Singapore’s 5G licence allocation dashes TPG’s network dreams
Singtel and a joint venture from StaHub and M1 have both secured licences to provide nationwide 5G services throughout Singapore, leaving Australian telco TPG out in the cold.
Last October, the Singaporean regulator announced it would increase the number of 5G licences it would be offering in 2020 to four, but only two of these would be nationwide contracts. Some months later, in January 2020, local telcos StarHub and M1 agreed to a joint proposal for a 5G licence bid, leaving the city-state’s only foreign telco, TPG, without much chance of snagging one of the key licences.
The bidding for these licences took place in February and yesterday the results were announced, with TPG missing out. The Australian telco will still be able to provide mmWave 5G at localised hotspots, but will have to access these wider 5G services through a wholesale agreements with the two winning bidders.
The Singaporean government is really driving 5G development, with the two nationwide contracts committing the winning bidders to rolling out standalone 5G by January next year and increasing coverage to at least half of Singapore by the end of 2022. Total coverage must be achieved by 2025.
"Amid today’s COVID-19 challenges, the investments in Singapore’s 5G infrastructure underscore long-term business confidence in our economy, and will ready us for the eventual recovery to build a thriving digital future for our people, businesses, and industries," said the minister for communications and information, S. Iswaran.
In the immediate aftermath of the announcement, there has been some speculation as to whether TPG’s use of Huawei equipment played a roll in their failure to secure a licence, as Singapore tries to distance itself from Chinese influence. However, minister Iswaran has given assurances that this was not the case, pointing out that Huawei equipment is also used in some capacity by the other contenders, not just TPG.
"As we have emphasised from the start, our focus has not been about particular vendors, [but] on overall network resilience and security, and ensuring vendor diversity,” he said.
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