Q&A with Chong Siew Loong, CTO at StarHub

Telecoms.com periodically invites third parties to share their views on the industry’s most pressing issues. In this piece the 5G Asia team interviewed Chong Siew Loong, CTO at StarHub who oversees the Network Division, ahead of the show to gain a sneak peek for what we can expect at their upcoming conference.

1. In a recent article, you mentioned that 5G cannot be servicing only smartphone devices. Can you expand on this further and tell us more about StarHub’s 5G vision?

The new world of 5G is beyond just smartphones and infrastructure. StarHub’s 5G vision is to deliver smart applications and services so as to serve customers better and in more personalised ways than ever before. To do this, a vibrant ecosystem is essential. We are nurturing a 5G ecosystem of technology and business partners with the objective of co-developing new mobility services and enterprise applications infused with data analytics and artificial intelligence. 5G, with its high-speed, low-latency and network slicing capabilities, provides an opportunity for StarHub to redefine its role in this enhanced value chain.

2. Which industries do you expect to drive 5G adoption in Singapore? What new 5G enterprise services should we expect StarHub to bring to the market and why?

StarHub aspires to be a forerunner in 5G to serve our customers’ needs better than anyone else. As a telco, we have a front seat view of the positive impact mobile evolution is having on people, businesses and the society. From 2G to 4G, speeds and service reliability soared, and so did the pace of innovation. We strongly believe that 5G will play a critical role in the fourth industrial revolution. We are therefore engaging in trials and proof-of-concepts with enterprise customers to discover digital innovation and automation never thought to be possible. At the outset, we expect 5G to appeal to sectors that require ultra-reliable low-latency communications, massive Internet of Things and network slicing capabilities for time- and mission-critical activities.

3. Can you tell us more about how StarHub is gearing up for 5G?

5G is critical to Singapore’s Smart Nation development, and StarHub is ready to be one of the leading companies to support the government, businesses and consumers in this innovation drive. We have dedicated people and resources to our 5G Centre of Excellence, which is a business unit tasked with developing a partner ecosystem and co-creating innovative 5G services for the unique Singaporean market. A portion of StarHub’s network is 5G-ready today. To facilitate ongoing trials and industry engagement, we are broadcasting ‘live’ 5G signals from our headquarters and will expand 5G coverage into more areas. We will also upgrade our cellular-on-wheels vehicle with 5G, to allow us to showcase the benefits of 5G island-wide.

4. What have the main (market, technology, business, regulatory or other) challenges in achieving 5G rollout been? What needs to be done to unlock 5G innovation in Singapore?

Singapore’s measured approach to 5G is encouraging as it gives time and space for ongoing industry discussions and localised use case research and development. For 5G to succeed, the entire ecosystem, from technology to talent and regulation, needs to develop. Given the nascency of 5G, we believe onerous regulatory obligations on 5G services should not be implemented too soon, to allow for adequate research and development. In addition, concerns about public health and safety would need to be addressed in order to facilitate smooth rollout.

5. You will be joining the Keynote Panel on Defining the 5G killer app in Asia at 5G Asia (10-12 September, Singapore). Could you give us a sneak peek of what the audience should expect to hear from you? What are you looking forward to at the show?

10 years ago, we could not have imagined where we are today with Mobile. 10 years from now in a 5G world, we will again look back and marvel at the ingenuity of the human mind. 5G may seem shapeless at this moment, but I believe our collective imagination and creativity will see the birth of many innovative use cases. 5G offers promise and challenge, and the StarHub team has been hard at work distilling what would work well for customers on this side of the globe. I look forward to sharing our Singapore-centric experience and lessons to spark new ideas and conversations. Forums such as 5G Asia are excellent opportunities for knowledge sharing, and I hope to also glean insights from other international trailblazers in the 5G ecosystem. In the lead up to 5G commercialisation, our priority is to develop innovative and sustainable business models and explore exciting new ways of meeting our customers’ needs.

Chong Siew Loong 2019 (with tie)
It’s your chance to hear from Chong Siew Loong directly at 5G Asia 2019 which is taking place on 10-12 September at the Marina Bay Sands Expo & Convention Centre in Singapore.

Are you an Operator or Enterprise? If so, click here to register for your free pass now! 

Nokia and StarHub boast of completed 5G NR trial Singapore

Nokia and the Singapore mobile operator StarHub conducted an outdoor pilot of both industrial and consumer use cases on 5G New Radio (NR).

The two companies made another claim for Singapore’s “5G first” drive with this outdoor 3GPP compliant trial on 3.5 GHz. Two use cases were demonstrated to their staff, industry partners, and enterprise customers. The first one for industry was a simulated manufacturing environment, where businesses can use 5G-based video analytics to optimise efficiency and reduce errors. The use case for consumers was a 5G-based VR immersive video experience of live sport events. The trial was done in non-standalone (NSA) mode, with Nokia’s 5G AirScale radio access overlaying on top of StarHub’s 4G core networks. The third-party that supplied the consumer VR terminals has not been identified.

“This successful pilot with Nokia showcases the readiness and possibilities of 5G to enhance consumer services and boost efficiencies for enterprises. It aligns with StarHub’s goal to support and accelerate Smart Nation initiatives in Singapore,” said Chong Siew Loong, Chief Technology Officer of StarHub.

“Nokia is able to offer customers such as StarHub a pre-integrated and ultra-optimised network using its 5G Future X end-to-end architecture to accelerate the launch of 5G. Leveraging this technology, customers such as StarHub can achieve greater operational efficiencies and higher performance as they begin to deliver enhanced mobile broadband services,” added Tommi Uitto, president of Mobile Networks at Nokia.

Singapore is expected to be among the first countries to switch on commercial 5G networks. With its competitor Singtel busy trialling 5G and claiming its own “firsts”, StarHub must have felt the heat to not to be seen left behind. as industry momentum towards 5G NR is gathers momentum. After more than 40 companies signed the agreement in March 2017 to accelerate 5G NR development, much progress has been made on both the standardisation and the implementation fronts. Both the standalone (SA) and non-standalone variants of the 5G NR standards were completed and approved before the original deadlines.

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.