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Singapore to expand 5G coverage to seaport

The maritime hub will be testing the use of 5G in a range of maritime operations, including remote pilotage of vessels and drone delivery of components to ships

Singapore will expand standalone 5G coverage to its seaport, including anchorages, fairways, terminals and boarding grounds, by mid-2025 in an effort to drive the use of 5G in maritime operations.

This will pave the way for the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA’s) and Maritime Port Authority’s (MPA’s) 5G@Sea testbed to test and commercialise maritime 5G use cases, starting with the remote pilotage of vessels that are entering the port of Singapore.

Currently, vessels of 300 gross tonnage and above that enter the port require a licensed harbour pilot to physically board the vessel and provide guidance to shipmasters to navigate the vessel safely in Singapore’s waters.

The harbour pilot is usually transported by a small harbour craft from the pier to the vessel before they proceed to climb a series of vertical ladders to reach the ship’s deck.

With 5G, the pilot can remotely pilot the ship via an onshore control centre using real-time video imagery, alleviating the need to physically board the ship.

IMDA said this will significantly enhance service efficiency, improve resource utilisation and transform the role of a harbour pilot from a physically demanding job to remote operations while enhancing safety.

Other maritime 5G use cases include shore-to-ship delivery, where drones can send critical components to vessels out at sea instead of having ships dock at the berth for urgent inspections and repairs.

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The 5G network at Singapore’s port will be deployed by Singapore telco M1. Manjot Singh Mann, CEO of M1, said 5G has the capability to resolve long-standing pain points and will become the natural technology of choice for the maritime industry.

“As the first country to extend 5G standalone coverage to sea for maritime operations, M1 is excited to partner MPA and IMDA to co-develop 5G solutions that will not only transform the industry but benefit the whole of Singapore’s maritime economy,” he added.

Enterprise 5G developments have been accelerating in Singapore in recent years. Besides M1, Singtel has also been driving 5G deployments in areas such as manufacturing, teleoperations and construction.

Earlier this week, Singtel inked an agreement with Continental, which will leverage Singtel’s Paragon multi-access edge compute platform to enhance the situational awareness of vehicle systems and improve overall road safety.

Bill Chang, Singtel’s CEO of group enterprise and regional datacentre business, said: “Singtel’s pervasive 5G network and its Paragon edge cloud platform offering high bandwidth, low latency connectivity and compute capabilities, coupled with Continental’s deep expertise in automotive innovation, will propel new growth in smart mobility and fleet management.”

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