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Singapore to waive frequency fees for 5G trials

Frequency fees will be waived to lower regulatory barriers and optimise deployment of 5G networks in Singapore

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.

Speaking at the opening ceremony of the Infocomm Media Business Exchange (IMBX) in Singapore, minister for communications and information Yaacob Ibrahim said the waiver will enable the mobile industry to explore the potential benefits and applications of 5G networks.

“Trials conducted in a real-world environment will also assist the industry in better understanding how 5G will operate in Singapore’s business environment and its optimum deployment scenarios,” he said.

Besides facilitating trials, the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) said it recognises that new spectrum resources will be needed to fuel the next generation of mobile services.

With the commercial deployment of 5G services and applications, spectrum needs are expected to increase substantially. IMDA has identified several spectrum bands – from 800MHz to 86GHz – that may be suitable for 5G deployments in Singapore.

Yaacob said the deployment of 5G networks will help to multiply the potential of internet of things (IoT), adding that IMDA will be working with the industry to develop and put in place key components of future-ready and resilient communications infrastructure that will benefit consumers and business across industries.

Besides 5G networks, Yaacob said other components of the infrastructure include the nationwide fibre broadband network, as well as sensor networks. “These will enable businesses to leverage high-speed networks, real-time communications and high accuracy location positioning to better deliver their services,” he said.

5G networks are expected to be rolled out in Singapore by 2020. Telecoms operators such as Singtel and M1 have been testing 5G technology, with the latter having achieved the country’s highest transmission speeds of 35Gbps in January 2017. With greater throughput speeds, users will be able to download a full HD movie in seconds.

Denis Seek, chief technical officer at M1, said: “Singapore’s mobile networks are widely acknowledged as among the most advanced worldwide, and M1 is committed to staying at the forefront of 5G technology to ensure our consumers enjoy the best experience and latest smart applications.”

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In his wide-ranging address, Yaacob also touched on the importance of cyber security to organisations. “I don’t think I need to belabour how important this is for your companies from operational, financial, reputational, intellectual property and other angles,” he said.

To beef up Singapore’s expertise in cyber security, Yaacob said the government has established the National Cybersecurity R&D Programme since 2013, with funding of up to S$130m over five years, to develop research and development expertise and capabilities to improve the “trustworthiness of Singapore’s cyber infrastructure”.

At CommunicAsia, one of the conferences under the IMBX umbrella, Ho Ka Wei, director of the National Threat Analysis Centre at Singapore’s Cyber Security Agency, said the most common threats facing the country include phishing, various forms of malware and website defacements.

Ho pointed out that while website defacements may not be seen as critical threats, such attacks might suggest the presence of vulnerabilities in computer networks that could serve as entry points for cyber criminals.

Apart from helping small and medium-sized enterprises transform their businesses through the SMEs Go Digital programme, Yaacob said the IMDA has also been supporting tech companies in Singapore via the Accreditation@IMDA programme.

To provide further runway for growth, Yaacob said Accreditation@IMDA is working with Singapore Exchange to increase the accessibility to capital markets for technology companies. More details about this will be announced at a later date.

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