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M1, Huawei to transmit VR content in 5G live trial

Mobile operator M1 and Huawei will be streaming virtual reality content in Singapore’s first 5G live trial in June

Singapore mobile operator M1 and Huawei will be testing the use of 5G connectivity to transmit virtual reality (VR) content at the former’s headquarters in Jurong at the end of June this year.

Touted as Singapore’s first 5G live trial, the transmission will be carried out using Huawei’s 5G equipment that operates in the 28GHz millimetre wave frequency band and supports a theoretical peak download throughput exceeding 20 Gbps.

Such so-called enhanced mobile broadband (eMBB) capabilities – aimed at addressing the needs of bandwidth-intensive applications that are currently expensive and technically challenging to transmit over existing cellular networks – are part of new 5G standards that have been ratified by the 3GPP, the global mobile industry standards body.

“This live demo is a small but significant step in our journey towards next generation 5G mobile networks,” said Denis Seek, M1’s chief technical officer.

“With the advancement in 5G and media technologies, immersive communication experience will continue to be enhanced and this will definitely have a profound impact on the way we work, learn, live and play.”

Besides their 5G trial, M1 and Huawei also plan to kick off the first 3.5GHz with non-standalone standard compliance field trial in Southeast Asia by the end of 2018, as well as the first 28GHz and 3.5GHz with standalone standard compliance field trial in Southeast Asia by mid-2019.   

The 5G non-standalone standard, completed in December 2017, uses both 5G and 4G networks to speed up data transmission. It continues to rely on existing 4G networks for back-end functions such as communicating with cell towers.

The standalone standard, on the other hand, was just finalised in June 2018 and lets mobile operators provide 5G coverage in places without existing 4G infrastructures. Standalone 5G networks will also pave the way for ultra-reliable low latency communications required by mission-critical internet of things (IoT) applications.

Quah Mei Lee, industry principal for ICT practice at Frost and Sullivan Asia-Pacific, expects most early 5G deployments to be non-standalone, adding that mobile operators that plan to launch standalone 5G networks will still need to test the technology using non-standalone deployments.

Singapore is expected to be among the first countries in Southeast Asia to deploy a 5G network, along with China, South Korea and Japan. However, successful 5G implementation within each country is an open question, particularly in developing countries.

“While countries such as China are well placed to develop and implement 5G, for developing countries this could prove to be a challenge, where demand for 5G services is finite or limited,” said Quah, who will be speaking at the ConnecTechAsia conference in Singapore next week.

“Though possible for developing nations to leapfrog to 5G, a key question to consider is the need for 5G within and beyond government-driven initiatives, particularly given that costs remain a limiting factor and that mobile network operators are assessing the capabilities of 4G before deciding to invest in 5G to supplement it.”

Read more about 5G in APAC

  • 5G adoption across the Asia-Pacific region will be led by China, South Korea and Japan, but telcos will need to find the right pricing strategy to compete with IoT connectivity upstarts.
  • Nokia and Intel are among others that have been working with telcos across the Asia-Pacific region to test 5G technologies and applications.
  • Singtel is enhancing its LTE-Advanced network in phases in the run-up to the expected launch of 5G networks in the country by 2020.
  • The Singapore government will be waiving the frequency fees for 5G trials in a bid to lower regulatory barriers and encourage the industry to test the next-generation mobile technology.

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