Singtel launches new 5G applications; telco has over 180k consumers on superfast network

Singtel said that it has more than 180,000 consumers subscribed to its 5G network since trials started in September last year. ST PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG

SINGAPORE - The Republic's biggest telco Singtel has officially launched new 5G applications, including 4K video streaming and a game that allows users to drive remote control cars.

Singtel said on Monday (Aug 30) that it has more than 180,000 consumers subscribed to its 5G network since trials started in September last year.

As at June 30, Singtel has about 4.1 million mobile customers.

The 5G network is said to be 10 times faster than 4G, allowing a high-definition movie to be downloaded in seconds compared with minutes today.

It also has more bandwidth, which means more devices could be connected to it. Reports last year placed this at 1,000 times more gadgets than what 4G allows.

Singtel said the most common apps used by its 5G customers have heavy data requirements.

These include apps for video and music streaming, Zoom and Microsoft Team calls, and video gaming.

One of the 5G apps Singtel announced is a driving simulator that is linked to a remote control car.

Using a 5G-connected device, the user gets a view of the track as he steers the toy in a race.

With 5G having lower latency than 4G, the video feed streamed from the car is said to be smoother. Latency refers to the time lag between sending and receiving data.

Singtel said 5G has double the responsiveness of 4G. This is important for apps that require real-time responses.

For users of the Formula Square racing simulator, it means their inputs can be transmitted to the remote control car more precisely.

The simulator is housed indoors on Sentosa, while the track is located outdoors a short distance away.

One of the 5G apps Singtel announced is a driving simulator that is linked to a remote control car. PHOTO: SINGTEL

Singtel said similar apps are in the works for cloud gaming.

The telco has also worked with the S.E.A. Aquarium at Resorts World Sentosa to offer a 5G live stream of the attraction's manta rays, sharks and shoals of fish.

The live stream, which is in 4K, can be viewed at Singtel's unmanned Unboxed pop-up retail store at SingPost Centre.

The telco on Monday also launched a productivity subscription plan that now goes for $4.95 a month. It gives customers data-free use of Zoom on its 5G network.

It can be coupled with the DeX software on selected Samsung smartphones and tablets. The software lets customers mirror their mobile gadgets onto a monitor and work with the larger display.

Singtel's launch comes after M1 last week rolled out its 5G-related initiatives, including surveillance robot and camera technology.

The technology is being used at Marina at Keppel Bay to enhance security there.

Meanwhile, StarHub said it is currently testing a cloud gaming service - Nvidia's GeForce Now - with 5G. Thousands of customers are currently testing it.

The service allows consumers to stream more than 1,000 games on their mobile gadgets. Details on the service are expected to be announced closer to launch next month.

StarHub also has a 5G Internet of Things platform already launched that allows a company to see the data collected from different types of Web-connected sensors in a single place. This allows a firm to easily manage and monitor the sensors.

The telcos' apps tap 5G "standalone" networks, which use dedicated 5G equipment to transmit data.

This differs from 5G "non-standalone" networks, launched last year, that in part relied on 4G gear.

The benefit of a standalone network is that it offers ultra-low latency and increased network capacity, so more devices can be connected to the network.

Singtel, which runs one of the country's two 5G networks, had announced in May the launch of its 5G standalone network.

Last month, M1 announced the launch of a market trial of its 5G standalone network, while earlier this month, StarHub announced the trial of its standalone network for consumers.

StarHub and M1 share the same 5G airwave network but each uses its own 5G infrastructure.

Singtel said that its 5G standalone network now covers about half of postal codes in Singapore.

Similarly, telcos M1 and StarHub previously said that each of their 5G standalone network covers about 50 per cent of the island.

The telcos are required to cover half of Singapore with 5G signals by end-2022, and the entire island by 2025.

At Monday's launch, Communications and Information Minister Josephine Teo said that 5G will change the way people live and work.

The authorities here are also trialling the 5G network with industry partners and research institutes, added Mrs Teo.

For instance, crane operators at the Pasir Panjang Terminal have been using 5G to remotely control up to six cranes at a time.

The Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore and the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) are involved in the trial.

They found that 5G improved latency by up to 75 per cent, giving the crane operators more timely images.

(From left) Singtel Group CEO Yuen Kuan Moon, Minister for Communications and Information Josephine Teo, IMDA CEO Lew Chuen Hong and host Joakim Gomez at a virtual event to launch Singtel's new 5G applications on Aug 30, 2021. PHOTO: SINGTEL

"This means less lag, more timely interventions and better efficiency. Similar technology will be deployed in our fully automated Tuas Mega Port, which can eventually handle 1.5 times more containers," said Mrs Teo.

IMDA is also running trials in the Jurong Innovation District for 5G-enabled robots and drones to deliver packages to customers.

The robots and drones communicate with sensors in smart streets and lifts to find their way.

But Mrs Teo added that even as Singapore expands its adoption of 5G, there are potential new cyber risks.

"5G systems are fundamentally different from those of previous generations, which were primarily based on hardware.

"5G is more software-based, which opens up new potential vulnerabilities," she said.

Telcos are required to verify all activities on their 5G networks before trusting them in what is called a "zero trust" policy.

They must also constantly monitor and be vigilant of suspicious activities, Mrs Teo said.

Last year, IMDA said it was establishing a 5G Security Testbed programme to work with the telcos to strengthen their security and capabilities.

On security, Singtel said that its 5G network can be separated into different parts that are isolated from one another.

This is to ensure that anything coming in will not easily spread to the rest of the network. It added that only certain people are allowed to access the core 5G network.

A 5G-related computing infrastructure, which can conduct real-time online data analysis, was also designed to meet established security standards, the telco added.

This article was edited for clarity.

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