SINGAPORE - Singapore's largest telco Singtel has blanketed 95 per cent of outdoor locations here with 5G signals, three years ahead of the target set by the local authorities, paving the way for a future of driverless vehicles, on-the-go cloud gaming, and robot-run factories and ports.
Singapore is among the first countries in the world to have rolled out 5G services nationwide based on the latest dedicated 5G gear, allowing support for secure, mission-critical applications.
Singtel's 5G network now covers more than 1,300 outdoor locations and provides signal in more than 400 buildings and train tunnels, Singtel announced on Friday (July 22).
"This means that Singapore can now exploit the full capabilities and best applications that 5G can offer, paving the way for innovation and new growth that will propel our country forward," said Singtel group chief executive Yuen Kuan Moon.
Of Singtel’s 2.84 million postpaid subscribers as at March this year, more than 480,000 were using 5G services.
StarHub chief technology officer Chong Siew Loong said the telco is “on track” to reach nationwide coverage in the coming months. Most populated areas already have 5G signals. StarHub has 1.5 million postpaid mobile subscribers as at March this year. Of these, 400,000 were using 5G handsets and could receive 5G connections.
Rival M1 had said it is on track to reach nationwide outdoor 5G coverage by this year too. Simba Telecom, previously known as TPG Telecom, would not say when it plans to launch 5G services.
5G networks are said to be 10 times faster than 4G, allowing a high-definition movie to be downloaded in seconds compared with minutes today.
5G networks also have more bandwidth, allowing about 1,000 more devices to be connected without any transmission lag compared with 4G.
Such lag is apparent on older networks when gaming on the go and video-streaming, or when making Zoom and Microsoft Teams calls.
Some enterprise uses have popped up in recent times.
Security company Aetos is building an integrated facilities management system, connecting surveillance cameras, sensors on lifts and fire sprinklers, and sensors on water and energy meters at clients' sites for live monitoring using Singtel's 5G network.
Semiconductor manufacturer Micron Technology will also be using Singtel's 5G solutions at its clean room to support artificial intelligence applications such as automated visual inspections of individual chips, as well as augmented reality applications for remote operations and maintenance.
Surveillance robot and camera technology has also been deployed at the Marina at Keppel Bay by telco M1 and property developer Keppel Land to boost security and provide e-concierge services.
With Singtel's nationwide roll-out covering 95 per cent of outdoor locations, Singapore is among the first countries in the world including South Korea to be 5G "standalone" ready.
Regulator Infocomm Media Development Authority of Singapore requires telcos here to meet their end-2025 roll-out target using only standalone 5G equipment, which are dedicated gear for 5G services.
The telcos cannot piggyback on existing 4G gear to deliver 5G speeds.
Standalone 5G technologies allow telcos to break away from any "lock-in" to existing 4G vendors, a contentious issue in the United States and some of its allies due to fear of nations spying.
Standalone 5G technologies also enable "network slicing" to be done to deliver the most secure environment for the most mission-critical operations such as autonomous vehicles navigation or port operations.
Network slicing is a way to allow multiple virtual, independent networks to be created on the same physical infrastructure.
Correction note: This article has been edited for security reasons.