step closer to the next frontier: 5G services, said to be more than 10 times faster than 4G ones.

Minister for Communications and Information Yaacob Ibrahim said the fee waiver - until Dec 31, 2019 - aims "to lower the regulatory barrier and encourage industry trials in 5G technology". The airwave licence fees for 5G trials are estimated to cost up to $11,200 every year.

Dr Yaacob was delivering the opening address yesterday at the week-long Infocomm Media Business Exchange trade show at Marina Bay Sands.

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IoT refers to common objects that have Web connections, such as a connected fridge or a light bulb. The faster 5G speeds can accommodate more of these devices as they come online, and 5G communications also take place without lag due to the use of better data compression and antenna technologies.

"Given the quickening pace of digital innovation worldwide, we need to accelerate our own digital transformation to prepare our people and businesses for the future," said Dr Yaacob.

Beyond the needs of the 5G trials, IMDA has also anticipated local telcos' need for more bands of airwaves when 5G services are ready for commercial deployment, expected to be in 2020 or later after global nations standardise 5G technical requirements. Standardisation ensures 5G users from one part of the world can roam in another part of the world like they currently do with their 3G and 4G handsets.

SPEED UP INNOVATION

Given the quickening pace of digital innovation worldwide, we need to accelerate our own digital transformation to prepare our people and businesses for the future.

 MINISTER FOR COMMUNICATIONS AND INFORMATION YAACOB IBRAHIM, giving the opening address at the Infocomm Media Business Exchange trade show.

IMDA has identified several bands of airwaves, including those currently used for fixed satellite connectivity, that may be suitable for 5G deployments.

In the first set of public consultation documents released yesterday, it wants to find out if the bands of airwaves it identified are suitable, and when they should be made available for commercial rollout.

IMDA also wants to know if regulatory changes must be made to better facilitate 5G rollout and prevent interference with existing fixed satellite services.

The consultation ends on July 7.

Mobile equipment maker Ericsson estimated there will be 550 million 5G subscriptions globally by 2020. This represents about 6 per cent of the total 8.9 billion mobile subscriptions projected for 2020.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 24, 2017, with the headline 'Airwave fees waived to spur 5G trials'. Print Edition | Subscribe