5G, Singapore Economy, S Iswaran

5G, Singapore Economy

Four-way 5G market makes it anyone's game

Four-way 5G market makes it anyone's game

18.10.2019

Four-way 5G market makes it anyone's game

SINGAPORE is poised to award as many as four operating licences for its upcoming 5G wireless networks - double the number mooted in a public consultation earlier this year. Read more at The Business Times.

SINGAPORE is poised to award as many as four operating licences for its upcoming 5G wireless networks - double the number mooted in a public consultation earlier this year.

The two-tiered licensing decision could be a pragmatic move to support Singapore's digital-economy ambitions, said Credit Suisse analyst Johnson Loh, given the daunting cost of the density of infrastructure needed for 5G, and the conflict over technology between the United States and China.

Maybank Kim Eng's Luis Hilado said in a report that"higher competition risks could dampen the business case scenarios".

But Sachin Mittal, head of telecom, media and technology research at DBS, stressed key differences between the 4G war and the 5G future. With just two nationwide 5G licence holders available - down from four 4G mobile operators - he expects a new industry frontier with network-sharing, since smaller telcos can jointly bid for those full-fledged licences to save on capex.

"If that's more to serve smart ports, industrial uses and others, that might... frankly give a quicker return on investment," said Mr Wilkinson.

Meanwhile, MNOs' balance sheets should be able to handle the upfront licence costs for 5G, analysts say.

Mr Loh said MNOs have already rung up 4G spectrum costs in recent years and so are unlikely to be too aggressive in bidding for 5G. But he added that the"reasonable" reserve price - which Mr Mittal separately described as"quite cheap" - should not be too burdensome.

Telcos may submit their proposals, which will be judged on criteria such as offer price and network design and resilience, by January. The IMDA will award the first tranche of 5G spectrum by mid-2020, and plans to issue more from 2024 or 2025.

Read more: The Business Times

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