Singtel a paragon for 5G in Singapore
5G in Singapore has been making headlines around the world as the network continues to enable a variety of use cases not only for large industries but for governments and SMEs as well. With the network provided by Singtel, 5G in Singapore covers over two-thirds of the island nation, both indoors and outdoors.
The entire nation is expected to see full 5G coverage by 2025. Currently, 5G network coverage and availability may vary due to buildings, structures, locations, and distance. However, this is not stopping businesses to work with the technology and unlock new possibilities.
Tech Wire Asia caught up with Dennis Wong, Vice President, Enterprise 5G & Platforms at Singtel to get his views on the network as well as some of the use cases that are being enabled by 5G in Singapore.
According to Wong, the progress of 5G in Singapore has been steady and continues to be progressing. Generally, the industry wants 5G to be better than 4G and WiFi. However, Wong pointed out that if the industry is looking at 5G to being incremental to 4G, they are going to miss the mark.
“If you’re looking at 5G being incremental to 4G, you’re taking the current use case and saying that it gets slightly better and productive because of 5G, I think businesses will looking more towards ROI (return of investment). We need to look at 5G because of its complexity to bring in MEC (multi-access edge computing) plus the ecosystem, as well as the capability and the latency to actually create new business models including a paradigm shift in their business. This education on the use of 5G is very important,” explained Wong.
The role of 5G in Singapore
In fact, when it comes to the adoption of 5G, different countries are doing it differently. While the core of the technology is about improving efficiency and such for businesses, in countries like China, for example, there is a strong push by the government for the technology to the provinces, which in turn leads to faster adoption
“In Singapore, I’m very pleased to say that the government has been taking the lead. The adoption has been pretty good as there are many use cases that the government actually is working with us, including 5G programs with GovTech,” added Wong.
Interestingly, Wong also pointed out that the adoption of 5G is becoming a bit more complex as industries are looking beyond connectivity. They’re now looking at MEC latency as well as how AI can be adopted in MEC and used as a complete whole package. Wong believes the progress is only going to get better in the future, especially with the Singaporean government advocating the use of technology as well.
For example, government agencies are working with the private sector to use 5G in construction through drones. In public safety, government agencies are also using drones to identify people in distress and such in certain areas.
Wong also highlighted that in Singapore, there are already several companies using 5G mobility tools to deal with fleet management, driver fatigue, and such. This includes enabling 5G to have enhanced video feed from the fleet to the command center as well as making the most out of AI to assist drivers in their work.
“We are seeing our customers using computer vision, thanks to the high uplink. The devices can now have multiple uses because of 5G’s capabilities on the edge. We are also looking at some use cases in the manufacturing industry whereby they are using 5G for digital twins. Digital twins are now becoming increasingly adopted not just in the manufacturing industry but other industries as well,” said Wong.
The Private 5G spectrum
So, with 5G becoming increasingly available around Singapore, what is the purpose of private 5G networks? Is there a difference?
To this, Wong explained when it comes to private 5G, in some countries, there is a particular spectrum that private enterprises can use to run their own 5G. However, in Singapore, private 5G is not available. There is no additional spectrum, and the network only comes from the telecom operator.
As such, for enterprises hoping for a dedicated network, Singtel will operate it for them, in what is referred to as a campus network. The campus network enables dedicated coverage and resources for the business itself.
“And this is why the education of 5G technology is important. 5G is more than just connectivity. If you have just the connectivity, you’re just better than 4G or WiFi. The reality is though, if you look at use cases whereby AI needs to work and to have all these machine latencies work for computation, have all the workloads to be efficient, using the public cloud, the MEC ad such, the full use of the 5G architecture does not just depend on connectivity,” reiterated Wong.
For Wong, when it comes to 5G, it is not just a simple solution. There has to be a proper design, or in this case, a design that marries the cloud. This includes the edge compute of the type of AI and security that can be used as well as the type of connectivity needed. Even for the connectivity, Wong admitted that it can be tricky to design. For example, a factory with numerous cameras would need a lot of blinks and probably use a millimeter wave, making the design very complex.
A unified ecosystem
“And this is where our platform Paragon comes in. With Paragon, you can manage your cloud, MEC, connectivity, and slicing all within that same platform. It helps the organization to do away with complex coordination. And that’s where I think it’s very important for most of the organization. They need to know what is their endgame for making their business move to the next level. For us, we don’t just sell a product, we don’t push a product, we actually do a lot of solutions. And we do a lot of consultation with the customer. We work through the business case, the design offers, and how to make it more efficient, with Paragon as a whole orchestration,” mentioned Wong.
Singtel’s Paragon is a revolutionary platform that enables enterprises to tap into Singtel’s 5G network to activate network slices on demand, and deploy mission-critical applications on Singtel MEC as well as access a robust eco-system of partner applications, offering them unparalleled control and choices. The platform also empowers enterprises to securely deploy applications in a hybrid fashion across the edge at Singtel MEC and a public cloud of their choice.
Developed in-house, Paragon is the industry’s first all-in-one orchestration platform for 5G edge computing and cloud services. It significantly reduces the complexity and time needed to adopt 5G MEC and low latency applications and services – lowering the barriers to entry for enterprises, and enabling faster deployment of use cases while removing considerable operational and cost overheads.
Singtel also recently announced the Paragon will be used to analyze the performance of Micron Technology’s devices and networks, thus providing the capability of real-time performance monitoring and feedback. Micron is the first company in Singapore to pilot 5G by deploying a mmWave campus solution with edge core on-premises for industry 4.0 manufacturing applications.
Apart from Micron Technology, Singtel is also working with Hyundai on an IoT communications solution for the batteries powering Hyundai’s electric vehicles (EVs) in Singapore. The IoT system enables Hyundai to monitor the telemetry, or automatic data transmission, of the batteries’ real-time status and performance. The data-driven insights can enhance the EVs’ reliability, advancing Singapore’s EV ecosystem and Smart Nation’s vision of connected and sustainable mobility solutions.
In the second part of this article, Wong will discuss how small and medium-sized businesses can also look forward to making the most of 5G in the future.