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IMDA Second Consultation on 5G Mobile Services and Networks

Jun 14 2019 | by OrionW

The Info-communications Media Development Authority (IMDA) released a consultation paper on 5G mobile services and networks dated 7 May 2019 (the Paper) and has opened a second public consultation inviting views on various key areas until 9 July 2019.  This article will focus on the Paper’s proposed regulatory policy and framework for 5G deployment in Singapore.

Key Policy Objectives

The deployment of 5G networks in Singapore proposes to meet the following key policy objectives:

  • maximise the value of 5G for the economy and consumers’ welfare;
  • facilitate efficient allocation of scarce resources such as spectrum;
  • ensure that Singapore’s 5G networks are designed to be trusted and resilient; and
  • support the growth of a vibrant telecommunication sector.

To achieve these objectives, IMDA proposes to adopt the following strategies:

  • facilitating 5G rollout after standalone network standards are finalised in March 2020;
  • facilitating sustainable competition with at least two nationwide networks in the initial years;
  • imposing regulatory requirements for resilient and trusted 5G networks; and
  • providing flexibility in the regulatory frameworks to accommodate market and technological developments.

Spectrum Allocation and Rights Duration

By 2021, IMDA plans to free up and allocate spectrum in the 3.5 GHz band (i.e., 3.4-3.7 GHz) for 5G coverage.  Affected fixed satellite service (FSS) (downlink) services in this band will be migrated to the 3.7-4.2 GHz band.  However, to protect FSS (downlink) services above 3.7 GHz, IMDA proposes to implement a guard band within 3.6-3.7 GHz whilst technical trials are being conducted to determine the recommended technical and operational parameters of 5G usage in the 3.5 GHz band.

IMDA has also identified mmWave bands such as the 26 GHz band (i.e., 24.25-27.5 GHz) and 28 GHz band (i.e., 27.5-29.5 GHz) which are planned for providing ultra-high speed connectivity in localised hotspots from approximately 2020 onwards.  IMDA recognises that existing FSS (uplink) services in the 28 GHz band may coexist with 5G services through coordination of technical parameters.  Because of this, 5G services and FSS will operate in the 28.5-29.5 GHz band on a co-primary basis.

Once the global ecosystem is more ready for cost-efficient deployment, IMDA may then open up other spectrum bands progressively, estimated to be available from 2025 onwards.

A spectrum right duration of 12 to 15 years is proposed to provide sufficient investment certainty, while catering for technological changes and new 5G spectrum bands.

Regulatory Obligations

IMDA proposes to impose key obligations and baseline regulatory requirements for:

  • Network rollout and performance: Spectrum right holders must deploy 5G standalone networks with more than 50% coverage within 24 months from the 3.5 GHz spectrum right commencement and use the mmWave band within 12 months from the spectrum right commencement.  Spectrum right holders may use a combination of spectrum to meet the 50% coverage requirement.  Initially, quality of service requirements will not be imposed, but may be prescribed with higher 5G demand.

  • Network design and resilience: 5G networks must be designed to be secure and resilient, consistent with best practices and technical specifications from relevant standards bodies (e.g., ETSI, IEEE) and IMDA’s regulatory requirements.

  • Wholesale arrangements: Spectrum right holders must provide 5G wholesale services to other mobile service providers, specifically to any Mobile Network Operators and Mobile Virtual Network Operators, upon request.