Singapore telcos could make up to $704m from 5G by 2025: Report

Among South-east Asian markets, Singapore is expected to capture the largest share of its potential value and reach countrywide 5G penetration of almost 60 per cent. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - An industry report has concluded that the Republic is best-placed of all South-east Asian countries to capitalise on the new revenue opportunities generated by fifth-generation (5G) mobile technology.

The report by multinational technology company Cisco and consulting firm A.T. Kearney also noted that the revenue of Singapore telcos could as a result increase by up to US$510 million ($704 million) by 2025.

Consumer 5G mobile subscriptions are expected to account for up to US$240 million, while business-to-business or enterprise users could add another US$220 million with 5G aiding the adoption of emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), robotics and the Internet of Things (IoT).

The remaining US$50 million is expected from firms that use the enhanced 5G connectivity to provide services to other businesses or consumers.

"Successful adoption of emerging technologies like artificial intelligence is largely dependent on the underlying connectivity," said Cisco president for Asean Naveen Menon in a statement on Tuesday (Sept 10).

"5G provides a huge opportunity for telecom operators to increase their presence in the enterprise market and sustain their long-term growth."

The report combined market research on future technological developments with data on existing trends to come up with its projections.

For example, the number of country-specific consumer mobile subscriptions was estimated using the current and expected penetration of cellular network technologies, the expected take-off year for 5G, and the historical uptake of 4G.

These three factors mean Singapore telcos are more likely to capture maximum value from 5G compared to their regional peers, said A.T. Kearney partner Nikolai Dobberstein, one of the report's two lead authors.

"Telcos in Singapore are relatively more advanced in terms of their mobile and enterprise capabilities, and there is a big push for the digitalisation of enterprises in the country," he noted.

"At the same time, consumers in the country are tech-savvy and willing to pay more for enhanced experiences."

The introduction of 5G could add up to $6 billion in revenue for telcos across in South-east Asia by 2025 but telcos are likely to only capture about 60 per cent of this figure, with the report identifying five challenges.

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Mr Dobberstein singled out two in particular for Singapore telcos.

"Operators need to work with enterprises to identify key pain points and discover use cases that can be part of the solution... This is a big change from the way telcos have traditionally operated," he said.

"On the consumer front, telcos could also embark on a price war in the hope that they can charge more at a later stage. It is critical they avoid it."

At least two 5G networks will be rolled out in Singapore by next year (2020).

The Infocomm Media Development Authority had called for telcos to submit deployment proposals in May with the intention to assign 5G airwaves to the two top submissions.

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