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Technology

Singapore’s 5G in 5 years plan on track as licenses granted

Singtel, Starhub and M1 to implement full coverage by 2025

Singtel Group CEO Chua Sock Koong at the Mobile World Congress last year. The company was awarded a 5G license in Singapore on Wednesday.   © Reuters

SINGAPORE -- Singapore's three largest wireless carriers have won approval to operate 5G networks, setting in motion plans to provide coverage across the island-nation within the next five years.

Singapore Telecommunications, or Singtel, the city state's leading telecom provider, was awarded a provisional license along with a joint bid by StarHub Mobile and M1, the No. 2 and No. 3 players, the government's telecommunication authority announced Wednesday.

After completing processes, such as assigning frequency spectrums and selecting equipment suppliers, the operators will receive formal licenses as early as June.

Service is due to launch in January next year. The winning operators will be required roll out coverage for at least half of Singapore by the end of 2022 and establish full coverage by the end of 2025.

Singtel, Starhub and M1 came out on top due to proposed licensing fees, as well as plans to expand the fifth-generation communications network and measures to prevent cyberattacks, according to the state's regulatory Infocomm Media Development Authority.

Another bidder, Australia's TPG Telecom, failed to land a nationwide 5G operating license. But TPG will be able to provide localized 5G service in buildings or specified areas, along with the other three companies.

Singapore looks to leverage 5G technology to become a digitally connected "smart nation" and maintain its economic competitive advantage.

"Investment in 5G infrastructure is not something that is for the short-term," communications minister S. Iswaran said at a virtual news conference. "It is not about today or tomorrow or even next year. It is about the long haul."

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