Singtel and Ericsson boast about another 5G ‘first’

While press statements claiming a ‘first’ in 5G are becoming somewhat repetitive, Singtel and Ericsson have paired up to milk the increasingly tiresome claim once more.

The duo claim Singapore’s ‘first’ 5G pilot network will go live in the final quarter of the year at one-north in Buona Vista, the city state’s science, business and IT hub. Using trial spectrum allocated by Singapore’s Info-Communications Media Development Authority (IMDA), the trial will focus on enhanced Mobile Broadband speed and low latency communications.

“5G has the potential to accelerate the digital transformation of industries, as well as empower consumers with innovative applications,” said Mark Chong, Group CTO at Singtel. “We are pleased to take another bold step in our journey to 5G with our 5G pilot network at one-north and invite enterprises to start shaping their digital future with us.”

“5G represents a key mobile technology evolution, opening up new possibilities and applications,” said Martin Wiktorin, Head of Ericsson Singapore, Brunei and the Philippines. “We believe that 5G will play a key role in the digital transformation of the Singapore economy. Demonstrating the possibilities in this showcase event will be a catalyst for engagements with Singapore enterprises.”

The announcement was made at Ericsson’s Bringing 5G to Life event, which also featured a 3D augmented reality (AR) streaming over a 5G network operating in the 28GHz millimetre wave spectrum, in collaboration with AR firm Meta. The demo allowed participants to interact with virtual objects, with the feed also being streamed in real-time to a remote audience, with the ultimate use case being large-scale remote learning in various industries such as medical and education.

Nokia gets a big piece of China Mobile optical transport gig

The world’s biggest MNO – China Mobile – recently held a central bid to supply equipment for its regional optical transport network, in which it ranked Nokia top.

The gig seems to be that a bunch of vendors are going to help out with the deployment of an optical transport network for 13 city metro and two provincial backbone networks, but that China Mobile will apportion the work between them according to some arbitrary ranking system. The good news for Nokia is that it came top of that table and, as a consequence, will get more optical networking business.

The usual array of networking virtue is being ascribed to whatever Nokia is serving up for China Mobile here. It’s all about agility, flexibility, scalability and all the other -ilities. And, of course, it’s so ready for 5G you wouldn’t believe it.

“We are very pleased to work closely with China Mobile to provide the optical technology for its most advanced networks today and in the future,” said Yu Xiaohan, head of the China Mobile customer team at Nokia Shanghai Bell. “We’ll continue to fulfil our mission by making people’s life easier as we create the technologies that connect the world.”

In other Nokia Far-Eastern news it has announced the opening of its Cloud Collaboration Hub in Singapore, which is somewhat ominously described as an ‘execution centre’ where multivendor cloud services can be tried out. It joins existing ones in the US and UK, all of which exist mainly to help operators get ahead on the cloud game.

“With the launch of the Cloud Collaboration Hub in Singapore, we will help operators in Asia Pacific and Japan select the right transformation strategy and build their revenue drivers and business cases for cloud-based solutions,” said Sandeep Girotra, head of Asia Pacific and Japan at Nokia. “This will accelerate operators’ moves towards becoming digital service providers at a crucial moment when technology is undergoing a paradigm shift, anchored by trends such as 5G, the Internet of things and the cloud.”

Ericsson and Singtel claim APAC LAA record

Ericsson and long-time operator partner Singtel have announced they managed to hit 1.1 Gbps in a joint trial of a new LAA configuration.

License Assisted Access is all about increasing the amount of spectrum available for mobile broadband by using chunks of unlicensed spectrum too. This test, conducted in a Singtel lab, used 4×4 MIMO, 256 QAM, and any other LTE goodies they could throw into the mix, to aggregate two licensed and three unlicensed spectrum bands. The result was apparently an APAC first.

“We are very encouraged by this breakthrough in peak speeds,” said Mark Chong, Singtel’s Group CTO. “In Singapore, a large percentage of mobile traffic is generated indoors with more mobile customers browsing the web, streaming video and accessing cloud applications on the go. We are now in a position to deploy LAA technology to boost our LTE mobile capacity to meet increasing traffic demand. This will allow us to deliver a faster and more reliable mobile connectivity experience even during peak periods.”

“Licensed Assisted Access took wireless technology to a whole new level, delivering the increased capacity and faster speeds that operators demand as they evolve their networks,” said Martin Wiktorin, Head for Ericsson Singapore, Brunei & the Philippines. “This trial is a significant milestone in the use of LAA, pushing the limits of Gigabit LTE in a unique configuration of advanced technologies.”

Earlier this year Singtel and Ericsson announced the opening of Singapore’s first 5G center of excellence, a symptom of the two companies’ enduring chumminess. As a technologically advanced city state Singapore is quite a handy place to try out new wireless technologies, especially when it comes to capacity as opposed to coverage.

Nokia picks Singapore to show what a great idea IoT is

A collaboration between Nokia and Singapore operator StarHub will try to develop all kinds of IoT services and maybe even launch a few of them.

As we move from the testing phase of tech megatrends such as IoT and 5G into the ‘this is why everyone should care’ phase, we’re seeing an increasing number of initiatives designed to highlight their utility in the ‘real world’. Huawei recently combined with LG U+ for a spot of 5G virtue-signalling, and now this.

So serious are Nokia and StarHub about their collaboration that they even signed a memorandum of understanding to seal the deal. They now plan to develop new IoT use cases in the areas of connected living, connected vehicles and connected buildings, and might even offer commercial services as soon as Q1 2018.

“A large component of Singapore’s Smart Nation initiative involves the deployment of IoT devices in the environment, including in the home, along streets and in parks, and in offices,” said Dr Chong Yoke Sin, Chief of the Enterprise Business Group at StarHub. “The granular data derived from these sensors will allow enterprise customers to understand and gain insights from their customers, improving operational efficiencies and aid in long-term planning.

“We will leverage Nokia’s IoT technology to help address urban challenges faced by our government and commercial customers. We also look forward to building viable business models on this nascent technology.”

“We are honoured to be working with StarHub to help maximize the gains from the vast potential of IoT,” said Nicolas Bouverot, head of the Asia South Market Unit at Nokia. “We are committed to supporting service providers in IoT to gain new customers and add new revenue streams. Nokia is at the forefront of the evolution of IoT, and our insights will enable StarHub to build and deploy high-value services and business models.”

Nokia seems to be on a bit of a tour of East Asia at the moment, having issued a separate announcement to talk up its Gfast partnership with Japanese company EneCom. This is part of the drive to update Japan’s VDSL network and supposedly paves the way for XG-FAST if EneCom fancies it.

StarHub has also had some other big news recently, with its CEO deciding to call it a day after four years at the helm. This seems to be an orderly departure and Tan Tong Hai will hang around long enough to help find his replacement and give them some top tips.

Singtel chooses Ericsson for 5G Center of Excellence

The launch of Singapore’s first 5G Center of Excellence has been claimed by operator Singtel in partnership with kit vendor Ericsson.

The two will chuck an initial $1.5 million onto the pot over the next three years to get things going. On top of all the usual 5G R&D, the CoE will focus on the commercial implications of 5G and will align itself to the state-sponsored Smart Nation initiative.

“This is a critical next step in our journey to 5G,” said Mark Chong, Group CTO of Singtel. “We’re pleased to partner Ericsson to enhance our 5G core competencies and create a robust 5G ecosystem that will allow Singtel and our enterprise customers to benefit from the anticipated growth opportunities 5G will bring. We invite customers in various verticals, such as transportation, port operations and next-generation manufacturing, to start shaping their new digital business models with us.”

“The establishment of the 5G CoE is timely and goes hand in hand with the Government’s move to encourage industry trials in 5G,” said Ericsson Country Manager for Singapore Martin Wiktorin. “Together with Singtel, we plan to set up a 5G test bed in 2018 for trials with key enterprise customers, with the objective of enabling a strong foundation to help design Singapore’s 5G future.”

The various 5G use-cases that will be explored by the CoE include opportunities created by low-latency connectivity such as remote control. Most tech megatrends are exploited first by industry and that seems to be the focus here. Singtel and Ericsson have a long established partnership, and cited their joint winning of the ‘Advancing the Road to 5G’ Global Telecoms Award as evidence of their great double-act.

Singtel signals the end of copper networks

Singtel has announced plans to accelerate the rollout of fibre networks in the nation, including the aim of progressively closing copper-based ADSL by early 2018.

As part of the plans to become a more digitally orientated nation, Singtel will cease copper deployment to commercial buildings that obtain Temporary Occupation Permit (TOP) status from April 2018. What would be deemed a slow conversion to fibre in the rest of the world is being taking up a couple of notches in Singapore.

A TOP is essentially a certificate which states a building can be occupied for commercial purposes. For those companies who acquire a TOP prior to April, the option for copper will still be available, but this will soon be a thing of the past. Just to put things in a bit of context, Singtel made the same move, ceasing the deployment of copper, for new residential buildings in 2013.

“We are pleased to make this technology adoption push in support of today’s digital economy and tomorrow’s connected Smart Nation,” said Wong Soon Nam, Vice President of Consumer Products at Singtel.

“Fibre-based networks today is capable of offering far greater speeds and supporting a much wider range of services than the prevailing copper-based networks. Fibre also provides customers with a robust connectivity that supports unified business communication applications and smart home services.”

This is certainly a statement of intent, following up a very early commitment to rid the nation of copper in 2013, and shows why Singapore is one of the more advanced digital economies worldwide. To drive the digital economy, the infrastructure has to be top of the line, there is no other way around it.

And some might ask why other nations aren’t following the Singapore lead, making such strong commitments to fibre infrastructure and digitally enabled business models. Let’s just put things into a bit of context for the moment.

Singapore is the 176th smallest country in the world, with a land-mass of 277.6 sq. miles. It has a population of roughly 5.6 million. Now let’s put this in comparison to London. The population of London is just under 8.8 million, and the city covers a land-mass of 607 sq. miles. Now, London is certainly a big city, but the comparison emphasises the scale; Singapore is tiny.

Singapore might well be on the way to be a digital nation, but considering its size this is a much simpler job that the overwhelmingly, vast majority of other countries.