By Juan Pedro Tomás
Singapore carrier StarHub launched a 5G trial service in the country using the Nonstandalone (NSA) 5G architecture.
The operator also announced plans to launch its commercial standalone (SA) network by mid-2021 in partnership with Nokia. The 5G SA network will run on 3.5 GHz spectrum.
In a statement, StarHub said the 5G trial, which will run until February 16, uses the 2.1 GHz spectrum band.
The operator also said that its 5G network currently reaches 53 per cent of the population, with plans to expand coverage to 70 per cent by the end of September. The areas already covered with 5G include busy locations and major residential hubs, such as Ang Mo Kio, Bedok, Central Business District, Clementi, Jurong, Orchard, Tampines, Woodlands and Yishun, among others.
StarHub said it upgraded some top-tier data plans with 5G capabilities, offering free service to those with compatible handsets including the Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra 5G and Note20 5G, and Huawei’s P40 Pro+ 5G. The telco said it continues to work closely with a number of phone manufacturers to make available more 5G-capable models for customers.
“Just as how steam, electricity and electronics have enriched our lives, the technology revolution of our era – 5G – will usher in unprecedented speed, simplicity and instantaneity, changing the way we work, play, browse, game, watch and create,” said chief of StarHub’s Consumer Business Group, Johan Buse. “Given the broad and infinite possibilities of 5G, we are eager for our customers to catch an early glimpse into the ultra-fast speed and ultra-low-latency upgrades that will empower hundreds of thousands of consumers, enterprises, government clients and Singapore.”
Last week, StarHub estimated its initial investment in 5G infrastructure will be about SGD200 million (US$146.4 million) over a five-year period, as it moves to deploy a joint network with rival carrier M1.
In April, Singtel and a joint venture between StarHub Mobile and M1 were awarded licenses to build two nationwide standalone (SA) 5G networks in Singapore.
The winners were each allocated 100 megahertz of spectrum in the 3.5 GHz band.
Telecommunications services regulator IMDA noted that other mobile operators will be able to access these network services through a wholesale arrangement. Additionally, IMDA will allocate millimeter-wave spectrum to mobile network operators to deploy localized, high-capacity 5G hotspots. With this, M1, StarHub, Singtel, TPG Telecom and mobile virtual network operators would be able to offer retail 5G services to end users in Singapore.
According to IMDA, the StarHub-M1 consortium would need to deploy and own key parts of the 5G network that would then be leased to M1 and StarHub, each of which would continue to operate separately and offer retail services to their subscribers. The two winners will deploy SA 5G networks beginning in January 2021 and will be required to provide coverage for at least half of Singapore by the end of 2022, scaling up to nationwide coverage by the end of 2025.