Islandwide 5G coverage in Singapore by 2025

The 5G technology standard for broadband cellular networks will cover half of Singapore by the end of 2022. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - The fifth generation (5G) technology standard for broadband cellular networks will cover half of Singapore by the end of 2022 and the coverage will envelope the whole island by the close of 2025, Minister for Trade and Industry Gan Kim Yong said on Monday (Aug 23).

"We are on track to meet our target of deploying 5G standalone outdoor coverage," Mr Gan said at a virtual conference organised by the United States-based industry group SEMI.

He said trials on 5G applications are also underway, including at PSA Singapore to improve port operations, and at technology firm Razer and telecom operator Singtel to deliver high-quality cloud gaming products.

"5G networks will help spur innovation, create exciting business and job opportunities, and position Singapore as a leading digital economy," he said.

"That is why we have been one of the first movers in the area, and began the roll-out of our 5G infrastructure last year."

At the core of technological advances like 5G is the semiconductor industry, he said. "As we digitalise more, the growth of the (semiconductor) industry will also continue to intensify."

Singapore plans to make the most out of the opportunities presented by the fast-growing semiconductor industry which is expected to achieve sales of more than half a trillion US dollars (S$680 billion) worldwide, up from US$440 billion in 2020.

The Republic announced a $25 billion Research, Innovation and Enterprise 2025 Plan this year to further strengthen its position in advanced manufacturing of high-tech products.

The minister said Singapore has built a solid foundation to grow its semiconductor ecosystem, as part of its wider goal of growing the manufacturing sector.

"Today, Singapore is home to the wafer fabrication facilities for five of the top 12 semiconductor companies globally; and two of the top three pure-play foundries have fabs here in Singapore."

Many of these companies also have critical research and development (R&D) functions at their facilities here, including German semiconductor manufacturer Infineon.

The company's microcontroller units, which feature in one out of every two cars produced worldwide, are designed and tested here in Singapore.

And it was in Singapore that the French-Italian multinational electronics and semiconductors manufacturer STMicroelectronics started its first silicon carbide wafer production line outside of Europe last year - a milestone in manufacturing R&D.

Mr Gan also gave examples of advanced manufacturing projects by the semiconductor industry here, including GlobalFoundries' US$4 billion expansion of its fab capacity to support fast-growing end-markets in automotive and 5G, and Silitronics' plans to build a new €2 billion (S$3.2 billion) 12-inch wafer plant.

"These investments are highly valuable not just because of their direct economic contribution and jobs created, but also because they contribute to the virtuous cycle of attracting more of such investments here," Mr Gan said.

Over time it will deepen the ecosystem even further, and make it more difficult for our competitors to replicate what we have here, he added.

Mr Gan said the semiconductor industry accounts for some 20 per cent of total business expenditure on R&D here, making it one of the largest contributors to Singapore's private sector R&D expenditure.

Join ST's WhatsApp Channel and get the latest news and must-reads.