Singapore 5G rollout: Unforeseen hurdles need to be overcome (The Business Times)

Despite the economic challenges posed by the novel coronavirus pandemic, Singapore remains on track to roll out its nationwide fifth generation mobile telephony (5G) network by 2025, the government has said.

While telecommunications operators and the government will certainly do their best to meet the target, Covid-19 and the US-China trade dispute have introduced several uncertainties into the mix. One less-discussed area is the pandemic’s effect on 5G standards setting, a crucial requirement to ensure that different networks “talk” to each other. Covid-19 social distancing norms have upset the timelines of Third Generation Partnership Project (3GPP), a global body that develops telecommunication standards. 3GPP had to cancel a meeting in April that would have finalised the “Release 16” standard, which would then pave the way for “Release 17”, deemed to be a crucial milestone. “Release 16” has been tentatively pushed back to June, with “Release 17” further back. 3GPP has decided to hold all meetings online, but it remains to be seen how effective these engineering-heavy e-meetings would be and if timelines would be further affected.

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The Business Times

28 May 2020

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