An illuminated 5G sign hangs behind a weave of electronic cables on the opening day of the MWC Barcelona in Barcelona, Spain. (Photographer: Angel Garcia/Bloomberg)

Singapore Takes Step Toward Introducing 5G Network Next Year

(Bloomberg) -- Singapore’s mobile phone carriers are being asked to take a step toward introducing fifth-generation wireless services as early as next year as the government plans to allocate spectrum for at least two networks.

The city-state’s telecom regulator will request proposals from the companies, which include Singapore Telecommunications Ltd. and StarHub Ltd., later this year, the Infocomm Media Development Authority said in a statement Tuesday. The authority also asked for comments from the industry and public May 7 to June 19 on plans for regulation of the new network.

Singapore has been slower in moving toward introducing 5G compared with countries like South Korea and the U.S., which have begun offering limited commercial services this year. The faster, higher capacity networks are seen as essential by governments because they allow for deployment of key automation technologies like internet-of-things applications and autonomous driving.

“Singapore is joining the 5G race later than many other countries, so the paper should put it on track to launch the services by 2020.” Joel Ng, an analyst at KGI Securities (Singapore) Pte., said by phone.

IMDA said its rollout will allow for a more fully-optimized 5G network when fully developed. 5G deployments that rely on existing 4G networks for connectivity, as some others do, won’t "support the full suite of 5G capabilities," it said in its statement.

The authority said it will assess proposals from carriers on factors including time to introduction, performance and design, as well as financial capability, according to the statement.

The enhanced airwaves will help in providing data services at peak rates of as much as 100 times faster than the current generation, with the ability to support up to 1,000 times more devices, Minister for Communications and Information S. Iswaran said during a parliamentary session in March.

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