Bidding for 5G network licences: Deadline extended

5G technology promises surfing speeds 20 times faster than those offered by 4G networks, and the ability to connect 1,000 times as many devices.
5G technology promises surfing speeds 20 times faster than those offered by 4G networks, and the ability to connect 1,000 times as many devices.PHOTO: AFP

Telcos now have until Feb 17 to bid for a licence to roll out a super fast 5G network for the island.

The Infocomm Media Development Authority said on Thursday that it had extended the deadline from the original date of Jan 21 to give operators more time to submit their proposals.

There are four licences available.

All four networks can be rolled out by this year, although nationwide coverage will take much longer and will be limited to only two networks due to the scarcity of 5G airwaves for islandwide reach.

These will become available only next year, and wider coverage will start being rolled out in 2022. However, all four networks may offer localised coverage this year.

Singtel and StarHub have confirmed that they are eyeing the networks with islandwide reach.

It is understood that the deadline extension will not affect the timeline for Singapore's 5G roll-out.

The four telcos - Singtel, StarHub, M1 and TPG Telecom - welcomed the extension by IMDA, according to The Business Times.

Proposals will be assessed based on telcos' ability to meet baseline regulatory requirements. For instance, half the island must have 5G coverage by end-2022, and operators must be willing to sell network services wholesale to other mobile providers not issued with the airwaves.

 
 

The proposer's financial capability to roll out the proposed 5G networks is also a key criterion.

A public consultation was completed in July last year.

TPG Telecom is the country's newest telco and won its 4G licence in December 2016. It entered the market in late-2018.

TPG is also working with real estate firm CapitaLand and map service provider Navinfo Datatech to test cloud-based driverless car navigation at Science Park 1 and 2 over a 5G connection.

5G technology promises surfing speeds 20 times faster than those offered by 4G networks, and the ability to connect 1,000 times as many devices. A full-fledged 5G network will also be able to support critical applications, such as driverless car navigation and remote surgery, which requires a constant connection without lag.

However, analysts have estimated the cumulative cost of a 5G network to be in the billions of dollars, necessitating telcos to partner one another to share the costs.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 11, 2020, with the headline 'Bidding for 5G network licences: Deadline extended'. Print Edition | Subscribe