October 27, 2020

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IMDA to support Mobile Operators Interim 5G Offerings in Singapore

Singapore remains on track to deploy two nationwide 5G standalone (SA) networks by 2025, with 5G SA capabilities covering at least half of Singapore by end-2022.

5G SA networks are completely independent of 4G networks, and can deliver a full suite of 5G capabilities including network slicing to support different use-case requirements, significant improvement in speeds, as well as ultra-reliable and low latency communications.

In the interim, Mobile Network Operators have indicated an interest in using Non-Standalone (NSA) networks as a short-term and transitory arrangement, while the SA networks are being deployed.

5G NSA networks are built over existing 4G networks. Its features are limited to faster speeds, instead of the full suite of 5G capabilities that SA networks can deliver.

Mr Lew Chuen Hong, Chief Executive, IMDA, said “We have made good progress on our journey to roll out the future-ready full-fledged 5G SA networks critical to maintaining Singapore’s competitive edge. We welcome, and are supportive of our operators’ interest to make incremental investment in the meantime and leverage 5G NSA technology to offer their customers some early 5G benefits such as faster mobile broadband experience while they build their SA network. These 5G NSA capabilities will also enable them to work with industry to develop early innovative business use cases to meet early demand.”

Riding on existing 4G networks, the 5G NSA networks will enable consumers to enjoy some 5G benefits such as faster mobile speeds on 5G-enabled devices. Upon IMDA’s approval, operators will be allowed to conduct market trials and offer some early commercial 5G services to consumers.

Meanwhile, IMDA will work closely with MNOs to develop a regulatory framework that ensures a smooth transition from NSA to the eventual SA networks.

The Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) will support Mobile Network Operators’ (MNOs) plan to ride on existing 4G networks to deploy 5G Non-Standalone (NSA) networks as part of trials to allow consumers to enjoy partial 5G experiences in the short-term, with faster mobile speeds as a key feature.

When ready by 2025, 5G SA networks will support the growth of a thriving innovation ecosystem that fuels the creation of a diverse range of 5G applications and use-cases across various industries, including remote surgery, autonomous vehicles, and cloud gaming.