Information current as of 3 June 2019

What is the state of 5G deployment in Singapore?

In mid-2017, the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) conducted a public consultation on various aspects of 5G technology development and spectrum requirements.

To facilitate 5G technology and services trials, the IMDA waived frequency fees for 5G technical trials and market trials until 31 December 2019.

In January 2019, Singtel and Ericsson (in conjunction with Singapore Polytechnic) launched Singapore’s first live 5G facility, which is connected to Singtel’s pilot 5G network and runs on a 3.5GHz trial spectrum granted by the IMDA.

In March 2019, the Minister for Communications and Information confirmed that Singapore was on track to commence 5G rollout by 2020.

In May 2019, IMDA issued a second public consultation to consult on the regulatory framework and policies for 5G. IMDA intends to allocate the 3.5 GHz, and the 26 GHz and 28 GHz bands to 5G in an initial wave of spectrum allocation by 2021, and then to open up other spectrum bands progressively around 2025.

Which telcos and communications players are launching 5G services?

While 5G is not yet available, the mobile network operators who have been trialling 5G services in Singapore include Singtel, Starhub and M1, in conjunction with Ericsson, Nokia and Huawei.

Are there any public tenders for spectrum licences?

IMDA has indicated that it intends to assign 5G spectrum through a Call for Proposal, open to existing MNOs (mobile network operators) only (M1, Singtel, Starhub and TPG).

What are the conditions?

Applicants will be required to submit detailed proposals on their 5G deployment plans and submit offer prices, which must exceed IMDA’s base prices. IMDA has indicated that the base prices will be set with reference to international benchmarks and final bid prices for similar bands auctioned globally between 2017 to 2019.

Applicants will be required to meet certain baseline regulatory requirements, including: (a) providing 5G networks with more than 50% coverage within 24 months; (b) designing and building trusted and resilient 5G networks meeting IMDA’s regulatory requirements; and (c) providing 5G wholesale services to other MNOs and MVNOs (mobile virtual network operators).

What has the government said regarding spectrum licences for commercial use?

In the second consultation paper, IMDA indicated:

  • in the initial phase, IMDA intends to enable deployment of at least two nationwide networks capable of delivering 5G, while encouraging network sharing and services-based competition.
  • IMDA intends to allocate: (a) two spectrum packages of: (i) a 100 MHz lot for restricted (indoor/underground) and unrestricted (indoor and outdoor) use, and (ii) a 50 MHz lot for unrestricted use; and (b) two lots of 800 MHz of the mmWave band to two 3.5 GHz spectrum holders.
  • the spectrum rights duration will be 12 to 15 years.

Are the rules for 5G already drafted, and if so, what do they say?

IMDA’s overall policy objectives for the deployment of 5G is to maximise value for the economy and consumer welfare, facilitate efficient allocation of spectrum, ensure Singapore’s 5G networks are trusted and resilient, and support the growth of a vibrant telecommunications sector. To this end, IMDA will impose baseline regulatory requirements to ensure 5G networks are trusted and resilient, while providing flexibility in the regulatory framework to allow growth and adjustment in the market.

What are or would be the rules for granting competitors access to the new 5G networks, once they are deployed?

IMDA will require spectrum rights holders to provide 5G wholesale services to other mobile service operators on request. To facilitate this, IMDA intends to update the negotiation principles guiding wholesale access provision and will issue a separate consultation on this. Generally, dominant licensees are required to offer interconnection and access services at the prices and on the terms approved by the IMDA. Otherwise, IMDA strongly encourages licensees to enter into interconnection and access agreements through commercial negotiations.


Jeremy Tan
Jeremy Tan